Unless you have been living under a rock, chances are you have heard about the infamous Keto Diet! There are die-hard fans of this diet and there are people who are adamantly against it. Whatever your view you can't escape the fact that the topic sure gets people talking!
So what exactly is the Keto Diet?
In a nutshell, the ketogenic diet puts a focus on eating foods that are very low in carbohydrates and foods that are very high in fat.
The diet has gained popularity in recent years as the BEST way to lose weight! So you can see why people have been jumping on the band wagon in droves!
What is my view?
Well, yes, I agree that a ketogenic "diet" has been shown to help some people lose weight (which surprises people because they would never have expected they could lose fat while EATING fat!) I also agree that this type of diet can also help improve certain health conditions that a lot of people often think they are stuck with or are a part of aging.
There are also some other benefits which I will go over in more detail below. But there is also a few important caveats you MUST consider before you dive head first into this way of eating for weight loss.
First, to understand how the ketogenic diet helps with weight loss, you need to understand the process of “ketosis”.
What is Ketosis?
Carbs (sugars & starches) are the preferred fuel source for your brain and muscles. They use carbs first for energy whenever they’re available in the bloodstream.
This is why maintaining stable blood sugar levels is important to regulate your attention, mood, and energy level.
However, when very low amounts of carbs are available for fuel, your body starts making compounds known as “ketones.” These are your body’s “backup fuel.” And your body makes them from fat.
Ketogenic literally means “the generation of ketones.”
After a while being on a diet very low in carbs, your blood level of ketones increases. This is the metabolic state known as "ketosis." It's the same process that your body goes through if you've fasted for 72 hours and depleted your supply of carbs as fuel. That's the trigger for turning fat into ketones which are then used for energy when carb stores are low.
Here's your first important note.... the state of “ketosis” as a result of following a ketogenic diet is not the same thing as the dangerous condition known as “ketoacidosis.” Ketoacidosis refers to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and is a complication of type 1 diabetes mellitus. It’s a life-threatening condition resulting from dangerously high levels of ketones and blood sugar. This combination makes your blood too acidic, which can change the normal functioning of internal organs like your liver and kidneys. It’s critical that you get prompt treatment.
Following a Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss
As I mentioned above, it is often surprising to people that they can actually lose weight when they increase their fat intake in their diet. In fact, not only is the intake of fat not a roadblock for weight loss but it is actually NECESSARY for weight loss.....well FAT LOSS to be exact....and especially if your goal is not just to lose fat but to sustain it long-term!
Let today be the last day you fall victim to the belief that no-fat/low-fat diets are the golden rule for weight loss! If you have followed these low-fat/no-fat diets before and struggled to lose weight and sustain it for the long-term, you will be happy to know it's because no-fat/low-fat diets don't work! At least one study showed that people lost 2.2 times more weight on a ketogenic diet than those on low-fat or calorie-controlled diets.
Now here's another caveat.....we are NOT talking about hydrogenated, trans fats! So don't think you should run out and indulge on a big, fatty, grease-laden burger and fries and still lose weight. Because the damage you will do to your body will be far too great PLUS our body doesn't respond to this type of fat in the same healthy way. We are talking about essential fatty acids, otherwise known as the "good fats". These fats are high in omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for our organs and cell health but also help to reduce inflammation which is often at the root of most of our serious health concerns. These "good fats" are found in naturally fatty foods such as avocados, salmon, walnuts, almonds and small, oily fish like sardines and mackerels to name a few.
Understanding the Science of Fat Loss
Another weight loss bonus of eating all that fat and more protein than carbs is that you will feel fuller for longer! Good fats and adequate levels of protein help release hormones that tell us when we are full and satisfied. They tell us when we don't need to eat anymore.
When people eat a healthy balance of good fats and lean protein alongside healthy carbohydrates in moderation, many people find they don't need to count calories or track food intake as much as they do with low-fat or calorie-controlled diets.
So, by eating enough healthy fat and protein to go into “ketosis,” you will have less cravings and will snack less because you will feel fuller for longer. So of course eating less food overall is going to help you achieve and maintain weight loss but just as important is that you will be only eating foods that are high in nutrition and promote a healthy balance of all the nutrients your body needs!
Following a Ketogenic Diet for Improved Health
Some studies show numerous other health benefits of the ketogenic diet besides fat loss.
As you can imagine, consuming very low levels of carbs can help reduce and stabilise blood sugar and therefore regulate how much insulin your body releases throughout each day. If you are trying to avoid Type 2 Diabetes this is KEY! (Or perhaps you have already been diagnosed and are looking to reverse your condition. Yes you heard me! Reversing Type 2 Diabetes IS possible! If so, then again, reducing the amount of insulin your body secretes to balance blood sugar is so very important.)
