What are the keto diet pros and cons? Here, we tell you what you’re letting yourself in for as well as address some of the common criticisms levelled at the keto diet.
KETO DIET PROS AND CONS #1: THE KETO DIET IS EXTREMELY SATIATING
- 0.1 KETO DIET PROS AND CONS #1: THE KETO DIET IS EXTREMELY SATIATING
- 0.2 KETO DIET PROS AND CONS #2: THE KETO DIET IS EXTREMELY SATIATING
- 0.3 KETO DIET PROS AND CONS #3: CALORIES DON’T MATTER AS MUCH
- 0.4 KETO DIET PROS AND CONS #4: ANTI-INFLAMMATORY EFFECT
- 0.5 KETO DIET PROS AND CONS #5: IT CAN BE EXPENSIVE
- 0.6 KETO DIET PROS AND CONS #6: SUSTAINABILITY
- 0.7 PROS AND CONS #7: NUTRITIONAL CONTENT
- 0.8 PROS AND CONS #8: OBSESSIVE EATING
- 1 Burn Your Fat
This is a big plus. The reason why many diets fail is that they go against our biology – they expect us to calorie-restrict (basically starve ourselves) and sooner or later your body will rebel against this. Yes, you may lose some pounds to begin with but eventually your body will reject any diet that requires you to be hungry all the time. Keto is not like that. There is no calorie restriction (beyond what is sensible, e.g. 2,000-2,500 calories a day) and you’re eating very satiating foods such as meat, eggs, bacon, cheese, nuts… You don’t go hungry.
Some people feel the keto diet lacks variety. You’re not eating as many fruits and vegetables and, of course, carbs and sugar are out so such things as breads, cakes, alcohol and desserts are no longer as readily available. Yes, there are substitutes but these are – if we’re honest – never as satisfying as the real thing!
KETO DIET PROS AND CONS #2: THE KETO DIET IS EXTREMELY SATIATING
You will experience rapid, healthy fat loss. The fat loss results from being on the keto diet is nothing short of astonishing. You can expect to drop fat weight very quickly, very consistently once your body is in ketosis. This is because your body is using almost exclusively fat for fuel. If you combine this with intermittent fasting and moderate exercise, the fat loss is even faster.
A keto diet takes more work than a general low-carb diet. It can take weeks – even months – before you’re in true ketosis, fully fat-adapted. During this time, you have to eat keto consistently, without fail, or you may never get into ketosis. Worse, you could be fooling yourself by actually not eating a true keto diet but instead eating high-fat and moderate carbs – that could be disastrous.
KETO DIET PROS AND CONS #3: CALORIES DON’T MATTER AS MUCH
The keto diet is not a calorie-counting diet. You simply eat until you’re full and then stop. However, it’s important to note that you should eliminate snacking when you’re doing keto and only eat during set meal times. What’s more important than counting calories is tracking your macros (your protein, fat and carb ratios). Some people say that tracking macros can be a hassle but even for these people there is an option of doing “lazy keto” (where you don’t count your macros but just keep carbs really low). So, not having to count calories is very freeing and compatible with many people’s busy lives.
Eating out is more of a challenge when you’re on a keto diet (although this can be said of any diet!) However, it’s arguably more difficult when you’re on keto because there may be hidden sugars in a lot of restaurant food and that sugar can be enough to kick you out of ketosis without you realising. It’s not as simple as eating low-calorie foods (since keto is not really concerned with calories) – you have to know the macros and, unless you go to a ket0 restaurant (which are rare), you’re not going to know the true macro makeup.
So, you get the freedom of not having to count calories but you then need to be more careful about hidden sugar.
KETO DIET PROS AND CONS #4: ANTI-INFLAMMATORY EFFECT
You can take an inflammation test, which screens for something called C-Reactive Protein (CRP) which is a biomarker for systemic inflammation throughout your body.
Chronic inflammation is connected with more extreme health conditions, such as (to name a few):
- Heart attack/stroke
- Atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
For some people, CRP can be dangerously high. On the keto diet, CRP levels fall dramatically to minuscule amounts. You can go from having dangerous levels of inflammation in your body (which can lead to to practically zero. That’s remarkable.
