Keto is a high fat, medium protein & very low carb diet which aims to put the body in a state of ketosis where fat is burnt and turned into ketones which are used as the main energy source, rather than carbs.
In the short term, keto diets are effective at training the body to metabolise fat so most people will see an initial weight loss. Health benefits have been found to occur because of the reduction in blood sugar and insulin levels and, research has also shown that in some cases, a keto diet can help reduce seizures in children suffering with epilepsy.
However, there are several reasons why a keto diet shouldn’t be followed for more than a short period… For starters, a diet that almost completely strips carbohydrates from the body is unlikely to be sustainable and even a slight increase in carbs, with all else remaining the same, will take your body out of a ketogenic state and could cause you to gain weight quickly. Ultimately your body should be metabolically flexible, so that it can easily switch between using glycogen (carbs) and glucagon (fats), but being on keto indefinitely never allows for this adaption.
Keto can also negatively affect your ability to build lean muscle, since without enough glycogen (sugars from carbs) in your blood, it is difficult to push your body to the intensity required to stimulate new muscle growth. Over a sustained period, muscle tissue can even start to break down so that your diet has become counterproductive to achieving improved body composition.
Furthermore, when combined with frequent training, keto can fatigue your adrenal glands over time, leading to incorrect hormone function. This can lead to wide ranging health issues which may not become evident until later, which is of particular importance to women considering pregnancy.
Whilst there are definite benefits to following a keto diet in the short term, it is not a lifelong fix. The only way to achieve long-term, sustainable fat loss is to eat a well-balanced diet, ensure you’re eating the correct amount of calories for your body and your activity levels, and exercise consistently. It’s not glamorous and it’s not easy, but it’s a sure-fire way to keep moving forward with your goals!