Over the years diets have come in and out of the spotlight. Namely, one that has popped up — and become a cultural buzzword — is the Keto Diet. Personally, I have my routine that I feel works for me. However, I’m always interested and open to checking out the latest fitness trends.
The Keto Diet’s Origin
As I always do, I decided to do some digging and research where it originated (i.e. look for pros and cons). It seems the diet became popular in the 1920’s and 30’s as a way to provide a non-mainstream fasting, which has demonstrated success as an epilepsy therapy. A few years later the diet was abandoned due to new medications that were discovered.
The Science of the Keto Diet
It was in 1921 that endocrinologist Rollin Woodyatt noted that three water-soluble compounds, acetone, β-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate (together called ketone bodies) were produced by the liver as a result of starvation. Then, we found if people followed a diet rich in fat and low in carbohydrates, these water-soluble compounds would be produced. Russel Wilder, from the Mayo Clinic, called this the “Ketogenic Diet” and used it as a treatment for epilepsy.
So How Do I Keto?
If your blood glucose drops too low you will eventually pass out and, well, possibly die. However, if you stop eating carbs your body will produce ketones and your body will go in to ketogenesis. Once that happens, our bodies will begin to break down fat as an energy source called ketone bodies — the three water-soluble compounds listed in the previous paragraph.
The Keto Diet Explained
In short, ketone bodies can replace or stand in for the glucose. Once ketogenesis kicks in, the body is in ketosis, which means you are burning your stored fat. There are a few ways to get into this state, such as fasting or eating 20-50 grams of carbs per day. To break the macros down, this works out to approx. 5% carbs, 15% proteins, 80% fats. That said, if you eat too much protein or too many carbs your body will not stay in ketosis.
So Why Do the Keto Diet? And, Does it Work?
When my clients ask me about a particular diet, I always respond first with, “I am diet agnostic, so whatever you prefer to follow is fine with me, as long as it’s safe and you can maintain it for the rest of life.”
Keto Diet Studies
Let’s look at a study next: There was a 2007 JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) randomized trial that found over 12 months the difference in weight loss was slightly greater for users of the Keto Diet. However, let’s look at the numbers below.
My Final Thoughts on the Keto Diet?
While there may have been a slight increase of weight loss following a keto type diet (5.72 lbs more weight loss over 12 months) vs. the other diets (Zone, Ornish, Learn, etc.), I personally wouldn’t follow this method. Put simply, I enjoy my carbs, and not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. I’m a big believer in balance, health, and overall well being. The total weight loss comes to 10.34 lbs over 12 months following a keto type diet. If my clients are only losing 10.34 lbs per year, I’m probably going to be out of a job due to lack of results. My average client will drop between four and eight pounds per month, not per year. This goes back to working with someone you can trust to help you set movement goals that increase your calorie burn, nutrition goals to stay at a deficit in calories, and accountability to help you stay the course and improve mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Other Thoughts on the Keto Diet
Now, there’s also water weight you will lose from not eating carbs / starch. For every gram of starch you eat you will hold one to three grams of water. So, if you eat 200 grams of carbs/starch (approx one bowl of cereal, one cup rice, three slices of pizza) you would gain approx 1.5 lbs of water weight. In other words, if you change some of the food out here you will drop weight — water weight that is, and not fat. Personally, I prefer to know that I am losing fat not just water, which is much needed for your overall health and well being.
Lastly, and just for my personal goals, I enjoy having protein — more than 15%, which is too little to support my muscle. So, keto will go onto the back burner of nutrition options for me, but feel free to comment below and let us know your thoughts and/or experience with the Keto Diet.