As well as lowering CRP levels, the keto diet can also help with snoring and sleep apnea. It does this by keeping insulin levels low (and insulin has been shown to have an inflammatory effect).
While the keto diet may reduce inflammation for many people, it also contains foods that will actually cause inflammation in some, e.g. dairy products. So, potential anti-inflammation gains could be lost on some. While it’s possible to do keto without dairy, it is significantly more difficult. (The keto diet may also be more challenging for vegetarians and vegans. While plant-based keto is possible, it is undoubtedly more difficult since plant foods are carb foods and you have to keep your carbs very low on the keto diet.)
KETO DIET PROS AND CONS #5: IT CAN BE EXPENSIVE
Is keto expensive? It all depends on what you’re eating and how exciting you want your diet to be. For many, keto is no more expensive than any normal diet. But, yes, if you insist on eating organic, grass-fed beef, tuna steaks and lobster every day, it will be prohibitively expensive. The fact is, the keto diet is not expensive but your need to make it interesting or to eat the best nature has to offer (which of course is the ideal but not everyone can afford to) is what makes it expensive.
Some say the keto diet is expensive – and it can be, depending on what you eat. You may find yourself having to make compromises and settling for a budget keto diet rather than dining on organic cuts of prime beef or seafood every night.
KETO DIET PROS AND CONS #6: SUSTAINABILITY
There is no reason why the keto diet is not sustainable in the long-term. It’s often levelled at the keto diet that it’s difficult to maintain. We’re not sure why people say this. Is keto any harder than paying a mortgage? Or raising children? Or learning a skill? Yet we don’t stop to ask whether those things are sustainable – we just do them as part of living. The fact is keto has everything you need nutritionally so there is no good reason why it cannot be a sustainable new way of living.
The reason perhaps some think keto is hard to sustain is because a high-carb, high-sugar diet is all they’ve ever known. They’re sugar/carb addicted. Both carbs and sugar are habit-forming so is it any surprise we find them so hard to quit after decades of eating in that way? It’s easy to confuse the difficulty of breaking a habit with saying keto is “not sustainable”.
Some believe keto is too strict. Ultimately, you have to eat no more than 25g of carbs per day. (For some, this is too low and they genuinely cannot do it. 50g or 100g max, may be a revised target for these people). “Uncomfortable” is not the same as unsustainable and when your body becomes fully keto adapted, maintaining a keto diet happens automatically.
PROS AND CONS #7: NUTRITIONAL CONTENT
The keto diet provides all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals you need. That’s because there is no essential food that is restricted in keto. There are essential vitamins, minerals and fats and those are all provided. The only thing keto restricts is carbs (sugar) and there is no such thing as an essential carb.
Some say the keto diet is nutrient deficient and we have no idea where this comes from. The keto diet has all the nutrients you need and what it may lack (e.g. electrolytes – sodium, potassium and magnesium), can be easily supplemented. Critics often cite lack of fiber and probiotics. However, the fact is, there are enough fiber sources in keto (e.g. flaxseed, asparagus, avocad0, nuts…). And as probiotics, the gut microbiome is not yet an exact science and even researchers who work in the field do not know for sure what foods are best for gut health. We simply do not yet fully understand the complex interactions between the countless bacteria in our gut.
PROS AND CONS #8: OBSESSIVE EATING
Keto is a very flexible and freeing diet. By not obsessing about calories and not restricting calorie intake, it does not suffer from diets that do. Those diets are not realistic and cannot be sustained in the long-term. If you were to boil keto down to one simple rule, it would be to keep carbs (sugar) to 25g a day, i.e. keto can be as involved or as simple as you want it to be.
Some believe keto makes people focus unhealthily on food and diet. This just isn’t true – there’s even a version of keto called lazy keto specifically for people who don’t want to obsess about what they’re eating! Keto no more encourages obsessive eating than a calorie-counting diet, an unhealthy diet or any other diet that has gone before or will come in the future. It’s really an unfair criticism of keto. A diet cannot be responsible for the choices an individual makes.