Is the keto diet more effective than others?
There is a belief that the ketogenic diet (a.k.a. the keto diet) is more effective for weight loss than other available diets. As a result, it has been gaining popularity over the years and gathering a growing number of followers. So let’s take a closer look at whether there is scientific evidence that the keto diet actually helps you get the desired results faster.
What is it all about?
A keto diet is a restrictive form of a low-carbohydrate diet, which involves limiting carbohydrates to 20-50 grams per day, depending on the phase of the diet. Such a significant carbohydrate cut is designed to put the body into a state of ketosis, or elevated ketone bodies in the blood. You can learn more basic information about the ketogenic diet in the article The ketogenic diet – what it is and what its principles are.
Why do we need ketosis?
Ketone bodies are an alternative source of energy to glucose and fatty acids. Their amount in the body increases during so-called starvation. It is also possible to observe higher levels of ketone bodies in the morning on an empty stomach, which naturally results from a short period of starvation associated with sleep. Ketogenesis, or the formation of ketone bodies, is a process that helps you survive longer than a few days without food.
Why is the keto diet effective for weight loss?
The conditions that a weight loss diet must meet
In order for any diet to be a weight-loss diet, it must meet two basic conditions – generate a caloric deficit and maintain it for the length of time necessary to achieve a certain weight. Thus, a ketogenic diet may or may not be a weight loss diet. It all depends on whether you include a caloric deficit in it.
Rapid weight loss
Burning body fat is a process that takes time. The case is different with glycogen stored in the muscles or liver. The ketogenic diet is associated with a radical reduction of carbohydrates in the diet. Since carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy, when the supply of carbohydrates is insufficient, the body begins to tap into its reserves, namely glycogen stored in the muscles or liver. Unlike reserves in the form of body fat, those derived from glycogen are depleted very quickly. What’s more, glycogen binds to water, so as we lose glycogen, we also get rid of the water associated with it. What number of kilograms are we talking about then? The glycogen content of the liver is about 100 g and it binds about 400 g of water. In contrast, the glycogen content in the muscles is about 12 g/1 kg of muscle mass and is bound by about 3-4 g of water. As a consequence of this process, at the beginning of weight loss we can lose even a few pounds in a few days. However, this is not fat tissue, but glycogen and water.
Such a situation will not occur with other diets, if they do not have reduced carbohydrate content.
Quick results on the keto diet motivate you to take action
Lost pounds at the beginning of the weight loss process, although not the body fat we really care about, psychologically can prove to be very motivating for action. Especially at the very beginning, when the almost immediate results make you believe that this is the right way and that this time you will succeed. That’s why it’s worth being aware of what this is due to, and that this process won’t continue at this pace for the entire time you’re on the diet.
Studies show that ketosis can cause reduced appetite. This effect may be due to a high intake of fat and protein, which also give a greater feeling of satiety. In addition, with such a reduced carbohydrate intake, blood sugar fluctuations are also reduced, which may also have the effect of reducing appetite. Further research is still needed to determine to what extent this effect occurs and whether it is sustained throughout the diet.
Is the keto diet more effective for weight loss than other diets?
When considering whether the keto diet is more effective for weight loss, we need to consider two issues – weight loss on a physiological level and real weight loss embedded in everyday life.
Physiologically, the answer lies in a study conducted in a metabolic chamber, to which 17 obese people were subjected. They were initially on a low-calorie diet, which was changed to a ketogenic diet after 4 weeks. The study showed a slight increase in energy expenditure at the beginning of the keto diet, but this disappeared. The final results showed a slowed decline in body fat with increased loss of lean body mass.
Another study is an open-label study that better reflects the reality of weight loss than the metabolic chamber study. This analysis showed that the ketogenic diet results in a weight loss of about 2 kg greater than the low-fat diet after one year of use.
Studies show no significant difference in weight loss effects compared to low-fat diets. In addition, there is still a lack of studies on the effects of long-term use of the ketogenic diet. So are 2 pounds less weight per year worth giving up pasta, fresh bread and many fruits and vegetables? Won’t long-term maintenance in a state of ketosis have repercussions a dozen years from now? These questions must already be answered by each individual. What is certain, however, is that it is best to follow a diet that serves our body and makes us happy. It is the diet that should be tailored to us and our needs, not the other way around. Only then will healthy eating, and as a result, the figure of our dreams, become a permanent part of life.
The keto diet – Fitatu® recipes
If you want to try the ketogenic diet, start this adventure together with Fitatu®. In the Fitatu® Premium version, you will find “Menu Selections”, and among them you will find “Keto” menus. By including them, you’ll get meal suggestions for each meal. They will be tailored to your daily calorie limit. What’s more, the recipes are not imposed from above – you can freely exchange them and choose what you feel like.
You can see sample recipes for keto dishes in 10 minutes from the Fitatu® app here: Keto diet – meals in 10 minutes.
Now you can upgrade to the premium version for as low as £19.18/year! For blog readers, we have a special code: KETO-7. Go to https://www.fitatu.com/app/order-and-payment and get a discount.
Remember, however, that before starting keto, you should consult your doctor or nutritionist. Significantly restricting carbohydrates and putting the body into ketosis, is not a good solution for everyone.
- Gibson AA, Seimon R V., Lee CMY, et al. Do ketogenic diets really suppress appetite? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2015;16(1):64-76. doi:10.1111/obr.12230
- Hall KD, Chen KY, Guo J, et al. Energy expenditure and body composition changes after an isocaloric ketogenic diet in overweight and obese men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016;104(2):324-333. doi:10.3945/AJCN.116.133561
- Ting R, Dugré N, Allan GM, Lindblad AJ. Ketogenic diet for weight loss. Can Fam Physician. 2018;64(12):906. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371871/.
- Hull M, Leaf A, Brown W, Sicart PA. Evidence Based Keto. Examine.com; 2019.
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