The popular ketogenic diet is the new craze lately, especially for those looking to lose weight - more specifically body fat. This diet has actually existed for many years and recently gained a lot of attention and hype on the media. It's essentially a low carb, moderate protein and high fat diet that alters your body's source of energy from burning glucose (deriving from carbs and sugars) into ketones (what fat is broken into) instead. While following a ketogenic diet, the goal is for your body to reach a level of ketosis where your liver produces ketones to be used for fuel, so you're burning fat for energy! Sounds like a great trade if you ask me. You can also see below the guidelines for this diet:
So the question is, does it work? The answer to this would apply for many diets that have been tried time and time again. If you are consistent with the dietary guidelines and stick with it for an extended time, then yes, you will likely lose weight and body fat. I think one of the great things that the keto diet prescribes is to cut out processed foods and sugars which are key players in the rise of cardiac disease, diabetes and obesity. Now if you were to simply eliminate eating excessive sugars and simple carbs then you'll certainly lose weight, especially if it was consumed consistently in excessive amounts. I personally have not successfully implemented this diet simply because I know that with my personal food choices, this diet is not one that I would follow long-term. However, I have heard and seen many success stories from various people of different health and fitness levels. One of the great things I've heard most is the abundance of energy and mental alertness people had while in ketosis.
Well if it works, then you're probably wondering why I'm not a huge fan of it. Now I'm not claiming to be a registered dietician and say that I know a superior amount of information regarding nutrition. But to put it simply, when you re-introduce foods outside of your dieting guidelines you may find yourself gaining back some of that weight. Makes sense, right? The problem for me, is that the keto diet is not sustainable. I'm a Vietnamese girl with big love for my country's food which involves quite a bit of noodles, rice and exotic fruits... so can you blame me?
I attempted to perform a 'modified' ketogenic diet but only found myself to feel lethargic, fatigued and actually gain body fat. How did this happen? Well it's likely my own doing, but I never counted my carb intake (limit of 15-20 grams/day) and I probably consumed more fruit than I was supposed to. Not to mention, if you eat too much protein, that can also prevent you from reaching ketosis. So rather than burning all of the fat that I was consuming, it was getting stored causing me to actually gain more body fat rather than losing it. Oh, the irony. But I did learn one thing, that this particular diet isn't for me in the long run. It was hard to consume high amounts of fat and give up particular vegetables and fruits that I normally eat.
With any diets that exist out there, if it's not sustainable and integrated into a lifestyle decision you make throughout your life, then it's not going to work long term. People have gone on/off diets and found that they lose weight only to regain it once they quit the regimen. Now there are some who embrace new diets and modify it into their lifestyle, and I find that they are the ones that typically succeed at keeping the weight off and creating healthier habits in the long run. So the question you should be asking yourself is, how long are you willing to follow the keto diet? Is it just for the summer to shed some weight for your bikini or are you looking to stay consistent with this particular food regimen in the grand scheme?
If you're looking to make long lasting change and impact in your health, I would look at what things you're currently eating and reassessing the small changes that you can alter for good, not just for a few months. If you're someone who hasn't ever tried a diet and find that you consume quite a bit of fast food, processed snacks, sugary beverages on a day to day basis then it will be very challenging to make a 180-degree change at the flip of a switch. I'm not saying that it can't happen because it has and it will for some, but if you're like me and take time to make adjustments then it's all about making steady changes each day which eventually form into healthy habits.
I personally don't believe that "cookies are bad," but rather it's okay to consume tacos, burgers or pizza occasionally, BUT within moderation. I enjoy eating things that TASTE GOOD and although they may not be the most nutritious, there's a reason why I don't eat them often. You shouldn't feel miserable with what you eat, healthy doesn't have to be boring and it can actually taste pretty good! But there are many things in our diets that do more harm than good if abused with overconsumption. It's about giving your body the nutrients it deserves majority of the time but also enjoying a beer too.
Regardless of what diet you're trying - Paleo, Keto, Whole 30, etc... I encourage that you gradually find things that you want to carry on with your food choices to maintain better health throughout your life. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Again this is just my personal take regarding 'diets' as a whole, but if one can take a diet and transform it into daily decisions that can be sustained then I think they can be a great resource in helping people improve their nutrition and health.