Weight loss on the keto diet. Can a person experience weight loss on the keto diet? How great would it be if butter and bacon were considered “health foods”? What if we could trade our side salads for fried eggs, extra cheese, and guacamole? Well, actually, advocates of the ketogenic diet (keto for short) are arguing exactly that. Through the consumption of a lot of fat and close to zero carbohydrates, you too can enjoy enhanced health, a greater quality of life, increased athletic performance and brain function, and abs you can grate that cheese on. But is it too good to be true?

As we mentioned last week, swimsuit season is quickly approaching. We discussed the pros and cons of the ever-trending Whole30 Program with the hopes of helping you further decide if this is a good program for you. This week we want to do more of the same, but with another weight loss diet – the Keto Diet.

Although coined in the early 1920s, the Keto Diet has been making its way back into popular diet culture over the course of the last five years. Those looking to improve their physique, performance, and quality of life have all been rediscovering this old-school diet in the hopes the ketogenic diet will:

  1. Help me perform better
  2. Aid me in living longer
  3. Help me look great in a swimsuit

 History of Keto

 In 1921, an endocrinology researcher, Rollin Woodyatt noted the same chemical environment occurred in both a person who was fasting and also in a person with a diet very low in carbohydrates and very high in fat. In the same year, Dr. Russell Wilder, who was studying the positive effects of fasting, came across Woodyatt’s findings and wondered if a person could get the health benefits of fasting, without actually fasting…

Wilder and other doctors at the Mayo Clinic, experimented with this coined “ketogenic” diet in children with epilepsy. Not only did these kids seem to improve in health overall with this diet, but their thought processes and behavior seemed to benefit as well. These initial successful experiments caused wonder in the scientific community and before long several notable medical authorities were also finding the same successful results. By 1940, medical textbooks introduced the ketogenic diet as a treatment for childhood epilepsy.

Those Who Benefit

As time went on and disease and traumas advanced, we were presented with an entirely new population of people who may benefit from the ketogenic diet. This includes those with neurodegenerative disorders (like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s) and those with traumatic brain injuries (from events such as explosions and concussions).

Yet there was another group of people interested in the ketogenic diet during the 1980s and 1990s. Bodybuilders and physique athletes. They flocked to the diet, as they weren’t exactly concerned with their brain health or length of life. Rather they wanted to be shredded. The keto diet seemed to be the magic bullet way to have your cake and eat it too – all while still having abs.

The Keto Diet in a Nutshell

Protein lovers beware when on the ketogenic diet, your protein intake is going to drop dramatically. We’re talking down to roughly 10-20% of your total daily intake. The list of acceptable proteins includes meat, poultry, fish, other seafood, and eggs. Meaning no legumes or soy products for vegetarians and vegans. The creators suggest trying to stick with organic, pasture-raised and grass-fed meat when possible. The keto guide site, RuledMe reminds dieters that, “most meats don’t have added sugar in them, so they can be consumed in moderate quantity. Remember that too much protein on a ketogenic diet is not a good thing.” They also remind dieters to always consume protein as needed with fat when filling the remaining calories of their day.

And yes, calories are restricted on this diet based on your goals. Click here for a tracker buddy link to help you figure out how to meet goals of your own!

Low Carb

This diet is also extremely low in carbohydrates. According to the tool Precision Nutrition, “the ketogenic meal shoots for near-zero carbs. Most estimates suggest around 10-15 grams of carbs a day. To give you an idea of what this looks like, that’s about one fist-sized portion of cooked carrots or about 10-15 grapes. For the whole day.”

But the diet is high in fat – roughly 90% of your total energy intake actually. You’re allowed all kinds of fats in this diet. You can consume saturated fat in the forms of lard, tallow, fowl fat, clarified butter/ghee, butter, and coconut oil. It allows monounsaturated fats such as avocado, macadamia nuts, and olive oil. Keto also promotes polyunsaturated omega 3s, especially from wild-caught fatty fish and seafood.

