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Over the last few years, the “keto diet” has been the subject of a ton of controversy and people are left wondering as to whether it’s a healthy way to lose weight. Even restaurants and some doctors have jumped on board the bandwagon. In some instances, yes, it may be recommended as a good plan and for weight loss it might be a good idea to try it, but the general consensus is that it’s not a good long-term solution for weight loss or your health. Ketosis happens when people eat a restrictive carbohydrate diet and molecules called ketones build up in their bloodstream. Having low carbohydrate levels cause your blood sugar levels to drop and your body will start breaking down fat to use as energy.

Should You Try Keto?

A ketogenic diet can be quite beneficial in specific cases for people who are seeking to lose weight.  Aside from certain medical conditions where it has proven to be beneficial, those whose weight is detrimental to their health and well-being could consider it.  However, the caveat being that a state of ketosis is supposed to be periodic (30 to 90 days).  Having a keto diet alone won’t have much an affect on your metabolism – it can even work to slow it down and make you increase weight faster once you come out of ketosis. You’ll often see people constantly go up and down with their weight on such restrictive diets and the fat loss just isn’t sustainable. There are other ways to help increase your metabolism that not only work while going keto but serve as a general rule of thumb for everyone. Eating smaller meals more often – every 2 to 3 hours with a good matrix of macros and fiber, drink plenty of water and build muscle. Making these lifestyle changes should be the first thing you try, while going into ketosis should be considered a last resort. The vast majority of us don’t need to have such restrictive diets to see great results. Diabetics are required to avoid this diet altogether as ketoacidosis can be lethal. Check out our previous post – a beginners guide to increasing muscle with bodyweight exercises.

The Pros of Keto

In addition to fat loss, in combination with other lifestyle changes, keto can result in other positive effects. Many keto dieters say that it improves their mental clarity, digestion and gastric motility, and have notable increases in their daily energy levels. Much of the carbohydrates we consume are from processed foods that are difficult to metabolize and digest. This can wreck havoc on our weight and energy and lead to unsteady blood sugar and insulin levels. That’s why many of us have to load up on coffee all day, to fight against the blood sugar crashes we get from our carb heavy diets. If you can’t grow it then you should probably avoid it! We often recommend that clients introduce carbohydrates gradually throughout the day, space them out, and decrease them again in the evening. A Harvard blog contributor weighed in on pros and cons – Is Keto Good For you?

The Correct Way To Do It

Most people consume a lot more animal fat while on this diet. There’s even a diet now called the lion diet (all beef, every meal) that often works in conjuction  with keto or paleo. The problem is that it neglects a lot of nutrients and antioxidants we need for sustainable good health over the long-term. It could potentially wreck havoc with our gut microbiome to boot. If you do try it then first things first, get the highest quality meat when possible.  Grass fed beef is best and attempt to limit all processed meats. Cured meats like bacon contain a lot of toxins are a nightmare for your health if eaten consistently. Focus on consuming more healthy fats like organic olive and canola oils, avocado, a variety of nuts and fish. In the beginning, some unlucky people will experience something known as “the keto flu”. This generally lasts for about a week and you may feel extreme fatigue, get headaches and severe brain fog. It’s completely normal and your gut will likely need some time to figure out how to adjusy and efficiently metabolize the flood of extra fats that you’re consuming. The above list comes courtesy of Popsugar Media.

Scott Everson is a personal trainer and founder of Busy Bee Fitness Experts in Toronto. He practices include holistic fitness and nutrition plans. As a sufferer of digestive and autoimmune like conditions himself, he has been able to transform his own health through diet and exercise. For more information, please contact Busy Bee at info@busybeefitness.ca

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