The keto diet was the most popular weight loss trend in 2018, and it shows no signs of slowing down this year. With more and more people struggling to lose weight with traditional approaches (i.e calorie restriction and low-fat eating), it’s no surprise so many are turning to new ways to shed pounds.
Keto definitely takes a unique approach to weight loss. Instead of asking dieters to restrict fat and count calories, keto helps people shed pounds by replacing carbs with fat and letting the body do the rest. Studies show it just may work better than traditional weight-loss diets , making keto one of the best diets for weight loss.
But why could keto be better than other weight loss approaches?
To find out, keep reading and you’ll learn what keto exactly is and how it works for weight loss.
The ketogenic (keto) diet is a low-carb, high-fat eating plan originally developed in the 1920s to help treat drug-resistant epilepsy in children . Keto forces the body to burn fat and make acidic molecules called ketones, which help to protect the brain against seizures. However, keto fell out of use for therapeutic purposes with the introduction of anticonvulsant medication in the 1930s. Several decades later, the diet went through a resurgence and even attracted mainstream attention as a weight-loss plan. Still, keto was and still is controversial.
Health authorities recommend carb-based diets that are also low in fat - not only for weight loss, but for overall health as well . While this advice is perfectly sound and doable, many people still struggle to lose weight and keep it off . This may be why so many are now turning to low-carb approaches such as keto as a beacon of hope.
While keto is obviously gaining traction in the wellness world, doctors and researchers are raising concerns about using keto for weight loss. That's because the diet is notoriously high in saturated fat, which is considered bad for your arteries. On the other hand, keto may help reduce high triglycerides, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and blood glucose levels while boosting HDL (“good”) cholesterol - all of which are beneficial to heart health . How Keto Works for Weight Loss
Weight gain can be affected by many factors, including your genes, eating habits, and activity levels. But in the end, weight gain simply comes down to eating more calories than your body is burning . Turns out, keto can address this exact issue, and here’s how :
Many new ketoers notice they’re less hungry on this diet. This is partially because you may end up eating more protein (which can help curb your appetite) and partially because you’re eating fewer carbs. Eating fewer carbs helps to reduce blood glucose levels, and this leads to changes in hunger hormone levels. Researchers believe that ketosis may also play a part in the hunger-curbing effects of this diet .
Ketosis, the primary goal of the ketogenic diet, is essentially fat-burning mode. When you reduce carb intake, the body is forced to look for other sources of fuel. In this case, it uses fat and oxidizes it into ketones. Ketones then take the place of glucose from carbs as a source of energy for the brain, heart, muscles, and other tissue.
On a keto diet, when your body isn't busy burning its own fat stores, it's burning the fat you're eating. We know this is true because researchers measured a reduction in resting respiratory quotient on a keto diet, which is a good indicator of how much fat burning is taking place . You’ll also burn more calories
Carbs are a low-cost fuel as far as your body is concerned. Proteins, on the other hand, require more energy to be digested, absorbed, and converted into energy. In other words, your body will spend more calories just trying to use protein for energy. Gluconeogenesis (a metabolic pathway that involves turning protein into glucose) is heavily utilized during ketosis, and it also burns calories.
But the effects of a ketogenic diet on health and weight loss go far beyond simply improving your metabolism.
In case you need more convincing to give keto a try, here are our top 5 reasons why we think keto is the best diet to lose weight.
A meta-analysis of randomized control trials concluded that people assigned to a very-low-carb diet lost more weight long-term than people assigned to a low-fat diet . But why exactly keto works is a tough question to answer.
A commonly cited reason is its effect on blood glucose and insulin. Carbohydrate intake causes blood sugar fluctuations that can lead to insulin spikes. The more refined a carb (white bread, table sugar), the greater these effects tend to be. Keto, being low in carbs, has the opposite effect.
Another reason keto works is that, as already mentioned, it helps your body to burn more fat. Normally, your body prefers storing fat and burning glucose for energy instead. Switching to fat-burning mode can be hard to achieve,but keto seems to make it easier.
What everyone dreads about dieting is the unrelenting hunger that tends to go with it. A diet that can help you burn fat while keeping you feeling full is a dream come true. The ketogenic diet has a strong appetite-suppressing effect from not only the increased ketones themselves, but also the higher intake of satiating nutrients and fewer hunger hormone fluctuations.
Additionally, calorie counting is much less important in keto than other weight loss diets because fat and protein tend to help you feel full and stay full, and consistent blood glucose levels don’t have you reaching for more food an hour or two later.
Standard weight-loss diets simply don't work for many people as made obvious by the still-growing obesity epidemic. That's why more and more people are trying unorthodox approaches to lose weight, and keto is just one of the bunch. But keto was revolutionary even before it began hitting the mainstream.
Wonder why else keto is so fringe?
Because it turns the food pyramid and everything you know about healthy eating upside down. It definitely isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s also notoriously difficult to stick with. Just think about relying on fat as your meal staple and completely eliminating bread, pasta, rice, sugar, and even fruit - if you enjoy those things, it might take some convincing!
Any diet that truly helps people lose weight should also be good for health. That's because carrying too much weight can increase your risk of developing dangerous diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer . However, keto can provide health benefits beyond weight loss. Some of these include:
With better health, you are also more likely to lose weight and keep it off. Obesity and overweight are conditions marked by higher levels of inflammation. They're also a result of a metabolism gone awry. Keto can address all of these issues to help you kill two birds with one stone.
Ok, maybe not in the beginning.
Many new keto followers complain that the diet is too complicated to stick to. They also experience side effects like “keto flu”. But once they’ve been on keto for a while, it becomes second nature. It takes time and practice to adjust to this new lifestyle, but after about two to three weeks on keto, you’ll become what is known as “keto-adapted”.
What’s that, you ask?
Keto-adapted means your body has adjusted to using ketones effectively for fuel. That happens only after you’ve been in ketosis for several weeks. Once you’ve become keto-adapted, you’ll know it. People often report feeling energized, their mood improving, and feeling better overall.
If you’re thinking that a diet devoid of carbs is anything but easy, think again!
Lots of satisfying and filling butter, cheese, bacon, and avocado shouldn’t be hard to resist. You'll also see that you don't have to eat all the time to keep your energy levels optimal. When you're in ketosis, your body is running on a much more efficient fuel than when you're burning carbs. No more blood sugar drops and mid-day slumps; with keto, your energy supply is almost endless.
From boosting fat burning and decreasing hunger to improving health and metabolic functioning, keto may just be the best diet for weight loss. This non-traditional approach to weight loss is worth a try to help you burn fat while keeping your energy levels high, your mind sharp, and your health in check.
In case you're worried about keto being unsafe, rest assured that this diet is safe for most people. After all, it's been around for a whole century and there’s plenty of ongoing research proving the diet has many potential benefits. If you’re still worried, it’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor about switching to this diet, especially if you have a health condition or take any medications.
To learn more about the ketogenic diet and ways to start, we suggest taking our Ketocademy course. It's a free learning course designed to give you the nitty-gritty of starting a ketogenic diet. Losing weight on a ketogenic diet is easy once you know all the facts and rules of low-carb eating.