How a Ketogenic Diet Can Be Beneficial

We all have different tastes and thus prefer different dietary approaches. It's why we have a variety of diets to choose from when it comes to fat loss and/or general living. And one of our options is the ketogenic diet. So what is the ketogenic diet, and what are its benefits? The following blog will detail this, so you can decide if it's for you!

keto

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

A ketogenic diet consists of high protein intake, high fats, and low carbohydrates.

The dietary macronutrients are divided into approximately:

Protein: 30-35%

Fat: 55-60%

Carbs: 5-10%

So if you were following a 2000 calorie diet, your carbohydrates would be around 20-50 grams per day.

So why is this approach taken?

Because abstaining from carbohydrates enables ketogenic diet followers to enter a state of "ketosis."

 

What is Ketosis?

what is ketosis

Ketosis is a process that happens when your body doesn't have enough carbohydrates to burn for energy. 

So it burns fat and makes what are called ketones, which can be used for fuel.

But this doesn't mean you're going to burn more body fat than anyone on a traditional diet of up to 150 grams of carbohydrates (or more).
 
Because what governs weight loss is a calorie deficit. 
So if you're eating a diet high in carbohydrates, or low, the fat loss results are the same.


But Don't Carbs Make Us Fat? 

No!

The old theory was that an insulin spike meant fat was stored automatically, in the absence of someone eating more calories than they burn.

So if you were eating 500 calories LESS than you burn, but consumed carbs, the resulting insulin spike would result in fat gained (apparently).

But this is a fallacy that has been disproven many times.

Scientists refer to this as the "carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis of obesity."

Here are two other studies where the carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis of obesity has been disproven:

1. When protein was matched in a review of 32 studies, low carbohydrate diets or ketogenic diets provided no difference in weight loss 
 
2. When subjects follow a diet made up of 77% carbohydrates, they still lose weight at the same rate.

So Why Follow a Ketogenic Diet?

Question mark

The ketogenic diet seems to have an advantage in suppressing hunger. The researchers state: 
"...the clinical benefit of a ketogenic diet is in preventing an increase in appetite, despite weight loss, although individuals may indeed feel slightly less hungry (or more full or satisfied)."

But just because you'll feel less hungry, doesn't mean you will necessarily stay on the diet. Here are the researchers from another recent study:
"Adherence appeared to be particularly problematic for those studies who set out to achieve a very low-carbohydrate diet (<50 g carbohydrate per day), with only one out of the six trials that prescribed a very low carbohydrate diet being able to achieve this target as an average value."

In other words, people struggle to stay on track during a ketogenic diet. And that's not good for weight loss.

Therefore, the people who tend to adhere to ketogenic diets are patients who are given it as food or professional athletes who are very motivated.

There is also the extremely motivated gym-goer who doesn't compete professionally on any level but can still stick to such a restrictive diet.

But the point is, the majority of the population doesn't stick to a ketogenic diet and doesn't need to.

Also, weight loss is a long game of sustainability, not about getting better results in a short time

What About Keto For Exercise Performance?


exercise performance

Keto might not be best for your exercise performance. 

Research shows that anaerobic exercises like sprinting or weight lifting are negatively affected by the low levels of carbohydrates eaten on a ketogenic diet. So if sprinting is your thing, or weightlifting (as it may be for lots of people reading this) you might be putting yourself at a disadvantage. 

However, research shows a ketogenic diet may be better for endurance athletes.


Summary

So where does this leave us?

A ketogenic diet seems to be advantageous over regular dieting for appetite control. But this is of course if you can stick to it. 

If you prefer fats over carbs in your macro split, then this approach may serve you very well.

But we must remember that some of the positive effects of the ketogenic diet are due largely to its high protein intake; a common thread across most weight-loss diets/diets. Protein is always prioritised because it's the major macronutrient behind muscle growth and is the best macronutrient for keeping us full

If optimal exercise performance in the gym with resistance training is your goal, the ketogenic diet might not be your best bet. It might be beneficial for endurance training, but as mentioned, you'll have to experiment with this. 

If you're looking for an easier and more balanced solution for weight loss, a traditional diet of high protein, carbs and moderate fats might be better.
But everything is worth trying, as your own personal preference is the key that might surprise you!

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