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Ketogenic Dieting: Frequently Asked Questions

Ketogenic dieting is more popular than ever these days, but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it’s more understood than ever. In fact, given the many different names, styles, and goals that get associated with the term, the confusion seems to be growing!

The Terms “Fat-Adapted,” “Keto-Adapted,” And “In Ketosis” All Get Mixed Up Online. Do They Mean The Same Thing, Or Are There Differences?

This is a great question. Ketosis is induced when carbohydrates in the diet are too low to provide the exclusive fuel source for the body, usually lower than 50 grams per day. When this occurs, you enter into a unique metabolic state in which the liver produces small organic molecules called ketone bodies at sufficient levels to allow your brain, organs, and muscles to function using them and fat as fuel. Someone consuming a “traditional Western diet” has a blood ketone level that’s typically around 0.1 to 0.2 mmols. However, when consuming a truly ketogenic diet—something like 75 percent fats, 20 percent protein, and 5 percent carbs—your blood ketones can raise to somewhere between 0.5-5.0 mmols, putting you in a state of “nutritional ketosis.” That’s a wide range, I know, and you’ll find ketogenic dieters at all points of it.Picture2

“Ketosis is induced when carbohydrates in the diet are too low to provide the exclusive fuel source for the body, usually lower than 50 grams per day.”

What Are The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Going Keto?

The most common mistakes I see are:

  • Mistaking low-carbohydrate diets for very low-ketogenic dieting
  • Consuming too much protein
  • Not allowing for a long enough adaptation period

Consuming too much protein might not sound like a bad thing, but it is important to understand that a ketogenic diet is very high fat (70-75 percent), very low carbohydrate (5 percent), and moderate in protein (20-25 percent). Some bodybuilders get up 40 percent of their diet from protein, 50 percent from fat, and 10 percent from carbohydrates. However, when protein is consumed above 1.5-1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, it actually increases the formation of glucose, which we have found in our lab makes it difficult to get individuals into ketosis. In fact, research has shown that this kind of diet can actually be detrimental to both muscle and strength.

It’s also crucial to allow a long enough adaptation period. Most people stop ketogenic dieting before they fully adapt. As I mentioned earlier, several studies show that during the first few days of ketogenic dieting, exercise performance drops. But once you adapt, you can gain as much lean mass and strength on a ketogenic diet as you can on a higher-carbohydrate diet. Some carb-happy lifters might scoff at that idea, but our lab recently teamed up with Dr. Mike Roberts at Auburn University and we saw it firsthand!

 Isn’t There Research Showing That High-Fat Diets Have Negative Health Effects? Is There Such A Thing As Too Much When You’re Keto? How Do We Find The Balance Between Fats And Protein?

You can find an endless number of studies concluding that “high-fat dieting” causes insulin resistance and obesity, increases bad cholesterol, and leads to cardiovascular disease. However, I have to emphasize that the studies showing problems with high-fat diets should actually be labeled as high-fat, high-carbohydrate diets.

This is known as the “typical western diet,” and has led to myriad health problems. However, Bob Wolfe’s lab found that when they infused fat by itself into the blood, it was simply used as fuel. But when these researchers infused fat along with carbohydrates, the fat was prevented from being used as fuel and insulin resistance began to occur.

Why does this happen? The primary reason is that fats require a particular enzyme, CPT1, to transport them into the mitochondria. High amounts of insulin inhibit this transporter and thus prevent fat oxidation. For this reason, during a ketogenic diet, the carbohydrates must be very low so that they don’t impede fat getting used as fuel. But under these conditions, research has shown that ketogenic dieting can have a number of health benefits, such as lowering blood triglycerides and cholesterol and improving insulin sensitivity.

As far as finding a balance between fats and proteins, the key is selecting cuts of meat and dairy that are not low-fat. That might be hard for some of you to accept at first!

Some great sources include:

  • 80/20 beef
  • Salmon
  • Whole eggs
  • Salami and pepperoni
  • Full-fat cheese
  • Sausages
  • Butter
  • Heavy cream
  • Fatty nuts like walnuts, cashews, and macadamia nuts

Is A Weekly Carb-Heavy Cheat Meal Or A Cheat Day Enough To Ruin Someone’s Ketogenic Master Plan?

Many people can’t see themselves doing a strict ketogenic diet for long periods of time. For this reason, several variants of the diet have become popular. Unfortunately, very few of these have been examined in a research setting. One method is known as “cyclic ketogenic dieting.” During this diet, individuals do a strict ketogenic diet for 5 days and then “carb up” for 1-2 days.

Is There A Better Way To Cycle Ketogenic Dieting?

Not everyone can manage strict keto year-round. I get it—and that’s fine! One alternative is using ketogenic dieting for short periods throughout the year, with a conservative bridge between extreme ketogenic dieting and normal-carbohydrate dieting.

It was found that subjects lost body fat during each ketogenic burst and maintained the loss during the subsequent maintenance Mediterranean-diet phase. Also amazing was that, of the 89 subjects who participated, only 8 dropped out in this study, which lasted over a year! Now that’s compliance.

So How Can I Put This All Together?

Ketogenic dieting can be extremely rewarding for both performance and physique-based goals. The existing research definitely suggests that you can lose a great deal of fat and spare muscle while using this strategy. However, you need to fully commit during those periods when you aim to go into ketosis. No cutting corners!

Finally, if you are wanting to transition out of a ketogenic diet, you should do so conservatively. One option is to start by introducing carbohydrates at 1 gram per kilogram of body weight per week until you are back to the normal range. Regardless, avoid rapid reversals to carbohydrate diets.

My final piece of advice is to give yourself time to adapt. You will need the full two weeks before you truly realize the benefits of being keto-adapted. Use them, and embrace this as the truly unique nutritional approach that it is!

The source: www.bodybuilding.com

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