Worried about high cholesterol levels? One study showed improved blood triglycerides (fat) and cholesterol numbers in those people following a ketogenic way of eating. So you see, eating fat (if it's the RIGHT fat) doesn't mean your cholesterol levels will go up either!
And if that wasn't enough, several studies have shown reduced seizures in children wth epilepsy who follow a ketogenic diet. This is because the good fats we are talking about including in your diet are essential for supporting brain function.
Are There Any Negatives to the Ketogenic Diet?
Well, like most things you have to approach a new change in your habits slowly and should NEVER be taken to extremes! Carbs have been given a bad rap over the years and so I often see people who are fans of the Keto Diet take it a little too far. They eliminate ALL carbohydrates altogether and this can have detrimental health effects! Remember, your body NEEDS carbohydrates because they are your body's number one quick energy source. And sometimes a QUICK energy source is essential when our body and mind needs to react fast to a threat or stressful situation.
The KEY is to make sure you are getting your carbohydrates from healthy, nutrient-rich sources such as fruits, vegetables and other wholegrain forms that are full of fiber. All white, refined, sugary, starchy carbohydrates should be avoided at all cost because they offer NOTHING in the way of nutrition and just take you for a ride on the weight loss/weight gain blood-sugar rollercoaster!
The best rule of thumb is to always remember the old adage, "everything in moderation!" Make sure you speak with a registered nutritionist or other trained healthcare practitioner before you try any new diet or health regime. The keto diet if not done correctly can have very unpleasant side effects, including the infamous “keto flu.”
Now another thing to note is that the ketogenic diet involves getting 60-75% of your calories from healthy fat, 20-35% from lean protein, and only 5% from healthy carbs. This is actually very hard to follow as it feel quite restrictive to many and people struggle to stay on this routine for a long time.
If you still wish to give it a try and have had clearance from your health professional, the best foods to focus on for a ketogenic diet are lean meat, fatty. oily fish, eggs (including the yolk!), nuts (specifically walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, brazil nuts and cashews) seeds (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds), healthy oils (flax seed oil, fish oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil), avocados, and low-carb vegetables (cucumber, celery, peppers, zucchini, leafy greens, etc.).
The main things to avoid are foods that are high in starchy, refined "empty" carbs. These include sugary foods, desserts, “diet foods” that are loaded with artificial preservatives, flavours and sweeteners and white, refined foods such as white flour, white rice, white pasta and white bread. You also want to limit your intake of beans and legumes, starchy vegetables like potatoes, and alcohol. and “diet foods” that are loaded with artificial preservatives, flavours and sweeteners. Even fruits, as nutritious as they can be, need to be eaten in moderation because of the high level of natural sugars they contain.
Now because of the limits on fruit and starchy vegetables, many people on the ketogenic diet often need to consider taking supplements. This is because, in addition to their sugar and starch, fruits and starchy veggies are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and phyto-nutrients. So, if you're cutting those foods out, you still need to give your body those nutrients. And often, it means needing supplements.
Now this is where I tend to sway on the Keto Diet a little bit. Because I don't ever think you should have to take supplements for nutrients you should be able to get easily from your food. Supplements are meant to be just that.....a supplement to an otherwise healthy diet, not a replacement or substitute. I recommend supplements on a short-term basis, especially for people who have a natural deficiency in certain nutrients as a result of a specific health condition, but they should not need to be taken long-term once the nutrient deficiency has been restored and is able to be maintained.
So my honest answer to the question, "Do I advocate the Keto Diet for a long-term weight loss plan?" My simple answer is No! Because long-term you shouldn't have to live without the correct balance of ALL nutrients and you shouldn't have to rely on re-balancing your health long-term through the use of supplements.
So what do I recommend?
Well to clarify, the basic fundamentals of the Keto Diet I do support. I just don't agree with the extreme nature of cutting healthy carbs to such low levels for so long. It's simply not natural.
That is why the methodology I have taught my clients for over 12 years, the same methodology I followed myself to lose weight and maintain it for over 10 years, takes the best parts of the Keto Diet but applies them in a way that is practical, healthy and SUSTAINABLE FOR LIFE!
Want to learn more about the methodology I teach? CLICK HERE TO SCHEDULE YOUR FREE STRATEGY SESSION and let's see if you are the perfect candidate to get the same amazing results!
The ketogenic diet is very popular these days but it can often be taken to extremes which then becomes unhealthy. It can be helpful for weight loss, and can also provide benefits to help with other health conditions, but long-term, you may struggle to stick with it.
It’s not for everyone, so make sure you check with a knowledgeable practitioner before you begin.