Last Updated on August 13, 2018 by Michael Brockbank
A low-carb diet is really nothing new. In fact, a lot of fad diet plans in the past revolved around reducing carb intake while increasing proteins. Today, these are often called “Keto Diets.” But is this a practical way to lose weight and is it healthy?
The short answer is yes, with an asterisk. The trick to making sure keto diets work is making sure you’re not losing lean mass as opposed to fat. [note]NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5452247/[/note]
This is when the body begins to cannibalize itself for proteins to keep it in operation. Depriving yourself of certain nutrients, including glucose, can result in losing muscle.
What Are “Keto” Diets?
Keto diets push your body to burn fat quicker. Without an influx of carbs, the body begins to create ketones to compensate. If you don’t have enough sugar or carbs to create glucose, ketones are released to pick up the slack. [note]Web MD – https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/qa/what-are-ketones[/note]
The liver releases these keystones to help promote energy for muscles and other parts of the body…including the brain.
The downside to keto diets is the danger it poses to specific individuals. For instance, keto diets are life-threatening under certain conditions of diabetes. In some cases, it may even damage the heart.[note]Healthline – https://www.healthline.com/health-news/keto-diet-is-gaining-popularity-but-is-it-safe-121914#5[/note]
According to most professionals, keto diets are most ideal as a short-term plan to lose weight.
What Do Keto Diets Do to the Body?
There’s no doubt that keto diets work exceptionally well to help obese individuals. In fact, weight, overall cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides all decrease when on a ketogenic diet. [note]NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/[/note]
By putting yourself into ketosis, the liver begins breaking down fat to create ketones. These ketones then help supply energy to the rest of your body.
However, the success of this depends on your level of physical exertion. After a certain amount of time, the body will break down tissue proteins to influence glucose production for energy. [note]SF Gate – https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/body-burn-carbs-protein-energy-9112.html[/note]
In other words, your body will begin to break itself down to remain functional. Which means it’s probably not an ideal diet plan for those who are physically active.
Why Would Anyone Want to Do Keto Diets?
Although it does pose something of a slight risk for active people and those with diabetic problems, keto diets do work when it comes to burning through fat relatively quick.
Essentially, you’re forcing your body to find alternate methods for creating energy. In this instance, fat is usually the first thing to go.
However, there is a slight problem you need to be aware of. You’re more likely to put yourself into hypoglycemia during intense physical activities. And this is speaking from personal experience as well as witnessing someone do it to herself. [note]Medical News Today – https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/166815.php[/note]
During intense workouts, such as aerobics, your body will burn everything it can to keep up with the activity. And although ketones will help convert fat to energy, it’s often not fast enough of a process.
The end result is shaking, nausea, light-headedness and in some extreme cases, loss of consciousness.
For obese people like myself who don’t do a lot of physical activity, ketogenic diets might be ideal for the short-term.
How Do You Get Into Keto Diets?
In reality, ketogenic diets are nothing new. Many fad diets have come and gone with variations on the theme of low-carb intake. The trick is to balance everything so you’re not burning up lean mass as well as fat.
What can you eat on a ketogenic diet?
- Fish or other seafood: Which is also high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Various types of cheese: And they also contain good amounts of protein as well as calcium and other vitamins.
- Vegetable greens: Things like asparagus, avocados, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach and more are loaded with nutrients for the body.
- Eggs: Which also contain a fair amount of protein, vitamin D and vitamin B12.
- Various meats: Especially leaner meats, which has fewer fats. This is aside from the other nutritional benefits of meat such as protein, iron and vitamins B6 and B12.
Essentially, ketogenic diets try to keep carb intake to less than 20 grams per day. Which is easy to do if you eat a lot of meat and veggies. In fact, I was doing it while eating nothing but Progresso Soup for a bit over a month.
Anything under 50 or 60 carbs is considered moderate dieting.
This doesn’t mean you can have under 20g in chocolate for the day and call it good. What you eat is going to rule over how successful you are with keto diets.
Of course this also depends greatly on your physical activity. The more active you are, the more carbs you can eat safely. Just make sure you find a good balance so you don’t hurt yourself.
Staying Away from Fruit?
One thing a lot of ketogenic diets rely on is a lack of fruits. This is mostly because of the natural sugars in fruit that are not conducive to prompting ketosis.
However, I have to disagree with this point.
When I tried Lean for Life in the past, I was able to easily keep myself in ketosis while eating things like oranges and berries. And I would rather have the incredible amounts of nutritional value from fruit rather than pushing to burn fat.
I know this as I was using ketosis urine strips to test my levels. Although I didn’t go as deep into ketosis with what I was eating, it was still enough to burn fat relatively quick.
After all, it doesn’t matter how thin your waist is if you don’t have the nutrients to support life. In this case, I’d rather have antioxidants, vitamin C and the plethora of other nutrients from fruit itself.
Finding What Works Best for You
The bottom line is that you are unique. A diet that works exceptionally well for one person doesn’t mean it’s the best diet for you. Whether it’s physical issues or mental blocks, some diets are just not going to do well for your specific situation.
My best example is how I went into hypoglycemic shock after an intense 45-minute workout. It was a result from a lack of energy to support what I was doing.
Drinking orange juice or eating a fruit bar made all the difference in the middle of the exercise.
Sometimes it takes trial and error to find the right combination of dieting to unlock your own weight loss groove. But personally, I think it’s better than trying to stick to a diet you hate and then feeling bad because you cheated.
Customize your eating and stick to logical portion sizes. Don’t try to push too hard or you could wind up passed out in the emergency room.[template id=”3591″]