I want to dive in this subject about a few very popular diets going arround the internet, wich I also tried( a few of them, not all), so I`ll be talking mostly from my experience with them, and also from the experience of some of my clients.
Today we`ll be covering THE KETOGENIC DIET. What it is, if it works, pros and cons, and some of the mistakes people make when going on this diet.
So what is the Ketogenic Diet?
Very simply put, it`s a diet based on a very low – carb but high – fat foods. The reduction of carb intake, and high consumption of fatty foods puts the body into a metabolic state called Ketosis. Basically a switch appears, from consuming carbs as energy to using fat as fuel. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver so it can supply energy for the brain functions.
There are different types of ketogenic diet. I tried 2 of them.
1. The standard keto diet
A very-low carb, medium-protein and high- fat diet. From the whole food intake in a day 75% I`d consume fatty foods, 20% protein and arround 5% carbs.
My experience with it was really good but it takes a few days to get used to it. The transition between carbs and fats took me 3- 4 days, where I felt a bit nervous ( I was consuming pretty much sugar before, so the body had to get used to this big change ). After that I felt great, I love eating fatty foods, I started to lose some weight. But it is possible I was eating too many calories , because I hit a plateau after 2 months. I was probably going too crazy on the avocados and pork meat :)).
My diet consisted of: meat ( beef, pork, chicken, sausages,bacon , turkey ) , fatty fish ( like salmon , tuna, sardines ) eggs, cream, cheese, nuts and seeds, avocados, and good oils. Of course i`d eat a lot of veggies but only low carb ones,mostly greens.
I also had to avoid a lot of foods that I love like all fruits except berries in small portions( they have the lowest levels of sugar), beans and legumes ( lentils, chickpeas, peas, corn etc), sodas and basicaly anything with sugar in it, no grains or startches ( rice, pasta , cereal etc), low fat products ( in general they have a lot of added sugar ) and of course no Alcohol ( usually would take a few sips of dry white wine, or maybe hard white liquor that have no sugar ).
My conclusion: It`s a great diet if you want to lose some pounds and you can give up on all these foods, but be aware, when going OFF the strict keto diet, don`t go crazy the 1st day on chocolate cakes and alcohol and burgers, instead ease into it, adding a few carbs daily. I didnt know this at first and I had a birthday party, where we celebrated with sweet wine, barbeques with home made bread, 2 types of cakes etc , so I ended up gaining so much water at once I could feel my fingers, legs and face poping. The whole body swells up like a baloon, so take care of how you get off the keto diet.
2. The cyclical keto diet
Involves windows of high – carb refeeds. You stay on a strict low carb diet 5 days a week, and refeed your body with carbs the next 2 days.
My experience with this was better, I had more freedom food wise, but is a more advanced diet and it`s mostly used by athletes and bodybuilders that use that 2 day carb intake differently from a sedentary person.
When trying this diet it would be better in the 2 day refeeding window to not consume lots of fatty foods but mostly carbs and protein.
3. Targeted keto diet
In which you consume carbs around your heavy workouts ( mostly used by bodybuilders ). Basically you stay on your regular keto diet, but before your workout ( 30 – 45 min ) you eat around 25grams of carbs, just enough to fuel your workout, and return to ketosis after the cool down. This will work mostly for people who stayed on the standard keto diet for at least 1 2 months after your body got used to using fat as fuel.
My experience: I did not try this type of diet, because my program was never strict. But I can understand how it would work for athletes.
4. High protein keto diet
Very similar to the standard one just with more protein. It`s often around 60% fats, 35% protein and 5% carbs. I`d advise for you to source your protein from both animals ( meat, fish, dairy ) and plants ( nuts and seeds).
It works best for people who needs more protein for the muscle mass, so again common in bodybuilders diets or older people who need to prevent muscle breakdown. Should be avoided by people with kidney issues.
My experience: I tried it , but not consistent with it, just added more protein shakes to satisfy my cravings for sugar. It may work but I`d still recommend the first 2 types , or at least those worked best for me!
Now is the Ketogenic diet a good choice for you?!
What motivates people to go on this diet is that it can produce a very easy and effective weight loss process. Each body will respond differently to it. You may not see lots of results if you eat TOO MANY FATS, because at the end of the day a calorie is a calorie. There are some other benefits beyond weight loss, including possibly acting as a mood stabilizer in those with bipolar disorders and lessening epileptic seizures.
One of the Side effects when going on the keto diet is the "Keto Flu" that i also experienced while the body adapts . Keto flu may include poor energy and mental function, increased hunger, sleep issues, nausea, digestive discomfort and decreased exercise performance. A ketogenic diet can also change the water and mineral balance of your body, so adding extra salt to your meals or taking mineral supplements can help.
So basically the Keto diet is great but not for everybody!
Try it, listen to your body, take conclusions and either keep on going or try a different nutritional plan.