A few weeks ago, we talked about IF (Intermittent Fasting). The Keto Diet (AKA Ketogenic Diet) is another way of eating that has been around for a while now, though more recently it is starting to become a bit of a craze.
Keto refers to a high-fat, adequate-protein, and low-carbohydrate diet, which forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates as the primary fuel source. A ketogenic diet is/was primarily implemented to treat difficult-to-control epilepsy in children. It was first tested at a Mayo Clinic in the 1920s.
A keto meal may look something like this:
Typical keto-friendly food choices are things like seafood, low-carb vegetables (non-starchy), cheese, avocados, beef, poultry, eggs, coconut oil, olive oil, plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese (other dairy typically has too many carbs), nuts/seeds, butter, olives, and black coffee/tea.
How does Keto vary from other ways of eating?
The Ketogenic Diet is about trying to get into ketosis
It can take anywhere from 2-7 days for the body to enter ketosis depending on the person. This happens when the body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates for energy and uses up the glucose storage. During ketosis, the body starts making ketones, which happens through the oxidation/burning of stored fat.
I want to try the Keto Diet. What can I expect?
With any major diet change, there is generally an adjustment period for the body, however it does seem that this transition is a little more severe with Keto than many diets. During the first week you may experience IBS like symptoms and tiredness. The lack of quick energy from carbohydrates causes the tiredness and has been coined the “keto flu”. Other symptoms can include lightheadedness, nausea, mental fog, cramps, headaches, bad breath and diarrhea. Some of this may be due to reduced fiber and insufficient micronutrients, so it’s important to be aware that you’re doing what you can to fill those gaps.
On the plus side, people often find they can lose weight because healthy fats and lean proteins will keep you more satiated, so eating less is a natural side effect. Also, fats and protein have a higher thermic effect meaning it takes your body more energy/calories just to break the food down.
That sounds like a lot of symptoms, is it worth it?
Frankly, people do often report success. Many see results on the scale rather quickly because when you eat more carbs your body retains fluid. This is one reason why weight comes off quickly with keto initially. Results can continue for a while, but it should be noted that in the vast majority cases people report not being able to stick with it long term.
What else should I know?
Unfortunately, and similar to the “eat less and exercise more” mentality, muscle loss often accompanies the relatively quick weight loss. This can be misleading if the scale is your only source of measurement. Make sure to check with your doctor before beginning any nutrition regimen, but in particular with keto, heart and kidney damage has been observed due to low electrolyte levels (sodium, magnesium, potassium). Keto is not recommended for those with high blood pressure or diabetes. Keto can cause more calcium to be lost in the urine, which can lead to a decrease in bone density over time and increased risk of osteoporosis.
The summary: As with any way of eating, everyone is different, and results will vary depending on your body. This short-term fix may be right for some, but not everyone.
Ellipse Fitness does not endorse the Ketogenic Diet, nor do we view it as a sustainable approach to nutrition, check out these other great blog articles for more of our philosophy on how to make changes that will last you a lifetime!