How To Lose Weight On Ketogenic And Low-Carb Diets

Many people have heard of the ketogenic diet, but may not know exactly how it works.

It was originally used to treat patients with epilepsy, but now is used by many fitness lovers and professionals.

Why has it become such a popular diet in the normal population? In this article we will explain why a ketogenic diet can be ideal for weight loss.

A ketogenic diet is when you have a ‘low’ or ‘very low’ carbohydrate (low Glycemic Index), moderate-high fat and moderate-high protein diet, the lack of carbohydrates in the diet triggers ketosis in the body.

For someone eating 2000 calories a day, a ‘low’ carbohydrate diet is usually around 130g of carbs per days , or about 26% of your calories from carbohydrates, and a ‘very low’ carbohydrate diet has significantly less, around 50g of carbohydrates per day, or around 10% calories from carbohydrates.

The ratio of fats and proteins in the diet has been modified over the years. It seems that moderate-high fat and high protein or high fat and high protein are more popular, but originally the ketogenic diet was high fat and low protein.

The more research that was put into the fat loss aspect of ketogenic and low carb diets, the more protein was added. Research shows that between 0.8g and 1.2g of protein per kg of body weight is ideal to see benefits and to prevent weight re-gain in the future.

When your body is deprived of carbohydrate (glucose) energy, it enters ketosis, which is when your body relies mainly on fat for energy. When fats (fatty acids) are broken down by the liver, you get ketone bodies, hence the name ketosis.

Under normal circumstances, we operate in a state of glycolysis, when glucose is broken down and used for energy. Ketosis usually occurs when the body is in a ‘fasted’ state, and low on carbohydrate fuel. It is the body state where you burn the most fat.

Being in the ‘fasted’ state is beneficial because it is essentially the body’s fat burning state. It is proven that the more you restrict calories from carbohydrates, the more weight you lose.

Low carbohydrate diets are also shown to have greater weight loss than low fat diets, which tend to result in weight re-gain later on. Since glucose triggers insulin, and insulin promotes fat storage and can protect fat stores from being catabolized, having less carbohydrates means less insulin release promotes more fat catabolism.

The moderate-high levels of fat can be beneficial as long as you focus on healthy unsaturated fats as the main source. Saturated fats are almost unavoidable with such a high protein requirement, but as long as there is predominantly healthy fats, your cholesterol levels shouldn’t suffer.

Having high protein is also shown to keep you full longer as well as maintain a good energy balance in the body, even when low on carbohydrate fuel. It also protects ‘fat free mass’, so you can worry less about catabolizing anything important for fuel, like your muscle or other important tissues

Here's a training plan for women to help you lose weight:

And for men:

For the most part, a ketogenic diet is safe. However, for those with any medical problems, especially diabetes, ask your doctor first. There is likely a specific way for you to use the diet in order to improve your condition that may need heavier monitoring to ensure its safety.

Diabetics can experience ketoacidosis, when large amounts of ketone bodies in the blood cause it to become dangerously acidic. For anyone simply using it for weight loss, there are some minor side effects and concerns that should be known before you begin, but you won’t have to worry about ketoacidosis.

When starting the ketogenic diet, your body may need time to adjust to ketosis and switching major fuel forms. This may cause:

  • Fatigue: Both physical and mental, because your brain under normal circumstances uses only glucose as fuel, and now much switch to ketone bodies. May last a few weeks.
  • Dehydration: Make sure it is your highest priority to stay hydrated, especially while the body is adjusting and when you are exercising.

Vitamin deficiencies: Though you may still get enough vitamins and minerals, there is a chance that with such low amounts of carbohydrates, you may be short on a few of them. Taking a multivitamin can be beneficial just in case.

Though it may be difficult to get used to, a ketogenic or low carb diet can be very beneficial in terms of weight loss. Let’s recap what we learned:

  • This diet uses low or very low amounts of carbohydrates, and moderate to high amounts of both fat and protein.
  • When your body burns fat for energy in the form of ketone bodies instead of burning glucose, it’s called ketosis.
  • Low-carb diets are shown to burn more fat than low fat diets because of the lack of insulin protecting fat stores.
  • Having higher protein in the diet protects fat free mass, increases satiety (fullness) and maintains your energy balance even with low carbohydrates.
  • Diabetics can experience ketoacidosis from too many ketone bodies and glucose in the blood, raising its acidity.
  • Others going on a ketogenic diet can experience fatigue, dehydration and vitamin deficiencies.
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