It’s all over the internet right now: the Keto Diet.
But what is it? Does it work? And can it really help you lose weight and ALSO feel good?
In my practice, I often use my own version of the keto diet with clients who want to lose weight quickly, efficiently, and maintain muscle mass. It IS possible and practical for many people (though it isn’t for EVERYONE).
Here are a few things about the keto diet to help you decide if its the right way to go for you.
Keto is short for ketogenic and is a type of diet that switches the body to using fat for fuel instead of glucose (sugar). It essentially requires eliminating most of the foods that convert to sugar, including sweets, breads, pastas, and some vegetables and focusing more on quality fat and protein sources.
Although the keto diet is currently trending, it has been around for a long time and was originally used in the early 1900’s as a therapeutic diet for those with epilepsy. It is still used for that and many other health conditions to this day. Many ancestral scholars believe that a majority of early humans ate this way as well.
Although it may seem like a strange diet and contrary to what is typically advised with nutrition, the keto diet can be very healthy for many people.
It may be difficult to make this diet a lifestyle because it requires a lot of restriction, and I find that clients are more successful when they use the keto diet as a temporary measure (5 weeks-6 months) to lose fat quickly and then transition to a more rounded diet that includes more fiber, vitamins and variety.
In my practice, I use a modified ketogenic diet for some of my weight loss clients, those with blood sugar issues, and many other kinds of people who may benefit from giving their pancreas and insulin a break.
Ketogenic diets help you lose weight by switching your metabolism to burning fat from burning sugar. When combined with a caloric restriction, these diets help you use your own stored fat as energy. The benefits are great- increased energy, no blood sugar highs and lows, and a smaller waistline.
Keto gurus abound and so do products marketed to put you in ketosis, but this can make things very confusing. In order to reap the benefits of a ketogenic diet you have to actually DO the diet, and to lose weight you have to actually EAT less.
One of the many benefits of a ketogenic diet is that it suppresses your appetite and helps you eat less so you burn more fat for fuel. This won’t work, however, if you consume excess fat or calories. You may still reap many of the psychological benefits, but weight loss won’t happen.
Each person has different needs regarding the makeup of their diet. If you do heavy workouts, have less to lose, have hypothyroidism, are pregnant or breastfeeding, have type 1 diabetes, are vegan or vegetarian or any other unique issues, you should consult with a professional. Additionally, to really reap the maximum weight loss benefits, it makes sense to work with a professional nutritionist who can hone in on exactly how much and of what you need to eat.
In general, ketogenic diets get the majority of calories from fats, then proteins, then carbs. They hover around 5% of calories from carbohydrates daily.
You can test your urine while trying to get into ketosis to help gauge your progress as well, using these urine sticks. Start testing on day 4 of eating very low carbohydrate.
The first four days of transition are typically difficult. Those starting a keto diet may experience tiredness, headaches, increased hunger, light headedness and other issues. This is normal and is part of the process of ridding the body of excess glucose stores and switching to fat burning mode. Making sure to drink plenty of water and have plenty of sodium (ideally from Himilayan pink salt like this) will help reduce some of these symptoms.
While the keto diet can be incredibly beneficial for many people, it is not for everyone and should be approached with caution.
Here is what the keto diet should not be : extremely high in saturated fat (yes, grass fed butter is wonderful, but switch up the fats and get some monounsaturated fats too like olive oil), heavy on protein (mountains of bacon won’t help you lose weight), full of low-quality foods and fast foods (sure you can eat fast food burger patties, cheese, and mayonnaise but should you?), an excuse to eat no vegetables or to starve yourself.
Intermittent fasting, a typical practice among ketogenic dieters, is a topic for another day, but it can be done in a healthy way.
A qualified nutritionist can help you figure out the ins and outs and make sure you are very successful. This diet is typically uncomfortable for a period of time and you may as well get as much fat loss out of it as you can!
If you need help making the keto diet work for you, contact me today!