What is a keto diet?
The keto diet is a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet that forces the body to utilise fats as the body’s primary fuel source instead of carbohydrates.
Typically, carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose and transported around the body. However, when little carbohydrates are consumed, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. These ketone bodies flow to the brain and replace glucose as your body’s main source of producing energy. A state of ketosis occurs when there is an elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood.
In order to reach a state of ketosis, your daily macronutrients would need to be divided into approximately 55 – 65% fat, 30 – 35% protein and 5 – 10% carbohydrates. The body will take approximately 7 days to enter ketosis phase.
Keto diets are also usually performed during a cut, as the low carb diet curbs your hunger, allowing you to better able to stick to your diet and shred off those extra pounds.
How to do a keto diet?
Types of keto diets
- Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): High-fat (75%), moderate-protein (20%) and very low-carb (5%)
- Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): Involves periods of higher-carb refeeds (e.g. 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days).
- Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): Carbs are only consumed around your workouts.
- High-protein ketogenic diet: Similar to a SKD, but includes more protein. Typically, the ratio is 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs.
Cyclical and targeted ketogenic diets are more advanced methods and predominantly implemented by bodybuilders and athletes.
Advantages of a keto diet?
- Reduces your appetite
Protein and fat are more satiating than carbohydrates. Thus, replacing a large portion of your calories allocated towards carbs will curb your hunger allowing you to feel more satiated and prevent you from overeating.
- Reduces blood sugar and insulin levels
When you consume carbohydrates, the digestive system will break it down into sugar, which enters the bloodstream. As blood sugar rises, insulin is produced by the pancreas to allow cells to absorb the blood sugar for energy. However, keeping blood sugar levels constantly elevated can lead to hyperglycaemia where the body can no longer produce insulin or respond to it adequately. Thus, reducing carbohydrates will prevent the likelihood of contracting hyperglycaemia, which can damage vessels that supply blood to the vital organs, increasing the risk of heart disease and strokes.
Disadvantages of a keto diet?
- Keto flu
Some people feel sick when they start keto dieting causing them to vomit, feel extremely fatigued and lethargic. This occurs because the body is being depleted of sugar to burn for energy and is transitioning to begin using fat as energy.
Although the keto flu passes after a few days, the effects can be minimised by drinking plenty of water and getting plenty of sleep.
- Weight regain
Yes, the keto diet is strictly adhered to consistently will lead to weight loss due to the reduced appetite as mentioned above. However, because the keto diet is so restrictive, it is not considered a sustainable diet to follow in the long term by health experts. It is not uncommon for people to fall off the wagon and begin consuming carbs and regain most of the weight they lost relatively quickly.
Should you implement the keto diet?
Firstly, you have to decide what your fitness goals are. If you are bulking and looking to pack on mass, the keto diet may not be your best option as it will reduce your appetite. This makes it harder for you to consume sufficient calories needed for you to be in a caloric surplus, a necessity for muscle gain.
Lastly, are you able to stick to it long term? If you enjoy eating significantly more fats and don’t mind severely restricting your carbs, definitely give the keto diet a shot as you are able to stick to it consistently. However, if you don’t think you can stay on the keto diet for the long term, it’s best you stick to your typical diet as the possibility of you quitting and beginning to consume carbs again, leading to weight gain, is inevitable.