The ketogenic diet has been gaining more and more popularity in recent years. Fitness enthusiasts, middle aged men and women looking to drop a few pounds, even parents of children suffering from health conditions along with so many others have found it to be extremely effective in helping them with their specific heath goals and wellness needs. However, with that being said, there is still plenty of confusion about what the ketogenic diet is and how it actually works. Hopefully this blog, without going into too much detail, will provide a little bit of insight and help to clear up some of the common confusion that occurs when talking about the ketogenic diet.
First, let’s talk about what the term ketogenic actually means! Again, the goal here is not to cause more confusion so let’s keep it simple. The term ketogenic relates to the term ketogenesis. Ketogenesis refers to the production of ketone bodies (acetone, acetoacetic acid and beta-hydroxybutyric acid) which are byproducts of fat metabolism in the body. Simple enough for you? No? Ketogenic refers to the things that your body creates as a result of breaking down fat in the body. Both dietary fat, the fat we eat, as well as stored body fat, the fat we HATE! So, the ketogenic diet is a specific eating protocol which aims to teach your body to burn dietary and stored body fat as its primary fuel source.
The Ketogenic diet first gained its modern popularity and its name as a treatment for those suffering from epilepsy in the early 20th century. The original standardization of the ketogenic diet by Dr. Peterman of the Mayo Clinic called for an individual to consume the following:
- 1g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day
- 10 to 15g of carbohydrates per day and all remaining calories from fat sources
Today, many people implement the ketogenic diet, or some adaptation of it, for the sole purpose of shredding unwanted body fat. Using the ketogenic diet as a weight loss tool can be extremely effective if you are able to do a couple of things:
- Keep close watch over your macro balance (how much protein, fat and carbodydrates you are ingesting on a daily basis) and remain consistent
It is easy to eat more calories than what is necessary to sustain your body weight. It is even easier to eat more calories than you need to lose weight. Being that fats make up the bulk of any true ketogenic diet and that they are also the most calorie dense of all the macro nutrients it is easy to see why keeping a close eye on how much you are eating is fundamental to the success of any Custom Weight Loss Plan, especially a ketogenic one.
Many people who struggle with the implementing a truly ketogenic diet may steer towards either a modified Atkins diet or a generally higher protein/lower carbohydrate diet (both of which I will be blogging about in the near future). These three approaches to fat loss dieting do differ in a number of ways including the means by which they provide energy for different types of activity and so forth. They all have the perks and they also have their drawbacks depending on the goal at hand and the individual’s needs. Many times, when beginning a low carbohydrate diet of any kind, particularly a ketogenic one, you may experience an initial drop in energy levels over the course of the first week or two. Sometimes refed to as the ketogenic flu, this is simply an adjustment period during which your body is trying to figure out how to function under the new dietary conditions. Many people struggle to get through this period and abandon the game plan. For those who are able to stick it out they often find that after the initial adjustment phase they regain their energy levels and many times feel even better than they did previously. So, for anyone currently starting a ketogenic diet or for anyone considering doing so, stay strong…it gets way better!
This was a very basic introduction to what a ketogenic diet is and some of the potential benefits that it can have. There is a TON of free information out there on the subject of ketosis, ketogenic dieting and how it can be implemented as a means of improving one’s health. However, it is extremely important that you consult your physician or another health professional before drastically changing your nutritional habits. If you enjoyed the information provided in this blog, please check out our other blogs and feel free to give us your feedback!
By Vic M.
B.S. Exercise Science, NSCA-CSCS Certified