A new year means different things for a lot of people. In terms of fitness, most people want to lose weight in order to looked “toned” and “fit” for the summer. With the quest for leanness, many diets always seem to come to play. One of the most popular of these is the ketogenic diet. Before delving into the process behind how it works, can you lose weight on a ketogenic diet? The short and quick answer is yes.
HOW IT WORKS
The ketogenic diet is basically one that forces the body to go into ‘ketosis’, which occurs when the liver glycogen stores become depleted. With any ketogenic diet, the main factor is getting the body to achieve a ketosis state, which means your diet will ALWAYS consist of very low carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are usually broken down into glucose. The body then utilizes it as a form of energy. Visually speaking, glycogen is usually stored in the muscles which give them an appearance of being round and full; lower glycogen stores predominantly will cause muscles to appear flat and stringy. To be as simplistic as possible, with the body being in a low carbohydrate state, it does not have the energy required to run efficiently. This is the reason why initially at the start of a ketogenic diet, most people feel lethargic the first two weeks. It is caused by the body still trying to utilize glucose as a fuel source. It usually takes about two weeks for the body to fully go into a ketosis state due to liver glycogen depletion. This then forces the liver to produce ketones which are then used as a fuel source along with fat.
PROS OF KETO
1. QUICK RESULTS
Now we have the science out of the way lets talk about how this can benefit you. If you are looking for a quick way to lose fat in a short period of time then this is the diet for you. Most people see the results of keto within the first 3 weeks which can be very motivating in the quest to lose weight. The first few pounds most people lose will come from water being shuttled to the muscle cell along with glycogen. However, visual differences become more and more apparent day to day on a ketogenic diet.
2. HEALTHY STATE OF WELLBEING
Keto utilises low carbs, which means most meals will consist strictly of vegetables with a form of protein. Because of this simple setup, most people reap the benefits of a healthier diet. The extra fiber helps with digestion and bloat while the healthier food choices helps to keep the body more healthy. There’s also more stable energy levels throughout the day due to no high blood sugar crashes.
3. IT LOWERS BLOOD SUGAR
For example, in the case of people with prediabetes, keto is a good way for an individual to lower their blood sugar and eventually move to a healthier diet over time.
CONS OF KETO
1. IT WORKS….SHORT TERM
As mentioned initially , Ketogenic diets work in the short term for those trying to lose a few pounds, be it for a vacation or for a photoshoot etc. The reason why Keto cannot work long terms is because going from a regular diet to a low to almost no carb diet means dropping ones calories very quickly. This will yield results initially, but come to a grinding halt due to the metabolic adaptation. With such a very fast drop in calories, most people do not really have much more calories to drop and as a result they plateau at a certain spot with a keto diet.
2. PERFORMANCE SUFFERS
If you are a strength athlete, a keto diet will usually result in a decrease in performance at the gym. No carbs means less energy. The less you weigh as well, the more other lifts will suffer.
3. YOU RISK LOSING MUSCLE
This is perhaps the most relevant point to a strength athlete trying to do a ketogenic diet. Ketosis itself does not directly cause muscle loss, it’s the conditions to get into ketosis as well as ones training regimen after that usually do. The first cause may be the rapid drop in calories which is not advisable for anyone trying to lose specifically fat and not just weight. Muscle burns more calories than fat does. From a logical standpoint it makes no sense to carry so much of something with an expensive energy profile if you have little calories to spare (your body knows economics too). The second reason ties into point number 2. As a natural athlete, training heavy and intense regardless of your caloric intake is the number one criteria that will help you preserve muscle in a deficit. If you do not have the energy, or the will power, keto will definitely have an effect on how much muscle you retain.
You cannot stay in ketosis forever, nor would I recommend you should. At some point, you will have to move to something a bit more balanced. For this simple reason, people simply trying to lose weight long term should find other alternatives rather than keto.
The ketogenic diet works. It is efficient for short term temporary goals. For the bodybuilding competitor, one would certainly benefit from it short term in the last few weeks before a show. For the regular person trying to lower their blood sugar, I highly recommend it as a solution. However, for the individual just trying to live a healthier lifestyle and become fit, look for another alternative.