Oh hi! I’m Ben Sit, a Sports Dietitian with a busy private practice in Toronto, Ontario working with athletes and anyone looking to live a healthier and active lifestyle. I’m also a nutrition contributor at Cronometer.com, answering and writing about nutrition and health related topics with a special focus on the Ketogenic Diet and this is my first post!
Let me start this post by saying this: Ok, I get it; You’re fed up and you want some permanent change and to hit your weight loss goals this year. You’re frantically scouring the internet for the best way to do this but there’s something different this year. There’s less noise and in your search, you’ve probably come across the Ketogenic diet. It caught your attention, you’ve read some posts and now you’re considering it, here’s what you need to know to get started in the best way possible.
The Ketogenic diet is a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and protein with a high fat intake (typically under 100g of carbohydrates/ day) to get the body to use fat as the primary fuel source. By converting fats in the liver, ketones can be used for energy instead of the body’s preferred fuel source, glucose (which comes from carbohydrates). Once the body has adapted to using Ketones as the primary fuel source then the state of Ketosis is achieved. This is a natural body process in response to periods of carbohydrate starvation. This is where the health benefits begin, with a small list of potential benefits below:
- Weight loss
- Blood Sugar control
- Mental focus and function
- Controlled appetite
- Consistent energy levels throughout the day
- Improved Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
- Increased Insulin Sensitivity
- Possibly reduced Acne
Now there are tons of articles highlighting the many proven and yet to be proven benefits of this diet which can make it very appealing. There are other posts that highlight the side effects but here are the three strategies I use to help my clients and athletes adapt this diet to prevent and minimize those pesky side effects.
Cutting out carbs sounds easy enough but there’s a lot more to consider. You’re not just cutting out carbs, you need to know which foods have carbs and where they’re hiding because at 100g of carbs per day you’ve got to make some tough decisions! I always advise people to start slowly cutting down, which also helps minimize and prevent those nasty side effects.
Start by cutting out carbohydrates at one meal per day and keep that going for two weeks. Two weeks over? That wasn’t so hard! Now take the most obvious carbohydrates (eg. breads, pastas, rice, quinoa, etc) in your diet and cut them down by half at the remaining meals and keep that going for two weeks. This is where things get harder because you’ll have to look for the hidden carbs in your diet like sugars in condiments, sauces and dressings, high starch vegetables and even in some vitamins that you may be taking! At this point it would be a good idea to use a tracking app like Cronometer or work with a Keto-experienced Dietitian to make sure you’re meeting your nutritional needs! Finally, remove the last remaining carbohydrate serving from your daily intake.
This slower approach won’t shock your body as much as a rapid elimination of carbohydrates and will help you avoid weight loss plateaus! It also helps with the next point…
We’re human and we make mistakes. We tend to accept that idea for every aspect of our lives except for eating and sometimes that unrealistic expectation is what makes our goals impossible to achieve. Plus, we forget that we can learn the most from our own mistakes, just as long as you’re willing to re-evaluate and learn! Embrace your mistakes and rethink the word ‘fail’ because to me and my clients: F.A.I.L. = First Attempt In Learning!
Most people are using Keto for weight loss and that’s more than ok! However, there are many pitfalls in weight loss goals; usually because there is no clearly defined goal or goal alternative! Instead of saying “I’m going to lose 50lbs from keto this year” why not try “I’m either going to lose 50lbs from Keto or drop 3 pant/ dress sizes this year”
Weight loss is extremely complicated and when we say weight loss, we’re really saying “fat loss” because we want to keep our muscles nice and strong. Muscles weigh much more than fat does, so you’re really looking to do is keep your muscles and burn that fat, which means that your goal weight might not match up to your goal size! But if you dropped 5 pant/ dress sizes without being hungry and still had 5lbs from your weight goal, would you really care?
So take it slow, be kind to yourself and have some goal flexibility. Keto can help you reach your goals and there are so many other exciting health benefits! Thanks for reading my very first post on the Ketogenic Diet. Please like, share and subscribe for my upcoming Keto post on the most effective workouts to burn fat and maintain muscle mass while on Keto. And don’t forget to sign up to cronometer.com/signup and get started on the Keto diet today!
Health and Happiness,