Why NOT To Do The Keto Diet
Everyone has a friend on the Keto Diet. Or maybe you’ve tried it yourself.
A Ketogenic Diet is Low-Carb, High Fat diet intended to alter your body’s metabolism to burn fat over sugar. Sound familiar?
Let’s think back to the Atkins Diet fad of the early noughties.
In 2003, as many as 3 million Brits had tried the Atkins diet. Fear of carbs was at an all time high and the low-carb Atkins diet boasted quick results in the weight loss department.
The reason this low-carb diet became known as a fad (as most do) is that it’s hard to maintain, and can be downright unhealthy without discipline, dedication and a legitimate reason to do the diet in the first place. Not to mention, once you eat a few carbs, you’re going to balloon right back to where you started.
Why is this?
Your body needs carbs. It’s the type of carb that matters. Cutting out all forms of carbs from your diet is a recipe for nutrition disaster.
15 years later, carbohydrates are still largely misunderstood. Hence the recent popularity of the Keto Diet.
Interestingly enough, the Atkins diet was always just a modified version of the Keto diet. Atkins increases the amount of protein and reduces the amount of fat, making it a bit easier to stick to - a necessary adjustment since it’s incredibly hard to maintain the altered metabolism of the Keto diet.
Other than a very specific reason we’ll go over in a few minutes - every person, even someone with a low carbohydrate tolerance and metabolism - should still be getting the bulk of their diet from carbs.
Let’s delve into the real reasons to take on a Keto Diet and if it’s right for you - because likely, it is not.
What Is A Ketogenic Diet?
A Ketogenic Diet is a way of maintaining a fat burning state, known as Ketosis. It’s based on a Macronutrient ratio of very low carbs and very high fat. This ratio causes your body to change the way it burns energy - the lack of carbs forces your body to use fat as fuel.
To put this in perspective, a standard 2,000 calorie balanced diet would call for about 20 g of fat, whereas, the Keto Diet breaks down to about 150 - 175 grams of fat
A Ketone is created when your body uses fat for it’s first source of energy, instead of sugar from carbs.
Keto = Ketone + Genic = Producing
By omitting carbs, you’re forcing your body to burn fat in lieu of sugar and maintaining a constant state of fat burning. The key word here is maintain. If you deviate from the diet and have carbs, your body is no longer able to process the sugar correctly and it’s not metabolised fast enough - ending up stored in fat cells.
This is why most people drop a few kilos right away, and then gain it right back on once they fall off the diet. If you don’t maintain a constant state of true ketosis - you will only be tired, malnourished and you definitely won’t be hitting the gym.
Who should use a ketogenic diet?
The Ketogenic Diet was developed for hard to treat epilepsy in children. Most of the studies around Ketogenics are related to epilepsy and other neurological disorders, whilst little is known about the long term impacts for fitness and weight loss. According to this paper, the diet “is thought to simulate the metabolic effects of starvation by forcing the body to use primarily fat as a fuel source”.
Ketogenic Therapy is mainly used in hospitals to treat otherwise uncontrollable seizures. These diets are rigorously supervised by a doctor because of the extreme discipline needed to maintain ketosis.
Should You Try the Keto Diet?
It comes down to your goals - and depending on what your goal is - there’s a better way to reach it than the keto diet.
Most likely, you came here because you want to lose weight, and you heard that the keto diet drops that weight in no time!
But, if you really want to lose weight, the Keto diet is not your best route. Below, we’re going to get into the different body types, metabolism, carbohydrate tolerances and show you nutrition tips that work for you. You can also check out our article on ways to lose fat without the tricks - the way your body was built to.
Muscle Gain & Fat Loss
Gaining muscle while losing weight can be tricky. You need to have a good understanding of nutrition and exercise to balance out the losses and gains. A low carb, high fat diet is the last thing you need to build a body with lean muscle.
Below, we’ll talk about how you can develop a plan based on your body type to reach your goal, without compromising your nutrition. Check out our article on Muscle Gain and Fat Loss for a full guide.
If you’re truly dedicated to bodybuilding and plan on putting in the amount of work it takes to get jacked, you’d be better off on the Anabolic Diet. This diet is similar to the keto diet in that it’s geared to burn fat over carbs - only it requires more protein and incorporates carb cycling so that you’re still getting carbs - albeit in bulk - a couple days a week.
Be forewarned, this is an advanced diet and is for serious lifters. The Anabolic diet takes about 4 weeks to become fully effective and in that time you will be tired and lethargic. Much like the keto diet, if you don’t maintain this diet to the letter, you’re going to pack the pounds back on.
