If you are looking to burn body fat or build muscle, you may be taking a closer look at the various different diets you can use out there. One such diet you may come across is the Ketogenic diet plan.
This diet plan has a number of followers and many may firmly state that this is the plan to use if you are hoping to see success.
But you need to stop and really consider this approach. Does it make sense?
Let me share with a few things that you should be taking into account.
First, you need to consider the fact that chances are, you will be performing intense exercise during your program. Weight lifting is an integral part of the fat loss process as it helps you maintain your lean muscle mass (which keeps your metabolic rate higher) and helps to also ensure that you are maintaining your functional strength.
Those who just diet and don’t perform any resistance work at all often lose a much higher total amount of muscle tissue as a percentage of their total body fat loss.
Long-story short, you need to weight train.
But yet, the only type of fuel that the body can utilize during an intense weight lifting session is carbohydrates. So if you are cutting all carbohydrates out of the diet, as you are when using the ketogenic diet plan, you are making it hard to get those weight lifting sessions in.
Sure, you may be using a carb up on the weekends if using the cyclic ketogenic diet, but this is rarely going to sustain you for workouts done throughout the week.
Most people simply need some carbohydrates in the hours prior to stepping into the weight room to have any sort of intensity with their training.
Additionally, it’s important that you do take the time to recognize the role that insulin is going to play in your training. Since high levels of insulin on a day to day basis isn’t something that you desire as it can lead to fat gain, this is why many people think the ketogenic diet earns top marks as far as fat loss goes. With this diet plan, since carbs are so low, you control your insulin exceptionally well.
However, after exercise, insulin is actually your best friend. If you are able to spike insulin with the carbohydrates you consume post-workout, it’s this insulin and those carbohydrates that will help replenish muscle glycogen levels, preparing you for your next workout ahead.
If you are not consuming any carbohydrates after exercise, you won’t get this insulin spike and you won’t get the muscle glycogen resynthesis. This means you take much longer to recover and may virtually stay in a broken down state.
Poor recovery between workout sessions leads to less frequent training and this also plays a role in the fat loss process. If you are hardly hitting the gym anymore because you aren’t recovering, how do you think that will influence your results?
And, if your goal happens to be to build muscle mass, the ketogenic diet really doesn’t make sense as insulin is, apart from testosterone, the most anabolic hormone in the body. Insulin helps your body build new tissue – be it fat or muscle (depending on the situation), so without it, muscle gains will be slim to none.
Finally, the last thing that you need to take into account as you look at the big picture concerning fat loss and ketogenic diets is the fact that carbohydrates have a very strong role in maintaining leptin levels.
Those who use low carbohydrate diets (not even a full-blown ketogenic diet) show a much sharper decline in the hormone leptin than those who don’t.
And, this hormone – leptin, is the hormone that is responsible for managing your metabolic rate, influencing your hunger, impacting your energy level, and essentially, controlling the speed in which you burn up body fat.
When leptin levels decline, you’ll be hungry, miserable, and your metabolic rate will slow down a crawl. This all makes it very challenging to see the weight loss results you desire.
Diets that are higher in carbohydrates can help prevent this, which is all the more reason to be considering them instead.
So as you can see, when you really consider all factors involved, it really doesn’t make all that much sense to utilize a ketogenic diet. Instead, you should take principles of the ketogenic diet such as focusing on meals that are rich in protein, healthy fats, and vegetables and eating those for most of the day, while then also adding in carbohydrates before and after the workout periods.
This way, you’ll get the best of both worlds and be priming yourself for superior fat loss results. Carbs are not evil – in fact, they should be considered a necessity. It all boils down to the type of carbohydrate you are eating, how much you are eating, and when you are consuming them. Perfect those factors and you’ll be on the road to optimal success.
Cardillo, S., P. Seshadri, and N. Iqbal. "The effects of a low-carbohydrate versus low-fat diet on adipocytokines in severely obese adults: three-year follow-up of a randomized trial." European review for medical and pharmacological sciences 10.3 (2006): 99.