As I was typing the title to this piece I was nervously watching out my front window to see if I had anything oncoming which I would quickly need to duck from, as I was pretty sure there existed a possibility of a firestorm of criticism coming my way from the true Keto believers. If you already have your panties in a twist over the topic, hold your fire until you have at least read this article in it’s entirety. First, for those who may not know, I will address what Keto is:
The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low carb diets. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. It lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, and shifts the body’s metabolism away from carbs and towards fat and ketones.
What’s more, the diet is so filling that you can lose weight without counting calories or tracking your food intake.
There is nothing inherently wrong with Keto for a short duration to lose weight, it is actually a fairly healthy method to drop weight easily. However, I do not recommend it for either the short or long term unless there is a medical reason behind needing to resort to Keto. However, keep in mind that while there are many health benefits being attributed to a Keto diet, many of the studies are also far from conclusive at this point. This is a red flag for me as Keto has been around in one form or another for several years now. Long enough that all the studies should be conclusive by now. Take some of the health benefits with a grain of salt if you will…
Your weight loss with Keto is still a matter of caloric restriction.
The thing about a ketogenic diet is if you tell people to eat as much as they want, they might tend to eat slightly less than they would otherwise. It is only natural that you will eat less if you’re consuming foods that satiate you easier. You will have more fullness from vegetables, satiety from protein, feel fuller for longer from the fat. In a nutshell, it means that you will eat less food and therefore fewer calories than you were before. Your body will dip into your fat stores because you are restricting your caloric intake. Therefore you will lose weight. That is until you plateau.
How do I plateau on Keto?
No matter your nutritional habits, your weight loss or weight gain is always going to fall back on how many calories you have consumed verses the total amount of calories you have expended. If the equation is out of balance, you will either gain or lose weight, depending on which side of the equation is greater. You may not notice any significant weight change on a daily basis, but you will if you allow the equation to remain unbalanced over a period of a week or more. The weight you will gain is stored primarily as fat even if you are on Keto
Our body’s need healthy fats in order to get full benefit from other nutrients we consume each day. However, fats are calorie dense at 9 calories per gram as opposed to 4 calories per gram with protein and carbohydrates. Besides the obvious that eating too much fat can place you over your caloric needs based on your basal metabolic rate, consuming too much can increase your risk for a number of health threats. It is not rocket science to understand that a diet rich in saturated fat (fatty cuts of meat and dairy foods) can raise the levels of cholesterol in your blood. That increases the risk for heart disease.
Keto prioritizes fat over protein, with carbs being kept to under 50g per day.
But David’s Way advocates high protein too, right?
Yes, I advocate a diet higher in protein while on weight loss mode because it keeps you satiated longer when combined with fats than carbohydrates will. That being said, if you consume excess protein beyond what your body requires for your activity level, the surplus of amino acids is excreted with your body’s waste products. Even with high protein you will can gain body fat over time when you consume too many calories.
Weight management is dependent on calories consumed verses calories expended when you begin a diet of any kind, including Keto. For example, lets say a fairly sedentary 40 year old, 5′ 2″ 300 pound woman begins Keto. No matter what, her body will require 1881 calories per day in order to lose 1 pound of body fat per week. She will do this easily on Keto as she is likely to be satiated before reaching those 1881 calories with filling foods that keep her full. Once this woman has reached 200 pounds her basal metabolic rate to maintain her weight at 200 is going to require 1837 calories per day which means that no matter the diet, she is going to plateau and gain weight slowly again.
She could eat 1837 calories a day in bacon, be fully within how most interpret Keto, and not lose any more weight!
Keto is unnecessarily too restrictive.
Here is a list of foods that get eliminated on a ketogenic diet:
- Sugary foods: Soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
- Grains or starches: Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
- Fruit: All fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries.
- Beans or legumes: Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
- Root vegetables and tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
- Low-fat or diet products: These are highly processed and often high in carbs.
- Some condiments or sauces: These often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
- Unhealthy fats: Limit your intake of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
- Alcohol: Due to their carb content, many alcoholic beverages can throw you out of ketosis.
- Sugar-free diet foods: These are often high in sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels in some cases. These foods also tend to be highly processed.
