Going “Keto”: The Truth
Ahhh yes the ketogenic diet, sworn to be the magical diet by some while others stomp its notion into the ground. It has become in my opinion, one of the most debated topics amongst the health and fitness industry recently.
Today we shall discuss and target its benefits and application to a growing variety of groups/individuals. We also discuss how it is not optimal or arguably unsustainable for some folks.
Let’s start with what exactly “keto” is, it it a state at which your main fuel source comes from ketones, which are derived from the breakdown/usage of fat as opposed to carbohydrates or glucose.
This nutritional/fasted ketosis is not dangerous, what is dangerous is diabetic ketoacidosis, which happens when a diabetic individual is lacking the ability to uptake and use glucose and their blood begins to become so acidic because they are burning fat from their organs.
Back to the ketosis that is intended/safe, often people believe it can be obtained by simply removing carbs from the diet. That unfortunately is not how this works, how it does work is by consuming your calories/macronutrients in this fashion:
FAT: 75% of your calories
PROTEIN: 20% of your calories
CARBS (CHO): 5% of your calories
Woah. Yeah you read that correctly, 75% of your calories per day is you consuming fat. That is a hell of a lot fat, let’s take that and apply that to just even 1500 calories per day that would mean that person is eating;
1125 calories or 125g of FAT
300 calories or 75g of PROTEIN
75 calories or 18.75g of CARBS
So what are the benefits to eating and maintaining this way?
They are a long list of benefits that have been documented and without writing a research paper, I will list them out and briefly summarize the how/why;
Positive effects on rats/individuals with cancer. In rats with widespread full body cancer within 16 weeks of being administered a ketogenic diet they were in compete remission. They beat cancer, in human models it has also shown to diminish and control the spread of earlier stage cancers and allow for remission of others.
Alzheimer's and other mental health and/or neurological related conditions like ADD, Epilepsy and Anxiety have also seen improvement within the ketogenic diet.
Keeping it simple, by minimizing usage of glucose within the brain, it seems ketones can provide a more constant energy source and allowing for less substrate to be within the “brain” minimizing seizures and symptoms caused by anxiety. More serious conditions such as Alzheimer's and others also benefit from the apparent improvements in neurological functioning due to the fact that our nervous system relies on the mechanisms/hormones behind the breakdown of fat.
Continuing on conditions like Alzheimer's, mental cognition/functioning has also been demonstrated and shown to slow down and even evidence showing a reversal of the declined mental cognition experienced during dementia and Alzheimer's.
When compared to a western diet (normal carbohydrate based diet) the ketogenic diet has shown to have a similar effect on fat loss. Now here’s where the argument exists, is it really better for weight loss than a low or even high carb diet?
Here’s the answer you don’t want to hear, whichever one you can stick to consistently and maintain is the answer. Short term every diet has shown its benefits and from working with people who are “keto” have lost anywhere from 10 pounds across 6-7 months to 30+ pounds in 6-7 months.
So why isn’t everyone doing this?
It is a tough lifestyle to maintain, that’s the best and shortest answer I can give.
Our world is surrounded by temptation and the combination of sugar and fat in high amounts.
When I have recommended this lifestyle of eating, it is because I believe that individual crosses off at least 2 boxes (cancer, Alzheimer's, etc..) and their goal is weight loss THEN I will present the evidence I just described. Just like how I would with any other piece of information when it comes to training and nutrition.
In summary, is the ketogenic diet better for weight/fat loss? The answer is, if you can consistently maintain this way of eating and it’s showing results, then it’s optimal FOR YOU. The opposite is also true and people will always continue to loss weight by eating carbs as well, don’t be fooled. It’s all about what the individual can CONSISTENTLY DO.
Don’t be married to one way of thinking.
Let me know if you’d like to hear more about the ketogenic diet and other top professionals opinion on the topic!