Keto at a Glance:
- The Keto diet is generally safe for general population and can reduce the risk of chronic diseases
- Generally good for endurance athletes after a period of time
- May have an adverse effect on strength athletes (you feel weaker)
I’m sure we’ve all heard of the Keto, or the Ketogenic diet, by this point. You’ve been told that all you have to do is eat burgers, butter and steak and the weight will melt right off of you! Sounds a little too good to be true right?
I hate to break it to you … If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
What is the Keto diet?
This in a snap shot is what the Keto diet looks like. Really high fat, low to moderate amounts of protein and a few, if any, carbs. We have made a comparison percentage wise with the Keto versus two other popular diets, Macro and Paleo.
So lets make some sense of all those percentages.
Let’s take someone who eats a diet that consists of 2000 calories in a day. If this person is using a keto style diet, 20% of these calories would come from protein (about 100 grams), 5% would come from carbohydrates (about 25g), and 75% would come from fat (about 165g).
This generally translates into eating very high fat foods like
- olive oils,
- egg yolks
Low amount of very low carb vegetables
- leafy greens
This is what you can’t eat
- starchy vegetables
- generally all processed foods
What does this actually mean in our body??
The reason some swear by the Keto diet is a process called ketosis. Ketosis is a process that your body naturally goes into when its in a starvation mode (in this instance, we’re talking about the absence of any food).
After enough time without any food our body will begin to use its own fat stores as energy. Releasing the fatty acids from our stored body fat so it can be used in a chemical reaction to make ketones that our body can use for energy.
SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?! IS THIS ALL I HAD TO DO WAS EAT BACON TO LOSE WEIGHT
The theory sounds great and simple, eat fat burn fat. Unfortunately that’s not the only factor at play.
We’ve already said that eating a high fat diet with moderate amount of protein and no carbohydrates for prolonged period leads to the body using stored fat as fuel, but and this is a serious but, our bodies refuels itself when we eat. Meaning as you’re burning fat from stores by consuming a high fat low carb diet you’re also replenishing fat stores by eating these high fat foods.
Does the Keto diet work??
Yes it does! BUT it works on the same principal as every other diet does. The calories you consume have to be less than the amount of calories you expend in a day. Meaning if you eat 2000 calories in a day but only expend 1800 during your daily activities, you are still in a calorie surplus and it doesn’t matter what diet you are doing, you will not lose weight.
Food for Thought (pun intended)
This is where we always get the “but my friend did keto and lost 60 lbs.” First off congratulations to that person! That is a huge accomplishment and they should be extremely proud of their success.
BUT when people start a new diet they generally start exercising and watching what they eat more. So instead of going home after work and opening a bag of chips and watching TV, they go to the gym and are more conscious about that they are eating. So it’s not all the keto diet, it’s also the new healthy habits being formed like going to the gym and being conscious of what they are eating.
Special considerations for the athlete
Thousands of studies have been performed to find what is the perfect diet for the athletic population. The problem is not all athletes and sports are alike. So we’re going to talk strength/power athlete like weightlifting, powerlifting, football players and throwing athletes first and then more endurance athletes like soccer, running, Crossfit and really any sport where their consistent playing time is over 20-30s in duration.
Strength/power athletes: What the research shows
- unlikely to aid in performance can even hinder strength/power adaptation
- bodies requires glucose for short, intense activities
Endurance athletes: What the research shows
- appears to be beneficial for endurance athletes after an adoption period (i.e. after a period of several consistent months.)
- if an adoption period is not taken an athlete would experience adverse effects I.e. impaired athletic performance
We always recommend a balance diet and its essential role in losing weight if that is your goal. They’re definitely positive and negative to the keto diet but unfortunately it is not going to absolutely fix and you still need to be in a calorie deficit if weigh loss is your primary goal.