KETO. Why its (probably) not for you!

Keto - the diet that avid followers swear by as the best way to drop body fat. Here's the thing, although it may work really well for some people, for others it's laborious, time consuming to manage, frustrating, and worst of all - not that effective. In this piece I'll discuss what it is and why it may or may not be ideal for you. 

The term "keto" refers to a ketogenic diet. Essentially it consists of a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate spread of macronutrients. The science behind it is simply that by limiting your carbohydrate consumption you starve your body's glucose stores (it's preferred energy source) which in turn will create ketones which will then start to burn your own fat for fuel. Sounds great, right? Perhaps. But probably not. Let me explain. 

Here are some things that you should know about it. It really only works if you're in a caloric deficit (calories in vs calories out). For most people, sacrificing carbs will make it easier to stay in a deficit but for some the opposite is true. Fats are extremely calorie dense. There are 9 calories per gram of fat as there are only 4 calories per gram of carb. So your block of mozzarella is still going to screw you even though there are very few carbs in it. 

Another problem I have with the keto diet is that it's very restrictive. This means that over time you're most likely going to develop some deficiencies such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and carnitine and fiber - so you will need to take supplements to counter this. 

You should also consider whether the way it burns energy is best for your needs. Fatty-acids are a great source of fuel for slow burning energy. This is great for long distance runners and people who need a sustained level of energy for a longer period in time. However carbohydrates are a better source of energy for power, strength and most recreational sports. So if you want to perform better, choose your energy source wisely.

For many reasons I rarely suggest a strict ketogenic diet to anyone. It simply isn't sustainable for most people. People enjoy eating carbohydrates and there is nothing wrong with that (in moderation of course) provided they are unprocessed and unaltered. If you try a keto diet and you indulge in carbs every now and then  you'll bounce in and out of keto and you wont give it a chance to do it's fat burning thing. In that case, you're better off in having a balanced diet of healthy carbs and fats and keep your calorie consumption in check. This form of eating is sustainable for weight maintenance, muscle gain, and fat loss (depending on calorie consumption), and you'll have a greater chance of getting the variety of micronutrients needed to keep your body healthy.