Should You Go KETO?
Should You Go KETO?
By Steph Garr
You’ve surely heard about the keto diet and all of its “miraculous” benefits. And how carbs are evil. And how you get to eat loads of eggs and bacon and chocolate-y “fat bombs.” And how the pounds will just melt right off. And how amazing you will feel the whole entire time.
But here’s the thing: anytime you hear about a diet (or anything, for that matter) with such outrageous claims, you have to question its legitimacy—especially when those claims are sold alongside pricey supplements (i.e. ketones, MCT oil, etc.).
See, the science behind the ketogenic diet is still rather fuzzy, but this is the basis of it:
What is the Ketogenic Diet and How Does It Work?
The goal is to have your body use up all of its glucose (or sugar) stores, which it gets from breaking down carbohydrates, so it’s forced to dip into your fat reserves for fuel. Once it starts burning fat instead of carbohydrates, it produces ketones. When this happens, your body is in a state of ketosis.
To get here, dieters have to drastically cut their carbohydrate intake, so much so that even most fruits are no-no’s. With very little carbs in your diet, you’re then forced to turn to fats and proteins as your primary sources of nutrients. In fact, you’ll be eating an extremely high-fat diet—some even recommend as much as 80% of your calories be fats!
Keto diet fanatics believe that using ketones as fuel is far more beneficial than good ol’ glucose. This is because ketones don’t affect blood sugar or insulin levels (two things linked to diabetes and other chronic diseases when they get out of whack), and after awhile they can even curb cravings and suppress your appetite. Many also claim it can increase their mental clarity and focus, at least once they get over the brain fog and fatigue caused by what they’ve dubbed the “keto flu.”
But is this type of diet effective for an active female athlete who is already burning through a ton of fuel? Probably not. In fact…
KETO IS EXTREMELY DETRIMENTAL TO THE FEMALE ATHLETE
This is because carbohydrates continue to be your body’s preferred fuel—for both activity and recovery (we discuss this quite a bit more in THIS ARTICLE).
In fact, your body wants to use glucose so badly that it actually converts protein into a sugar to use it for energy (this process is called gluconeogenesis). This is the main reason why keto supporters believe you need to limit your protein intake and eat mostly fats.
But fats will only get you so far, especially when you’re working your butt off most days at the gym. It’s important to note that those touting the keto diet also suggest limited intense exercise. Unfortunately, that’s not an option when you’re a badass female athlete.
Science is Power—and So are Carbs!
As science starts to catch up to the keto fad, more evidence is coming out that keto is probably not the healthiest diet for both females and highly active people.
Keto can be especially stressful on female bodies because it can affect hormones and may even cause irregular menstrual cycles or stop periods altogether.
And, heck, even the most fanatic keto followers are starting to cozy up to carbs again with what they call “carb cycling.” This is a fancy term that basically allows them to load up on carbs as much as a few days a week—because even they’ll admit that CARBS ARE NECESSARY for optimal performance!
Balance is Best
Any extreme diet like keto can be tremendously tough on your body, and at this point there’s no clear idea of how a keto diet will affect the body in the long-term.
But we already know that there’s plenty of scientific proof showing that a well-balanced diet with plenty of carbohydrates is the surest way to a healthy body that not only looks good but is always ready to perform. So, go ahead, enjoy your carbs—and the power they’ll give you!