Is the Ketogenic diet (keto) another fad diet promising weight loss and leaner physique yet doomed for failure? Truth is, the keto diet does work.
This diet is a therapeutic kind of diet initially meant for patients with epilepsy. Years of research and mountains of results found that ketogenic diets have benefits that extend far beyond epilepsy.
They help improve health, maximize endurance and improve mental performance. Keto diet can also help with weight loss and lean muscle gains.
The ketogenic diet is high fat diet, and the notion that it can help lose weight you may seem unbelievable, but it is the truth.
So how can a high fat diet promote health, much less help with weight loss?
Why The Keto Diet Works?
This diet places extreme restriction on carbohydrates and promotes high fat intake. Protein is kept at moderate consumption. With the extreme restriction on carbs, some would classify ketogenic diet as a form of carb-restrictive diets.
The goal of the dietary requirements is to promote a state called ketosis. This is when the body uses stored fats as source of energy, instead of using readily available glucose (from rapidly digested carbs). Fats are metabolized to produce ketone bodies.
Ketosis is a natural process. It happens when there is not enough glucose in the blood.
Some argue that the body is originally designed to depend largely on ketosis for energy, rather than the current dependence on glucose. It was only because of a shift to an extremely carb-rich diet that the body learned to prefer glucose to ketone bodies.
Ketone bodies are healthier, better and more efficient energy source. It provides more energy that lasts longer than glucose. It is also used up more efficiently by the cells, especially by the brain and muscle cells.
Glucose creates a rapid high followed by a deep crash. In the brain, this leads to very short time of high level functioning followed by a sharp decline.
This is often seen as brain fog and difficulty concentrating which comes and go, especially after meals. In the muscle cells, this is seen as high energy followed by weakness without fueling up on carbohydrates again.
With ketone bodies, energy is provided in a fairly constant basis. This results in consistently functioning of the body’s many systems. It is especially beneficial for tissues such as the brain and the heart.
Benefits Of The Keto Diet
Here’s how your body can benefit from a keto diet plan:
Keeps You Satiated
One of the most attractive benefits of the keto diet is weight loss. Carbs are broken down rapidly and turned into glucose. The body is unable to keep up with glucose production and glucose use, so most of it gets converted and stored as fats.
The more you eat carbs, the more fats you produce and store. Another bad thing about this is that the faster glucose is stored, the sooner you feel hungry again.
On the other hand, fats are slowly broken down. Energy, once released, comes in a steady flow. The rate of energy production is at the right level for the body to use it. Only a small amount gets to be stored as fats, compared to when carbs are eaten and used as main energy source.
This also means you get to feel full longer.
Boosts Muscle Endurance
The state of ketosis is great for boosting muscle endurance. The thing is, muscle activity uses a lot of energy. Glucose gives muscle tissues immediate energy for use but ketones provide energy to sustain longer muscular activity.
Many studies have shown this effect. One such study showed that elite high-endurance athletes are able to burn twice as much fat when they eat minimal carbs compared to those who eat large amounts of carbs.
Researchers measured gas exchange repeatedly in this study – during a test which determined the athletes’ maximum oxygen intake to measure fat – and carb-burning rates.
It seems that the low-carb athletes’ peak fat-burning rate was 2.3 times higher than the rate for high-carb athletes: 1.5 vs 0.67 grams/min.
As previously mentioned, ketones provide sustained energy that help muscles to function on a consistent basis. The steady flow of energy helps the muscles to be able to perform longer. This effect also helps in better performance because muscles have enough energy they need to function longer and achieve more.
High carb diets produce the opposite effect. As previously discussed, glucose flood the muscles tissues and then cease. Muscles grab a lot of glucose they need for their intense activity. In the middle of muscle activity, glucose is no longer at the same level as when the activity started. This leads to drop in performance.
Ketones, on the other hand, provide a steady supply of energy. In the middle of muscle activity, ketones are still present. It still provides the needed fuel for the muscle to complete its action.
How To Increase The Benefits Of The Keto Diet
For better results on the keto diet, make sure you eat the right kinds of foods and supplements. This can help limit the amount of muscle breakdown or catabolism when training or performing in a fasted state.
These foods also help keep muscles from breaking down after intense exercises. Muscle recovery after exercise involve some degree of catabolism that can be limited by eating these foods.
Provide your fat adapted metabolism the energy it needs for high performance by getting these foods into your keto diet:
1. Coconut Oil
This is one healthy fat source you should eat on a daily basis. Coconut oil is rich in monounsaturated fats that are good for health. It helps you keep full, reduce inflammation in the body and also helps you have more energy without having to eat lots of carb-loaded foods.
Coconut oil is a good pre-workout fuel. It is high in MCTs (medium chain triglycerides). These are directly converted into ketone bodies to help give a steady supply of energy.
This is especially helpful in maximizing endurance. Steady supply of energy helps you perform more intense workouts.
Butter from grass-fed animals is rich in healthy saturated fatty acids and the anti-inflammatory fatty acid Butyrate.
Adding butter or coconut oil to your cup of coffee can make it one power-packed elixir to boost your workout performance and endurance. Caffeine stimulates your activity levels and butter/coconut oil provides the energy needed to sustain it.
3. Keto Creamers
If the oiliness of adding butter and coconut oil to your coffee is not to your liking, then keto creamer products are the next best thing.
Traditional dairy and non-dairy creamers often pack lots of calories. These are also made with large amounts of carbs that can keep you from getting into ketosis.
Keto creamers help give creaminess to coffee without much of the oiliness from coconut oil and butter. These are also low in carb to help you get the desired ketogenic state.
There are many different keto creamers available both online as well as in well sorted local supplement stores.
4. Keto protein bars
Snacking and on-the-go foods can be quite challenging when on a keto diet. Readily available foods are commonly high in carbs and filled with artificial fillers and other junk. Keto bars are the answer.
If you need a quick snack to tide you over for your next high fat meal, grab some keto bars. Choose the right keto bars that are specifically designed for those on a keto diet.
When it comes to endurance sports such as running, cycling and skiing, ketogenic diets are growing hugely popular for good reason. The markets are opening up for consumers that no longer falsely fear the fat which had previously been demonized by the media for the last decades.
Whatever the future holds for high fat diets, the keto diet is here to stay and become a regular staple among all serious endurance athletes.
This is a guest post written by Alex Eriksson, a health and fitness enthusiast. If you enjoy the tips make sure to share this article on your social media accounts. Stay fit!