The Ketogenic Diet: What Is It and Is It Right for You?
Over the last two decades, the information circulating the nutrition industry has evolved so fast, many of us can’t keep up. From the health of coconut oil to the foods linked to cancer, it seems the “facts” change daily. But one thing that hasn’t changed? Fad diets. Regardless of the latest study results, there’s always a new diet to follow. Think Whole30, Paleo, and Volumetrics, to name a few. Perhaps you’ve heard about the Ketogenic Diet. It’s popular in the CrossFit community, and it’s quickly becoming the diet of the moment. But does it really work? What is the Ketogenic Diet? The Ketogenic Diet is a high-fat diet that still provides adequate protein and very few carbs. A typical macronutrient split might look like 75% fat, 20% protein, and only 5% carbs (the equivalent of one piece of fruit). Some people compare it to the once-popular Atkins Diet, but this approach has a twist. With the food scale balanced so heavily toward fat, the body enters a state known as ketosis. Instead of powering off your glucose levels, your body starts burning fat for fuel. And the ketones that are released in your body keep your insulin levels down. In other words, it’s a surefire way to get ripped, and it gives you an opportunity to ditch those pesky carbs. Why Is It Popular? Unlike many fad diets, this one works. Fans of the Ketogenic Diet, affectionately known as Keto by loyal followers, tout their success in getting lean. And for many, they’ve seen glucose-related illnesses disappear. Some studies have shown that Keto lowers triglyceride counts, helps suppress the appetite, and leads to sustainable weight loss. There are even some studies investigating if Keto is a great way to stave off cancer. But What About Fat? Embracing Keto means going against everything we’ve learned about nutrition for the last 3 decades. Since the 80s, we’ve been warned that too much fat is a bad thing. So, how are people loading up on fats without suffering high blood pressure or heart attacks? Well, for starters, they’re eating healthy fats. Ditch the cheeseburgers and Twinkies and think avocados, salmon, and almonds. Are There Any Side Effects? Keto newbies often complain of a sickness nicknamed “Keto Flu”. As your body adjusts to the new lifestyle, it starts to exhibit flu-like symptoms. Body aches, possible fever, fatigue—all the normal stuff that happens with the regular flu. But “Keto Flu” typically goes away in less than a week. Aside from that, you might notice some bad breath, thanks to the ketones, headaches, and a bit of insomnia. Like any major dietary change, your system needs time to adjust. Once it does, you’ll appreciate the results. Is It Right for You? This depends on what your goals are. If you’re looking to lose weight effectively and quickly, Keto is the right choice. However, things get tricky if you’re hoping to pack on muscle. Carbs are almost always part of the muscle-building equation, and without them, you need to have a perfectly calibrated diet to succeed. If you’re open to being a guinea pig, it’s worth a shot. The bottom line? Keto is a diet that works and delivers results, but be prepared for the initial side effects and consider how it’ll affect your fitness goals before you start.