Benefits and Risks of Keto Diet for Weight Loss: Things You Should Know

A ketogenic diet, also known as “keto diet,” is a low carbohydrate and high-fat diet. The keto diet has become quite popular recently, especially among those who want to lose weight naturally.

A typical keto diet consists of nearly 70% of calories derived from fat only, 20% from protein, and 10% from carbs. In simple words, the keto diet consists of 1 gram of combined carbohydrate and protein for 4 grams of fat.

Eating low carbs and high-fat diet for a significant amount of time makes our body to enter a state of ketosis through fat metabolism. In this state, our body converts fats to ketones to fuel the body.

A person must intake less than 50 grams of net carbs to undergo ketosis, which is pretty hard to achieve.

Studies have shown that the keto diet is effective for weight loss, diabetes, and epilepsy. Further, it is also believed to be effective for cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and other diseases, however, it is still in the early stage of the study.

Keto diet has been found effective on weight loss, but we know everything comes with certain risks that we shouldn’t ignore. Meanwhile, critics have been saying keto-diet is an unhealthy way of losing weight, and in some cases, it can be hazardous.

Types of Ketogenic Diets

There are various types of ketogenic diets based on the amount of carbohydrate and fat included in the diet. Some of them are listed below:

1. High Protein Ketogenic Diet: This type of ketogenic diet contains more protein than in other versions of the keto diet. In this type, keto-diet is formed in the ration of 35% protein, 60% fat, and 5% carbohydrates.

2. Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): This type of ketogenic diet contains high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb diet. The typical proportion of the nutrients is 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% of carbohydrates.

3. Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): This type of ketogenic diet includes alternate periods of higher and lower carbohydrate diets. One example of a cyclical keto diet may consist of 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days.

4. Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): This diet is slightly different from other versions of the ketogenic diets. It allows you to add more carbohydrates around workouts.

Now, let’s see the benefits of keto diet for weight loss.

1. Helps Lose More Weight Initially

Eating less carbohydrate is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. Many studies show people eating fewer carbs diets tend to lose more weight and faster than those taking more-carbs and low-fat diets.

Also Read: Lose 10 Pound in a Month Without Exercise

Even though both low-carbs and low-fat diets are effective in cutting off calories, the former is a better way to lose weight. This is because the low-carb diets help to get rid of excess water from the body and lower the levels leading the body to a rapid weight loss in the first couple of weeks.

Keto diet is helpful in losing weight fast
Keto diet is helpful in losing weight fast, Source: Women’s Health

Healthline reported several studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, people following the low-carb diets lose 2 to 3 times as much weight without feeling hungry.

Further, the keto diet is helpful in obese people as one study showed a low-carb diet plan is particularly useful for up to six months. The study also found that the keto diet had similar benefits as any other weight-loss diet after six months.

2. Beneficial in Losing Abdominal Fat

Not all fat in your body is harmful. The place of deposition of fat determines how it affects your body. Mainly, there are two main types of fat, subcutaneous and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is stored under your skin while visceral fat is accumulated in your abdominal cavity, which is considered responsible for obesity.

Excessive visceral fats can cause inflammation and insulin resistance that leads to metabolic dysfunction and ultimately leads to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The low-carb diets (keto-diet) are effective in reducing harmful abdominal fat. In fact, visceral fats take a greater proportion of the total fat lost on low-carb diets.

Over time, keto-diet is helpful in drastically reducing abdominal fat, and it leads to a reduced risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

3. Improves Bad LDL Cholesterol Levels

Keto diet triggers weight loss by burning fats. Besides, it also helps in reducing the bad LDL cholesterol level in the human body. People having high bad LDL cholesterol are likely to develop risks of a heart attack.

As a matter of fact, the size of the cholesterol particles plays a role in heart attack instead of the numbers. Smaller particles increase the risk of a heart attack while the larger particles reduce the risks.

Keto diet help in reducing LDL cholesterol
Keto diet help in reducing LDL cholesterol, Source; KRCU

Talking about how keto diet help in balancing LDL cholesterol level, studies showed low-carb diets increase the size of “bad” LDL particles, thereby reducing the number of total LDL particles in the bloodstream.

4. Has Been Effective Against Metabolic Syndrome

The keto-diet that follows low-carb and high-fat diets are beneficial to keep your metabolism strong. These types of diets are effective in treating metabolic syndrome that comes up with a collection of other syndromes.

Some of the common symptoms of metabolic syndrome include 1)Elevated blood pressure, 2) Abdominal obesity, 3) High Triglycerides, 4) Low “good” HDL cholesterol levels, and 5) Elevated fasting blood sugar levels.

Following a keto diet or intaking a low-carb diet for a significant time will nearly eliminate the risks of the aforementioned symptoms.

Now, Let’s see some of the disadvantages of following a keto diet.

1. Can Cause Digestive Issues

Following a low-carb diet for a long time can cause a carbohydrate deficiency in your body, which makes it difficult to meet your daily fiber needs. Some highly fibrous foods are eliminated from the keto diet because they contain too many carbs.

Starchy vegetables like whole grains, beans, potatoes, and fruits are eliminated from the keto diet. Due to this, your body can’t get enough fibers, and you may face some digestive issues, including digestive discomfort and constipation.

A ten-year-long study in children who had epilepsy and were on the ketogenic diet found that more than half of them were suffering from constipation.

