Is the ketogenic diet the secret to changing your metabolism and kickstarting a body fat loss?
In 2018, I experienced a surge of clients and class participants asking me about the ketogenic diet. What is it? Is it effective? Is it safe? You've probably asked yourself the same questions!
The ketogenic diet delves into the breakdown of your macronutrients. The caloric ratios individuals should consume are: 75-80% fats, 20% proteins and no more than 5% carbohydrates.
The typical ketogenic day may look like two eggs and a greek yogurt for breakfast. At the lunch hour, an individual may eat two chicken thighs served with steamed broccoli. For dinner, a piece of salmon with herb butter and a side salad.
Not a lot of carbs in the meal plan!
I've decided to break down the research and provide my advice and best practices with the ketogenic diet.
What is the theory behind the ketogenic diet?
In one simple sentence: The ketogenic diet changes your metabolism from burning glucose (compound derived from carbohydrates) to burning ketones (compound produced from fats) for energy.
By ingesting a significantly lower quantity of carbohydrates (around 20-50g per day), your metabolism is forced to utilize fats either in the bloodstream or from stored sources. These fats are converted into ketones and are used to fuel exercise and other daily activities.
The first 2-4 days are the most critical to starting a ketogenic diet. There is no easing in process. You must begin the macronutrient ratios immediately and without compromise in order to see results.
What are the advantages to a ketogenic diet?
Individuals who are significantly overweight or obese, could find an effective jumpstart to their fat loss. Allowing the metabolism to choose body fat stores as a first resort has shown to be an effective weight loss strategy in these populations.
An increase in muscle mass has been shown due to the increase in protein. Most people who switch from a low-fat diet to a ketogenic style show a marked increase in lean body mass.
A decrease in hunger pains is also linked to the ketogenic diet. This could be due to the body being fed the exact macronutrient it is using for energy.
Exogenous ketones are available for purchase to help you through the most challenging beginning days or throughout your time on the diet. You can take these like any sport drink throughout the day.
What are the disadvantages to a ketogenic diet?
It may be very difficult to limit your carbohydrate sources. If someone goes from getting 40-50% of the daily calorie from carbohydrates to less than 5%, it can be a challenging lifestyle switch.
The long term weight loss results are not better than any other diet style. As in, you may see an initial fat loss that could plateau over the course of a year. (It may easy to slip on the less than 5% carbs per day.)
Because there is an influx of additional fats and proteins, these could have a negative impact on cholesterol levels. Also, the sources of the macronutrients needed to be chosen carefully. Eating red meat too often has been linked to heart problems.
Purchasing supplemental ketones (exogenous) may be ineffective. Most retailers sell ketone salts which have a marginal benefit on ketosis. Ketone esters are much more effective with the ketogenic diet but are very expensive and are not as readily available to the public.
The first 2-4 days on the ketogenic diet may result in something called the "keto flu." Individuals complain that they experience a lack of energy, nausea, foggy brain and a reduction in sleep. This is due to the change in metabolism and will go away.
If you can truly handle or meet the following criteria, give keto a try:
A macronutrient breakdown of 75-80% fats, 20% proteins and less than 5% carbohydrates
An overall consumption of carbohydrates that are less than 50g per day
Surviving an initial "keto flu." If you can take some days off of work when you start, this could be a good strategy
In need of a significant loss in body fat (~25-100lbs)
No yo-yo dieting. There are no cheat days on this diet
If the above requirements sound too restrictive, then I would not recommend the ketogenic diet for your eating plan. It is truly an all or nothing diet and if you can't make the full commitment, don't bother with it.
Please do not hesitate with your questions or feedback to my post. If you want more information on ketogenic diets, let me know!
Thanks for reading!