While I do agree with a good many foods on the list above, some of this is just plain ridiculous:
- Fruit has too many good nutrients and are an excellent source of fiber for you to entirely exclude them from your diet. While they are a simple carbohydrate, they will not impact your blood sugar and insulin levels because of their fiber component. If you want to eat an apple or orange each day, then by all means do so.
- Beans, legumes, root vegetables and tubers are also too good of a source of nutrients, fiber and protein to exclude them from your diet.
Guess what? You can and should eat these foods as a part of a nutritionally balanced diet. Your body needs carbohydrates as they are the most efficient source of fuel your body can consume. At David’s Way, we advocate eating complex carb foods while excluding simple carbs unless they are in the form of fruit which have fiber to regulate how the sugars are absorbed into your bloodstream.
What happens when I quit Keto?
First, when you begin Keto or any diet, you will very rapidly lose about 10 pounds of water weight in approximately your first week or two. After that, your weight loss will settle down. Again, this rapid weight loss is going to happen no matter what type of diet plan you attempt which reduce your caloric intake.
We learn in junior high school biology that we’re full of water. Nearly as much as 70% of our bodies may be comprised of water. When we refer to “water weight”, specifically in the context of nutrition and physical fitness, we are talking about water stored in the cells of our body’s, which is joined to glycogen.
Glycogen is – more or less – a stored form of glucose which your body holds in your liver and muscle cells for when it needs a quick fuel source. Each glycogen molecule is made up of a protein core, surrounded by glucose sub-units. Each gram of glycogen stored in your body is bound to 3 or 4 grams of water.
Glycogen is what instigates sudden bouts of weight loss and weight gain during a diet. The reason you can lose 10 or more pounds of weight in the first week of a diet – especially a low carb one – is because you’re burning through your body’s glycogen stores and not replenishing them.
The reason why you can seem to gain a bunch of weight from one pasta and pizza binge is largely because you have “carbed up” and filled your body’s glycogen reserves. And here in lies a problem. Many, if not most people who begin Keto do not understand their weight loss and or maintenance is still dependent on calories consumed verses calories expended. Once an individual reaches the point where their weight plateaus, they will often get frustrated and return to their old eating habits and subsequently regain all of their lost weight with a swiftness. You are far better off to learn to maintain well balanced nutritional habits over restricting yourself too far which Keto does for a good many people. We advocate dietary habits that are sustainable for life, not something temporary in nature only. We advocate a diet where protein, complex carbs and healthy fats are consumed in a balance that is right for your needs. We encourage protein as a priority simply because it is the macro-nutrient that repairs and builds upon our cellular structure. Protein keeps us satiated more so than carbohydrate foods which makes it easier to maintain a diet that does not exceed your daily caloric needs. Face it, steak and eggs is always going to keep you full and satisfied much longer than fruits and vegetables. But remember, that unlike Keto, we actually want you to eat your fruit, beans and vegetables, to include those baked potatoes that so many often unnecessarily believe they need to shun when dieting. In fact, if I have met my protein needs as a strength trainer, I will often have a baked potato drizzled in olive oil and seasoned with chili lime for a main course and still keep my body fat at 9 percent. If you are a strength trainer or endurance athlete, I recommend a good cup of oatmeal to fuel your activity as well. Keto does not allow for this amount of carbs, and for most, this kind of restriction is not sustainable for life, nor does it even make sense.
Do yourself a favor and make intelligent nutritional decisions. At David’s Way, we recommend a well balanced diet that only excludes refined sugar, simple carbs that have no fiber component, and most processed foods such as oven ready meals as an example. Our way is not a gimmick like some are, nor is our methodology something temporary in nature. David’s Way is a lifestyle of healthy nutrition and physical fitness.
We encourage you to be accountable to yourself and track all that you consume to both ensure you do not eat too many calories for your basal metabolic rate needs, nor to eat too few calories.
We want you to still enjoy foods, therefore under our recipes section, we provide numerous healthy recipes that include delicious sugar free cakes, cookies and pies. If you cannot find a particular recipe, let us know and we will either create or find what you are looking for that also falls within the parameters of healthy eating that we promote.