What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
The Ketogenic Diet is a diet that uses ketosis to help people lose weight. Ketosis happens when your body begins to break down stored fats, instead of carbohydrates, for energy. However, this can only occur when the dieter consumes less than 50 grams of carbohydrates daily for at least 2-4 days. A ketogenic diet is rich in fats and proteins.
What You Eat on Keto:
- Healthy fats
- Healthy oils
- Fibrous, low-carb vegetables
- Natural sweeteners
What You Do Not Eat on Keto:
- Many fruits
- Root vegetables
- Foods high in sugar alcohols
- Unhealthy fats
- Sugar condiments & sauces
The Ketogenic diet is not new as many people would think. The limitation of carbs has been a part of many diets for years.
Are There Any Benefits to Following the Ketogenic Diet?
The Keto diet has proven to help one lose weight, in the beginning, at a quicker rate than most other diets. It is what motivates people to begin a Keto diet. Most diets take a couple of weeks before noticeable results are seen, but the keto diet can show results in as little as 7-10 days.
Studies have found a low-carb diet more effective than a calorie-restrictive diet. It might be because the diet is so rich in proteins and fats that it can help you eat less and feel full longer.
The Ketogenic diet has also been shown to help lower blood sugar in people who have type 2 diabetes. Although it is not a long-term cure for type 2 diabetes, it can help alleviate some symptoms.
Why is the Ketogenic Diet Unsustainable?
I am a proponent of eating habits that can be sustained long-term.
Because this diet has so many limited food options, it can be tough to follow. That being said, there are many unknowns about the effects of this diet long-term. The lack of variety in the diet makes it very easy for people to overeat protein and poor quality processed foods and not get the nutrients their bodies need.
Once your body enters ketosis, it can fall victim to bad breath, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and sleep problems. But the most prominent side effect that most Keto Dieters complain about is the extreme fatigue they suffer from. The fatigue you experience can be attributed to your body being in starvation mode when it enters ketosis; the body needs sugar to function correctly. Once your body starts suffering from fatigue, it can be hard to lose weight.
What Are Healthy Ways to Lose Weight?
The battle continues whether a low-fat diet or a low-carb diet has the most prolonged effects on weight loss. However, new research has concluded that the two are equal in success (and failure) rates.
Dr. Christopher Gardner created a scientific team from the Stanford University School of Medicine. He organized a clinical study to get to the bottom of the low-fat/low-carb debate. 609 men and women between 18 and 50 participated in the study.
Half of the participants were instructed to maintain 20 g of fat per day for two months, then gradually add fat back into their diet until they felt it was at a level they could keep long term. The other half of the participants were given the exact instructions but 20 g of carbs rather than fat.
Both groups were given the additional dieting instructions:
- Focus on nutrient-dense, minimally processed whole foods
- Maximize vegetable intake
- Minimize refined flour, trans fats, and sugar intake
- Prepare meals at home whenever possible.
Each participant attended 22 dieting and nutrition classes throughout the study to help them on their weight loss journey.
Participants on low-fat and low-carb diets lost up to 60 pounds, while others gained 20 pounds. The average calorie intake for each participant was also similar for both groups at the end of the study.
After several other tests, such as blood pressure, insulin, and blood sugar levels, the results showed that low-fat and low-carb diets do not differ in weight loss. They seemed to be almost identical in all categories.
However, the study showed overwhelming results that a focused diet on home-prepared whole foods and vegetables–even without counting calories–is incredibly effective in weight loss.
And though the study has been incredibly eye-opening and opened many doors for further weight loss and dieting research, it also turned out to be relatively simple. The most accessible foods these days are too processed and refined to carry any nutritious value for your body. So the only way to give your body what it needs to thrive is to shop for whole foods.
Another significant factor throughout the study was that the participants were encouraged not to subject themselves to a strict diet but to develop good eating habits that they felt they could maintain indefinitely. If a patient’s diet leaves them hungry and deprived, they are more likely to drop it as soon as possible rather than develop a healthy lifestyle.
The key to weight loss then, and ultimately finding a lifestyle that suits you and your health needs, is to steer clear of any processed or refined foods, trans fats, and added sugars, and consciously purchase and prepare whole foods. These suggestions will help you go the extra mile in giving your body the nutrition and energy it needs throughout your life.
The Bottom Line
While promising many excellent and quick results, the ketogenic diet is not a diet that can sustain the body and keep it healthy long term. Many people who try keto for the long term end up suffering from many side effects and eventually learn that their quick weight loss is not long-lasting. Many keto success stories end up regaining the weight within a year. The bottom line is that the keto diet can be dangerous long-term and should not be attempted without professional supervision. Instead of trying a quick fix in your weight loss journey, take the time to treat your body well and fuel it with various healthy foods, lots of water, and exercise. This method will help you see the best and long-lasting results.