Is the ketogenic diet the new fad diet?
Short Answer: It depends on who is doing it, and how they’re doing it.
The ketogenic diet, or keto as it’s popularly called, is not new. Physicians have been using as a dietary therapy since the 1920s. It was the original therapeutic diet for treating children with epilepsy.
Not too long ago fat was seen as the enemy of fat loss because many believed it was fat that was making us fat.
People who wanted to lose body fat were advised to reduce their dietary fat intake. Dieters paid premium prices for foods that were labelled as, low-fat or fat-free. In the land of dieting, fat was the most hated macronutrient!
But things have changed in recent years. We no longer see fat as the enemy of fat loss because the goalpost has moved, and another macronutrient is taking the backlash. Dieters can now eat as much fat as they want—thanks to Ketogenic diet and low carbs diet.
Congratulations fat! The supreme court of dieting has declared you not guilty. The proclamation: “It’s not fat that makes us fat!”
You’re now the new B.A.E, fat! Let’s make a (bulletproof coffee) toast to your victory!
Is The Ketogenic Diet The Best Solution
Why is it now okay to eat more fat? Did the chemical structures of fat and carbohydrates change? Are carbs dangerous or we are just looking for another food to blame?
My goal with this post is to tell you the truth about carbohydrates and their role in fat gain/fat loss.
Let’s dive in if you’re ready for the truth and nothing but the truth.
What Is A Ketogenic Diet
A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, and low-carb diet. The “keto” in ketogenic comes from ketones. Ketones are the fuel molecules the body uses as an alternative fuel source when the glucose level in the blood is low.
The body produces ketones from fat to fuel its activities when carbohydrates intake is drastically reduced, or during a period of extended fasting.
A person is said to be in ketosis when their fuel source switches from glucose to ketones. Ketosis should not be confused with ketoacidosis, which is a life-threating condition.
Many people are gravitating towards the ketogenic diet because of the weight loss promise it holds. The ketogenic diet is not a fad, but it’s also not for everyone.
What your macronutrients distribution should look like on a proper ketogenic diet:
Now that we have established that the ketogenic diet is not a fad diet let shift our focus to the elephant in the room: carbohydrates.
Carbs Are Not The Enemy
I’m not an anti-ketogenic diet, neither am I a pro-high carb diet. What I’m against is the demonisation of a food group. Carbohydrates are not the enemy. The real enemy is the type you of carbs we eat, how much we eat, and when we eat. Quality, quantity and timing.
For instance, some of us can eat seven days worth of carbs in one day. Instead of seeing carbs as the enemy, we should understand how the body reacts to the ingestion of carbohydrates and begin to feed in a way that will support our goals, whether the goal is to lose, stay healthy or both.
Your Body On Carbohydrates
Whether the carbohydrate is from yam, fruit, vegetable, or a bottle of coke, the final breakdown of all carbs is glucose! But all carbs don’t digest at the same rate, and they don’t interact with your body the same way.
Your body will not respond to the ingestion of a glass of orange juice the same way it will react when you eat the whole orange fruit. Why? Fruit juices (homemade or bought) are made up of concentrated glucose (sugar), water, vitamins and mineral.
When you drink a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice, the digestive system doesn’t have to do much work to digest the macronutrient (fruit sugar in this case), the sugar will flood your bloodstream in about 15-20 minutes and raise your blood glucose level. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because the human body in its wisdom knows how to take care of the excess glucose that is flowing through the bloodstream.
If quick energy is needed to power some activities, insulin will remove the excess glucose and escort it to the working muscles. But if you’re inactive after drinking the juice, and blood glucose level rises above what is normal, insulin will clear the excess glucose and store it in the muscles and liver as glycogen for later use (glycogen is the storage form of glucose).
Limiting Carbs Intake Result In Quick Weight Loss
There is a limit to the amount of glycogen the liver and muscles can store. Therefore, if you continue with this pattern of eating more carbohydrates than your body can use for daily energy, there will be no space left in the liver and muscle to store the excess and your body will have to convert the surplus to fat and save it in fat cells (adipose tissue).
The bad news is that there is no limit to the amount of fat the body can store. Your body can create new fat cells when the need arises.
