Diet Analysis: Ketogenic Dieting

Diet Analysis: Ketogenic Dieting

Pros and Cons of Keto dieting.

Akash Vaghela Akash Vaghela · 18 Dec 2017

Nutrition Intermediate
5 Mins

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Ketogenic dieting has been around for over a decade but seems to fall in and out of fashion – and it is often done incorrectly.

In a medicinal setting, ketogenic diets have been widely accepted to have positive effects on reducing the frequency of seizures in those that suffer with epilepsy. There are also links to it being beneficial for those with diabetes, Alzheimer’s, ADHD and cancer, but evidence is not substantial at this stage.

The majority of ketogenic diets used in the studies supporting these medical benefits are diets that are typically ~70% dietary fat, with both carbohydrate and protein being low. This means that your body switches fuel sources from glucose to ketone bodies, and it’s these ketones that appear to be having the positive medical effects.

With ketogenic diets becoming increasingly popular to lose weight, we ask is it warranted?

In bodybuilding and fitness circles, what we see most of the time are just ‘low carb’ diets which are high in protein, moderate in fat and low in carbs.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, it’s not actually a true ketogenic diet because of the high amount of protein which converts into glucose via gluconeogenesis (generation of glucose from certain non-carbohydrate carbon substrates) - This means most people will rarely actually get into full ketosis (when the body doesn't have enough carbohydrates to burn for energy, it burns fat instead).

So when considering ketogenic dieting, the first thing to decide is whether you are doing it for health or purely body composition? If the latter, then a low carbohydrate will be more beneficial than a true ketogenic diet.

Drawbacks:

Arguably the biggest drawback of a ketogenic diet is that it’s not sustainable. While there are some that appear to thrive off low carb/ketogenic diets, many find it overly restrictive and end up bingeing when they decide to stop. This obviously then becomes counterproductive to fat loss.

Another issue with this type of dieting is people becoming reliant on hyper palatable fat sources, that being nut butters and red meat, to reach their fat targets.

While we are not suggesting these are ‘bad’ in any way, it would serve most people well to strive to get in a variety of fat sources so that they’re covering all bases in terms of saturated, poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fatty acids.

Below are a few examples for each of the types of fat that you could incorporate into your diet:
By varying your fat sources you’re more likely going to gain the full spectrum of benefits that fats can provide, such as: improved hair/nail quality, absorption fat soluble vitamins, positive effects on blood lipids, decreased inflammation, improved hormone production and thus libido and better mental wellbeing.

Training performance may also suffer for some. At RNT, this is a big no-go. We don’t just want our members getting ‘skinny’. Our goal for our members is for them to be and look strong, lean and healthy. For us to achieve that with our members, performance in the gym is a priority!

Benefits:

In terms of benefits, some find it extremely effective for suppressing hunger/cravings. As always, this is completely individual as some will find the opposite. This is why it’s worth trying various diet types until you find the ratios between macronutrients that suit you in terms of energy levels, digestion and appetite.

Low carb diets are also incredibly simple to follow for those that aren’t as educated in nutrition to be able to track proteins, carbs and fats accurately. Avoiding starchy carbs and eating sources of animal proteins and dietary fats doesn’t require too much thinking and recently has become very easy in terms of finding foods when out and about.

If you fall into the camp of finding this diet to be very simple to follow and satiating – then quite simply it’s working because it allows you to remain in a caloric deficit more easily.

You may read a lot of trainers saying that somebody is storing body fat because they’re insulin resistant, and by switching to a low carb/keto diet, they’re stopping insulin storing fat and so on. But this isn’t true.

The reason someone is storing body fat is because their energy balance is thrown off. They’re in a positive energy balance and thus an excess of energy (calories).

The bottom line is this:

Calories need to be set at a point that ensures that you’re in a deficit through the week. Anywhere between 10-12cal per lb of bodyweight should be about right.

Protein needs to be set at a point to maximise muscle protein synthesis as well as to aid in satiety. Typically somewhere between 0.8-1.2g per lb of bodyweight will work. Females on the lower end and well-trained males on the higher end.

From here, the following needs to be assessed:
  • Cravings
  • Energy
  • Digestion
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Adherence
It’s only through tweaking the ratios of carbs:fats that you’ll work out what is right for you. But, once you’ve done that, you’re on track for long term results!
Akash VaghelaAkash Vaghela

Akash Vaghela has spent 10+ years transforming bodies and lives around the world, and in May 2017, founded RNT Fitness to serve this purpose. His vision is to see a world transformed, where ambitious high performers experience the power of the physical as the vehicle to unlock their real potential. He’s the author of the Amazon best-selling book Transform Your Body Transform Your Life, which explains his unique and proven five-phase methodology, is host of the RNT Fitness Radio podcast, has been featured in the likes of Men’s Health and BBC, whilst regularly speaking across the world on all things transformation.

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