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Keto Land Part 2: What is a ketogenic diet?


I'm so glad you asked. Before we start, I encourage you to read part 1 before diving into part 2, just to give you some context and background. It'll be worth it. There's a shrek GIF in part 1.

Alrighty. What is a ketogenic diet? A ketogenic diet is a diet in which carbohydrates are lowered to roughly 5-10% of total daily calorie intake. 10% (so going with the higher end) of a 1500 calorie diet comes to about 38g carbohydrates per 24 hours. Just to give some perspective, a whole banana has about 30 carbs. So...I guess you picked today for your banana.

As you can imagine, getting your body into a ketogenic state requires some pretty significant dietary changes. If you love meat and fat and both together, congrats, you just hit the jackpot because that's pretty much all you'll be eating. Well that and a ton of non-starchy veggies. Here's a list of other veggies you'll be getting a little bit of. I encourage you to look at this list and check out carbs PER SERVING SIZE, keeping in mind that they add up fast. This is why going keto requires lots of planning and vigilance.

This list includes tons of wonderful options for you, in addition to the healthy fats and proteins you get to have as well! Just like any other diet which requires you to essentially remove all of a particular group of foods from your life, a ketogenic diet can be hard to sustain. Entering ketosis takes a lot of planning beforehand, and it also takes diligence to stay there as the process is completely reversible. Consuming carbohydrates again after being in a ketogenic state will take you out of ketosis.

Now, let's talk about what the ketogenic diet is NOT.

A ketogenic diet is NOT a more magical way to lose weight than any other diet. ALL traditional DIETS, and I mean ALL, are effective because they have you cut calories. That's it. The reason you lose weight on a ketogenic diet is because you are ultimately cutting calories by completely removing a lot of foods that you were likely snacking on before hand (foods that have carbs). You WILL NOT LOSE FAT on a ketogenic diet simply by cutting carbs. You have to cut carbs to get into ketosis (burn fat as a primary fuel source), but you ultimately need to cut calories (from carbs, proteins, fats, or alcohol, which is the fourth macronutrient...seriously) to lose fat. If you cut calories by cutting carbs but replace those calories with fat calories on the keto diet, your net calorie intake is still the same as it was before going keto. Say whu?

Think of it this way. Let's say that for you to maintain your weight (no loss, no gain) you eat 2000 calories a day. If you want to lose weight, you need to eat less than that. If you eat 2000 calories a day on a ketogenic diet, you won't lose a pound of fat, even though technically you are burning fat since you aren't eating any carbs (you're eating fat and burning fat simultaneously, net is still zero weight loss). So, there is nothing inherently magical about being in ketosis that leads to fat loss, it's the fact that you are cutting calories on the ketogenic diet that causes you to lose fat. Take home message is that cutting calories, no matter how you chose to do it (paleo, atkins, keto, soup diet, whole 30, whatever) is what leads to fat loss.

So, if you actually really like carbs, please know that you can still have carbs and lose weight. You just need to lower your overall caloric intake. That's it. Still wanna go KETO? Cool! To end our series, I'll be posting the finale tomorrow, which contains a list of the pros/cons of choosing a ketogenic diet for fat loss.

Over and out, fellow nerds.

-Lee Ann

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