Have you ever tried a diet because you’ve been hearing about it everywhere? How about this BEST exercise? Perhaps this “super-food”?
I want to talk about KETO, the ketogenic diet since this is one of hottest things to do in the health & fitness world.
First of all, what is keto?
Let’s go over the basic scientific facts first. The ketogenic diet, also known as keto, is a diet protocol which consists of high-fat and low-carbohydrate consumption. Glycogen is the preferred fuel source of the body, which is converted from carbohydrates, and when its availability is significantly reduced by the ketogenic diet, the body adapts and begins producing ketone bodies via converting fat. This process is called Ketosis, which is the ultimate goal of the ketogenic diet. Generally, the ketosis can be achieved with the net carb intake range of below 50g/day. THAT IS EXTREMELY LOW CARB INTAKE!
So, why is keto so popular?
First of all, the ketogenic diet has been around and used since the 1920s (which I’ll come back to). With that said, in my opinion, its popularity boomed in the last decade which can be credited to the health & fitness industry blaming the obesity/overweight epidemic to sugar & insulin. The funny thing is, before the sugar & insulin blame, it was fat that was supposedly the cause of people being overweight. Thus, the FAT-FREE craze! However, once enough research came out to debunk the blame for fat, sugar & insulin took its place. If sugar consumption is the blame for overweight & obesity, we should cut it out of our diet completely right? Well, that’s the “black or white” solution, which resulted in people overusing the ketogenic diet.
Is there any benefit of going keto?
Yes. As I’ve mentioned earlier, the ketogenic diet has been used since the 1920s, which its main use has been for clinical treatment of neural disorders, particularly epilepsy. In addition to such use, going keto has been correlated with improving chronic inflammation, improving cognition and appetite suppression. Another benefit I want to mention is its use for cutting weight, which athletes with specific weight classes have used for years. Carbohydrate is known to retain water thus by reducing the carb consumption less water will be held. Please understand that the weight reduction due to water cut is not permanent, meaning no actual tissue change occurred in the body, thus no excess body fat was reduced.
So, should I get on keto?
When it comes to diet, adherence is everything. If you like to eat out or travel often this diet will be very difficult to follow. Also, if you love carbs like me, this will be very difficult to adhere. Also, when it comes to performance, especially if your sport or activity requires a lot of anaerobic endurance (the ability to sprint repeatedly like basketball, football, soccer, etc.) it’s probably not the best idea to go keto. In simple terms, producing energy from fat takes way longer than producing energy from carbohydrates (or others) thus it will be disadvantageous to use fat as your primary fuel source.
It’s also important to add that if you have thyroid issues or susceptible to depression or anxiety, going keto probably is not a good idea.
Most importantly, why do most people go on a diet? Duh, to lose weight. As I’ve mentioned over and over again in my previous posts, weight loss occurs not because of the magical properties of a diet but because of the manipulation of the fundamental principles. So, if you do end up losing weight by following the ketogenic diet, it is due to the fact that you cut out this whole macronutrient called carbohydrates, which has led to the overall caloric intake reduction. So, even during a keto, if the overall calories are at or above the maintenance level, it is highly unlikely that you or anyone else will lose weight.
The ketogenic diet is only a diet, not a magical formula everyone should be on. With that said, it may be worth a try if you have neural disorders like epilepsy, chronic inflammation, poor cognitive function, or weight class to get down to. Lastly, I want to mention that some people tolerate carbohydrates better than others so going keto may be a good option for you if you are carb intolerant.
Trust me, I wish it was as simple as a yes or no…but it usually never is. Thus, when someone comes out and says YOU MUST DO THIS or YOU SHOULD NEVER DO THIS, it should raise questions rather than believing the “fad”.