Furthermore, regular use of a ketogenic diet that is low in fiber can negatively affect your gut bacteria that are vital for good digestion. However, it is currently under review if a keto diet affects gut bacteria indeed.

2. You Might Suffer from Nutrient Deficiencies

When you are on a keto diet, you cut off several nutritious foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates. Whole grains, and legumes, and starchy foods are some of the foods that you rarely eat while on a diet. It may lead to a scarcity of recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals in your body.

Various studies have suggested that keto diets don’t provide you with enough calcium, vitamin D, phosphorous, and magnesium. You can still eat several nutritious foods, including avocados, nuts, and non-starchy vegetables that will supply vitamins and minerals your body needs.

3. May Cause Severely Low Blood Sugar Level

Low-carb diets have been effective in balancing blood sugar levels in those who have type 2 diabetes. Likewise, some studies have suggested that a keto diet may help decrease average blood sugar levels.

You might be a risk if you have type 1 diabetes and on a keto diet. It is because those who have type 1 diabetes are at a high risk of more episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level). It is marked by shakiness, fatigue, and sweating, among others.

4. Might Be Hazardous to Bone Health

A Keto diet can also hazard your bone health. Several studies conducted in animals link the keto diet to decreased bone strength. It is due to the losses in bone mineral density, which in turn is the outcome of ketosis.

One study in 29 children with epilepsy on the keto diet showed that nearly 70% of them had a lower bone mineral density score after they started following the keto diet.

Keto diet might hazard your bone health
Keto diet can reduce bone minerals density, Source: Endocrine Web

Likewise, the result of a study in 30 elite walkers following a keto diet for three and a half weeks showed that they had a significantly higher level of blood markers for bone breakdown than those on the regular diet.

However, more research is required to derive a conclusion on the keto diets’ effect on lowering the bone mineral density.

Foods to Eat on a Keto Diet

While you’re on a keto diet, you have to cut off several foods that you’ve been eating for your life. Selecting low carb foods is tricky when you have to take care of your total calorie intake as well. So, we have listed some foods you can eat while on a ketogenic diet down below. Have a look:

1. Low-Carb Vegetables

Vegetables with low carbohydrate composition are great to eat while on a keto diet. Non-starchy vegetables are low in carbohydrates and calories while they contain high nutrients, including vitamin C and several minerals.

Vegetables and edible plants contain complex carbohydrates, also known as dietary fibers that remain undigested throughout digestion. Therefore, you should eliminate the fiber value from the net carbs count while counting absorbable carbs.

Low-carbs vegetable chart for keto
Low-carbs vegetable chart for keto, source: Hip2keto

Most of the vegetables contain low carbohydrates and high fibers, however, starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, and beets could put you over your entire carb limit for the day.

Besides, vegetables contain antioxidants that help protect against free radicals. Moreover, vegetables like kale, cauliflower, broccoli can help reduce the risks of cancer and heart disease.

2. Cheese

While people tend to avoid eating cheese while on a diet, cheese is an excellent source for a keto diet, cheese is highly nutritious, which contains a high proportion of fat and a small ratio of carbs.

Cheese is highly saturated fat, however, it doesn’t increase the risk of heart disease. In fact, some studies have shown cheese is protective against heart diseases. Statistically, one ounce (28 grams) of cheddar cheese contains 1 gram of carbs, 7 grams of protein, and 20% of the RDI for calcium.

Further, cheese contains conjugated linoleic acid, which is linked to fat loss; therefore, eating cheese regularly helps lose fat and improvements in body composition.

3. Avocados

Avocados contain high fiber and low carbs, so it is one of the sources of energy in the keto diet. A half of a medium avocado or 100 grams of avocado contains 9 grams of carbs, however, 7 of the total carbohydrates are fiber, so its total carbs count is only 2 grams.

Avocados are high in vitamins and minerals, including potassium, which is an essential mineral that many people don’t get enough. On top of that, eating more potassium can help make the transition to a keto diet easier.

Avocados are essential for those on keto diet
Avocados are essential for those on keto diet

Talking about other health benefits of avocados, one study showed people who consumed avocados regularly experienced a 22% decrease in “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and an 11% increase in HDL cholesterol.

4. Poultry and Meat

Poultry items are rich in protein while they contain no carbohydrates. These are considered staple foods on a ketogenic diet. Fresh meat and poultry are rich in vitamin B and several minerals, including selenium, zinc, and potassium.

Besides, poultry and meat are rich in protein that helps preserve muscle mass while in a very low-carb diet. It’s always best to eat grass-fed meat because animals that eat grass produce meat with higher amounts of omega-3 fats than the animals that fed upon grains.

5. Sea Foods

Many of the seafood are keto-friendly foods. Fishes, octopus, and oysters are some of the best seafood that is high in protein and fat and low in carbs. Salmon and other fish are rich in potassium, selenium, and B vitamins, where they are very low (if not zero) in carbohydrates.

Fish and other seafood are good keto diet
Fish and other seafood are good keto diet, Source: Keto Vale

Meanwhile, the carbohydrate count varies in different types of shellfish. While shrimps and crabs contain no carbs, other types of shellfish do contain. Here we list some of the shellfish and the carb count for 100 grams serving of them.

  • Mussels: 7 grams
  • Octopus: 4 grams
  • Squid: 3 grams
  • Clams: 5 grams
  • Oysters: 4 grams

What’s more, frequent consumption of fish has been linked to a decreased risk of disease and improved mental health.

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