Nowadays, you can find so many different strategies for weight loss, including the popular ketogenic diet.
As a dietitian, I’ve had clients tell me they tried the ketogenic, or keto, diet. A few common questions I’ve received were:
“How much fat should I eat?”
“Is there such a thing as too much protein on keto?”
To help clear any confusion, let’s dive into the keto diet and what you need to know before trying it.
The keto diet and how it works
The keto diet involves drastically lowering your carb intake and replacing it with fat. You typically lower the amount of carbs to 20-50g per day down. For a 150 pound person who is looking to lose weight the amount of carbs I would typically recommend range from 250-350g. (That’s 5-7 times more the amount of carbs someone may eat per day compared to the amount they would have while on the keto diet!).
Naturally, living without the carbohydrates that your body is used to may cause side effects such as: low energy, reduced mental function, increased hunger, sleep issues, nausea, digestive discomfort, and poor exercise performance. Be sure to keep track of how you’re feeling when trying out this new lifestyle.
You’ll also find that there are 4 different types of keto diet:
- Standard: Low in carbs (10%), moderate in protein (20%), and high in fat (70%)
- Cyclical: A period of higher carb refeeds such as 5 keto days and 2 high-carb days
- Targeted: Allows carbs around workouts
- High-protein: Fat (60%), protein (35%), and carbs (5%)
Out of those four, the standard and the high-protein keto diets are the only two that have studies behind them. The other two do not.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is a metabolic state when your body uses ketones, which are derived from fat, as energy instead of using glucose, which is derived from carbohydrates. Out of the three ketones that are produced, BHB is higher in the blood and provides an alternate energy source for both your body and brain.
For some people, it takes 2-4 days for their bodies to go into ketosis, but for others it takes up to a week. A product like RSP’s Keto BHB can help you go into ketosis quicker (just remember that it won’t help with weight loss if you’re not in a calorie deficit).
Who might the keto diet benefit?
The ketogenic diet was originally meant for people with epilepsy. It can be a challenge for their bodies to efficiently use the amount of glucose that carbs provide for energy. Using ketones instead may lessen the chance of a seizure. However, most people with epilepsy stop the keto diet because it’s hard to follow long-term.
In addition, the keto diet has been shown to help those with diabetes and pre-diabetes because it slows the use of glucose as an energy source. This gives the pancreas a break and can lead to insulin being used more efficiently in the body.
The keto diet may also benefit those with high-fat diets. If you’re someone who prefers foods that are lower in carbs and higher in fat, then the keto diet might be easier for you to sustain compared to someone who doesn’t.
Since the keto diet is high fat, this will help keep you fuller, longer. That could help you with weight loss if you are looking to go based off of hunger cues instead of counting calories.
On the other hand, the keto diet isn’t beneficial for anyone who has liver or pancreas issues, carnitine deficiency, and long-chain acyl dehydrogenase deficiency.
Keto diet myths
With all the misinformation around nutrition that’s out there, it can be tough to know whether or not a certain diet is right for you.
Here are a few keto diet myths, debunked:
- Myth #1: It’s a miracle diet. The best diet for anyone is one you can stick to. Because the keto diet limits fruits, vegetables, and carbohydrates, you don’t get enough vitamins and minerals and you’ll likely feel sluggish. On top of that, you may be in a constant state of dehydration because fats push water out of your body.
- Myth #2: Calories are limitless. This is false. In order for you to lose weight from dieting, including keto, you have to limit your calorie intake.
- Myth #3: It works for everyone. If a diet tells you to eliminate foods or change your lifestyle, you’re not going to find success. Short-term diets don’t deliver long-term results. If you do not *enjoy* following your new keto lifestyle, it could be a sign that it will not be suitable for you in the long run.
If you are looking to try the keto diet, consult with a dietitian to ensure you’re taking the right steps for your body. Always remember, there is no one-size-fits-all diet plan so try not to base your decision to go keto on anyone else’s experience but your own.