How Your Body Works 101
There are 3 types of calories - the Macronutrients: Carbohydrates, Protein and Fats
Normally, your body processes carbohydrates as your first source of energy. Carbs are broken down into sugar in your blood and used as fuel, not only for when your active, but just to maintain brain and vital organ functions. In other words, you need carbs to think, breathe and ... stay alive.
Fat is responsible for a ton of actions in your body - but once your blood sugar has been used as energy, your body burns fat as it’s secondary source of energy. If you are active enough to exhaust your blood sugar you start burning fat instead. This is how you lose fat.
When you live a sedentary lifestyle, and eat a lot of carbs, your body is not using all the sugar as energy and the excess sugar is stored in fat. This is how you gain fat.
Protein is fuel for your muscles, repairing the damage from activity and rebuilding your muscles stronger. The more active you are, the more imperative it is to get a lot of protein.
Without proper nutrition, your body will start metabolising it’s own protein for repairs - and the 20% protein ratio in the keto diet is just not enough. This is how you lose muscle.
The Truth about Carbs
We’ve established everyone needs carbs - so why do we still fear carbs?
There are two types of carbs - and while one is necessary to your existence, they seem to get lumped in with the other carbs that are not needed at all.
Bad Carbs = Simple Carbs
Simple carbs are calories metabolised into blood sugar very quickly because they contain only one type of sugar molecule. The sugar has been modified and refined to its simplest form. The spike in blood sugar means your body may not be able to use the energy fast enough before it’s stored in fat cells.
These sugars are only found in processed food like junk food, packaged and frozen foods.
These are the sugars to limit in your diet.
Good Carbs = Complex Carbs
Complex carbs are calories that break down into blood sugar slowly because they are more complex - containing two or more sugar molecules. Your body has a chance to process these sugars for efficient energy before they are stored in fat cells.
Complex Carbs are foods that contain only naturally occurring sugars, like whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
These are the carbs you need to feed your brain and fuel your body.
Your Body Type Matters
Everyone falls into one of three categories of body types - determined by your physical attributes, metabolism and carbohydrate tolerance.
Your metabolism is directly correlated with your ability to tolerate carbs.
Low metabolism = Low Carbohydrate Tolerance
You metabolise energy slowly - you take longer to break down carbohydrates and use the sugars as energy. You probably gain weight easily and find it hard to lose weight. This means you should be eating less carbs and more fat.
Moderate Metabolism = Moderate Carbohydrate Tolerance
You metabolise energy at a steady rate. You may find it both easy to lose weight and easy to gain it back. This means you should be eating a balanced diet.
High Metabolism = High Carbohydrate Tolerance
You metabolise energy very quickly - you take no time to break down carbohydrates and use the sugars as energy. You probably find it nearly impossible to gain weight. This means you should be eating more carbs and less fat.
Now, compare those ratios to the Keto Diet - even the Endomorph, the most likely to benefit from a Keto Diet because of their low carb tolerance - should be eating 25% carbs.
The Keto Diet’s 10% Carb ratio is simply not enough fuel for your body to function properly, .
Check out more nutrition and fitness tips for your body type here.
Is there any Reason to Do a Keto Diet?
No, there really isn’t any reason to do a keto diet unless you have been prescribed to do so by a doctor.
If you are currently on a Keto Diet, we recommend a progressive wean off the diet, while introducing healthy complex carbs back into the mix over time.
- Multivitamin supplements - you won’t get adequate vitamins and nutrients from a keto diet, so make sure you take a daily complete multivitamin
- Suss out and avoid hidden sugars - many foods you may not think of have sugars, like milk, plain yogurt, salad dressings, even medications. Sugars you are not aware of could be preventing a state of ketosis
- Very slowly introducing complex carbs back into your diet so you don’t shock your body
- Start with easily digestible complex carbs like veggies and fruits
- Gradually introduce whole grains like rice and wheat
Why Not to Do a Keto Diet
We hear about a new diet, jump on the bandwagon and ride until we fall off, hoping to lose some weight along the way. But there’s a reason these types of diets come and go - they can’t be maintained.
Learning more about how your body works and helping it to run how it’s meant to is the key to your fitness success.
Eating healthy is the easiest step you can make to reaching your fitness goals - no matter how you break it down. When it comes to nutrition, the simplest answer is always correct.
- Eat complex carbs like whole grains
- Limit simple carbs from processed junk food.
- Eat lots of veggies and fruit
- Eat lots of unsaturated fats and limit saturated fats.
- Eat lots of lean protein, especially after you’ve been active.
If you can stick to a keto diet for even a week, you should have no problem transitioning to, and maintaining, a healthy diet that works for your body type and your results.