There is certainly a lot of talk about the Ketogenic diet.
The very simple premise of the Ketogenic diet is you eat a very, VERY low intake of carbohydrates, essentially starving the brain of its main source of fuel (glucose). Because the body still needs to function, the body adapts by turning on something called ketogenesis, which provides ketones (vs. glucose) as fuel for the brain and muscle.
That may sound complicated and confusing, but here’s the theory and reason people would consider such an extreme, restrictive diet. The theory is that if you train your body to rely less on carbs (by eating so few), your body will in turn burn more fat as fuel and this will better fuel physical and mental performance.
That’s how it works inside the body.
But what many people hear is “I can eat a bacon wrapped burger, cooked in butter, topped with guacamole and a glass of heavy cream on the side…as long as there is no bun…and I’ll get ripped.”
The truth is, for people who are trying to stay in shape, get leaner and/or simply fuel their daily activities, the data tells a different story - a story of eating quality carbohydrates, along with healthy fats and protein, to reach your goals – not extreme carbohydrate restrictions.
The other truth is, there has yet to be a study showing drastic reduction of carbohydrates is a more effective fat loss strategy in the long term.
The “new” ketogenic diet is actually nothing new at all. It’s an updated, sexier name for the Atkins Diet that was popular decades ago. Like clothing styles, what’s old is new again.
Here’s the rest of the story.
To truly be in ketosis, you have to eat less than 50 grams of carbs for at least 3 days, but most estimates suggest eating around 10-15 grams of carbs. Daily.
Let’s put that in perspective.
50 grams = 3 slices of bread, 2 bananas, 1 cup of oatmeal or 1 cup of cooked pasta. That’s all for carbs … For the entire day.
10-15 grams = 1 small slice of bread, 1 cup of milk or 1 Clementine (because a whole orange would be too much). The majority of your calories (about 75-90%) come from fat with a bit of protein as well.
Unlimited meat, dripping with fat, may sound appealing … until it’s your only option.
What about Supplements?
Several supplements have popped up to capitalize on this new, unfounded “keto craze” claiming that simply supplementing with ketones can help you produce more ketone bodies, without the challenge of fasting or drastically reducing carbs.
The problem is there are zero human studies to support this idea.
ZERO. ZILCH. NADA. NONE.
Simply eating more fat but not drastically restricting your carbohydrate intake to the low levels discussed earlier will not put you in ketosis. Adding butter or oil to your coffee will not put you in ketosis. Making your oatmeal with cream will not put you in ketosis.
True ketosis is a very restrictive and not a recommended long-term strategy for the real world.
Imagine completely excluding…
Dairy (aside from butter)
High fiber grains
Starchy veggies (like potatoes or sweet potatoes)
…but mainly eating:
Oil (of any type)
Seem healthy to you?
It’s not. You’re right.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Ketosis is a very restrictive diet. The long-term data on ketosis for fat loss or performance or not there. The only data that is maybe helping people who suffer from epilepsy.
- Don’t trust your favorite guru or “Dr Google” if they try to sell you ketone bodies and promise a cure all or fat loss miracle.
- Athletes need fuel to perform. Know the demands of your sport – the data don’t support drastic reductions in carbs for optimal performance.
- Refer out if you have specific questions and don’t trust the Internet or an unqualified trainer simply selling you a supplement.