Weight loss products are obviously big business, with endless new diet products and methods out there with the promise of an awesome new you.
When you break most of these products/ methods down, the end result is the same – reducing your calories. The Keto Diet is one that has interested me for some time, so I thought I’d start things off with a small blog rounding up what this diet is, and what it involves. You can find numerous articles on the Keto Diet on Google, but I’ve noticed quite a few are bias towards the diet, with no mention of the drawbacks in the articles. My intention is to give you a general roundup of the points you should be aware of when following the Keto Diet:
The Keto Diet:
Quite a few people are advocates of this diet. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it is a high fat, medium protein, low carb diet. Your food plan would consist of 50g of carbs a day (or less), 20-30% protein and the rest from healthy fats. Consuming this lower level of carbs will result in very low levels of blood sugar (our primary fuel source) in the body, and it will enter a state of Ketosis. The time it takes to enter Ketosis will depend on the individual, but this isn’t instant. Be prepared for a real dip in energy whilst your body adapts.
Once in Ketosis, the body is using Ketones as the new primary source of energy. This is achieved via breaking down fats in the body, and converting them to Ketones in the liver.
So this sounds great – we’re burning fat rather than the glucose (blood sugar). However, we’re going to need to be in a calorie deficit to be burning more fat than we’re taking in. 1 pound of fat still equals 3500 calories, so you will still need to burn 3500 calories more than you take in to get shot of that pound.
So we need to reduce calories anyway – so why the switch needed from carbs to fat? Essentially, the diet claims that once in calorie deficit, fat is burned far more efficiently. Certainly, I’ve heard those who have been on Keto say that their weight has just dropped off.
A problem with most diets is that they will leave you hungry and you will be more inclined to snack. The Keto Diet in theory should make this easier. Fat has a higher satiety value than carbohydrate, so will keep you fuller for longer. Another plus is that is that the highs and lows in blood sugar that can cause dips in energy levels, and subsequent snacking, will be eliminated as your body will have a steady supply of energy.
Weight Loss on the Keto Diet:
Weight loss on this or any diet is never unfortunately going to be 100% fat. The scales will tell you how much weight you’ve dropped, but the only way to know how much of that is down to fat reduction is to have your body fat % measured.
So where does the weight loss come from? In addition to fat, it will be a mixture of:
Water – glucose is stored in the liver and muscles with 3 parts water. Hence, as your body uses these glucose stores and they are not replenished, the water stored with it will also be lost. This is not unique at all to Keto, but will be noticeable far more rapidly.
Lean tissue – there is a risk with any diet that you will lose lean tissue. It is not unique to Keto, especially if you restrict your calories too much. The body will respond by breaking down lean tissue and using it for fuel.
Be aware though, that carbs play a role in muscle recovery, repair and rebuild. Hence, this process will be impacted without sufficient carbs in the body.
As you probably know, cutting out carbs means eliminating or at least limiting a large number of foods from your diet – including fruit, pulses and veg. This in turn means that you will be eliminating vital vitamins, minerals and fiber from on a daily basis. Hence, definitely invest in a supplement to ensure you are still getting your recommended daily allowances.
The final thing to consider is the type of fat that you are eating. A high fat diet really needs to focus on healthy fats, and avoid trans fats and too many saturated fats. These can lead to an increased risk of high cholesterol levels and heart disease. Healthy fats are found in: Avocados, nuts, nut butters, olives and olive oil, seeds and oily fish.
There’s no doubt Keto is not for everyone – it’s a major change to the way we currently eat, and a lot of people will find it very hard to stick to. At the end of the day, I would suggest anyone considering this diet discuss it in full with their doctor or a qualified nutritionist before taking the plunge.