Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss
“Eating crappy food isn’t a reward — it’s a punishment.” – Drew Carey
The problem with a diet that relies mostly on carbohydrates is that creates an unhealthy dependence on sugar.
What most people don’t understand is that carbs eventually turn into a form of sugar called glucose once they’ve digested that plate of pasta.
And there are a bunch of adverse side effects that add up over time when you continually eat this way.
For one thing, your blood sugar will get too high, which will lead to more complications later on. Your pancreas will be hard at work pumping insulin into your bloodstream to remove that glucose.
But once there’s too much sugar in your system, all that glucose won’t have any place to go.
Usually, they’re stored in your muscles and liver. Once they’re full up, the only option is for your liver to turn that sugar into saturated fat.
A bloodstream chock-full of excess fats leads to other problems like insulin resistance, and eventually, diabetes.
How to Hack Your Metabolism
The solution would be to train your body to “prefer” other sources of energy aside from sugar. This way, you can put a stop to the metabolic pattern we just talked about.
Fat is a better fuel alternative. If you can find a way to end your dependence on carbs and sugar, your system will adapt. Then you can switch to a healthier, more sustainable energy source.
But how do you get your body to listen and shift gears?
Enter the ketogenic diet.
After making specific modifications to your eating habits, you’ll change the way you burn energy. Then you’ll turn yourself into an efficient fat-burning machine and lose weight naturally.
The secret is in your liver. Going back to what we discussed, this specific organ is forced to turn sugar into fat – this is a response to overconsuming processed foods.
However, you can “trick” your liver into breaking down those fatty acids floating in your system.
These will then be converted into what’s known as ketones – say hello to your new energy source.
That means you’ll now enter “ketosis mode” where your body automatically knows that it should utilize fats instead of carbs for fuel.
Fats are not Foes
Sometime around the 1960s, the U.S. government set nutritional guidelines based on studies that vilified ALL types of fat.
One such researcher that kickstarted this fat-phobic era was Ancel Keys. He was a nutritionist who established the idea that fats were the culprit of the heart attack epidemic at the time.
However, other researchers came to a different conclusion. These opposing views state that it was carbohydrates and sugar – not fats – that were behind weight gain and cardiovascular disease.
Sadly, these studies got buried under a mountain of biased (and some would say unethical) research that ignored this other piece of the puzzle. Instead, they focused only on fat, making it Public Enemy No. 1 for years to come.
Fortunately, we know better today.
Further studies that surfaced afterward showed that while there are genuinely harmful fats (like trans fats), there are other fats which are actually good for you.
In fact, fat isn’t just an excellent source of energy. It’s also a vital building block of brain matter as this organ is mostly made up of fat!
They also help you break down fat-soluble vitamins, as well as transfer nutrients between your cells. And they provide slow, steady bursts of energy for both brain-intensive and physical activity.
Ok, Great – But How Will Keto Help Me Lose Weight?
Keto practitioners swear by this lifestyle because it offers a slew of benefits.
For instance, they’ve kept their previously out-of-control cravings in check. Aside from that, they’ve now cleared away the brain fog that comes with a diet of highly processed food.
Their blood sugar levels stabilized as well. This also means their insulin production became nice and even.
Better yet, keto eaters also report higher levels of energy with virtually no sluggishness or lethargy.
As for weight loss, studies show that this dietary approach is effective. Duke University Medical Center did a randomized, controlled trial of 120 overweight participants and tracked their progress.
Their study resulted in a couple of key findings:
- A low-carb, ketogenic diet was more effective at treating obesity than a low-fat diet
- The participants’ triglyceride levels went down, while their HDL cholesterol (a.k.a. the good kind) went up
As such, the keto way is great for reducing your carb intake. This helps tell your body to burn those pesky fats.
How Do I Keto? (And is it Right for Me?)
Now that you have a better idea of what this diet entails, you’re probably wondering if it’s a good match for you.
The first thing that you have to remember is that a ketogenic diet isn’t a one-size-fits-all silver bullet for your weight woes.
Losing weight is a significant benefit of this approach, no doubt. However, it’s the result of meeting specific metabolic needs that vary for each person.
This is why there are four basic types of ketogenic diets:
- The Standard Ketogenic Diet – or SKD – is considered the classic method of kickstarting of your ketone production. This is focused on cutting on carb intake, which can be as low as 5% of your total diet (as recommended in a study by Dr. Goldman at BC Children’s Hospital in Canada). Your fat intake would roughly make up about 75%, while protein fills in the rest.
- The Targeted Ketogenic Diet – or TKD – works best for the athletic folks who want to support their demanding lifestyle. You’d have to eat the same amount of carbs as SKD (also very low!) before you intend to work out.
- A Cyclical Ketogenic Diet – or CKD – is a better choice if you want to take your time making the keto switch. This is a bit more forgiving because you can take alternating days of low-carb and high-carb consumption.
- A High-Protein Ketogenic Diet has a lot in common with the classic version. But as the name suggests, this is a proper diet if you’re lacking in the protein department.
As you can see, you’ll need to do the initial groundwork to fine tune your intended keto eating plan. However, doing your due diligence will pay off in spades and you’ll soon reap the massive benefits.
Here’s a general overview of what you need to keep an eye out for:
#1: Food Intake
Of course, what you eat will define the level of success you’ll enjoy after doing keto. As you learned from the different variations of the ketogenic diet, you need to find the ideal amount of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Protein, in particular, depends on personal factors like weight, total amount of body fat (which can be done at a gym or medical center), gender, height, and age.
#2: How Much Weight You Want to Lose
You need to figure out how many calories you need in a day (for both physical activity and basic body functions), as well as your body fat percentage. This will help you work out the amount of body fat you want to shed.
Work with your physician, nutritionist and trainer to figure out your specific needs. That includes how many calories to consume, and your required protein intake (which will help you burn fat better).
#3 Lose Weight by Working out
It’s important to note that you need enough quality food to fuel your exercise routine. Starving yourself recklessly while trying to burn those calories can backfire. A study from the American Physiological Society says that you need to consume enough protein to prevent muscle cannibalization. This happens when the body goes into starvation mode. So as you work out, make sure that you’re eating the right stuff to keep your muscles in good shape. This will then help you shed those pounds.
As for exercise itself, a lot of keto practitioners are fans of HIIT, or high-intensity interval training. Some trainers recommend doing cardio-like HIIT routines, like treadmill sprints, going on the Stairmaster and cycle sprints. There are other HIIT-based exercises, such as the walk and sprint, infinite pushups, and sit up and jump.
Note that there are other keto-friendly workout options as well. This includes (but is not limited to) yoga, Pilates, CrossFit and good ol’ cardio. To find out which of these exercises work best for you, talk to a professional trainer.
Eat Right, Live Longer
As we’ve talked about, there are massive benefits to making the keto switch, but always remember to consult with a professional.
They can help you transition into this lifestyle change and keep a close eye on your progress. With their guidance, you can keep track of other factors like rate of weight loss, ketone levels, and calorie intake.
And once you’ve made the leap, you’ll enjoy optimal nutrition, a satisfied tummy and trim waistline!
Nutrition is a fantastic thing, and it plays such an influential role in our day-to-day existence.
It doesn’t just keep you alive – it also determines the quality of your life.
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