The Ketogenic Diet Versus Low Fat Diet Plans
Much has been said over the years about the ketogenic diet and with celebrities like Megan Fox, Mick Jagger, and Adriana Lima being fond proponents of the diet, it remains very popular. What is the real difference between a ketogenic diet and a low fat diet plan? While many may swear about reducing fat intake, studies show low carb plans are actually more effective for both weight loss and reducing high cholesterol.
Ketogenic Low Carb Diet
There are several low carbohydrate diets, but the ketogenic diet generally limits your carb intake to 20 to 50 grams a day. The ketogenic diet requires you to enter the stage of ketosis, and that generally does not occur unless you are consuming about 20 grams of carbohydrates per day.
A sample menu plan when you’re on a ketogenic diet looks like this:
Breakfast: bacon or sausage, eggs, and coffee with cream and stevia
Snack: 1 ounce of cheese with cucumbers or celery
Lunch: Tuna salad or egg salad wrapped in lettuce or lettuce wrapped burger
Snack: ½ avocado or 10 olives or flaxseed crackers with salsa
Dinner: Cajun chicken with a side of vegetables cooked in butter or steak with vegetables in butter or salad with olive oil and vinegar or grilled salmon with a side of spiral cut zucchini pasta with sauce
Snacks between meals can also include string cheese, a cup of chicken broth, 6 almonds or peanuts, turkey lettuce wraps, hard-boiled eggs, smaller portions of leftover meals, 1 tablespoon of cream and much more.
Low Fat Versus Low Carb
Feeling Satisfied and Avoiding Hunger
The ketogenic diet typically is much more about choices instead of depravation because you are able to eat a wide variety of real, whole, and delicious food with lots of satisfying meats, chicken, seafood, cheese, non-starchy vegetables, and healthy fats.
It is easier to follow than a low fat diet because low carb eating regulates the appetite, and naturally satisfies you so you eat less, without suffering and starvation. This is because eliminating carbs also eliminates erratic blood sugar spikes that cause out of control cravings and hunger.
Long Term Sustainability
One of the most important considerations in the actual success that any diet plan has or will have is its sustainability over the long term, and the overall success measure of any weight loss plan is the individual’s ability to keep the weight off for the long term.
In regards to the above, low carb wins over low fat because when individuals are satisfied and not white knuckling their way through the day, the probability of long-term success increases exponentially, this is one of the reasons that low carb is a lifestyle and not just a temporary diet.
What The Studies Show
A study by the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina set out to compare the effects of a low fat diet versus a ketogenic diet program.
What they discovered over their 24 week that not only did the low carbohydrate diet retain more of the participants than the low fat group did, but they also lost more weight, and had a bigger decrease in triglyceride levels.
A low fat diet is generally a temporary diet, one that you cannot sustain because there are too many temptations to give in to; the ketogenic diet does not restrict you to the same level so it is easier to maintain on a long-term basis.
That means the weight you lose stays lost, and is the reason that low carb is a lifestyle and not just another fad diet.
More Studies Support Low Carb Diets Over Low Fat
Since 2002, more than 20 randomized controlled trials have been published in respected, peer-reviewed journals that demonstrate the fact that low carb diets are more effective for weight loss and completely safe without a single adverse effect, this cannot be said about many of the fad diets.
Several studies, including Volek et al, Foster GD, et al, Keogh et al, Westman et al, and Gardner et al have shown low carb eating to lead to more weight loss, and especially visceral fat (belly fat), and to improve HDL cholesterol, insulin levels, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure as compared to low fat plans.
The above studies and others support the fact that low carb wins over low fat in weight loss and reducing risks for heart disease. Of course, you should always ask your doctor before starting any diet plan.
The Role of Exercise in a Ketogenic Diet
Without doubt, exercise is extremely important, whether you are following a low carb, ketogenic lifestyle or not. However, exercise is able to act more efficiently when following a ketogenic diet. Let’s face it- the primary reason you are exercising is to look good, period. Sure, health benefits are a nice secondary benefit, but if we are brutally honest, it’s because looks matter to almost all people.
Mere diet can never help you achieve the body you want, even though diet is essential in supplying the building blocks, and setting the stage for your desired outcome.
Interested to know exactly how exercise can help you while on the ketogenic diet? Read on and find out!
Exercise Improves Insulin Sensitivity
In many people, insulin sensitivity decreases with age, along with level of physical activity. Sedentary persons are much more likely to have elevated levels of blood glucose, record a higher level of insulin secretion over the course of the day, retain excess body fat and may likely pave the way to pre-diabetes.
Exercise, especially weight bearing, anaerobic activity has been shown to improve the efficiency of insulin in response to blood glucose, or amino acid levels, and promotes absorption of nutrients.
When following the ketogenic diet, blood glucose levels are lowered, along with muscle glycogen stores, making the body more efficient at handling small bursts of glucose either ingested or produced via Krebs cycle.
Fat Burning Is Amplified
One of the most sought after benefits of low carb diets, but more specifically the ketogenic diet, is its marked effect on fat metabolism. In the absence of carbohydrates, insulin’s activity is markedly decreased, paving the way for significantly increased levels of lipolysis.
Under the influence of insulin, fat burning is stalled, in addition to storage of more fat being promoted. This is a terrible scenario if you are trying to lose weight, since at this time if you exercise your body will be utilizing strictly carbohydrates for energy.
Not following a strict ketogenic diet?
That’s fine. In fact, there are many variations of the ketogenic diet that are not as strict, but which still reap many of the benefits associated with it. For example, exercising first thing in the morning on an empty stomach places the body in a position to be able to burn fat for energy, as glucose levels are depleted following 8 hours of fasting. This is the preferred time many athletes perform cardiovascular exercise, as it amplifies fat metabolism.
Exercise Promotes Muscle Gain
Well, this depends largely on the type of exercise you perform; weight bearing, anaerobic types providing significantly more onus for muscle growth that steady state aerobic varieties. Why is muscle growth important?
Muscle is where the “powerhouse” in our bodies is located. These powerhouses, better known as the mitochondria, is what’s responsible for the literal burning and oxidation of ATP. The more muscle we have, either the more of these power units we have, or the larger they are.
Greater caloric burn while doing absolutely nothing, including enhanced fat burning. It is also important for you to keep exercising, as the old adage, “use it or lose it” is very much true.
Tweaking the Ketogenic Diet
There are keto adaptions for bodybuilders, athletes and others who perform intense exercise where carb intake revolves around exercise.
If you’re trying to extract maximum benefit from the ketogenic lifestyle, exercise is a mandatory addition. Your health will significantly improve; including glucose and lipid profile, but so will your overall body composition.
If you truly want to look your best, you will not attain it unless you incorporate sessions of both aerobic (cardio) and anaerobic (weight bearing) sessions.
Exercise may seem difficult during the first two weeks or so of adapting to the ketogenic lifestyle, but once your body efficiently begins producing ketones, fat loss, strength, and muscle gains will ensue.
The Keto Flu
Some people may experience keto flu when they begin a low carb diet. While not everyone will fall prey to it, you should be aware of the symptoms: sleepiness and fatigue, brain fog, nausea, headaches and upset stomach.
It doesn’t last long and to be honest, most changes in diet result in similar side effects so it is to be expected.
The best way to ease your symptoms is by increasing salt intake with 2 cups of broth daily or using soy sauce over food to re- balance electrolyte levels in the body. The symptoms will likely disappear within a few days and you will be on your way to ketosis success.