What works for weight loss is pretty simple science
Whether you gain or lose weight is mainly a matter of calories in versus calories out. This is essentially why the Ketogenic Diet is no better or worse than any other diet.
Consume fewer calories through food and drink than you burn off and, hey presto, you’ll lose weight. Despite how obvious this evidence appears to be, it hasn’t deterred an increasing number of charlatans from pushing dodgy diets.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The Ketogenic Diet – or Keto for short – is a high-protein, high-fat and low-carb diet plan. Carb levels are so low they rarely go beyond 30-40 grams per day, which is little more than a small portion of oats and a banana.
What “keto” means
The “keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that it allows the body to produce small fuel molecules called “ketones”.
Ketones are produced if you eat very few carbs (that are quickly broken down into blood sugar) and only moderate amounts of protein (excess protein can also be converted to blood sugar).
The liver produces ketones from fat. These ketones then serve as a fuel source throughout the body, especially for the brain.
The brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day, and it can’t run on fat directly. It can only run on glucose… or ketones.
On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, burning fat 24-7. When insulin levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically.
It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off.
When the body produces ketones, it enters a metabolic state called ketosis. The fastest way to get there is by fasting – not eating anything – but nobody can fast forever.
A keto diet, on the other hand, can be eaten indefinitely and also results in ketosis. It has many of the benefits of fasting – including weight loss – without having to fast.
What to eat on a keto diet
Here are typical foods to enjoy on a ketogenic diet. The numbers are net carbs, i.e. digestible carbs, per 100 grams.
To remain in ketosis, lower is generally better:
The most important thing for reaching ketosis is to avoid eating too many carbs. You’ll probably need to keep carb intake under 50 grams per day of net carbs, ideally below 20 grams. The fewer carbs, the more effective it appears to be for reaching ketosis, losing weight or reversing type 2 diabetes.
What to avoid
Here’s what you should avoid on a keto diet – carb foods containing a lot of sugar and starch. This includes starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. These foods are very high in carbs.
The numbers are grams of net carbs per 100 grams, unless otherwise noted.
This means that on a keto diet you’ll basically need to avoid sugary foods completely, as well as starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. Also avoid processed foods, and instead follow our keto diet advice.
Furthermore, the food should primarily be high in fat, and only moderately high in protein, as excess protein can be converted to blood sugar in the body. Avoid low-fat diet products. A rough guideline is about 5% energy from carbohydrates (the fewer carbs, the more effective), 15-25% from protein, and around 75% from fat.
What to drink
So what do you drink on a ketogenic diet? Water is the perfect drink, and coffee or tea are fine too. Ideally, use no sweeteners, especially not sugar.
Keto connoisseurs claim this diet is best for weight loss, but that isn’t proven by evidence.
Nutritional scientist Dr. Layne Norton recently shared this post to his Instagram account:
Norton writes about one study in particular, which found that a mixed diet and a Ketogenic one produced the same weight loss results when calories were topped at 800 and protein 50 grams.
There are over 30 studies into the efficacy of Keto on weight loss, however. As Norton points out, research on the Ketogenic Diet can be summed up into a few simple points:
- Keto is no better for fat loss than any other diet, where protein and calories are the same
- Over 30 studies support this fact
- That’s not to say a Keto Diet won’t work, it just has to contain the right amount of protein and calories
- Any successful diet must be sustainable and something you can adhere to
- Because Keto almost completely eliminates carbs, it can be very difficult to sustain
- I will add that majority of people that think they are on a keto diet, are in fact not, they are more than likely on a low carb diet. There is a difference!