The ketogenic diet is a very popular way of eating right now – that can lead to significant weight loss for some. As a result, many clients have been asking us what it’s all about and if they should try it.
So we asked our resident nutritionist, Evian Rodriguez – and here’s what he had to say about keto, its benefits (and drawbacks), and whether you should try it.
WHAT IS KETO?
Your body normally uses glycogen for energy (stored sugars from your diet that’s stored in your liver and muscles). When you deprive your body of carbohydrates and these sugars are not present to use as energy, your body begins producing ketones as a form of energy.
To get into this state – which involves a period of often unpleasant transition – you need to consume a high-fat, moderate protein, and low-carbohydrate diet. To get and remain in ketosis, most people need to limit their carbohydrates to 50 grams per day.
IS KETO RIGHT FOR ME?
A ketogenic diet can be beneficial and effective for someone who needs to lose fat (if you’re trying to bulk up or put on weight, it’s definitely not recommended as carbohydrates are an essential part of healthy weight gain).
Evian always recommends well-rounded eating as a first step towards fat loss – cutting out processed carbs, sweets and other extra/empty calories and replacing them with nutritionally dense whole foods in appropriate amounts. But for those having trouble losing the last few pounds – or who have reached a fat-loss plateau – it can be an effective short-term measure to reach a specific goal.
THE BENEFITS OF KETO
In addition to fat loss, keto can result in other positive effects including better overall health, mental clarity, improved digestion and more energy. That said, in order to feel your best you’ll want to make sure you’re eating more than bacon and salami – more on that below.
A healthy approach to keto
On a ketogenic diet, most people end up eating a lot of animal products for their fat content. So the first thing you want to do is make sure you’re picking yours wisely. Get the best quality meat you can afford – grass fed beef is best – and limit processed meats. Also, focus on consuming healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil and avocado to help balance all that meat.
HOW WILL KETO AFFECT MY WORKOUTS?
Muscles need glycogen (the source of energy provided by carbohydrates) in order to perform at a high level. So those who do high-intensity/Olympic/very heavy weight lifting will likely notice a reduction in their performance.
But the average person doing in-home workouts will likely be just fine, once the transition to keto is complete…
BE PREPARED FOR THE KETO FLU!
Be warned that the transition into keto is not pleasant for most people. Expect three to seven days of withdrawal-like symptoms (like headache, tiredness and a foggy feeling) as your body and brain adjust to their new reality. This keto flu will take place every time you come out of and re-enter a ketogenic state (though the first one is usually the worst).
We hope you find this primer helpful! As always, if you have questions – or want to book a free first workout anywhere in Toronto – you know where to find us!