What is the Keto Diet?

Keto Diet for weight loss - does it work

Introduction – What is the Keto Diet? 

The Ketogenic Diet (or Keto for short) is a low-carb, high-fat diet that forces your body to switch from carbohydrates, to fats, as its primary source of energy.  

Numerous studies and research have shown the Keto diet to have health benefits, including weight loss, protection against diabetes and possibly even against cancer.

How does the Keto Diet work? 

The Keto diet is an extreme lifestyle change, that cuts out carbohydrates to less than 50g per day, and replacing those missing carbs with healthy-fats. Your body has spent years getting used to Carbohydrates as its primary source of fuel. Think last time you were feeling low on energy – what did you go to grab? A chocolate bar, or energy drink, or maybe a quick sandwich? So when you change this and begin replacing those carbs with fats, your body eventually runs out of the plentiful fuel it was used to receiving and begins to turn to the fat and protein for energy instead.

This usually takes 3-4 days (known as the keto-flu), and is a state known as Ketosis – where your liver begins converting fats into ketones, which also supplies energy to the brain. At this point, your blood sugar and insulin levels drop, and your health and energy increase. 

Fact: The 3 ways Keto CAN help you lose weight  

There is strong evidence to link the Keto Diet to weight loss, while maintaining or increasing muscle mass.  

  • Increases protein intake – because a standard ketogenic diet suggests obtaining 75% of your calories from fat, 20% from protein and 5% from carbs, the chances are you are increasing your protein intake, which itself is linked to weight-loss 
  • Increased fat burning – because your body is now burning fat as its primary fuel source, insulin production decreases and your body becomes more efficient in burning fat for fuel. As fat takes longer to digest, there is less opportunity for this to be stored 
  • Appetite – how often do you crave that avocado? The Keto diet will initially test your mental strength, but once you get through the 3-4 day Keto-Flu period, with limited foods available for you to snack on, you kind of force the calorie reduction and avoid bad sugary foods that contribute to your weight gain 

How Ketogenic Dieting burns fat

There are several keto-diets you can choose from. The ones with the most research are the: 

  • Standard Keto Diet – making a longer-term lifestyle change to obtain 75% of Calories from Fat, 20% from Protein and 5% from Carbs 
  • Cyclical Keto Diet – a variation of the Standard Keto Diet, but allows you to do a carb refeed once or twice a week. Used by bodybuilders and serious gym-goers who will better metabolise the carb intake 

For both, the same principles on food and calorie intake apply. The first step is:  

Reduce Carbs to 50g or less per day 

The point of keto is to replace your carbs with fats, so first you need to reduce carbs to 50g or less per day. Use a meal tracker, or if you keep a fairly consistent diet, eliminate the rice, flour, bread, cereals and hidden carbs. Check the food labels and keep a log.

Completely eliminate the following: 

Meat, Fish, Eggs, Dairy, Sea Food and any animal products. Research has shown these products will add un-healthy fats to your bloodstream, making the absorption of vitamins and minerals difficult. This could potentially lead to health issues while on the Keto-Diet.

Increase Healthy Fat Intake 

Keyword = Healthy. This means Avocados, Nuts, Oils, Coconut, Quinoa. This is a tough lifestyle change for vegans, but its possible. Tofu, Vegan Butter, Vegan Cream – there are foods out there.

How quickly can I lose weight on Keto

Will you notice a difference in 1 week on Keto? You’ll be grumpier for the first few days that’s for sure. But we’re all different. How fast is your metabolism? Do you suffer with low thyroids? Are you active? Do you generally eat clean foods like avocados and almonds or do you prefer fast-food?

All these factors will determine how quickly you will lose weight on the keto diet. Is it possible to lose weight in 1 week? Yes. Is it possible to lose weight in 1 month on keto? Yes. 

But how much weight you’re looking to lose and how much weight you actually lose will be determined by everyone differently. 

In the first week of doing the keto diet, you will lose more water weight as your body quickly depletes all its glycogen reserves. So you may lose anywhere from 1-10lb (0.4-5kg) but this is primarily water weight. 

During weeks 2 onward and up until the first 2-3 months of the keto diet, you will gradually begin to lose more weight at an average of 0.5-1kg per week [source]

The downside of the Keto Diet

Carbs provide you with energy, which you’re losing out on

If you’re an athlete performer, or someone who works or lives a very active lifestyle, the keto diet may not be for you. Carbs provide energy quickly for your body to use as a fuel source when you’re active. 

If your job involves walking or running around a lot, and needing to keep up energy, or if you’re a performer then carbohydrates will be vital to ensure your body gets the proper nutrition to keep it fuelled and energised. 

Your diet is nutritionally incomplete

Because the keto diet requires you to eliminate certain foods, you will begin to become deficient in certain nutrients, vitamins and minerals that could be found in these food groups. 

It is therefore important to ensure you are supplementing with the correct vitamins and minerals along with your new diet to ensure you are getting all macro and micronutrients. This becomes tougher and more vital for vegetarians.

If you’re a vegetarian on a keto diet, you will lose many vital nutrients. Therefore, you should supplement with a multi-vitamin tablet, a phytomega tablet, Vitamin D, Zinc, Iron and Magnesium at the very least. Calcium should be supplemented or consumed in calcium-enriched Keto friendly drinks. 

Keto could affect your personal and work life

You will likely experience the Keto Flu. Hunger, fatigue and irritability along with brain fog may occur and last a couple of days which will affect your personal and work life.

By not being able to focus, you may perform worse at work or be unfocused in your relationship or even while working out. 

This may also affect your social life as dining out will be tougher with the strict dietary requirements meaning more planning to find the carbohydrates on restaurant menus. There aren’t many keto-friendly restaurants around yet.

Keto can cause constipation

At least for a while, due to the food restrictions you may find it hard to pass bowel movements as your body adjusts to the reduced (if any) fibre to help keep things regular. 

However, your body will begin to adjust with time and get used to the new intake to adapt to the high fats and eventually become regular.

Ending Remarks 

The keto diet for weight loss is efficient. By reducing your insulin-spiking carbohydrates, you train your body to burn fat for fuel. This also provides ketones as the primary energy source for your brain and comes with numerous other health benefits.  

The key take-away is to reduce your carb intake and replace those missing carbohydrates with healthy fats.