The ketogenic diet has received a lot of attention recently due to its ability to quickly lose body fat over a short amount of time. Often used by bodybuilders prior to competition, or those whose excess weight poses a risk to their health, the ketogenic diet requires dieters to adopt a strict low carbohydrate diet, and focus on healthy fat and protein instead.
While carbohydrates have long been vilified as one of the main incumbents to effective weight loss, our body still needs a measure of carbohydrates to function normally. If you're considering the ketogenic diet as a means to lose body fat, here is a comprehensive guide on the pros and cons to the ketogenic diet, so you can make a more informed choice.
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HOW DOES THE KETOGENIC DIET WORK?
The idea of the ketogenic diet is to get your body into a process called Ketosis where you stop burning carbohydrates as fuel and instead turn to burning fat stores which produces ketones. The first step to achieve this is to deny your body carbohydrates - as your blood sugar levels dip due to lower carbohydrate intake, your body switches its main energy source from glucose to fat stores for energy.
With the elimination of carbohydrates, you should consume more protein and healthy fats to supplement your natural physical functions. It is imperative that one should have a steady, thought out meal plan as eating like this is very tough, especially if you're eating out. There are various sources of proteins and healthy fats that will suit this diet, and whenever in a bind grab a convenient protein shake to tide you through.
As your fat stores are depleted, your body tends to shed more fat weight, allowing for the dieter to be leaner, and have more defined muscles due to a lower body fat percentage. Some people experience results in as short of a span as 10 days. How fast your body undergoes this newfound state of metabolism depends on how low your carbohydrate intake is.
HOW DO I PLAN MY KETOGENIC DIET?
To set the diet up, first you take your lean body weight and multiply it by one. This will be the total number of grams of protein you are required to eat per day. After you get this number, multiple it by 4 (how many calories are in one gram of protein) to get your total calories coming from protein.
Now the rest of your daily requirement will come from fat calories. You don't really need to calculate carbohydrate grams specifically because by default you will likely reach your 30-50 grams per day simply by including green vegetables and the incidental carbs that come from your fat and protein sources.
To figure out how many fat grams specifically you want, you would take the total number of calories it takes to maintain your body weight (normally around 14-16 calories per pound of body weight). Subtract your protein calories from that number and then divide by 9 (number of calories per gram of fat). This should give you how many total fat grams you need to eat per day.
Divide these numbers by however many meals you wish to eat per day to get the basic layout for your diet. Be sure to consume plenty of green leafy vegetables for antioxidant and vitamin protection and you are good to go.
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WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT IN A KETOGENIC DIET?
Healthy fats and proteins are the cornerstone to any ketogenic meal. Typically, your incidental carbohydrate intake should be less than 50g of net carbs a day. The lower your glucose levels, the more effective the results stand to be.
However, starving your body totally of carbohydrates, and when not done correctly, can result in the loss of muscle mass. Your diet should comprise around 70% fats, 5% carbohydrates and 25% protein based on your daily requirements.
Foods like simple carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, for example white pasta, should not be consumed.
WILL IT AFFECT YOUR GYM PERFORMANCE?
As a general rule, consume enough carbohydrates to perform your best at the gym. If you feel fatigue is affecting your abilities, try giving yourself a mid-week carbohydrate boost to rev yourself up again.
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As your body works towards ketosis and using fats for energy, your metabolism becomes far more efficient than when it uses glucose as the main source of energy. You also tend to succumb less to cravings, and the ketogenic diet does serve as a dietary suppressant. This all contributes to the body fat-shredding capabilities of the ketogenic diet.
Many nutritionists criticse the ketogenic diet for being too extreme, and how it falls under the realm of fast dieting. Side effects like fatigue, lightheadedness and irritability are those commonly encountered by those who do the ketogenic diet long term. Your body may go into starvation mode, causing you to lose lean muscle mass in the process.
If you would like to undergo the ketogenic diet, a way to avoid the serious repercussions would be to attempt ketogenic cycles. Throughout the week, stick to the low carb stretch for five days, and allow carbs back into your diet during the weekend. This also prevents your weight loss progress from plateauing.
Like any diet, if you are unsure, consult a nutritional expert and do adequate research. Every body is unique in its capabilities, and what works for others may not work for you.
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