There are so many different way to approach nutrition. Some say high carb, low fat, some say no carbs all fat, some say track your macronutrients evenly. Today we are going to focus on the ketogenic diet. What is it, what are the pros and cons, and how can you successfully implement it into your life?
The ketogenic diet is a very low carb, high fat diet. It has been shown through many studies that this way of eating can lead to many health benefits and can help you lose weight and change your body composition.
While following a ketogenic diet you will reduce your carbohydrate intake and replace those calories with fat. This puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When you body is in ketosis is becomes very efficient at burning fat for energy. Your body is also able to turn fat into ketones which are used as energy for optimal brain power. Following a ketogenic diet has also been shown to help lower blood sugar and insulin levels.
There are a few different ways to approach implementing a ketogenic diet. Here are some variations you could choose from based on your goals and training program.
- The Standard Ketogenic Diet - For the standard approach to the ketogenic diet you would be eating a very high amount of fat (75% of your daily calories) a moderate amount of protien (20% of your daily calories) and a very low amount of carbohydrates (only 5% of your daily calories).
2) The High Protein Ketogenic Diet - For this variation you would lower your fat to around 65% and up your protein to around 30%. Your carb intake would still remain at 5%.
3) The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet - This variation offers 5 days of the standard diet and two days of high carb, lower fat.
What are the pros and cons of following a ketogenic diet?
- It has been shown to be an effective way to lose weight and lower risk factors for disease
- Increased ketones lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity
- Reduce fat storage (increase fat burning)
- Increased thermogenesis (the amount of calories you burn from just living daily)
- Lowers your risk of cancer
- Can help increase performance (especially in endurance sports)
- Help promote fat loss while preserving muscle
- If you have been living on a high carb diet it will take some time for your body to adapt to this way of eating and will take some time before your body has the necessary enzymes to effectively burn the fat, until then your body will excrete it out (via breathing or urinating), during this adaptation phase your body will rely on your liver glucose stores for energy. This can last 1-2 weeks depending on how many carbs you were used to eating daily.
- Eating this way can feel restricitive
- You must track your food so you know that you are hitting your necessary gram and percentage amount for each macronutrient
- Athletes that require a high anaerobic output (such as basketball or soccer players) will not see as high of an energy output as they would if they were eating more carbohydrates
If you are interested in following a ketogenic diet, be sure to consider these things:
- While the recommendations are 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs, these things can be adjusted a bit based on individual cases.
- In order for your body to successfully go through the adaptation phase, you must be at 50g or lower of carbs per day, preferrably coming mostly from low glycemic vegetables and fruit.
- Athletes may want to consider upping their protein to 30% for higher muscle repair rates.
- Be sure to eat a variety of healthy fats. Things like butter, coconut oil, olive oil, olives, nuts, seeds, avocado, high quality meat and fish should be your standard go-tos. Stay away from fried foods and overly processed fatty meats.
- Your body naturally reduces it’s water stores when carbohydrates are restricted, so be sure to drink a ton of water.
- When you restrict carbs and continue to exercise magnesium can become depleted due to its role in insulin metabolism. When following a ketogenic diet you may want to supplement with 500mg of magnesium per day.
- Stay the course. Remember you may feel a bit “off” for the first week or so. This is your body adjusting. Stick with it!
Following a ketogenic diet can offer a lot of health benefits and can be very effective for losing weight and body composition management. Be sure to consider all of these things when starting your ketogenic journey!
Live Well, Be well.