One of the most common reasons people choose a ketogenic diet is to lose weight or to become leaner. Ketogenic diets have been proven to outperform other low-carb diets as well as calorie restricted diets when it comes to weight and fat loss. This is because your body is already running to burn the fat from your diet as it’s primary source of fuel. Therefore, it is metabolically easier to burn the fat stored in your body in a ketogenic state.
Ketosis has even been able to help some recover from damage done to the body through a Western diet. Western diets are carb heavy, causing many to become insulin resistant, meaning there is too much insulin in the body. A ketogenic diet can help restore insulin sensitivity and can help regulate metabolic function. Healthy insulin and metabolic functions further aid and maintain weight loss.
An added weight loss benefit of a ketogenic diet is it’s appetite suppressing effect. This stems from two sources in the diet. The fat consumed takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, therefore maintaining a feeling of satiety. Secondly, because less carbs are consumed, there are less spikes in blood sugar levels. Severe spikes in glucose levels inhibit fat and weight loss as well as contribute to cravings for more sugar and carb rich foods.
Besides weight loss, keto diets can also improve your overall health. Studies have also shown that keto diets can lower triglycerides, which are the fat molecules that are strongly correlated with heart disease. It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but triglycerides actually elevate when carbohydrates are consumed. Therefore cutting carbs in a keto diet can drastically reduce blood triglycerides.
In a popular study known as the “Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet”, a group of 31 obese subjects ate a diet mainly of fish, olive oil, and non-starchy vegetables. These participants had impressive results including weight loss, improved blood pressure, lower cholesterol, fasting blood sugar levels, and almost a 50% reduction in triglycerides. A ketogenic diet may also help you reach your desired goals.
How Ketosis will Help you Reach your Weight Loss Goals
Again, with a carb-heavy diet like the Western diet, the main source of fuel is glucose. Glucose is easily metabolized, so your body naturally uses it as its primary source of energy. Unfortunately, with carb-heavy diets, your body will eventually go into a carb overload, and all that unused glucose energy will be stored as fat.
In a ketogenic diet, it’s just the opposite. Your body relies on ketone bodies for energy. Ketone bodies break down fat to deliver fuel to your brain, organs, and the rest of your muscles. A ketogenic state allows your fat deposits to shrink and releases stored energy, helping you lose fat and weight. When your body reaches ketosis it is at an extremely high fat-burning state.
As stated above ketosis restores insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a fat-storing hormone, it’s primary job in to your body in to store excess glucose as energy into your cells. But when insulin levels are constantly high, as it is in a high-carb diet, it’s constantly blocking your body’s ability to to burn fat, and is instead constantly storing it. A keto diet, again, is just the opposite. It lowers levels of insulin, making sure that fat stored can be used as needed. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. This will bring you into optimal ketosis.
Using a Keto Diet to Achieve your Goals
Reaching ketosis can be quite simple, if done correctly. Most people will be able to reach ketosis on a net carbohydrate intake of around 50 grams per day. Fat should supply a majority of your calories throughout the day and protein should be kept fairly low. The idea is give your body no alternative but to burn ketones as fuel.
Where many dieters make mistakes in achieving ketosis is not being careful with protein intake. If the body has a high amount of protein it may begin to convert it to glucose, preventing ketone production. The secret to preventing this mistake is to consume more fat. Increasing the fat in your meal, by adding some butter or coconut oil, will help you feel more satisfied. This will ensure you eat less protein, and even less carbohydrate. Your insulin will drop and you’ll be able to reach optimal ketosis.
Once you reach your desired weight, you will be able to slowly reintroduce carbohydrates and be able to consume anywhere from 100-150 grams per day to maintain your weight loss. This will allow even more vegetables and lower-carb fruits.
Using Carb Cycling To Achieve your Goals
Another, more flexible plan would be a cyclic ketogenic diet, or simply “carb cycling”. This plan allows the body to dip in and out of a ketogenic state. For carb cycling, each week has a few days of ketogenic eating, followed by one or two high-carb days. This allows the benefits of ketosis most of the time, while maintaining a much higher level of athletic performance as well as variety and flexibility in your diet. This is a popular diet among many because it can deliver the benefits of insulin sensitivity and weight management, while maintaining energy needed for more intense workouts, like HIIT training and heavy weightlifting.
Whether you choose a strict keto diet or carb cycling, you will see the weight loss benefits as well as health benefits of this low-carb diet. A ketogenic diet is one that will help you reach your weight loss goals, as well as your overall health goals. When done correctly can be a healthy and enjoyable way of living.