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Bite Size Breakdown: The Ketogenic Diet - Good or Bad?

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The Ketogenic Diet...Is it good or bad? This specific question has been the most asked about topic since we began the Bite-Sized Breakdown series. There is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the "Keto" approach. So, let us break it down (as simply as possible), trim the fat and get down to the lean cut facts.

First off, if you've followed this series at all, you'll know I don't believe in the "good or bad" viewpoint in almost all circumstances. It's about the individual, their personal circumstances, preferences and what will allow them to stay the most consistent. Maybe the Ketogenic diet will work for you...maybe it won't. This blog will only serve the purpose of helping you to make a better initial decision.

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

The traditional Ketogenic Diet consists of mainly eating healthy fats (75-85%), moderate amounts of protein (10-20%) and little to no carbs (5% or less). The goal being to put the body into a state of ketosis.

When your body enters into a state of ketosis (usually taking 2-4+ days), it will switch from using glucose (the bodies preferred energy source; due to it's ease and speed of conversion for energy use) to ketone bodies; which are produced for energy, by the liver, in the absence of carbohydrates.

Due to the absence of carbohydrates, your body will become a fat (dietary, not necessarily body) burning machine in order to get the fuel it needs to survive and thrive.

However, will this lead to weight (fat) loss? What are the potential benefits? What are the potential negative side effects?

There is a TON of hype around the Ketogenic Diet! However, just like all things...there is never the "sweet" without the "sour".

Possible Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet (the sweet):

  • Helps prevent Metabolic Syndrome (elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, insulin resistance, obesity, low HDL levels, etc.)
  • Reduction in cravings
  • More satiating (feeling of being full)
  • Helps to regulate blood sugar and in turn insulin production (very helpful for Type II diabetics)
  • Potential aid in fighting many forms of cancer (note: some cancers actually do well with a high fat diet)
  • Potential reduction in epileptic seizures (especially in children)
  • A boost in mental focus and clarity
  • Sustained energy without the typical sugar crash
  • Weight-loss (explained later on )

Possible Drawbacks of the Ketogenic Diet (the sour):

  • Potential vitamin and mineral deficiency (due to elimination of entire groupings of food sources)
  • Sub-optimal performance (especially in high effort situations and/or endurance events).
  • Difficult to adhere to and sustain for a long period of time
  • Inability to maximize hypertrophy (increase in muscle tissue)
  • Potential for headaches, cramps, fatigue, constipation and bad breath (side effect of being in ketosis)

*It's usually best to consult with a doctor before radically changing your dietary strategy. You shouldn't follow a Ketogenic Diet if you are Type I diabetic, pregnant or nursing, have kidney issues, certain types of cancers or have a history of eating disorders. These are just to cover a few. Be sure to do some research on any condition that is personal to you.

Now that we took a look at some of the pros and cons, let's get to the part that the majority of people truly care about.

Will the Ketogenic Diet cause you to lose weight?

The answer is yes and no. Now, before you get frustrated or think I'm walking the fence, please let me explain.

YES:

  • You'll initially lose weight due to a loss of water in the absence of carbohydrates (which hold on to more water/per gram) and the depletion of glycogen stores.
  • Dietary fats and proteins are more satiating. Therefore, you'll feel more full and in turn likely eat less.
  • You will be eliminating entire food groups (grains, most fruits, sugar, breads, pasta, oats, etc.). This alone will create a caloric reduction.
  • Potential for craving reduction; which may lead to better food choices.
  • Your initial success may lead to a positive mindset and continued forward momentum toward your weight-loss goals.

NO:

  • In order to continue losing weight, you'll still need to maintain an average weekly caloric deficit (compared to maintenance calories).
  • Your training output will likely suffer due to inefficient glycogen stores and available energy. This will create less energy expenditure.
  • Social events will become more difficult to take part in, while adhering to the Ketogenic approach.
  • The elimination of so many common food choices (especially when compared to the average American's diet) may make long-term adherence very difficult.
  • Long-term success has been shown to be elusive following the Ketogenic eating approach. A dietary strategy is only as effective as it's long-term sustainability.

Bite-Sized Breakdown:

So, does the Ketogenic Diet cause weight-loss. The answer (as with many approaches) is it "depends". To lose weight with any dietary strategy, you must create a caloric deficit and be able to sustain it long-term.

There is NO MAGIC DIET! The best dietary strategy will always be, the one that you enjoy the most and allows you to reach your goals.

How do you find that dietary sweet spot?

I highly recommend asking yourself these questions, while approaching and engaging in a new dietary quest.

  • Does this fit my lifestyle?
  • Do I enjoy these food choices?
  • Do I feel deprived?
  • Do I feel great both mentally and physically?
  • Are my energy levels high?
  • Am I still able to enjoy social activities?
  • Could I follow this approach for the rest of my life?

Now, if you can answer yes (most of the time) to these questions, then the dietary strategy you picked is an absolute "DIME PIECE" and you should marry it.

If not, however, you may need to keep playing the field in order to find "The One".

When it comes to your health and how you eat, don't let the wrapper fool you. It's what on the inside that counts.

The glitz, the glamour, the hype and the promises will always fall short and leave you discouraged. Your health and success will quite simply (simply does not mean easy) come down to good quality whole food choices, consistency and finding out what works best for you and your lifestyle.

#BetterEveryDay #PFTfamily #PFTlifestyle

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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

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