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How Much Does The Keto Diet Really Cost?

Given how trendy the ketogenic (low-carbohydrate, high-fat) diet is right now, you may be tempted to jump onto the bandwagon. However, could this end up costing you more than a balanced diet?

The ketogenic diet is incredibly popular right now, and it's easy to see why. It promises quick weight-loss results while still allowing (and encouraging) you to indulge in foods like steak and cheese. Before you try it, though, it's important to realize that keto can end up costing more than a balanced diet–both financially and in terms of health–in the long run. In this article, we explore why.

The Keto Diet’s Ingredients Drive Meal-Prep Costs Up

Typical ingredients found in a ketogenic meal include steak, chicken, fatty fish, bacon, and cheese–all of which can significantly drive up your groceries cost. The cost difference between a ketogenic diet and a balanced meal becomes apparent when you compare the costs of protein-heavy ingredients to those of vegetables and grains. When a higher proportion of the meal is allocated to vegetables and grains, their lower prices can help to bring down the meal’s total cost.

Table of ingredient costs by food category

According to Health Hub Singapore, a balanced meal is comprised of 50% vegetables & fruits, 25% whole-grains, and 25% protein. In this case, 75% of a meal is comprised of generally lower-cost ingredients. The ketogenic diet's macronutrients ratio, on the other hand, is 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. Ingredients that are high in protein and fat–as required to make up 95% of the diet–are generally more expensive.

Keto-Friendly Meals Cost More Than Other Menu Items

If you’re not meal-prepping because of how time-consuming it is, you’ll have to eat out–this is where you’ll see your food expenses skyrocket. Meals explicitly marked as "keto-friendly" in eateries tend to be more expensive than other items on the menu, with differences going up to S$7+.

Table comparing prices of keto-friendly and main menu meals at several eateries in Singapore

That said, you can attempt to follow the ketogenic diet on the cheap at the hawker centre. It’s possible to order chicken rice (typically priced at S$3.50) without rice, for example. Nonetheless, be mindful that store owners may reject your request, and hawker foods also tend to be on the greasier side, which may not be the kind of good dietary fats you’re looking for. You can alternatively use a dining credit card for special discounts and cashback when you do decide to dine out for a keto meal.

Sticking To The Keto Diet Long-Term Could Be Dangerous

The ketogenic diet can also be costly to your health, even though research on this is mixed. People on low-carb diets are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation–a type of heart rhythm disorder–compared to those who eat moderate amounts of carbohydrates. Studies also indicate that those who follow the ketogenic diet may face an increased risk of dying from cancer and even a higher risk of early death.

More likely than not, you may find that cutting out carbohydrates from your diet for the rest of your life is quite challenging. If you fall off the keto diet bandwagon, you may start to regain weight, unless you change your lifestyle in other ways, such as going on a different diet or leading a more physically active lifestyle. Note that these are things you could have tried before attempting the ketogenic diet.

Quick Weight Loss Results, But Long Term Costs

Due to the nature of the ketogenic diet's high satiety from fat and protein, paired with the restriction of carbohydrates intake, you’re bound to experience rapid weight loss–especially in the beginning. However, you may want to consider if this way of eating is sustainable in the long-term, financially or in terms of your lifestyle. You may also want to take into account the potential of developing health issues, which can further stress your finances.

Perhaps a better choice would be following a balanced diet, along with a reduction in calories and lifestyle changes–higher levels of physical activity, for example. What if you still want to try the ketogenic diet? Consult your healthcare doctor. This way, you can be sure if it’s indeed the best choice for you.

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