It is time to unveil the truth about the keto diet and its weight loss results.
In the ever-evolving world of health and weight loss, the keto diet has emerged as a prominent trend, capturing the attention of many eager to shed pounds and attain better well-being. However, amidst the hype, it's essential to pause and critically examine the research behind this popular dietary approach. The rush to achieve rapid weight loss often overshadows the need to ask crucial questions about the long-term impact on our bodies. The concern arises when individuals embark on a diet without understanding its potential consequences (like your hormones and future fertility). Unlike fleeting influencers, I am here not just to endorse a quick fix but to genuinely care about your health, both in the short and long term. In this post, I delve into the overlooked aspects of the keto diet, aiming to provide insights that can guide you back toward a path that prioritizes both your immediate goals and lasting well-being.
Understanding the Basics of How the Body Functions
To comprehend how our bodies operate, let's start with the fundamental processes. The key player is blood sugar, also known as blood glucose. This sugar is the preferred fuel for our bodies, particularly the brain, which burns through about a quarter pound of sugar daily. Unlike fat, sugar can easily access the brain.
The Consequences of Low Sugar (Glucose) & Low Carb Diet
When the body lacks sugar, it resorts to creating it from scratch, and this process comes at a cost. About half a pound of protein a day is sourced from muscle breakdown. Losing muscle is undesirable, considering its value in our bodies and its metabolism.
Debunking a Disproved Theory
The initial theory behind weight loss and the keto diet posited that increasing fat intake would reduce insulin secretion, subsequently decreasing fat storage. Consequently, consuming more fat was believed to result in less fat adhering to your body. The notion was that you would burn more and store less, creating the perfect combination for fat loss – or so the theory suggested.
However, research contradicts this notion:
Study 1: A comparison of high-carbohydrate and low-carb ketogenic diets with the same calorie intake showed that the high-carb diet was more effective for weight loss, as body fat loss slowed on the ketogenic diet (1).
Study 2: CrossFit trainees on a ketogenic diet experienced up to 8% muscle shrinkage (2).
Study 3: Another study confirmed muscle shrinkage among CrossFit trainees (3).
Study 4: Cutting 800 calories a day from carbohydrates led to 53 grams of daily fat loss while cutting the same amount of calories from fat resulted in 89 grams of daily fat loss. This indicates an 80% greater fat loss when you cut down on fat instead of carbs (4).
Study 5: On a low-carb diet, people store 300 more calories of fat daily, which is counterproductive for weight loss (5).
Why the Keto Diet Appears Successful
The misconception that the ketogenic diet works stems from observing weight loss on the bathroom scale. For instance, in this study, participants transitioned from losing less than a pound per week on their regular diet for two weeks to shedding 3.5 pounds within seven days after adopting the keto diet (1). Looks impressive, doesn't it?
However, the truth lies beneath the surface:
Participants seemed to lose more weight on the ketogenic diet, but this was primarily water weight, not fat (1).
Look at the graph here illustrating the actual fat loss on each diet, revealing that the low-fat diet outperforms the low-carb option (6). Additionally, notice that by day 6, the results consistently improve compared to the low-carb group.
Despite lower insulin levels, subjects on the keto diet retained more fat due to increased fat consumption.
Ketones, a byproduct of the keto diet, require kidney filtration, resulting in water loss and rapid weight reduction (7).
Low-carb diets deplete glycogen stores, leading the body to pull out even more water. This increased water loss has the potential to impact mineral levels in the body, which is crucial for maintaining energy levels and optimal hormone function.
Optimizing Weight Loss: Focus on Losing Fat, Not Water
To achieve effective weight loss, it's crucial to prioritize fat loss and muscle preservation or gain:
Carbohydrates bulk up muscles with glycogen, providing quick energy (8). Following a high-carbohydrate diet for three days, you could potentially gain around three pounds of muscle mass in your arms and legs.
A high-carbohydrate diet extracted 80% more fat from the body in six days compared to a low-carb diet (9).
Combining multiple studies reveals a daily body fat loss of 16 grams or more on low-fat diets, emphasizing the importance of fat loss over water loss (10).
A non-ketogenic diet resulted in an increase of about three pounds of muscle, whereas engaging in the same amount of weightlifting on the keto diet appeared to lead to muscle loss—an average decrease of about 3.5 ounces of muscle. Let that sink in: working out on a keto diet may contribute to muscle loss (11). 🤯
Why People Return to the Keto Diet
The initial allure of rapid weight loss often draws individuals back to the keto diet. This phenomenon, known as the false hope syndrome, is a psychological response to quick results akin to the allure of a drug (9). The diet industry benefits from repeat customers, capitalizing on the initial water loss associated with low-carb diets.
It's important to recognize that the negative effects of failed diets are not personal failures but rather a mismatch between the diet and individual body needs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle choices.
In the pursuit of health and weight loss, it's imperative to approach dietary trends with a discerning eye. The keto diet, while popular, demands careful consideration, as the allure of rapid weight loss often masks potential long-term consequences. Influencers may promote it as a quick solution, but the aftermath, including hormonal imbalances and the return of lost pounds, is a reality that often goes unaddressed. As someone genuinely invested in your health, I implore you to think beyond immediate results. This post serves as a beacon, offering insights to guide you back to a more informed and balanced approach to your well-being. Remember, the journey towards health is not just about losing weight swiftly but about making choices that support your long-term vitality and future fertility.
Key Considerations: Keep in mind that the keto diet should only be pursued under medical supervision for specific conditions like epilepsy. It was never intended as a fad or a universally healthy diet. Please consider consulting your nutritionist. health care professionals and doctors before starting any extreme diets.