Nowadays, it is trendy to do keto for fat loss. All the magazines, fitness “gurus”, and celebrities are all about it so you may be wondering if you should give it a go. Let’s first discuss what keto is and how it works.
Keto is a very low carb, high fat diet with a majority of calories coming from fat. Usually less than 20 to 30g of carbs will be consumed daily in order to put you in ketosis. Ketosis means that your body will use its secondary fuel source, fat, for energy.
Oftentimes, you’ll hear people brag that because they’re doing keto, they are using fat for fuel and therefore have become a lean, mean, fat burning machine! What people fail to keep in mind is that on keto, you're consuming large amounts of fat so your body will be burning dietary fat- not necessarily body fat. In order to lose body fat, a calorie deficit is still required.
Does keto work for fat loss? Absolutely. Does keto work better for fat loss? Absolutely not. Can you gain weight on keto? For sure. All depends on your calorie intake.
So what do I think of keto? Personally, I am not a fan for several reasons.
1. Carbs are your body's preferred source of energy. Lack of carbs can cause many people to become fatigued and lethargic. Food is fuel. Eat to perform.
2. I enjoy eating carbs. If you can achieve your goals without being completely miserable, then why not? If you equate fat loss to needing to be miserable, you are doing it all wrong.
3. I believe having a balanced diet is the healthiest. By cutting out carbs, you're cutting out a large variety of foods including nutrient rich foods. Remember, fruits, veggies, and grains are all carbs.
Many people think of chocolate, cakes, cookies, etc when talking about carbs; what most fail to realize is those things are also half fats, not just carbs.
4. For me personally, keto (yes, I tried it in the past) is not satiating at all. Many carbs like rice, starchy veggies, or pasta keep me nice and full because they're pretty high volume and only 4 calories per gram. Fatty foods are 9 calories per gram and tend to be low volume. For example, 100g of dry rice is 365 calories and 100g of butter is 717 calories. Big difference.
You may be thinking, “well what if I have a medical condition?” Ketosis has been beneficial for some people with epilepsy. Other conditions such as PCOS, insulin resistance, hyperthyroid, etc. do not need to be accompanied by a keto diet to improve symptoms. Now, this is not to say that a diet lower in carbs is not more beneficial to these conditions, because it can be, but extremely low carb intake or keto is not at all necessary. The aforementioned conditions can be improved by caloric restriction and exercise. I have had many clients with hyperthyroid, PCOS, insulin resistance, or that were peri-menopausal. These clients all had weight loss success and improved health markers by increasing activity and lowering caloric consumption.
Keto is not going to create any faster fat loss than other diet. You might initially drop more water weight, but that'll soon even out. Time and time again, it's been proven that keto is neither superior for fat loss nor health. If you like it, do it! But if you have a hard time adhering to it, don't do it. Go with your preference.
Low Fat vs Low Carb for Fat Loss
Low Fat vs Low Carb comparison with matched protein https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15601961
Comparison of weight loss diets
Dangers of low carb
Keto has no metabolic advantage
Fat loss depends on energy deficit
Arielle is a certified fitness trainer, certified sports nutritionist, fitness enthusiast, and bikini competitor who has been involved in fitness since 2011. She also is studying for her Doctorate of Health Science in Nutrition and Exercise Science.