Is a Keto Diet any Good?
It depends what you’re trying to achieve. If weight loss is your only goal and you don’t mind having bad breath, then yes, going Keto is a good option.
For those who don’t know the principles behind the Ketogenic diet, it’s based on restricted carbs (sugars) until your body enters a state of ketosis whereby ketones are synthesised in your liver so they can be used for energy in place of the carbs which you didn’t eat.
The 3 main ketones produced in the human body are Acetone, Acetoacetic acid and β-Hydroxy butyrate. With the exception of Acetone, these can be used as fuel and are produced in the liver in circumstances such as starvation, excessive and prolonged alcohol consumption and if you have an inability to metabolise sugars e.g. if you’re diabetic. That paragraph is the first of my clues as to whether or not I think Ketogenic diets are good.
You’ve all heard of the Atkins diet which is also a Ketogenic diet. Famous for giving people bad breath, the Atkins diet is definitely a sure-fire way to lose weight. The bad breath is caused by the passage of Acetone, which we pass in our urine or exhale during respiration. Many of my clients have tried it and succeeded in order to get in shape for weddings etc.
Why does it result in weight loss?
It’s because when you stick to the rules it means you’re not allowed to eat most foods. You’ll find that when eating out, you’ll consume 50% or less of the calories that you would have consumed if your diet was unrestricted. You’ll eat a burger without bun and chips, saving you 600-800 calories there, forego dessert, because nowhere sells ketogenic desserts, saving you another 500 calories there, and you won’t eat the accompanying bread which everyone else at the table is digging into. You’re not allowed to snack on things which are typically presented as snacks, such as chips & dips, peanuts, bread, chocolates etc. It’s no different to any other diet in that context. Every diet out there means you end up eating less which is what causes a drop in weight.
I’ve often dabbled in ketogenic dieting. I used to do it when I wanted to get “shredded” for holidays etc. I’d basically just eat meat and veg. It definitely worked as a way to lose fat however I found that I lost muscle mass and strength too, which is fairly typical for all body shapers when they’re trying to “cut” or strip down body fat to better reveal the muscles beneath. I also found that I couldn’t maintain high intensities for a very long time so I found the best work around for this, if I was planning on playing football or any other cardiovascular sport, was to “carb up” the night before. That way I would have enough energy to get through the activity without tiring, and then I could get back on the keto diet straight after. Keto fans will tell you that you’re doing it wrong in those situations and that ketones are a super fuel. I’ve even recently seen a sports drink which contains ketones instead of sugar claiming that it’s a super fuel drink. I wasn’t doing it wrong. It’s a simple fact that ketogenic diets result in loss of strength and poor stamina.
That is my biggest draw back of the diet. I spend all year trying to bulk up and gain strength in the gym, only to lose it all when I want to get shredded for the beach. Not ideal.
The reason I’ve made such good training progress over the past couple of years (as far as I can see) is the introduction of fruit into my diet when trying to lose weight. 3 to 5 pieces per day gives me a small amount of carbohydrates which seems to be enough for me to maintain strength and muscle mass during a period of weight loss. It also gives me plenty of energy for high intensity activities such as football. It also provides loads of vitamins which we all know are good for us.
We don’t need high doses of carbs, but we do need some. Yes, we can survive with very low levels of carbohydrates in our diets, but our body doesn’t perform well in these situations. If ketogenesis was good for producing “super fuels” then there would be far more diabetics in the olympics and all professional athletes would adopt a ketogenic diet. But none of them do.
I find that by removing carb heavy food such as grains, pasta, potato, rice and bread but ensuring that you have a good supply of carbs from fruit, you’ll lose weight rapidly (assuming your diet is in a calorie deficit, curb cravings and help you perform at high levels when exercising.
This is the basis for the Incentifit diet. Personally, I enjoy cheating somewhat so I prefer not to stick to the diet all year round, however many people who’ve completed the 10 in 30 programme have said that it’s easy and they’re happy sticking to it on an ongoing basis. Respect to those folks!
So in summary, a keto diet is good for weight loss and bad breath (the weight loss is, despite what ketogenic fans will tell you, a result of an overall drop in calorie intake)