Now that we are almost half way through October, the holiday season is rapidly approaching and many who are currently on a weight loss journey are likely to go completely off the rails and gain back some of their lost weight. At the beginning of the new year most of these folks along with the resolutions crowd will be looking for that best way to drop weight, which brings us to the question, “What is all this Keto malarkey I keep hearing about?”
Since I am questioned all the time about what I think of Keto I will explain what it is, and I will give you pro’s and con’s of this way of eating.
Keto is a very low carb, high fat diet which is quite similar to the Atkins diet. The key difference between Keto and Atkins is that with Atkins there is no maximum amount of protein you are allowed to consume while with Keto, you are encouaged to keep your protein intake to about 20 percent of your total caloric intake. Keto involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.
Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has numerous health benefits.
There are several versions of the ketogenic diet, including:
- Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): This is a very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet. It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs.
- Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This diet involves periods of higher-carb refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days.
- Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): This diet allows you to add carbs around workouts.
- High-protein ketogenic diet: This is similar to a standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs.
Cyclical or targeted ketogenic diets are more advanced methods and primarily used by bodybuilders or athletes. Besides being effective for weight loss, Keto has been shown to be effective in treating:
- Heart disease: The ketogenic diet can improve risk factors like body fat, HDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar.
- Cancer: The diet is currently being used to treat several types of cancer and slow tumor growth.
- Alzheimer’s disease: The keto diet may reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and slow its progression.
- Epilepsy: Research has shown that the ketogenic diet can cause massive reductions in seizures in epileptic children.
- Parkinson’s disease: One study found that the diet helped improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome: The ketogenic diet can help reduce insulin levels, which may play a key role in polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Brain injuries: One animal study found that the diet can reduce concussions and aid recovery after brain injury.
- Acne: Lower insulin levels and eating less sugar or processed foods may help improve acne.
However, keep in mind that research into many of these areas is far from conclusive.
Con’s of Ketos
1. Your brain needs glucose which comes from carbohydrates. The brain derives energy from blood-glucose. Carbs are needed for glucose to enter your blood stream. Without carbs, your cognitive function can be less than stellar and you will feel yourself feeling drained, sluggish if you will, for the first couple of weeks. If you are athletic, you are likely to see your performance suffering from a lack of carbs.
2. Calories count the most when it comes to weight loss, no matter what your diet plan may be telling you. Be it the points system promoted by Weight Watchers or simply eating fats untl you are satiated while on Keto. The problem with Keto is it paces far too much emphasis on eating fat and little to none on calorie count.
3. You are limited severly in the foods you are going to eat while on Keto and might get bored and decide to go off track with other foods. For many people, Keto is too restrictive to be feasible in achieving long term objectives as not only is sugar not allowed, but you are also restricted in foods which will provide you with good complex carbohydrates and fibers. A good diet plan is one which is going to encourage you to eat a well rounded diet which will provide your body with all the nutrients required for good health.
Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body is using fat for energy when it’s stores of glucose have been depleted. When your blood-glucose is depleted, your levels of insulin go down and fatty acids are released from body fat stores in large quantity. Many of these fatty acids are transfered to the liver where they are converted into Ketones. These molecules provide energy for the body and, unlike fatty acids, can cross the blood-brain barrier to provide energy for the brain. Your brain will function without carbs, however there are some functions that do require glucose.
Alternative to the Keto Diet
You do not have to eat a Keto diet in order to go into ketosis. In fact, on David’s Way, while you are in weight loss mode you will find yourself going into ketosis about every day because you are not eating sugar, ever. During your weight loss mode, you will be limiting your intake of carbohydrated to about 100 to 120 grams of complex carbs a day, and you will be practicing Intermittent Fasting on the 16:8 protocol. This protocol is 16 hours daily fast while eating all of your caloric needs in whole high protein foods and complex carbohydrates during your 8 hour feeding window.
A 16 hour fast is easier than it sounds as once you have finished your dnner in the evening, you simply do not eat for 16 hours, usually you will sleep close to the last 8 of those hours if you time yourself right. If you set your caloric needs correct to match your basal metabolic rate, you will burn through your glucose stores during your 16 hour fast and your body will go into ketosis. Your body will be burning fat even without exercise for a time period which will specifically correlate with your intake of carbohydrates. You can know if you are in ketosis by the following:
- You will get an unusual taste in your mouth, kind of fruity. Some people may experience bad breath.
- You can use test strips purchased from your pharmacy to test your level of ketosis. Honestly, I never thought this was necessary.
- Appetite suppresion. This, combined with getting over sugar cravings, will make fasting far easier than you might ever imagine. Most people can not envison going 16 hours without eating. During my own weight loss mode, I would sometimes not eat for 20 hours simply because I was not hungry.
- Increased focus and energy. Note, in the early weeks, you might feel more fatigued, but this goes away.
Is David’s Way or Keto for you?
Only you can answer that question for yourself. Keto and David’s Way will both get your body fat down to healthy ranges. Keto does not require anything other than following a diet plan that is high fat and very low in carbs. While David’s Way is high protein, low carb with zero simple or refined sugar consumed combined with Intermittent Fasting specifically during your weightloss mode and then backing off of IF once you have reached your goal body fat percentage instead of a number on the bathroom scale.
My methodology is a life style which not only includes healthy eating, it also involves consistent exercise of some type while also concentating on stress reduction through the combination of these factors which all tie together to make you the best you can be. Healthy eating, exercise, and rest to facilitate stress reduction which is one of the driving factors behind unhealthy eating and our obesity epedemic.