The ketogenic diet was first developed in the 1920’s as a tool to prevent child epilepsy. Since then it has been popularised over the last 10 years by celebrities, social media influencers and every one that has watched a Netflix documentary and is now a nutrition expert.
The keto diet is made up of around 70% of fats, moderate protein at around 25% and very low carbs at 5%. This means most of your plate will be made up of foods such as nuts, dairy, avocados, oils and butters. A moderate amount of fish, meat and yoghurts and almost no carbohydrates.
How does it work?
Our bodes main fuel source is glucose, which is basically carbs broken down. If you restrict your body so much of carbs your body has no choice but to use an alternative fuel source. As our bodies sense this deprivation in carbs, it produces an alternative fuel source which is ketones and dietary fat. Ketones are produced in the liver and supplies some of your organs with an alternative fuel source (like the brain). When our bodies start producing ketones it is called to be in a state of ketosis. It differs from person to person, but we need less than roughly 50g of carbs, and protein to be keep to a moderate level to be in a state of ketosis.
Will it help me lose weight?
Potentially. The keto diet can be used as a method to reducing our calorie intake and therefore will put us in a calorie deficit. This is the same principle as any other diet and has not been shown to be any more effective that any other option (You can read the study here.
Whilst there is usually a large increase in weight initially on a keto diet, most of this comes from water and not body fat (the bit you actually want to go down). This is hardly a surprise, as most of us eat a diet made up of at least 50% of carbs. If we cut all of this out, the chances are we are going to dramatically reduce our calorie intake. We are therefore going to be in a calorie deficit and lose weight/bodyfat.
Will it be easy to stick to?
This is where the fancy science of the ketogenic diet falls down for me. You can say ketosis three times backwards whilst upside down, but can you stick your diet? I would argue not. As most of our diet is usually made up of carbs, it becomes a big challenge to completely banish this from our lives and still live a ‘normal’ life. What happens when you go out for meal with family? Are you going to eat nothing but butter and meat? What about when you want to have a drink with some friends? Oh shit! I didn’t realise there were carbs in beer and wine.
The key to any successful diet is adherence. Can you stick to the plan for a long period of time? If the answer is no, then you are not going to have long term success and are likely going to repeat the restrict – binge – restrict cycle. It may take your mind off the problem short term, but so would punching you in the face to take your mind off a sore leg.
You cannot escape calories
No matter how you look at the ketogenic diet, you cannot escape the concept of calories in vs. calories out. Being in ketosis doesn’t excuse you of a poor diet and to butter in your coffee (yeah, that’s a real thing). If you eat too many calories on a ketogenic diet, you will gain body fat, exactly the same as any other diet.
For me personally, the ketogenic diet doesn’t solve the problem most people have. Most people struggle to control the foods that they are permanently surrounded by (carbs). By removing them entirely from the diet and going on a carb celibacy is not the answer you are looking for. You may get short term results, as we discussed early, but is not a long term solution. Keto can and will work for some people, but I would recommend doing some more research before jumping on the band wagon.
The brains, brawn and beauty of Dackattack (basically it’s just me). A personal trainer with a private gym in Norwich, dedicated to giving out simple, actionable advice that will give you outstanding results.