Over the past 40 years, a chain reaction of events starting with the discovery of food processing has led to a worldwide obesity crisis like never before. The food industry primes us to eat more, but the media industry has us on the pursuit of rock-hard abs and buns of steel. These conflicting messages have fueled a 66 billion Dollar dieting industry in the US alone. There are hundreds and thousands of companies, brands and people making money out of these diets and the sad part is that they’re all smoke and mirrors.
Today, we’re diving into what could be considered the OG of yo-yo diets. It was first known as the Banting Diet, but later re-branded into the Atkins Diet. Nowadays, you’ll most-likely know it as the Ketogenic Diet.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Keto Diet is extremely high in fat and extremely low in carbohydrates. And when I say “extremely”, I’m not taking that word lightly. The average person gets around 50% of their daily energy from carbohydrates. On the other hand, someone following the Keto Diet only gets around 10% from carbs. So you’re pretty much cutting out an entire food in the pursuit of “getting shredded”.
Without even getting into the technicals of ketosis and all that BS, I’m going to explain why it’s just another fad yo-yo diet due to two simple reasons: (1) It’s unnecessary, and (2) it’s unsustainable.
First of all, carbs are not the enemy here, and this is where my main issue with this diet stems from. It demonizes an entire food group through cherry-picked claims that carbohydrates are the main cause of weight gain and diabetes. This is not the case. Carbohydrates are a healthy part of any diet and are essential for so many reasons including energy, digestion, regulating stress levels, and the list goes on. Now that’s not to say that all sources of carbohydrates are equal. Some (such as fruit, starchy veg, oats and brown rice) are better than others (like refined sugar, refined flour, alcohol etc). But that’s not to say that because there are some that contribute to weight gain (if eaten excessively) that you should cut them ALL out completely.
The second problem with the Keto Diet is that it is unsustainable, which is the Achilles of all other fad diets. Is it realistic to think that you could cut out a whole food group from your diet? Particularly the one containing the biggest variety and, arguably, the best foods? For most people I would say probably not. Maybe you could last a few months or even up to a year if you don’t have any taste-buds. But for most people, I would say it’s probably not something you could sustain for the rest of your life. So while you may very well lose weight in the short run (cutting out 50% of what you eat tends to do this to you, funny that…), it won’t last. If you’re not convinced, take a look at the below list of foods that someone following Keto can and can’t eat. The ones written in yellow are Keto-approved, the ones written in grey you should (apparently) avoid at all costs.
The diet is extremely limiting and creates an unhealthy relationship with foods that are packed with nutrients and can only do you good. Look at the foods in grey on the fruit and vegetable column. They’re all amazing for you so why should you be cutting any of them out? In my opinion, the day that you feel guilty for eating an apple is the day that you seriously have to take a step back and reevaluate what you’re doing with your life.
No matter which way you spin it, the bottom line is that you need to be in a calorie deficit in order to burn fat. In other words, the energy you’re consuming needs to be less than the energy you’re burning. You could create that same calorie deficit by cutting out ANY food that makes up even a small portion of your daily consumption. But would I recommend cutting out an ENTIRE food group to lose weight? No. Is it necessary to cut out all carbs in order to lose weight? No again.
So in my opinion, Keto isn’t worth your time, or money, honey.