The ‘standard’ ketogenic (or keto) diet is a low-carbohydrate, moderate-protein and high-fat diet. In recent years, its popularity has heightened for its connection to weight loss.
So, let’s take a closer look at this alternative style of eating.
The keto diet is often referred to as a fast and effective method for weight loss. Although it has proven to be effective for the short term, there is little said about its effectiveness as a long term diet.
Yes, a traditional keto diet can create epic results to begin with. However, in the years and years of clients and testing trials we have gone through, very rarely have we prescribed a ketogenic meal plan. This is because the majority of athletes can tolerate carbohydrates and do not need to follow a ketogenic diet.
What does a typical traditional keto meal plan look like?
Simply put: High fat, low carbohydrates with moderate protein.
Breakfast: Omelette with avocado
Lunch: Chicken thigh stir fry
Dinner: Baked Atlantic Salmon
Snacks: Oils, nuts, chia seed pudding, coconut cream pudding, avocado and cottage cheese
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is the state you place your body into when restricting carbohydrate intake. Often confused with a low carbohydrate diet, a ketogenic diet requires you to consume around under 35 grams* (there is no true set amount) of carbohydrates per day or less than 5% of your daily calories from carbohydrates. Every person has a different threshold for their body to remain in ketosis, which also varies from day to day. Funnily enough, while researching ketogenic diets, a lot of articles started by saying that this is NOT recommended for general population and was designed and created in the 1920s for a medical treatment for specific people only. Those specific people are children with epilepsy, or those being treated for brain cancer or type 2 diabetes (in short periods of time).
Why does the keto diet work?
While it is commonly thought that eating a ketogenic diet is the holy grail to weight loss, studies have shown that the weight loss has potentially more to do with the fact that the dieter is in a caloric deficit, rather than it being from the elimination of carbohydrates itself. When one is not eating an entire food group, calorie intake has thus been restricted putting themselves into a calorie deficit. The underlying evidence shows that the weight loss occurring is from simply creating a calorie deficit.
When the ketogenic diet has been compared to other diet models, similar fat loss has been achieved and in some cases a high carbohydrate diet has been shown to have a very slight edge in fat loss when protein and calories were accounted for.
Reported benefits of keto?
Keto diets usually result in fast initial weight loss, (although usually a result of fluid loss from glycogen depletion not fat loss while the body starts to slowly become keto adapted). There are potential positive effects on satiety and positive benefits for cognitive function.
Is it sustainable?
We believe in maintainable lifestyle changes, and do not prescribe diets that restrict an entire macronutrient group. Never start something if you can’t maintain it.
Due to the limitations of the keto diet, a lot of people feel it is hard to sustain, resulting in a yo-yo dieting effect, often backed with weight gain.
What are some of the potential negative effects that can occur?
- A traditional ketogenic diet typically does not involve consuming fruits and vegetables therefore the risk of micronutrient deficiencies is high.
- Sports performance could be hindered especially in those sports requiring anaerobic activity.
- Sustainability – like mentioned above for a lot of people the keto diet is just not sustainable long term as it does require essentially eliminating an entire food group and a lot of foods that people just enjoy eating.
You can get the same if not potentially better fat loss results consuming a more balanced macronutrient diet when protein and calories are equated for.
It takes up to 3-4 months before becoming fully keto adapted therefore while going through those initial 3-4 months you may feel worse then you did prior to beginning.
Remember, think long term. Never start something you can't maintain for life.