My Thoughts On Keto
Keto, Keto, Keto. Everywhere you look lately you see or hear of it. In magazines, online, cookbooks, and numerous food and beverage products. It's currently the "it" diet and I probably get asked at least twice a week about my thoughts on this diet.
Before I share that, let's back up and talk a little bit about what the Ketogenic diet is, why it's all the rage and my personal stance on it.
What is the Keto Diet?
Keto or Ketogenic is a diet where you eat lower carb and higher fat which causes your body to go into ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic process that occurs when the body doesn't have enough glucose for energy so it burns fat instead. This results in a build up of ketones in the body which indicates the body is burning fat for fuel.
How to do the Keto Diet.
In order to get your body into ketosis, you have to eliminate glucose stores which your body normally uses for fuel. Glucose typically comes from carbohydrates including sugar (fruit, dairy) and starchy carbs (bread, pasta). Eliminating these foods can results in the body not having enough glucose for energy demands so it will begin to break down fat. Eliminating all carbohydrate sources and increasing fats (75% of food coming from fat sources) is the main emphasis of a ketogenic diet.
Now that we have the basics of Keto down, here's my stance on it.
First, I do believe there are some people this form of diet is good for. I personally, am not one of them. Besides it being hard to maintain for a long period of time, it can have some pretty negative side effects. For athletes in particular, it's been related to elevated levels of fatty acids and ammonia in the bloodstream. This can cause impaired metabolism and central nervous system fatigue. Low carb diets have also been linked to thyroid disfunction, in particular hypothyroidism. Insulin is needed in for healthy thyroid function (Chris Kressor). On a low carb diet, your insulin can be extremely low. This is something that I've personally dealt with and one of the main reasons I shy away from Keto.
Is there another option?
What I've found to work the best for me personally, and many of my more active clients, is Carb Cycling. In carb cycling, you alternate between higher carb days, and lower carb days. Paired with your active or non-active days, your body is able to utilize carbs for fuel and muscle building on high carb days, then burn fat on low carb days.
A few benefits of Carb Cycling are:
Give you more energy
Promotes lean muscle mass
Preserves muscle mass and prevents muscle wasting
Helps muscle recovery after workouts
Boosts weight loss/helps reduce body fat percentage
Prevents a dip in your metabolic rate
Allows room for flexibility and a variety of healthy foods
Gives you more energy
Again while Keto might work for some folks, just like all diets, it's good to keep in mind that it might not work well for you. Remember, diets are not one size fits all! Know your body, do your research and discuss any health changes you're thinking about making with a doctor prior to doing so!
If you're intersted in learning more about Carb Cycling, check out my Carb Cycling Bootcamp guide that is a complete independent workout and nutrition program.