Should You Do The Keto Diet?

“Should I do the Ketogenic Diet?”

That is probably the TOP question I receive these days about nutrition.

There’s no doubt that the keto diet has become extremely popular in the media in recent years due to it’s perceived ability to drop pounds fast while enjoying delicious and tasty fatty foods.

Is the keto diet the real deal? Or is it too good to be true?

First off, what exactly is the keto diet?

Ketosis is the process where your body produces excess ketones for energy in the absences of glucose from carbohydrates. This is a natural process designed to be a back up energy source when carbs (the body’s preferred energy source) are not readily available for your brain.

The Ketogenic diet is described as a high fat, adequate protein, and very low carbohydrate (usually between 10-50 total grams of carbs per day) diet used in the health and fitness realm as a way to lose body fat. This article will not address the uses or effectiveness of the keto diet in medical nutrition therapy.

Now that we have that defined, let’s investigate the keto diet on three different levels: Long term sustainability, effectiveness for fat loss (not medical treatment), and enjoyability shall we?

Is the Keto Diet Sustainable?

If you have followed any of my content for a period of time you know my motto is your nutrition program shouldn’t be focused on producing the fastest results, instead it should be centered around producing lasting results.

Before beginning any nutrition protocol you should always ask yourself the million dollar question: Can I do this for the rest of my life?

If you even hesitate to say yes, that dietary protocol may not be for you.

The problem with the keto diet is for most people it’s just not long term sustainable.

People are lured into attempting this diet due to the claims of rapid fat loss, delicious fatty foods, and amazing results the media (and keto business enthusiast) throw at us.

What most people fail to realize is while the keto diet definitely will produce quick results, if these results are not sustainable, what’s the point?

Would you be excited if you lost 30 lbs in three months just to gain it all back (and potentially more) three months after that?

Probably not.

In the US, we don’t have a weight loss problem, we have a weight regain problem. Statistics show that the average American is attempting weight loss four times per year. That’s once every quarter. Obviously we can lose weight, but keeping it off for good seems to be the challenge.

I did a great School of Success Podcast chat with fellow Registered Dietitian and keno-diet expert Andres Ayesta where he told me his screening of applicants for the keto diet includes a minimum commitment of one year on the diet.

I love that approach. A minimum one year commitment will allow for sustainable results and then a transition out of keto into a normal carbohydrate intake.

Let’s face it, in todays world, living carb free isn’t sustainable, realistic, or even necessary.

Birthday cake, pizza, beer, wine, pretzels, flavored yogurts, fruit, Starbucks Pumpkin Spice lattes all have carbs my friend.

Can you see yourself NEVER having any of these foods again? If not, keto might not be the most sustainable approach for you.

Does The Keto Diet Help You Burn Fat?

Simply put, yes.

But, any calorie deficit (regardless if it comes from low carb, low fat, low protein, etc) will help your body burn fat.

There is nothing magical about the keto diet.

Please read that again.

And again.

Magical fat burning unicorns do not sprout out of your body making the keto diet some esoteric diet for rapid fat loss.

It’s true the keto diet DOES increase fat oxidation due to the body adapting to the higher dietary fat intake. However, fat oxidation (removing fat at cellular level) and losing body fat (stored adipose tissue), are two different processes. Just because fat oxidation is higher does not necessarily indicate body fat reduction will be accelerated.

You can be oxidizing more fat as energy, but if you still consume too many overall calories, you will not lose body fat. #science

Some keto supporters claim that the drop in the hormone insulin (from reduced carbohydrates) and an increase in ketones makes this diet superior to a balanced calorie deficit, however the research does not support such claims.

The truth remains that when calories are controlled, it does NOT matter where the deficit comes from (carbs, fats, protein.)

Total daily calorie consumption still reigns supreme over trying to manipulate individual macronutrients.

Most the clients I have worked with for the past decade prefer to lose fat by consuming carbohydrates as well as dietary fats.

If there isn’t a clear and empirical advantage to higher fat diets for fat loss, why not have your cake (literally) and eat it too?

Can You Enjoy The Keto Diet?

We’ve been talking about all the science-y mumbo jumbo and have yet to discuss the most important component of a nutrition program…

Will you even enjoy being on the damn thing?

The answer to this question will be completely dependent on the individual. Again, my experience with hundreds of people in the last ten years tells me most people would struggle to really enjoy the keto diet.

Truth is, we are attracted to whatever retreats from us. Especially food.

So, if I were to tell you that you could not have the following foods for the next twelve months:

Pizza

Bread

Ice cream

Oatmeal

Pasta

Corn

Fruit smoothies

Is that something you would be really excited about?

The key to success with a nutrition program is combining all of these qualities together in perfect synergy. Sustainability, effectiveness, and enjoyment. If one or more of these variables are lacking, it’s hard for me to call it a successful approach.

Listen, the best nutrition program is the one you can stick to and that you enjoy.

If that’s keto, great!

If not, that’s ok too.

I’ve helped hundreds of people lose fat, feel phenomenal, and achieve their aesthetic and performance goals by incorporating carbohydrates and moderate calorie restrictions. I’ve found this balance to work best not only for producing results, but making them sustainable.

In summation, should you do the keto diet?

That’s up to you my friend! I can’t answer that for you.

However, this article has given you an outline of questions to ask and assess before beginning any dietary protocol to see if it will be best for you.