As mentioned earlier, the body will convert excess glucose to glycogen and store it the liver and muscle for later use. But this is where things get tricky: for every gram of glycogen stored, the body adds 3 grams of water. What that means is, when you eat excess carbs your body is going to retain a lot of water.
To release the water, you must deplete the glycogen storage.
Let’s Talk About Water Weight
Ever heard of losing water weight? That is the first thing that happens when you reduce your carbs intake; your body will lose water weight in the first 2-3 days of carbs reduction because it’s depleting its glycogen storage. That is why people see drastic weight loss in the first few days of carbs reduction or elimination.
Now the scale doesn’t know the difference between water weight and fat weight, all it sees is weight loss. You want to lose more than water weight; you want to lose fat! That is why it’s crucial that you follow a dietary strategy you can sustain for a longer time. Otherwise, you will gain the weight back with extra once you go off the diet.
6 Tips For Fat Loss
1. Reduce Your Carbs Intake
Your body can only tap deep into its fat storage when there is not enough glucose to fuel your activity. If you continue to consume excess carbs, as many people do, you will deny your body the opportunity to burn fat for energy.
You don’t have to eliminate starchy carbs and fruits from your diet as some people advocate, but you do need to pay attention to the how much carbs you consume on a daily basis. Everyone can benefit from a reduced-carb diet.
2. Practice Carb Cycling
Carb cycling is a dietary approach in which you alternate carb intake on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. It is commonly used to lose fat, maintain physical performance while dieting, or overcome a weight loss plateau (healthline.com).
Carb cycling is my preferred method of lowering carbs intake because it’s a more flexible way to cut carbs without going into total carbs deprivation.
You can alternate between low-carb days and moderate-carb days, or low-carb and moderate-carbs meals within a day—if you are a beginner.
On your low-carb days, your total carbs will be around 50-100 grams. Total carbs include starchy carbohydrates like yam, sweet potatoes, oats, rice, fruits and sweet vegetables like carrots and beetroot).
On your moderate-carbs days, you will eat about 200-250 grams of carbs.
3. Do Intermittent Fasting
Contrary to what proponents of the 5-6 meals a day would have you believe, intermittent fasting does not slow down your metabolism. Studies have shown that it increases fat burning.
4. Don’t Remove To Replace
One mistake I see a lot of people make is this: they remove one food and replace it with another food. People reduce their starchy carbs intake and begin to eat nuts and fruits as if those have no calories.
What you eat and how much you eat matter. You can’t eat your cake and have it!
5. Embrace Exercise
Many people go the “only dieting” route because they hate exercise. They can do anything to lose weight as long as working out isn’t a requirement. The truth is, you don’t need work out to lose weight. There are one thousand and one things you can do to lose weight; exercise is just one of them. But if you want to lose weight without having a flabby skin, you must embrace fitness.
Exercise will not only prevent your skin from getting flabby, but it will also increase your metabolism.
Best Exercises For Fat Loss
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High-intensity interval training alternates short bouts of high-intensity exercise periods with low-intensity exercise periods. HIIT gives you bulk for your time because your body continues to burn calorie (fat) hours after exercise has stopped.
Some women don’t want to lift weights because they think lifting weights will make them look bulky like men.
No, weight training doesn’t make a woman look bulky. Women usually don’t produce a high level of testosterone—a steroid hormone that is responsible for such increase in muscle mass in men.
Strength training increases muscle mass and decreases fat mass. The more muscle a person has, the more calories she can burn at rest. Why? At rest, a pound of fat uses between 2-3 calories per day, but a pound of muscle uses 7-10 calories per day.
Add strength training to your fitness routine. It’s the best way to lose fat without getting flabby.
6. Be Consistent
If fat loss is your goal, you can’t be playing on and off with your nutrition. If you can’t see yourself following your current diet plan for more than a few weeks, you need to have a rethink. The dietary strategy that’ll work for you is the one you can sustain for a long time.
I hope I’ve been able to bring some clarity and sensible answers to your questions about the ketogenic diet and carbohydrates.
YOUR TURN: What’s your opinion on the ketogenic diet? Have you tried it before? Share your thought and experience in the comments below.
The post was updated post on March 6, 2018