Diet trends come and go throughout the years. The ketogenic diet which is also known as the keto diet is very popular at this time. It’s being promoted everywhere from television to social media. It’s the current diet trend that is said to help people lose weight.
So, should you follow the keto diet? Here are some common questions and answers to help you learn more about the keto diet. I hope this article could help you determine whether or not the keto diet is right for you.
What is the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a diet that is high in fat, very low in carbs, and moderate or low in protein. Your meal in a keto diet could consist of 5 percent carbs, 20 percent protein, and 75 percent fat.
Because of the very low amount of carbs being consumed, your body won’t have enough glucose for energy. This condition will force your body to turn fat into small fuel molecules called “ketones” which can be used as an alternate fuel source. When the ketones in your body are higher than normal, your body enters a metabolic state called “ketosis.”
The keto diet is claimed to promote overall health. It’s also promoted as a great way to lose weight and as a therapy to treat certain medical conditions such as epilepsy.
Do Keto Diets work?
Whether or not the keto diet is effective depends on your goals. For some people, the diet can be a big help. For some others, it may not be helpful and it can even be harmful.
Fo example, this diet can help people who are suffering from epilepsy. In 1920s, Dr. Russell Wilder and other doctors at the Mayo Clinic experimented with what Wilder called the “ketogenic diet.” The diet proved to be successful in children with epilepsy. They were improving and they thought and behaved better.
After proven by several well-known medical authorities, the diet entered medical textbooks as a treatment for childhood epilepsy in 1940s and it has been around since then.
However, if you’re looking to increase muscles, then this diet won’t help you. While there may be strength or physique athletes who seem to do okay on keto, you’ll typically need carbs and insulin if you want to add muscle mass to your body. And the keto diet suggests you to eat very little carbs.
If your goal is to gain muscle, an anabolic diet that includes carbs is more appropriate for you than the ketogenic diet.
What About for Losing Fat?
The ketogenic diet can work for weight loss insofar as the dieters are able to follow the program. However, the same also applies to other types of diet as long as they create a calorie deficit. What actually matters here is the calorie deficit, not the amount of carbs or fat per se.
However, diets that are extreme such as the ones that forbid an entire macronutrient can be hard to maintain in the long run. All diets can result in weight loss as long as they create a calorie deficit. The more important question is, can you follow this diet for a long period of time? Can you make it part of your lifestyle?
Long term fat loss and maintenance requires lifestyle change. But many diets have a bad rep when it comes to long-term success because they’re so restrictive that it’s hard for people to stick with them in the long run. With a very minimal carb intake, keto is quite restrictive. If you want to lose fat permanently, you need a plan that you can stick with as a lifestyle.
Moreover, the keto diet may prohibit the development of lean muscle mass or cause muscle loss. Doing strengh training and eating protein adequately may prevent most muscle loss, but if you follow a keto diet with low protein intake and no strength training, most of the weight you lost could come from muscle.
So, the keto diet may work for weight loss, but I don’t recommend the keto diet as a good choice for it. There is a better choice for fat loss, a diet that doesn’t restrict an entire macros or food categories.
A high protein, moderate carbs, and moderate fat diet is my recommendation for people who want to lose fat. It’s hard to go wrong with 50 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 20 percent fat, even though it’s not a rigid prescription.
Why is the Keto Diet So Popular?
Well, it seems many people believe the carbohydrate/insulin hypothesis of obesity. This hypothesis states that insulin promotes fat storage and/or inhibits fat loss, while carbohydrates produce insulin. So, carbs are considered as the culprit of obesity.
There is actually no solid ground for that theory. In the absence of a calorie surplus, carbs alone aren’t fattening and insulin won’t lead to fat gain or obesity. The main cause of fat gain is the calorie surplus.
However, the believe in that theory and the keto diet is reinforced by the facts that keto diets work in the short run. But keto diets work because by an extreme reduction of carbs, they create a calorie deficit. This is also one of the reasons why many other types of diet work in the short run.
So, it’s the calorie deficit that makes them work in the short run, not the extreme reduction of carbs per se. Unfortunately, many fans of the keto diet failed to see this simple reason because they believe the ketogenic diet produces some magical metabolic effects in their body.
Should You Follow the Keto Diet?
As I’ve mentioned above, it depends on your health and/or fitness goals.
If your goal is to lose fat or improve body composition, this is not the best diet plan to follow. This diet can be hard to stick with because it’s more restrictive than most people can handle for a long period of time. Instead, I recommend a high protein, moderate carbs, and moderate fat diet―such as 50 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 20 percent fat―for fat loss.
However, if you have a health issue that a keto diet may help you with such as epilepsy, then you can follow the keto diet. But consult your doctor first to make sure that it’s appropriate and safe.
There is no one-size-fits-all diet plan that will work for everyone. You need to consider your goals, lifestyles, and dispositions, to find the best diet for you. The best diet is the one that you can stick to in the long term and gives you lasting results.
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