Here at RIPT HQ, we never shy away from learning and trying new diets, so with the Keto diet appearing everywhere nowadays, and very few of us knowing what it actually means, we have decided to delve into this. It is a diet that essentially involves no carbs but a high level of protein and fat in order to lose weight as your body enters the state of ketosis.
How is this possible?
Well let’s start with the basics.
WHAT IS KETOSIS?
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which, rather than getting your energy from blood glucose (essentially carbohydrates), your energy supply comes from what are known as ketones. These molecules are created when the body breaks down stored fat since the carbs are restricted.
HOW DOES THE KETO DIET WORK?
In order for the body to create ketones it has to begin to break down fat, which will only happen if there isn’t enough blood glucose available (aka carbs).
Take those carbohydrates away, and your body has to settle by going into where the fat stores, consequently producing ketones.
HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE IT?
To be in a state of ketosis, your carbohydrate intake has to be at a low enough level that the body has to resort to fat stores for energy. While the exact amount of carbs is up for debate, most diets will recommend around 50g of carbohydrates per day and around 1.5g of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Achieving ketosis does not happen overnight.
Our body has glucose to go at for a while, and therefore your carbohydrate intake must be kept low enough, for long enough, to see results.
MISTAKES TO AVOID
1. EATING THE WRONG TYPE OF FAT
On the keto diet you need to be mindful of the quality of food you are eating. The majority of your intake should be coming from unsaturated healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, fish and vegetable oils.
This is not to say you can't have saturated fats, but these should not be making up the majority of your intake.
2. EATING AN EXCESS OF PROTEIN
Make sure you’re giving your body what it needs in terms of your protein intake, but not overdoing it. Any unnecessary protein will begin to be converted into fat, which is something that you’re trying to avoid.
A good way to make sure you’re on top of this is to track your macros using an app – this will help you monitor your intake and keep you hitting your goals.
3. NOT DRINKING ENOUGH WATER
Staying hydrated is always important, but this becomes even more vital when starting out on the keto diet.
This is because when you cut your carbs, your liver releases glycogen. For every gram of glycogen released, 2 grams of water is also released. You need to make sure you’re replacing the water that is being lost. As always, aim for at least the recommended 2.5L of water every day!
ARE THERE SIDE EFFECTS TO THE KETO DIET?
Studies have shown that a ketogenic diet could result in dehydration, and so it is important to make sure you're drinking plenty of water to counteract any water loss. This can also cause muscle cramps and headaches due to dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance. You might always find that for the first few weeks you experience feelings of fatigue and therefore do not perform as well in the gym. This is due to the switch from burning carbohydrates for energy to burning fat stores.
Constipation is to be expected. Also, your breath will smell bad. Blame ketones for that; we breathe out one type in particular, acetone.
However, it is not all bad. Research has shown that people following a ketogenic diet long-term have greater focus and concentration. Also, it actually improves a person's blood pressure and beneficial HDL cholesterol levels as opposed to a low-fat diet.
Due to the huge variety of side effects, if you're considering following a keto diet, we would therefore recommend speaking to your doctor prior as a low-carbohydrate diet might not be suitable for everyone.