You have probably heard people promoting the ketogenic diet for weight loss. People are raving about it, but is it right for you? More importantly, 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 and provides you with her professional perspective on this weight-loss craze.
Continue reading for more information.
What is ketosis?
First, let’s talk about the process of ketosis. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in the body. In healthy individuals, the brain and muscles can use glucose as an efficient energy source. However, when carbohydrates are significantly reduced, the body must find an alternative fuel source. As a result, the body relies on fat (and sometimes protein) for energy production.
When your body digests fat, it produces ketones. This complex process is known as ketosis. The brain and muscles can use ketones in the absence of glucose for fuel. This is not a risk-free process, though. High levels of ketones can cause dehydration or even a change in your blood’s acid/base balance.
What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate diet that aims to shift the body’s fuel source from glucose to ketones. To do this, one must restrict carb intake to less than 10% of total calories. For comparison purposes, most recommended, balanced diets consist of 45-65% total calories from carbohydrates.
There is evidence that a ketogenic diet benefits people who suffer from seizures; however, they are followed closely by a physician for safety reasons. Research is looking into the effects of a ketogenic diet with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. More research is needed before a ketogenic diet can safely be recommended to prevent or treat these conditions.
A ketogenic diet is not recommended for weight loss. Research supports a moderate reduction in calories as part of a balanced plan instead of low carbohydrate or low-fat eating.
Here are my top 3 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 and fresh fruits and vegetables.
For protein – opt for lean poultry, fish and seafood, and plant-based proteins.
2) Drastic changes are not sustainable
Most diets that help you lose weight at rocket speed have a high failure rate because they are challenging to follow long term. I would not want to live without my occasional pizza, french fries, and cupcakes! 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. Sustainable lifestyle changes instead of temporary diets 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 plan that will work best for you!