We’re finally talking about the keto diet todayyy!
One of the most controversial diets out there right now for weight loss.
I sat down and went through the research to try and figure out the hype regarding this popular diet.
I want to start off by saying, I have never personally tried the keto diet.
But I honestly have been really curious about it.
Die-hard successful keto dieters swear by this method to lose weight.
Women who have struggled to lose weight all their life are finally losing weight and a lot of it AND promising it’s life-changing!
I wanted to figure out what the secret sauce is behind the keto diet and why people love it so much.
So let’s dive into it!
First things first.
Let’s define the keto diet.
Typically the keto diet is known to be a high-fat, low-carbohydrate, and moderate-protein diet.
Here are the general percent calorie breakdowns:
- 70-80% of calories coming from fat
- 5-10% of calories coming from carbohydrate
- 10-20% of calories coming from protein
So if someone’s calorie goal is 2,000 calories per day that means they are consuming about 165 grams of fat, 40 grams of carb, and 75 grams of protein.
The typical American on a 2,000 calorie diet consumes about 55-65 grams of fat daily!
So imagine, that’s a lot of fat in the diet!
The point of a keto diet is to be in ketosis.
Being in ketosis will shift your energy metabolism to use fat for fueling purposes vs using glucose/carbohydrate for fueling purposes.
You can’t take a day off from the keto diet and have a cheeseburger and french fries.
If you consume carbs you will no longer be in ketosis, meaning you’ll have to spend 3-6 days (depending on the person) to put your body back into ketosis if you come off of it.
For clarity purposes, I bolded the big keto questions I will be answering throughout this post and highlighted the answers in purple. 🙂
Alright, the most important question that I wanted an answer to… can you lose MORE weight on the keto diet?
Yes, but not long-term.
Remember in last week’s email we talked all about low-carb diets?
The reason why people swear they lose so much weight on low-carb diets isn’t all because of fat loss.
It’s because they lose their glycogen store- the storage form of carbohydrate.
Remember glycogen is surrounded by a lot of water so when you first start a low-carb diet, you lose a lot of water weight.
This usually slows down after the first 2-3 weeks on a low-carb diet (sometimes sooner or later depending on the person).
The same goes for the keto diet.
It’s a VERY low-carb diet, less than 50 grams/day!
A low-carb diet is generally defined as consuming < 130 grams of carbohydrates/day.
So the keto diet has even fewer carbs = more glycogen depletion = more loss of water weight!
This additional loss of water weight is not fat pounds, which is what we want!
So as one starts the keto diet, rapid weight loss can occur on average for 3-4 weeks.
This is just temporary.
As glycogen is depleted, then the focus shifts only to fat loss.
And you don’t lose more fat on the keto diet, it’s the same as any other diet.
To lose fat, you need to create a calorie deficit, not specifically go on keto.
Here’s another interesting thing about losing a lot of water weight on the keto diet.
I’m part of a weight loss support group and a lot of ladies who tried the keto diet to lose weight and then returned to their normal way of eating, which included eating carbs, not excessive carbs but a normal amount, ended up gaining a lot of the lost weight back on.
This was due to eating carbs = repleting glycogen stores = increases in water weight.
There was one lady in particular, I’ll call her Sarah, who tried the keto diet for one month to fit into her wedding dress.
She ended up losing 15 lbs in that one month on keto.
When she returned to her normal way of eating, not bingeing, just eating normally… she gained 4 lbs in one weekend alone.
You may be thinking well, a net weight loss of 11 lbs in one month is still pretty dang good but we’re going to talk about the rate of healthy weight loss in next week’s email weight loss newsletter.
I didn’t get to follow up with Sarah on how she did during the weeks after her one-month keto diet experimentation.
But I can bet that she likely ended up gaining more weight during the following weeks after she completed the keto diet.
I did follow-up with another lady, let’s call her Tani.
She was on the keto diet for a LONG time, about 2 years, and lost over 100 lbs!
But when she went back to her normal way of eating, she ended up gaining 24 lbs because she couldn’t stop binge eating.
If she’s gaining this much weight, she’s gaining back fat pounds she lost in addition to water weight.
So you can temporarily lose more weight on the keto diet in the form of water weight but gain back more weight in the form of water and fat once you go back to eating normally or because of binge eating cycles.
The second important question regarding keto, is this diet sustainable?
Back to Tani’s story.
Tani lost a lot of weight on keto but gained some back.
Here were her thoughts regarding the diet: “I was miserable on the keto diet. Even when I ate fruits & vegetables, I was scared of the carbs. I swallowed my first carb last year and it was really hard for me.”
This literally gave me chills and made me feel so bad for Tani.
Tani also mentioned that she couldn’t help but constantly stare at people eating carbs thinking how the hell do these SOB’s enjoy pasta and look so skinny? (lol)
She started feeling obsessed and consumed in this diet.
It wasn’t a sustainable lifestyle change for her.
It took her over a year to get her metabolism on track and develop a healthy relationship with food again.
Back to Sarah’s story who experimented with keto for a month and lost 15 lbs.
She was honest enough to say it’s really hard to consume only 50 grams of carbohydrates daily.
Carb rich foods are the foods we mainly eat in our diet: pasta, bread, cereals, rice, oatmeal, lentils, beans, candy, ice cream, etc.
She said because this huge food group was removed, it was really hard to meet her daily 1,800 calorie goal because there just wasn’t much else to eat, there was such a lack of variety in her diet.
How much protein, fat, and veggies can one person take?
