Why do people choose a ketogenic diet?

Why do people choose a ketogenic diet?

Claim:

Controls insulin levels and lower blood sugar.

How I see it:

In general low carb diets lower insulin levels and spares glycogen which increases fat oxidation. However, that does not mean fat loss per se. If you lay on the couch you oxidize more fat to fuel that activity rather than carbs. Low carb diets are effective at fat loss due to the high protein intake, rather than the low intake of carbs. In addition, the weight loss data on the ketogenic diet is due to generating a caloric deficit. When you control for total calories and protein, there is no difference in weight or fat loss between the ketogenic diet and a low fat diet.

On a ketogenic diet the protein component is recommended to be at 20%, while the fat intake is around 70%, the remainder is for 10% from carbs. This means it's not a 'high protein diet' except if you subscribe to conventional dietary guidelines. 

What happens if you eat more protein on a keto diet? The protein can easily be converted to glucose and the reduction in fat consumption probably decreases ketone production. The ketones are 'the desired fuel' on a ketogenic diet. 

Claim:

Suppresses appetite which promotes fat loss 

How I see it: 

That's great if it works long term, however carbs are also filling, provides fiber, fluids and chewing is part of the system that regulates how your brain interprets what's going on. 

Fighterdiet is a high volume low calorie high protein diet and the reasons we eat a large quantity of vegetables are to promote satiety, extend the time it takes to finish your meals (to promote satiety), decrease hunger hormones, provide the good kind of carbs that are tough to digest which increases fat burning via thermic effect of food. That is a fancy term for 'energy used up on digesting food'.

A keto diet can be very easy to digest because fat is the least thermogenic macronutrient, but when it's 'easily digested' it tends to also be thrifty in lowering calorie expenditure. For fat loss it's smart to make it harder for your body to digest what you eat, rather than facilitate it.

Claim:

Prevents cancer 

How I see it:

The ketogenic diet has not been proven to be more protective than a diet high in many well-known plant extracts or high in vegetables and unprocessed whole foods. There is a middle way between no carbs at all vs high carb, highly refined and processed junk food diet, it does not have to be all or nothing.

Claim:

Keto diet is the best diet for athletes

How I see it:

This is just ignorance. Athletics are not one sport and depending on what the orientation is (power, strength, endurance, or all in one like in MMA) you should fuel accordingly. I always say eat for your goal, so now imagine the consequences of a lack of proper fuel for an athlete. For instance, in sprint you have 10 seconds or so of max intensity. This burst of energy output is fueled by the phosphagen system because it is the fastest system to mobilize stored fuel for the activity. One of the reasons creatine supplementation helps sprint activities is due to the increase in phosphocreatine or PCr. This in turn can help you sustain high intensity exercise or activity.

Now, if you're in a glycogen (stored carbohydrates) depleted state, exercise intensity will suffer. If you only work out for a few seconds, you might not notice the inferiority of a keto diet, but with more voluminous training like bodybuilding training or doing reps 5-20  or so, your stamina will drop. This activity is not optimized for utilizing fatty acids as fuel because that process is slower. You'd have to do more steady state activities at lower intensity to burn more fat than carbs.

Before you say 'ok let's work at lower intensity to burn fat', that is NOT what you need to do to lose fat. 

For fat loss you need to expend more energy than your body uses to maintain its current state. NOT expend a certain fuel like stored carbs or stored fats. 

Just remember the fat burning zone hysteria back in the late 90s or so. The whole 'stay in the fat burning zone' was busted years later.

Claim:

A keto diet is always healthy 

How I see it:

Any diet that restricts calories or a whole macronutrient group sets you up for nutritional deficiencies. A vegan diet does not automatically make it 'a healthy diet' if it's filled with highly processed pre made fake meat products and if you refuse to supplement with what the vegan diet is void of. A keto diet tends to be low in important minerals like magnesium and potassium. Why? Vegetables and whole grains like oats are abundant in these minerals. As much as you want bacon to be a health food.. it's not. 

A high intake of processed meats has been linked to increased risk of cancer. Emphasis on 'processed' meats here. Processed meats are bacon and sausage for instance.

If you grill your meats and let them burn you'll also increase your exposure to heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aminos. These have also been linked to increased risk of cancer. 

Claim: 

Vegetables are not for everyone

How I see it:

No diet is for everyone. Again, it comes down to your goal. People who say they don't digest vegetables or don't thrive on them are usually uneducated about the fact you need to get 'adapted' to vegetables just like you get 'keto adapted'. Vegetables consumed in their raw form can cause excess gas and stomach pain, but that is why I recommend COOKING them.

The anti veggie crowd loves to talk about the antinutrients in vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, but antinutrients are not demons, some of them have been linked to improved health. Phytates in Wheat bran for instance can reduce LDL ("Bad" cholesterol), slow digestion, prevent blood sugar spikes etc. Very few foods if any are 100% bad or 100% good. It's important to keep things in proper perspective.

Claim:

You can build muscle on a ketogenic diet

How I see it:

Sure you can. But is it the easiest way to do it? Most likely not. You 'can build' is not the same as 'you build optimally'.

It's hard enough to build lean muscle in the first place, why make it even harder?

Claim:

It's sustainable for life 

How I see it:

I remember when Fighterdiet was new and people laughed at me for attempting to be lean all year round for life. Now they don't anymore because I've proven it over the years my concept is legit and has many many success stories to show. I'm sure there are some people who want to and will do keto for life, but I have not seen anyone so far that HAS demonstrated a ten year + consistent keto diet who also looks like a greek god or goddess. And that’s the crux of the issue.  The ketogenic diet is for the most part a very difficult diet to adhere to.

Moral of this post?

The diet you LOVE and the diet that SUPPORTS your goals plus your health LONG TERM is the best diet for you.

Do not fall for the keto hysteria...And I'll continue enjoying my carbs and the occasional sugar rush on refeeds. THOSE are also something you need to say bye bye to if you want to be a true keto. The sudden spike in carbs would stop the production of ketones.


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