What is a Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic diet is a diet used to burn fat for energy. Most ketogenic diets include high fats, low carbs, and mid-level protein. Bodybuilders often use the high protein version of the ketogenic diet (high protein, high fat, and low carbs), which is more suitable for their muscle building needs. It is typically recommended to be under 50g of carbohydrates for the keto diet to be effective.
How does a Ketogenic diet works?
It may be surprising to you that eating a high fat diet can actually help you decrease weight. However, the key aspect to losing weight is being in a caloric deficit. As long as you are in a caloric deficit (eating less calories than you burn), you should be losing weight on any diet.
An average diet consists of high carbs, mid-level fats and lower protein. The body typically uses Carbohydrates as energy to fuel the body. The science behind this is basically, carbs increase your blood sugar (glucose) which is then used by your body as energy. However, in a low carb diet you are decreasing your blood sugar, so your body cannot get the amount of energy it needs. Therefore, it begins to burn your stored fat in order to attain energy. The process of burning fat to gain energy is called Ketosis. It is recommended to be eating below 50g of carbs to be in the state of ketosis. Interestingly, there are devices out there that tell you if you have entered the state of ketosis, these devices are called Ketone Meters.
There are various types of Ketone Meters, including Blood Ketone Meters (pricks the tip of your finger), Breath Ketone Meters (you blow into the meter), and an Urinalysis Testing Strip. I have linked a Breath Ketone Meter and an Urinalysis Testing Strip below*:
Urinalysis Ketone Meter: https://amzn.to/3VUnkzS
Breath Ketone Meter: https://amzn.to/3UQc46n
Cheat days with lots of carbs are not recommended while on the Ketogenic Diet because it can take your body up to 1 week to get back into the state of burning fat for energy and slows down your progress. So, you could rather choose keto friendly cheat meals.
For many people, the ketogenic diet is not a sustainable option for a long period of time. It is likely that you will regain 5-10 pounds after you transition back to an average diet, because your water weight will increase (it is important to recognize that this increase is not due to higher fat levels)
How Does Eating Fat Help Me Lose Fat?
The key concept here is to be in a caloric deficit. As long as you are in a caloric deficit, the food you eat on a daily basis will not be enough to fuel your body. Therefore, your body will be forced to search for another energy source, that does not come from your daily diet. When you are on a Ketogenic Diet, you have depleted your glycogen stores (because glucose comes from carbs), so your body cannot get energy from the stored glucose. Therefore, your body is forced to burn the stored fat to get energy. The Ketogenic Diet forces your body to resort to burning fat much quicker than a normal diet, however, in order to burn stored fat, you must be in a caloric deficit.
What to expect early in a Keto Diet?
- A dramatic decrease in your weight (this is due to a decrease in water weight, and is not a result of fat loss)
- Decreased strength in the gym.
- Decreased micronutrient intake
- Keto Flu, which includes:
- Decreased micronutrient intake
- Lack of Focus
- Mood Swings
- Diarrhea or Constipation
Who is the Ketogenic Diet for?
- The ketogenic diet was originally advised by doctors to help treat Epilepsy patients.
- It may also be useful for athletes who are trying to eliminate a lot of weight in a short period of time.
- Individuals who have type 2 diabetes may benefit from the ketogenic diet as this diet does not rely on the functioning of insulin but rather on the process of ketosis.
- It can also be useful for people with high levels of fat because they may be able to successfully derive enough energy off of their stored fat, so they do not need to eat as many carbs compared to someone who is lean.
*This post includes affiliate links.
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