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If you’re dying to find out whether the keto diet is your ticket to 6 pack abs, or just another fad stealing peoples money and time before it fades away, this informative, no nonsense article should help clear up the noise surrounding the current low carb craze. Keto.
“Turn your body into a fat burning machine!”
“Eat more fat to burn body fat!”
“Your ultimate fat loss tool!”
These are some common phrases you might hear floating around the internet, headlining many of the articles and videos that popular fitness websites seem to be flooding the feeds of our social media with at the moment.
It’s 100% true. Keto diets let you burn more fat.
What isn’t true, is that this 'burned’ fat comes from your body fat stores. Keto might not be the answer to your fat loss goals.
While it certainly might be a tool that lets you shed some weight, like those extra pounds you may have picked up over the holidays (which I think is the point of the holidays, afterall, am I right?). Unfortunately, it might actually be the furthest thing from what you need to do to achieve and maintain the body of your dreams.
Below I will discuss just what the heck the Keto diet is, the Pros, Cons, and exactly what you NEED to be doing to achieve the results you are looking for once and for all.
‘Keto’ is the term people use when following what is known as a Ketogenic Diet. Ketogenic diets consist of extremely high levels of fat intake (70-75% of total consumed calories), moderate to low levels of protein (maybe 20% of calories) and very low amounts of carbohydrate (5% total calories or less).
As you are probably aware, carbohydrates are one of the body’s main fuel sources. Thus, the extremely low levels of carb intake on a keto diet create the need for use of an alternate fuel source. The body will resort to fat breakdown to fuel itself. Fat intake is extremely high on this diet, and one of the byproducts of fat breakdown are Ketone bodies - which is where the diet’s name comes from.
After a period of consuming nutrients in these ratios, an individual should enter a state of what's known as Nutritional Ketosis, or Ketosis for short. Achieving a state of Ketosis in a healthy manner is contingent on eating more of the the RIGHT types of healthy fats. This means consuming foods such as avocados, fattier cuts of high quality meat like ribeye steaks or chicken thighs and healthy oils such as olive and avocado oil. It is highly recommended that you keep these unsaturated fats high, and saturated fats low (about 5-6% fat intake).
Now, while this combination is indeed a recipe for high fat breakdown, that doesn’t mean the fat being burnt is BODY FAT. In fact, unless you are in a caloric deficit, that is, eating less calories than you are burning, you will not lose any fat.
What does this mean? Losing body fat comes down to the good old fashioned calories in, calories out approach. Sorry guys, no magic here. Just work. For an EXACT breakdown of how many calories your body needs, and where they need to come from, click the button below.
Does this mean the keto diet ISN'T for you, and can’t help you on your fat loss journey? Absolutely not! Here are some of the benefits of the Keto Diet.
Easy weight loss
To understand this benefit, think of your muscles like sponges. They soak up carbs and water and store it for future use (glycogen). Depleting carbs means a loss of glycogen resulting in weight loss. This water weight loss can be drastic (5-10lbs), and very quick to happen. However, once glycogen is depleted, weight loss will come to a halt. This can be convenient if you need to drop a few pounds rapidly, however it doesn’t appear to be the best strategy for long term weight loss. Stick around to find out why.
Low Hunger on Keto Diet
It has been reported and proven that keto diets often suppress appetite. This is because a keto diet is often higher in protein consumption than the average individuals’ diet, and protein tends to make people feel more full. Another reason for this can be due to the fact that fat (Ketones) are now being burned as fuel, as opposed to carbs (blood glucose). This tends to keep blood sugar stable, resulting in less ‘crashes’ and urges to snack.
It has been shown in studies that Keto may be beneficial for fighting the spread of CERTAIN cancers (no not CANCER in general, see Warburg Hypothesis and check out professionals like Dom D’Agostino for more info regarding this topic and for other situational benefits), epilepsy and alzheimer's. No this doesn't mean not being ‘keto’ will give you cancer. Or make you fat. Carbs aren't bad. Stop it.
Training Needs Carbs
Not exercise. Training. The kind that leads to strong, muscular, lean bodies.
It’s been well established that weight training is your ticket to the body of your dreams (to find out why, check out my posts on Strength Training and Fat Loss). Low carb diets can impair training as high intensity exercise requires glucose to be burned as fuel.,. It would be shooting yourself in the foot to sacrifice optimal training and long term progress to lose a few pounds quickly, don't you think?
Poor Long Term Adherence
What is the most effective diet you ask? One that you can follow. It has been proven time and time again that adherence is the most important factor to look at when deciding which kind of diet to choose to achieve your fat loss goals. Adherence to the caloric deficit. Period.
If you crave carbs constantly, why would you set yourself up for failure? Don’t even bother wasting the willpower on denying yourself that sandwich you have been craving, or that handful of jube jubes. In fact, why not use those foods to have a kick ass training session, and achieve the body of your dreams, like many of my clients have.
I have personally tried keto, formulated a diet that has allowed me to lose fat, won my bodybuilding show, and loved it. Check out my results. I’ve also done it including carbs. And loved it more. Simple decision (do what makes you feel the best).
Keto works well - if you do. Just like any other diet. There are absolutely no proven benefits to Keto vs other diets in terms of direct fat loss but if it lets you eat less calories (by eliminating a food group, or by being easy to follow) then by all means, the keto diet is for you. The power of the diet rests within you!
Keep being awesome, kill it, and you'll get results. If you need a little help, let me know! I’d love to point you in the right direction. - Coach Alex
Please feel free to contact me with any questions about how I can help you achieve your fitness goals..