To Keto Diet or Not to Keto Diet, That is the Question.
Ketogenesis vs Ketosis?
The Keto Diet has been very popular for a long time but does it really work? The answer lies in the difference between ketosis and ketogenesis.
The Keto Diet follows the thinking that if you keep your carb intake low, protein at its base requirement for your weight and increase fat intake to account for the rest of your needed calories, you will remain in a state of ‘ketosis’ or burning fat for energy. However, this isn’t actually the desired fat burning pathway you are probably looking to utilize. You may be in ketosis but what you really want to be in is a state of ketogenesis.
What’s the difference? Ketosis is the metabolic state of elevated ketones in your bloodstream, ketogenesis is the process of converting stored energy (fat) into ketones. If your body is in ketosis due to over consumption of fat and a lack of carbohydrate, then it isn’t really tapping into existing fat stores, it’s simply utilizing ingested fat for energy.
Basically, instead of utilizing stored fat for energy, which occurs when you have burned through the body’s available energy (glucose) and standby energy (glycogen), you are burning ingested fat, which dumps ketones into your bloodstream causing ketosis. The exact opposite approach to your diet will get you the desired effect you are looking for if in fact you want to reduce body fat significantly.
Keto Diet Macro Ratio
- Fat 60% 60%
- Protein 30% 30%
- Carbohydrate 10% 10%
Carbohydrates converted to glucose (the process of digestion) is what the body uses as a standard energy source to create ATP, the chemical process of converting glucose to energy for muscular contraction. If you have a balanced yet calorically restricted diet where you burn more calories in a day than you consume, you can actually feel your body deplete itself of glucose if you are paying close enough attention. Once you’ve depleted your glucose and glyclogen stores you go into beta-oxidation, the initial process of activating your stored fat for energy.
These (Ketogenic) diets can also reduce body weight, although not more effectively than other dietary approaches over the long term or when matched for energy intake.
-Ketogenic Diets and Chronic Disease: Weighing the Benefits Against the Risks
The Keto Diet is High Risk Low Reward
The answer is that the risk of a Keto Diet outweighs the benefit, which is very small compared to other diet options.
The conclusion from the study quoted above is that; “Very-low-carbohydrate diets are associated with marked risks. LDL-C can rise, sometimes dramatically. Pregnant women on such diets are more likely to have a child with a neural tube defect, even when supplementing folic acid. And these diets may increase chronic disease risk: Foods and dietary components that typically increase on ketogenic diets (eg, red meat, processed meat, saturated fat) are linked to an increased risk of CKD, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, whereas intake of protective foods (eg, vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains) typically decreases. Current evidence suggests that for most individuals, the risks of such diets outweigh the benefits.
In another study it was found that not only was the Keto Diet very hard to follow but that people with digestive issues didn’t fare well, “First, gut-related side-effects such as constipation, vomiting, and abdominal pain occur in 30–50% who try it. This is far from ideal for people who are already experiencing substantial symptom burden.”
The Keto Diet was originally developed in the 1920’s for treatment of refractory epilepsy, it wasn’t designed to optimize body composition and improve health, that’s just an effective marketing scheme.
Ditch Keto in 2022 for Balance
Healthy Macro Ratio
- Fat 20% 20%
- Protein 30% 30%
- Carbohydrate 50% 50%
How You Want Ketosis To Work
You really want to be in a state of ketosis after the appropriate biochemical process has occured due to either caloric restriction or physical exertion that exceeds caloric intake.
Our evolutionary biology has streamlined us to be able to survive short periods of time without food at all, much like when bears hibernate, our bodies switch to a pathway called beta oxidation and burn stored energy (fat) while actually activating repairative enzymes to restore cellular health and preserve muscle mass and function.
Intermittent fasting, when done properly, will put you into short periods of ketosis and help you burn excess body fat, helping you maintain or achieve a healthy body composition.
The western diet typically consists of adding stored energy onto stored energy due to a continuous stream of caloric excess. It may take days or a full week of restrictive caloric intake to reach the proper state of ketosis. Or you can jump start it with a 3 day juice fast, followed by a 16:8 intermittent fasting plan. Over time intermittent fasting results in reaching ketosis just 12 hours after your last meal.
The science is pretty overwhelming that tapping your energy reserves through natural ketosis is not just a healthy practice but can have huge health benefits. On the other hand, long term “keto diets” demonstrate extremely poor effects to overall health and performance.
We have found that a 3 Day Juice Fast, combined with a pre fast prep and post fast plan that includes intermittent fasting, has the most beneficial effect on weight, body composition and overall health. Plus it has the added benefit of science to support those claims.
What Does Really Work?
There are a lot of diets that do have a long term health effect and there is no one silver bullet diet that works for everyone. We do have a couple that we recommend from years of advising clients and seeing what people stick to and find better health benefits with.
We have found that the Mediterranean diet is the easiest to adopt and maintain, emphasizing the Blue Zone diet as maybe the best version of this style of eating.
Intermittent fasting is a great lifestyle change diet that takes time to adapt to but once you are living it, for most people, the 16:8 ratio keeps you from building up excess fat over the years and will help you bring you down to a healthy weight if you are currently overweight.
Balanced nutrition should be health promoting, not just a means to a fairytale end via savvy marketing. Advocating the elimination of a macronutrient will always lead your body into a severe imbalance.
Eliminating refined sugars, saturated fats or highly processed foods will go a long way to improving health and body composition. Try to avoid any diet that is extreme in the long term. 2-3 day fasts can be very healthy when administered by the right dietitian or healthcare practitioner. Low calorie diets that gradually increase in intake can be great for tapping into those fat reserves and burning visceral body fat to improve key health indicators as well.
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