The Ketogenic Diet: Benefits and Challenges
I’ll admit it…
I have been a little closed-minded when it comes to the ketogenic diet.
I first read about ketosis as a way to lose weight in 1996 in a hardcore bodybuilding diet book titled: Underground Bodyopus: Militant Weight Loss & Recomposition
(This book was written by a guy known as the “steroid guru”.)
Back then, the ketogenic diet was a fringe thing.
It definitely wasn’t the type of thing you would see on the cover of Shape magazine.
To me, it just seemed like an unnecessarily complicated way to get lean.
Plus, I really enjoy carbs and beerfests.
That being said, I have seen many who thrive on the keto diet.
I’ll discuss that is a sec, right after a quick music break.
Music theme for this post is songs from my high school mixed tape.
These songs are dedicated to Rhonda.
“I’ll never forget our 10-week relationship in 1986. It was only 10 weeks, but our love lasted a lifetime… or at least until Junior year. Your hair was really crunchy, by the way.”
(1986-1987 was when 80’s fashion was at its tackiest. The dress the main singer is wearing here makes her look 70 and she is probably under 25.)
The keto diet began picking up steam online about 7-8 years ago.
I began noticing that some of the paleo blogs were writing about “getting into ketosis”.
It still wasn’t a mainstream dieting method…
…but there were definitely people passionate about it and getting good results, etc.
Fast forward to 2017.
This diet is as mainstream as it gets.
What Happens When Your Body is in Ketosis?
I’m going to try to keep the overly technical stuff out of this article.
I like to simplify whenever possible.
When your body doesn’t have carbs or glucose for energy it breaks down and uses stored fat. Ketones are the energy source released from this stored fat.
Ketosis happens to all of us whether we are on a ketogenic diet or not.
It happens while you sleep, with prolonged intense exercise, and during part of the fasting period for people who follow an intermittent fasting diet plan.
Any time you don’t have glucose or stored glycogen for fuel, your body tends to go into ketosis and will use fat for fuel.
People who are following a keto diet, are simply trying to stay in this ketogenic state for as long as possible.
I’ll talk about how to do that after I play another song for Rhonda.
“Rhonda… I always enjoyed the folded notes you passed to me in the hallway before 2nd period. You drew way nicer hearts than all the other girls and your penmanship was bubbly and girly. I dug that about you!”
How Do You Get Your Body Into Ketosis?
I mentioned earlier that your body goes into ketosis on and off throughout a 24 hour period.
People who follow a keto diet simply want to get and stay in ketosis for as long as possible.
The way to do this?
AVOID eating things that get broken down into glucose.
Here’s the thing
Both carbs AND protein get broken down into glucose.
Carbs more so…
…but you need to limit protein if you want to get and stay in ketosis.
The ketogenic diet is a high fat and low protein diet with as little carbs as possible.
To get into ketosis.
- Eliminate carbs
- Eat .6g of protein per pound of lean body mass
- Eat lots of fat
It can take a while for your body to empty out glycogen stored in your muscles (stored carbs).
Once this happens, your body goes into a full-blown ketogenic state.
It now runs on fat instead of glucose.
People in the keto community call this becoming “fat adapted”.
Next, I will discuss the best keto foods…
…after more of my love story with Rhonda.
“Rhonda… you once told me that you loved the color of my eyes and to never change them. It’s one of the most romantic things ever said to me. I want you to know that I did NOT change my eye color. It sounds like that would be a risky surgery.”
What are the Best Foods to Eat on a Ketogenic Diet?
You are looking for fatty low-protein food items with close to zero carbs.
The diet should be 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs.
Think eggs, cheese, nuts, avocados, coconut oil, etc.
Keto for days!
I could probably live off of smoked salmon, guacamole, and various cheese.
Those go SO well with a good IPA or Belgian White Beer.
Beer isn’t keto…
…but it is delicious.
Here’s a list of approved foods.
Leafy Greens – spinach, kale, etc.
Above Ground Vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
High Fat Dairy – hard cheeses, high fat cream, butter, etc.
Nuts and seeds – macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
Avocado and Berries – low glycemic impact berries
Sweeteners – stevia, erythritol
Other Fats – coconut oil, saturated fats, etc.
I’ll discuss whether I think the keto diet is safe in a sec.
Rhonda is looking like she wants me to ask her to dance.
“Rhonda… can I have this dance? It’s OUR song. I promise I’ll only grab your butt when others aren’t looking. Also… do you have any more gum?”
Is the Ketogenic Diet Safe?
I never like to claim if anything is safe or not.
I don’t want the responsibility.
Years later we may find things we THOUGHT were healthy, to be terrible for you.
Consult your doctor…
…but even your doctor can’t know for sure.
We are still regularly learning new things about how the body works.
Note: I always think it is funny when people say consult your doctor. I normally only find myself in a doctors office once every 10-15 years.
I honestly don’t have a good answer for you.
Here is a decent article on the subject:
The author of this article isn’t totally unbiased since the site sells a keto product…
…but I thought it was a good article nonetheless.
My suspicion is that it is safe as a way to lose weight over the short-term, but not as safe and healthy over a long period.
I could be wrong.
I’ve been wrong before.
I WAS wrong about Rhonda.
“What do you mean you want to see other people? You like THAT guy? He has a total butt-cut hairstyle and drives and an IROC-Z. You’re tearing me APART Rhonda!”
Ketogenic Diet Success Stories
The reason why I wanted to write about the keto diet is that is has helped a lot of people lose weight.
Many of these people struggled to lose weight trying other methods…
…and the keto diet worked for them.
Here are 3 people who have achieved great success following the keto diet.
[Shana is 33 and lost 40 pounds in 10 months following the keto diet. Here’s a link to her story.]
[Mikaela is 26 and lost 44 pounds in 4 years following the keto diet. Here’s a link to her story.]
[William is 32 and lost 107 pounds in 18 months following the keto diet. Here’s a link to his story.]
There are a lot of different ways to get lean.
I don’t personally follow a ketogenic diet.
I’ll talk about a few of the biggest challenges after I dedicate one last song to Rhonda.
“Rhonda… thanks for 10 weeks of note passing and making out with me until I couldn’t feel my mouth anymore. You had great taste in music, awesome dance moves, and a sweet bi-level hairstyle. I was a lucky 16 year-old!”
Challenges with the Keto Diet
I think the biggest issue with the ketogenic diet is that it just isn’t flexible.
You eat too many carbs?
You are out of ketosis.
Eat too much protein?
You are out of ketosis.
Some people do best with rigid diets.
If you like flexibility and a wide range of foods, this diet isn’t for you.
If you enjoy carbs this diet isn’t for you.
If you enjoy a cocktail or two after dinner, this diet isn’t for you.
I still think it is unnecessarily complex…
…but other people enjoy the diet and get results with it.
If you are interested in the best keto information, diet plans, and all of that?
Thanks for putting up with Rhonda.
She loves cranking my mixed tapes!
As a former fitness coach to fashion models, I can teach you how to increase muscle definition without adding size.
Click Here to check out my premium courses.