April 15, 2018
Understanding the basic principles as well as long-term and short-term applications are key towards determining if a ketogenic diet can help you reach your own health and body weight goals.
First and foremost, the goal of a keto diet is to get your body into a state called ketosis. Ketosis can be achieved when you completely deplete your glucose levels, which can be achieved when restricting (net) carbs to less than 30g per day and also reducing your protein intake. While in ketosis, your body is using fats - both ingested and stored, as it’s energy source. This can result in tremendous weight loss and can help you burn and keep off body fat even though your external fat intake has significantly increased. Your body is literally burning fat 24/7 when in ketosis. The deeper the state of ketosis you are in (the higher the blood ketone concentration), the more fat you burn.
Weight loss on the keto diet is also attributed to the decrease of insulin in your bloodstream and to the usage of existing fat storage as energy. Insulin is a fat storing hormone, so when the levels of Insulin drop, your body is going from storage mode to burning mode.
One of the first things that happen with any major weight loss is a shedding of pounds through water weight. Here’s how it works:
When eating carbs, your body stores them in the form of glycogen in the muscles or liver. For each gram of stored glycogen, it also stores 3g of water. When you cut out carbs from your diet and get into a state of ketosis, the glycogen stores will get depleted and the liver and muscles will also excrete the stored water. There is your water weight.
This purge of
water will kick-start your weight loss, but in order to burn fat and to see some long-term results, you will need to get
into a state of deep ketosis.
Once you are keto-adapted your metabolism will be able to use fat efficiently as a source of energy. It may seem difficult at first to make such drastic changes to your diet, and you may be wondering how you can stick to this in the long-term. But some of the great benefits of being in ketosis are actually helping you maintain the diet.
For instance, many experience these benefits on top of weight loss:
All these benefits can help you to lose weight in the long-term. But the results are really up to you. Tracking your nutrition and macros will become a habit that will benefit your overall keto journey – as knowing what you are putting in your body will be key in maintaining a proper keto friendly balance of calories, healthy fats, proteins & carbs.
We have created some excellent resources to help you stay on track including:
So the keto diet sounds great right? But what about the critics who say that it is not sustainable? Well, it depends on your goals and it depends on your understanding of how a ketogenic diet is affecting your body. If you understand the basic principles of ketosis then you can mitigate any of the potential risks that would negatively impact your health and weight goals both in the short and long-term.
To the many people who have been conditioned to view fats as “bad”, this diet sounds completely counterintuitive. Which, by their logic is fair – if we don’t want fat on our bodies, then why would we consume it in such large amounts? Well, as we learn that a keto diet is driving our bodies to use stored and ingested fats as fuel, we begin to see the genius in it (and the results!). But we also have to acknowledge that in order for this diet to work, we need to execute it with an educated knowledge and attention to exactly what we are putting into our bodies – to make sure it’s working for us, not against us.
The key to this diet is restricting carbs to the minimum and also reduce protein which can be converted into glucose though a process called Glyconeogenesis. If we mess this up then getting into ketosis (our fat burning state) will be at risk, and instead of burning fat we will be storing it. So how can we avoid this common pitfall? By measuring! Learn about measuring macros, and monitoring if you’re in fact in ketosis.
If we fall out of ketosis, or decide to not be on keto (many people cycle in and out of ketosis after they are keto-adapted) then it’s important to still stick to a low carb diet and reduce the fats that we are consuming (making sure they are healthy fats), and minimizing our sugar intake. If we do this, we can cycle in and out of ketosis and not see the dreaded “yo-yo” effect that many frequent dieters dread.
We summarized the most common mistakes when on a keto diet here.
In terms of sustainability, the best way to ensure that your weight can stabilize, is to approach keto as a lifestyle or journey as opposed to a one-time diet or fad. Once we have the understanding of how our bodies are fueled and have experienced the benefits while on a keto diet, it should be something to strive towards. Whether it’s something you cycle in and out every few months, or a diet you aim to maintain year-round, the use of fats as fuel can benefit your health in so many ways beyond weight loss. Learn about the benefits of being on a keto diet here.
Beyond the actual foods we are putting into our bodies, there are also other important factors that can greatly benefit our health that correspond well with a ketogenic diet – especially with the goal of weight loss.
DISCLAIMER - WE ARE NOT DOCTORS. When trying
a new diet it is important to consult with your physician to go over any
potential risk factors or personal medical history which may play a part in
your success with a particular diet.
Please read our full disclaimer here.