The Pros

  • Reduction of Insulin Levels and Inflammation: Insulin is the key hormone that moves glucose from the bloodstream to our muscles and tissues. High levels of insulin can lead to insulin resistance. That, in turn, leads to type II diabetes. The research done on the keto diet is enough to prove that in a high number of cases, the ketogenic diet can reduce insulin levels and inflammation in the body
  • Potential Weight Loss: The keto diet essentially uses your body fat as an energy source. Meaning that at first, most will notice some weight loss. This is partially because of the increased satiety due to the increase in fat intake. It’s also because your insulin levels drop and turn your body into a “fat-burning machine”. Lastly, it can happen because many people are cutting out sugar and carb-heavy food. These foods often cause water retention, and once that water leaves the body, people feel and look thinner. So to answer our initial question, yes. Yes, you can experience weight loss on the keto diet. But is it the kind of weight we want to lose?
  • Increased Mental Focus: There are a number of people who flock to the ketogenic diet specifically for the increased mental performance. Ketones produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver are a great source of fuel for the brain. Ketones combined with a lower carb intake, which avoids blood sugar spikes, can result in improved focus and concentration.
  • Increased Energy: It’s a little ironic that even though the keto diet is a great detox from sugar, dieters often notice a spike in energy levels. Ketosis aims to give your body a better and more reliable energy source. This means you feel more energized, for longer, during the day. The diet also normalizes hunger, as followers feel fuller, longer, due to the high-fat percentages of their diet.

The Cons

  • It’s Hard to Follow: While extra bacon and cheese sound great, after a while even the most die-hard fat fan will get a little worn out from all the fat and meat. Every single meal has to contain 70-80% fat, 15-25% protein, and 5% carb. Basically, that means you have to meal prep every single meal for as long as you’re on the diet. Each meal needs to be balanced and calculated, so for most, this is the hardest part.
  • We Don’t Always Make the Right Choices: It’s not always easy to make the right food choices. Many people often end up eating fats that aren’t exactly healthy – aka highly saturated animal fats. It’s also difficult to make sure every sing animal product is organic and/or grass-fed. The options are pricier than your normal grocery selection, and not everyone can afford this lifestyle in the long term.
  • “No Grains” Isn’t Necessarily Good: Yes this diet is rich in heart-healthy fats. However, this diet is almost completely void of heart-healthy and gut-healthy fiber. The lack of fiber isn’t helped by the 5% daily allotment of carbs, which often is found in your nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.

Weight Loss on the Keto Diet, Is It Right for You?

 If you suffer from a specific health problem that research shows a ketogenic diet (or ketone supplement) may help with, please consult your doctor first. Be open-minded and discuss your research findings and thoughts with the medical professionals in your life. If you are taking medication, make sure nothing you do will interfere with their effect. But if you’re just an “average Joe/Jane” who just wants to be healthy and fit, keep reading and researching. Try it for a short period of time and see how you feel if you’re curious. I urge you to remember that you can be perfectly fit, lean, and healthy off of the keto diet. I also urge you to remember that a number of “personal stories” does not equate to “scientific data”, so as always, please just be careful and fully educate yourself on the dangers and side effects of the diet as well.

As we discussed last week, nutrition is critical to our overall health. What we ingest is directly correlated to how we feel and how we perform on an everyday basis. Nutrition is also linked to your chiropractic care sessions, as without proper nutrition, adjustments can only do so much. It is extremely important to pay attention to all aspects of your health. As this will ensure everything is working together to give you the best possible outcome. Proper nutrition is necessary as it encourages musculoskeletal health. This means your recovery time could be shorter and you’d feel the effects more intensely than that compared to a nutrient-lacking diet.

Let’s Work Together! 

There are pros and cons to every diet and lifestyle. There is a chance trying the ketogenic diet may benefit you greatly, but that’s not guaranteed. At Zock Family Chiropractic, we will always encourage our patients to eat a nutritionally dense diet. If the keto diet is too intense for you, perhaps try cycling a keto inspired meal plan throughout your week. To talk about this topic further, contact us today to schedule an introductory chiropractic session. We can discuss your wellness routine and nutritional needs as part of my initial chiropractic workup!


* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.