She often had a hard time meeting her calorie goal for weight loss which means her calorie deficit was greater and she likely lost more weight because of not meeting her daily calorie goal vs because of following the keto diet alone.
Why do so many women subject themselves to torture and restriction when it comes to weight loss?!
Ugh, it infuriates me!
But it’s not our fault.
It’s because we haven’t been taught any better.
I was lucky enough to get my master’s in nutritional biology and study to become a Registered Dietitian but before school, I was just as confused as anyone else.
I didn’t have the proper resources or support to tackle my weight loss goal.
The reason why women select torture and restriction as a means of losing weight is because they truly don’t understand a healthy way of losing weight to prevent these unhealthy relationships with food!
It hasn’t been taught anywhere and there’s so much confusing info on the internet with this person’s opinion and that person’s perspective, it makes it really hard to figure out how to lose weight in the healthiest way possible.
So no, the keto diet is not sustainable for the majority of women!
The third question regarding the keto diet, can you lose more fat mass/get lean with the keto diet?
Losing fat all comes down to one thing-> creating a calorie deficit.
You need to eat less than what you expend AND eat enough protein to preserve your lean body muscle mass to lose fat mass.
You can’t target fat loss on a specific part of the body.
So if you think the keto diet is going to magically bring out your abs, it won’t.
The keto diet creates a calorie deficit to lose weight but so do all the other diets in this world.
The only difference is that because the keto diet is low-carb you lose a lot of water weight.
This may reduce puffiness and bloating which makes you feel and look lean.
But all this goes out the window when you decide to have a few slices of pizza, so it’s short-lived.
The ladies in my flexible eating program don’t eat a high-carb diet (per American standards) and definitely not a low-carb diet.
We find a balance that is sustainable and allows them to drop some water weight in addition to fat mass so they feel tight and not bloated.
So no, you can’t lose more fat mass on the keto diet.
The fourth question and another important one- is eating a high-fat diet such as a diet full of saturated fat found in bacon, lard, heavy cream, cheese, red meat, etc. good for us?
The research tells us we don’t know yet.
We need more long-term keto diet studies.
But the concern is rising among healthcare professionals regarding long-term health concerns with the increase in saturated fat intake.
Saturated fat has been known to increase the bad cholesterol in our body which can increase the risk of heart disease.
So we aren’t yet sure about the long-term health risks involving a diet high in saturated fat but if we know saturated fat may not be the best for us, the odds are it may not be the best.
The fifth and last important thought is why then do people swear this diet is so great and amazing and the answer to all their weight loss problems?!
This was really important for me to understand.
How the heck can a diet be so restrictive and people still swear by it?!
Here’s the honest truth based on my discussions with women who experimented with the keto diet.
You can lose weight on the keto diet and be quite successful.
But it all goes back to needing rules to lose weight.
About 6 months ago, I asked 104 women why they felt like they were unsuccessful in losing weight and 61% of them answered because of food.. they love carbs, sugar, chips, french fries, etc.
This tells me people are not confident with portion sizes.
They aren’t confident having cookies in the house because they think they can’t just have one cookie, they’ll need five.
For many, weight loss has to be all or nothing.
They have to take out all the foods they love in order to lose weight because they have no idea how to eat some of their favorite foods + healthy foods AND still be able to lose weight at the same time (cue innn flexible eatinggg!).
Women think they NEED rules and something strict to follow to be successful.
It sounds a lot more simple to them.
Cut out all carbs and you’ll lose weight.
Bam. A one-liner to get results.
We are driven by one-liners because it sounds quick & easy and because what we know about weight loss from the internet is confusing & messy.
If 61% of women are having trouble losing weight because of food/carbs/sugar and we put them on the keto diet which removes these foods that prevent them from losing weight.. they’re going to lose weight.
But the problem is this is often short-lived.
It’s not sustainable.
There’s a strong likelihood they will develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
They’ll likely gain some of the weight back on when they feel the need to binge.
And most importantly, they aren’t learning how to eat in the real world.
A world full of cake at birthday parties, pizza at work meetings, or chips & guac + margaritas at girl night.
So the ladies who are swearing the keto diet is amazing is likely because they are getting results by following something so strict.
But we don’t know if these same ladies are able to keep the weight off long-term or are battling with food issues but keeping quiet because they’re convincing themselves they are okay since all that matters is the weight loss and achieving results.
I truly wonder how happy successful keto diets are… or are they just saying so because of the keto diet hype?
Regardless of what diet you follow to lose weight, you NEED to be happy on it ALWAYS.
You shouldn’t feel worried, stressed, or feel like you’re missing out on life.
You can achieve results on ANY diet.. but you can’t be happy on every diet!
And it’s okay if you were one of those people who decided to be a die-hard keto dieter but now feel like you changed your mind.
You aren’t weak because you quit the keto diet, you’re strong because you made a decision and decided it wasn’t right for you.
Now, I won’t get into it here because I’m well aware this post is getting quite long but I can see the keto diet being an advantage for specific populations such as endurance athletes or as a treatment to decrease seizures in children with epilepsy.
The research is strong for these populations.
But not for weight loss.
There’s no need for an all or nothing approach when losing weight.
If you struggle with carbs and sweets, you NEED to learn how to eat them in the right portion sizes, not completely ban them from your life.
This comes down to understanding nutrition for your body.
All my best,
P.S. If you enjoy these weight loss newsletters, I email them to my amazing community of busy ladies every Tuesday morning! If you want to be on my email list, you can join by adding your information below. 🙂