The recent popularity of the high-fat, low-carb Ketogenic diet raises questions on the viability of a diet with minimal carb content. Is this just another food fad, or the answer you’ve been looking for?

Can your body function without carbs?

Your body uses carbohydrates to generate energy by burning glycogen in the liver and muscles. When your body is deprived of carbohydrates, it is still able to carry out its daily activities (all the internal bodily activities, as well as the external activities that you do during the day).
But what happens if you stop eating carbs? Where does your body get energy from? From fat! That’s right. Your body starts using stored body fat as a source of energy. And that’s the basis of the ketogenic or keto diet.

How does the Keto diet work?

A keto diet can take several days to kick in. During this initial period, you may feel drained of energy and suffer from mood swings. But once your body is completely deprived of carbs, ‘ketosis’ begins. This means that your body starts to break down ‘ketone’, or fat, to generate energy for your body to function.

To make this happen, you need to make sure your intake of carbs is limited to less than 50 grams per day. You’ll have to keep this up for a few days for ketosis to begin.

The Keto diet has several advantages – provided your body is actually in the state of ketosis. To list a few:

  •       High levels of energy throughout the day
  •       Improved attention span and memory
  •       Suppressed appetite
  •       Weight loss
  •       Low blood pressure
  •       Fewer mood swings
  •       Improved skin quality
  •       Improved performance endurance
  •       Better control over sugar cravings
  •       Reduced bloating and excess water weight

But Keto is not without its challenges…

Theoretically speaking, incorporating the Keto diet into your everyday life is fairly straightforward. All you need to do is get rid of the carbs. But in reality, it’s very difficult for an average person to sustain without carbs for a prolonged period. This is because most of the foods we see around us – be it at home or on in stores – are loaded with carbs. Things get even tougher if you decide to go out for a meal.

So, is Keto the diet for you?

Getting on the Keto diet is a lifestyle choice. Those who opt for it make a conscious commitment to let go of carbs.

But it’s important to remember that carbs are one of the three essential macronutrients that comprise a balanced diet – the other two being proteins and fats. So when you go on the keto diet, you are depriving your body of an essential dietary component.

I personally don’t recommend the keto diet to clients seeking weight loss. Weight loss happens as a result of a calorie deficit diet. And when it comes to long-term weight loss, research does not show any significant advantage to be gained from the Keto diet over a regular, calorie deficit diet.

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