You have probably heard people promoting the ketogenic diet for weight loss. It’s the newest fad diet people are raving about, but it is right for you? Even more important, is it safe, reliable, and sustainable? Continue reading as I go over exactly what you need to know about the ketogenic diet!
In this video, Amanda Haney weighs in on the science behind this diet as well as provide you with her professional perspective on this new weight loss craze.
If you don’t like the video or want more information, continue reading.
What is ketosis?
First, let me explain to you ketosis. Our bodies use carbohydrates as the preferred energy source for our brains. When you digest carbohydrates, they are broken down to glucose. On the other hand, when you significantly cut your carbohydrates intake, you are starving your body of glucose. As a result, it has to use fat and protein for energy.
When your body digests fat and protein, it produces ketones, which are the closest substitute for glucose that our bodies can use. When your body switches from using carbohydrates to fats and proteins for energy, this is called ketosis. High levels of ketones can be dangerous and cause dehydration or even a change in the chemical balance in your blood.
What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet recommends less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. This is less than 10% of your daily calories from carbohydrates. The remaining calories come from proteins and fats.
There is evidence that a ketogenic diet benefits people that suffer from seizures; however, these individuals are followed closely by a physician to be monitored for safety. Research studies are looking into the effects of a ketogenic diet with type 2 diabetes or heart disease as well as neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. However, more research needs to be done before the ketogenic diet can be recommended to prevent or treat these conditions.
It’s important to note that ketogenic diets are not recommended for weight loss. In fact, research studies continue to support that a moderate reduction in calories with a balanced plan is far superior to a low carbohydrate or low-fat diet for weight loss. With this in mind, here are my top 3 dietitian tips for sustainable and healthy weight loss.
1) Cutting major food groups equals cutting major nutrients
For example, complex carbohydrates are rich with fiber, important B vitamins, prebiotics, and iron. You can’t get the same benefits from fortified foods and supplements. Therefore, choosing nutrient-dense options is always better than restricting. For carbohydrates – choose whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. For fats – choose healthy unsaturated options. For proteins – choose lean and plant proteins.
2) Drastic changes are not sustainable
Most diets that help you lose weight fast have high failure rates because they are really difficult to follow long term. Personally, I would not want to live without my occasional pizza, french fries, and cupcakes! Labeling these foods as “off limits” leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and failure. Strictly following diets this way leads to a negative body image and more dissatisfaction. Instead, enjoy the foods you love in the right amount with portion control.
3) Balance is the key to success
The USDA recommends evenly distributing calories with 45-65% from carbohydrates, 10-30% from protein, and 25-35% from fat with appropriate calories for your activity level. Lifestyle changes instead of diets, like portion control and healthy substitutions, are the key to achieving your lifelong health goals.
Overall, quick fixes and fad diets are not sustainable. As a result, I highly recommend you meet with your registered dietitian to discuss a dietary plan that will work best for you!