What You Need to Know Before Starting a Ketogenic Diet

Five people recently told me they were going to “try keto” – the last time after talking about a mutual friend who was on the keto diet, also known as the popular ketogenic diet, and had amazing results. You’ve probably heard the buzz about keto, but what the hell is it? Is it too good to be true?

Let’s first introduce you to all the hype around the ketogenic diet. Keto is an extremely low carb, moderate protein, and high fat diet. You’ll find those on the keto diet eating things like fatty cuts of bacon, mountains of avocados, and boxes of heavy whipped cream. There is a lot of enthusiastic fanfare around him, for example, this comment on Reddit :

Awesome. And this one:

Low-carb diets are nothing new to weight loss. And keto is kind of a low-carb diet with a twist where you emphasize tons of fat. I spoke with Lee Peel , a NASM certified personal trainer who asks questions on all aspects of weight loss, metabolism and nutrition, and is the author of The Hunger Regime ; and she told me that the original definition of keto was a 4: 1 ratio of fats to carbs or protein. That is, for every gram of protein or carbs you eat, you must also eat four grams of fat (hence the avocado and heavy whipping cream). But you don’t have to stick with it as long as your carbs are low and your protein is moderate enough to be “ketogenic.”

Let me explain.

Differences between keto and a low-carb diet

The trump card of keto over a regular low-carb diet is that after constantly depriving yourself of bread, pasta, donuts and any source of carbohydrates, your body goes into ketosis (from a couple of days to a week). Ketosis means your body breaks down fat and releases a large number of molecules called ketones into the bloodstream. Your body then uses these ketones as its primary fuel source as you’ve severely limited your body’s preferred energy source: carbohydrates.

How many carbs do you need to reach ketosis? Usually less than 50 grams of net carbs per day. This is hardly an ordinary grocery bagel. And this is provided that you do not have other “hidden” carbohydrates, for example, from especially starchy vegetables or sweet sauces. However, your personal “ketosis threshold” varies. You can enter ketosis with 20 to 100 grams. The only way to really tell if you are in ketosis is to test using various testing methods ( each with their own accuracy issues ). The easiest place to start is with urine test strips .

Does ketosis work?

We’re not entirely sure about its long-term effects on weight loss. The diet has been used as a medical intervention to help reduce seizures in children with epilepsy who do not respond well to medications, and has been shown to have some success. There is also some evidence that diet can help improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes, but Peele emphasizes that it is not an automatic solution to blood sugar problems.

We’ve heard a lot of rumors and stories about the short-term benefits of weight loss when people cut their carbohydrates drastically, but it’s not just because they’ve been through the Texas Chainsaw Massacre on all carbohydrates. A review of these studies, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found there was no evidence that carbohydrates (or lack thereof) were the only sure thing that stood in the way of you and your amazing dream body. There is actually a lot we don’t understand about diet mechanisms. This includes keto.

In terms of energy balance, keto works because, as Yvette d’Entremont, also known as SciBabe , pointed out in response to a comment here , it is a diet with a built-in calorie restriction mechanism. You limit an entire food group, and that automatically excludes a range of foods, including donuts, cheeseburgers, pizza, and Hot Wings Wednesday — all foods that won’t fit if you overeat. Plus, eating super fatty foods like a thick chunk of fine marbled ribeye, whole avocados, and the like can make you feel whole tonnes full.

Plus, it works quickly, as opposed to boring, ugly things like eating vegetables and getting enough protein. Some people can lose 10-20 pounds in a week, which can be reassuring, at least for a while. But this is not magic. Basically, this is a change in your eating behavior, daily routine and diet, as well as the initial loss of a ton of water weight (due to a lack of carbohydrates).

So you want to try keto …

When it comes to the keto diet, it is a very viable diet if you can stick to it. This is always a big sticker for parents on any diet: All diets work if you can stick to them consistently. If you’re planning to go diving, there are a few things to note: firstly, there is no “oh, I’ll hit pause to breathe this pizza and be back on keto on Monday.” You are either in ketosis or you are not. Otherwise, you’re just forcing yourself to stick to an extremely low-carb diet, and that’s okay if that’s what you want to do.

Keto is generally safe for the average healthy person, but there are a few caveats. First, traditional keto can cause protein deficiency because you are focusing on high amounts of fat and low on protein. “The best thing to do is make a more balanced keto diet than the standard 4: 1 ratio to include protein, and take vitamins and minerals to fill those deficiencies. Just as vegans probably need to supplement their diet, those who take keto may need to, ”Peel says.

Peel also warns that if you have a high-fat food intolerance, have had your gallbladder removed, have a history of gallstones, fluctuate diabetes issues, or have any medical problems, you should consult your doctor before trying keto. …

Switching to a keto cold turkey isn’t easy. Some people may experience side effects, one of which is aptly dubbed the “keto flu” – unpleasant symptoms that include headaches and general weakness during the adaptation phase, when your body may experience “carbohydrate withdrawal”. However, when you are in a normal state of ketosis, keep a few mints on hand because you may experience a strange change in your breath . Oh, and don’t be surprised at the changes in your regular BM schedule.

After all, keto is more than just rainbows and bubble gum. It is a dietary strategy that requires lifestyle changes and adherence to achieve a goal. Peel says this is not the holy grail of dieting. So if you or someone you know is successful with keto, that’s great, but keep in mind that it was your circumstances and lifestyle that helped keto perform better, while it might not work the same for others.


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