Ketogenic Diets - What Are They? Do They Work?
What would you say if I told you that you could supercharge your energy levels with a switch to your diet? How about lose fat or bulk up using the same diet? Would you like to eat the foods that are considered taboo? You know... The good foods, the ones with all the fats that really taste good. We are speaking of ketogenic diets (or keto for short). Countless books have been written on this very subject and yet the world does not understand the value of this diet. I keep hearing the same comments: "Man that diet is bad for you." "You will have excessive cholesterol and probably have a heart attack." Where does this come from? A common lack of knowledge! Most of the time we fear that which we don't understand, so we are here to shed some light on the subject and hopefully leave you with a better understanding about this diet.
Fitnessman and I have decided it was time to "school" some of you on the effects and ease of this diet. This is the first time we have ever done anything like this together so it should prove to be interesting. Fitnessman is highly schooled on the subject of Ketogenic diets. He has a degree in nutrition and is a major contributor in the Bodybuilding.com forum. When Fitnessman talks we all stop and listen! On with the article...
The most common problem today is what we eat. Modern man seems to have gotten so wrapped up in processing stuff that it actually became bad for us to eat. Many years ago man ate meat! This was his diet. He would kiss his family goodbye and go off in search of a wild animal for meat. There was no processed wheat, refined sugars or msg to concern himself with.
First let's cover a few aspects of the benefits from using a keto diet, though there are many. Fitnessman and I will cover a few here that we find the most interesting.
Increased fat loss
Increased energy levels
Decreased hunger while cutting
I suppose a plethora of volumes could be written about this but in the scope of this article we will only cover a few. And as Fitnessman says, "We will attempt to put this article in plain English."
Basic Mechanics of Fat Loss on a Keto Diet
The object of a keto diet is to force your body to get into and stay in a glycogen deprived state and maintain a mild state of ketosis (burning fats for energy). In order to achieve this you need to increase the fat intake and restrict the carbs to a minimum.
On a carb based diet, carbs are converted into glucose and this is what the body will use for its primary fuel source. The glucose that is not used for energy is converted to glycogen and stored in the liver for future usage. Now once the stores are full we get a sort of "spill over", and the excess is stored as adipose tissue or fat, as we all are familiar with. You know the stuff around the waistline we call the spare tire or the dreaded "love handles". Now we feel this is proof positive as to why you get fat, not due to eating fat, but due to excessive carbs. "But I don't eat a lot of food and I still get fat." This is possibly due to an intolerance to insulin. You would be surprised how many are walking around borderline pre-diabetics. How many obese people do you see today? Ask some of them what they eat and how much, I bet you would be surprised at the answers. I found most people are struggling with their weight due to this intolerance to insulin, especially as the aging process takes its toll.
The one factor I find interesting is that you are able to control this insulin problem with this diet. We are faced with too many carb related problems, such as Diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, which are due largely to hyper-insulinism. In the last 10 to 15 years scientists have realized that metabolic disturbances which usually occur in the obese, is caused by a form of insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone which will constantly rise and fall according to foods we eat. It is better to control the insulin to our advantage, which will be covered in the next few installments, such as after a weight training session.
Increased Energy Levels
Believe it or not glucose is not the preferred fuel source for the body. We subject it to carbs constantly and the problem is carbs are not efficient and clean burning. You can compare it to your car. Would you want to put the lowest grade octane in the tank when it calls for the higher grade? What would happen? Pinging, lousy gas mileage, dirty valves, soon the available power would slow down. Same with the body, after a few days of carb withdrawal, many of Fitnessman's case studies report increased energy to the point where they are bouncing off the walls. With the dense nutritional energy in a gram of fat (stored or dietary) is it any wonder? Free form fatty acids are the actual preferred source of fuel. But with carb based diets the body rarely gets to use them due to the fact that glucose is not only more readily available but is easier to utilize. The body will assume the easiest method but not always the best method for energy. It is really simple. If we feed it carbs, it will use carbs. If we feed it fats, it will use fats. It actually takes less energy to burn carbs which is 4 calories per gram, versus the 9 calories per gram for fats. So unless the body is forced at first to utilize fatty stores it will not. This will be covered more in the next installment.
Decreased Hunger While Cutting
It's pretty simple really. Fat is more nutritionally dense than carbs. Fat will take longer to digest and therefore a fuller feeling for a longer period of time. When you feed the body fats tells you that it is happy and satisfied.
When you eat a carb-based meal you sort of feel hungry a bit later on. You can compare it to the old saying, "Like eating Chinese take out, one hour later you are hungry again." The rapid rise in insulin will actually do a few things. It will cause increased lethargy (being excessively tired) and cause you to be hungry again soon afterwards. Ever notice right after a meal with carbs, like a big boal of pasta, you feel tired immediately after? How about one hour later you find yourself snacking again? This is common with a carb-based diet. It all comes down to the same thing: insulin. To be more precise it's a chemical disorder we talked about previously called hyper-insulinism. It's due largely to the sugar and more simple carbs we consume today. Again, man was not intended to eat the sugar and highly refined stuff we eat today, and in this authors opinion it is that which is slowly poisoning us all.
Remember the last time you dieted? Remember the hungry feeling you always seemed to have, the hard time you had because you were never satisfied with what you ate? There may have been times where you wanted to end the misery of dieting and just go ahead and eat. I am sure we have all faced this at one time or the other. This is where this diet comes in to play. Think about it.... rich fatty foods to satisfy your cravings. Tempting, huh?
Stay tuned for the next installment on Keto diets, we will discuss the ratios and foods we should eat. Until next time, keep the faith baby!
Click Here for part two!
Dorian and Fitnessman
Atkins New Diet Revolution
Mauro Dipasquale, The Anabolic Diet