Pros and Cons of a Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss

Pros and Cons of a Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss

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Today we are going to chat all about a topic that I really love talking about – ketogenic diets. It is likely not a big surprise to you if you’ve been around here long enough that I use ketogenic eating styles in my practice with some of my clients for various reasons and one of those reasons is weight loss. I began using this eating style with my clients back in 2013 very sparingly but with the increase in research and media attention, women are turning to this eating style as a method of weight loss when they feel like nothing else has worked for them.

In 2018, after I finished nursing the twins, I put myself into ketosis for an extended period of time so that I could try recipes that I would later give my clients and really understand the transition into ketosis and what it felt like to burn ketones. I started it as a 6 week trial and I ended up staying in ketosis for months. I enjoyed the energy I had and the long periods of time I could go without eating, which as a busy mom and business owner, was a really useful side effect. I’m no longer burning ketones but still follow a lower carbohydrate eating style, it is just what makes me feel the best. 

Food is one of those things that people tend to be very opinionated about and there are typically two types of people: people who think a ketogenic eating style is the key to eternal life and optimal health (maybe a bit dramatic but that’s the way it comes off) and people who think it’s a heart attack waiting to happen. Based on research and my clinical experience, I don’t believe either to be true. I think a ketogenic eating style can be an excellent tool for clients who are really struggling with their weight and that an eventual transition back into burning carbohydrates for fuel will be the goal for most people.

Since I began using the ketogenic diet in my practice, I have seen some POWERFUL results. That being said, I have also seen many people who this eating style was not right for. Nutrition is something that must be individual – one way of eating is NOT right for everyone and the best eating style for you is the one that gives you energy, allows you to sleep well, supports good digestion and is sustainable.

I don’t want to bore you too much with the details of a ketogenic diet (if you haven’t watched my free keto webinar, check it out here) – so I want to jump right into some of the pros and cons:

Pros:

  1. Appetite suppression: This is one of the things that my client’s find the most powerful. The production of ketones can provide some appetite suppression, which provides a level of freedom from food cravings that many of the women that I work with have never experienced. This leads to compliance rates that are very high, because many of my clients find it quite easy to adhere to the meal plans I’ve put together for them.
  2. Reduction in inflammation: A reduction in inflammatory can be very powerful for women living with chronic inflammatory conditions in terms of overall feelings of wellness and weight loss (if that is their goal).
  3. Consistent energy/reduction in “brain fog”: These are all mostly anecdotal pros, but having worked with enough women, I hear this 99% of the time. Arguably, with a balanced diet and enough water and sleep, this consistent energy and reduction in “brain fog” can be experienced regardless, but this is something that I continue to hear over and over again.
  4. Compliance: This is something that I see over and over again. The reason this eating style works so well for people is typically for two real reasons: appetite suppression and compliance. When you know that the jelly beans, the latte, the chocolate bar, etc. are going to kick you out of ketosis, you are much less likely to mindlessly consume these food items (when you’re burning carbohydrates for fuel and don’t run the risk of getting kicked out of ketosis, it may be easier to have a little because it “won’t hurt”). Also, the stable blood sugar levels people experience prevent those dips that sometimes leave us reaching for some simple carbohydrates (sugar) to bring our blood sugar levels back up.

Cons:

  1. We don’t know what the long term impacts of this diet are: Based on the available research, I feel comfortable recommending this eating style for up to a year for weight loss purposes but once the goal weight is achieved, I guide my clients through a transition back to burning carbohydrates (typically a breakdown of around 30% protein, 40% fat and 30% carbohydrates, depending on the client). Anyone who says that it’s a way of life and can say with 100% certainty that there are no potential health risks associated with long term adherence to this eating style is not telling you the whole story. The truth is, we don’t know what the long term implications are and we won’t for many years.
  2. It can be done in a very unhealthy way (I won’t elaborate too much on this – check out my post here and here for some of the top keto mistakes people are making)
  3. Potential vitamin/mineral deficiencies: The ketogenic diet has gotten a lot of bad press because people are putting themselves into ketosis using a diet of beef, cheese, bacon and butter (all great things, but in the right quantities). When I guide my clients through a ketogenic eating style, there is a big focus on micronutrients from vegetables and low carbohydrate fruit, like berries and fibre from things like ground flaxseed, chia seeds and cruciferous vegetables.

In summary, I think that a ketogenic diet can be used as a tool to assist women in achieving their weight loss goals (however, it definitely isn’t the only strategy). If you’ve been interested in trying this eating style to see how you feel, I definitely recommend working with a Registered Dietitian that can assist you in this transition into and out of ketosis. There are a few of us working in this area across Canada, so do your research. If you have any questions about the ketogenic eating style program I offer, you can read more about it here.

What questions do you have about this eating style? Let me know in the comments and I will be sure to answer!

Until next time,

Yours in Health,

Kristin

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