Restrictive diets have always been a questionable matter.
On my weight loss journey, I scrolled through numerous blogs and forums looking for reasons as to why I just was not losing the weight. I’m sure you can relate, and in your own personal research sesh stumbled upon the following titles:
- “It’s the carbs, silly!”
- “Maybe you are just eating too many carbs and not tracking accurately.”
- “Too many carbs.”
- “You should be eating more fat and less carbs.”
- “Carbs cause belly fat.”
- “Fat keeps you full.”
- “Have you heard of the Ketogenic diet?”
No, I hadn’t, and I was intrigued.
The Ketogenic Diet: The “Magic Pill of Weight Loss.”
So. We’ve been through Atkins and South Beach and this gimmick seems similar except it doesn’t seem like much of a gimmick because the bodybuilders are doing it and hey, they’re losing weight. Doctors are prescribing it. What makes this diet more successful than it’s low-carb predecessors?
Increased fat. I know right. Doesn’t… the majority… of calories… come from… fat…? The idea of the ketogenic diet is that the body uses carbohydrates as fuel first, and will then turn to fat once carb stores are depleted. Of course this does not mean DO NOT EAT CARBS. To remain in ketosis, one should devour a measly 20g-30g “net carbs.” The result? Increased ketones, weight loss, mental clarity, prolonged and more vigorous workouts, glowing skin, etcetera and so-forth. Bye bye, Dr. Atkins. Hello KEEEEEETO!
But wait. The ketogenic diet doesn’t necessarily mean you can throw down coconut oil, dark chocolate, and cheese and lose weight. What gives? You have to track everything religiously. If you exceed your net carb limit, you will get knocked out of keto. If you hoover three gargantuan fat-laden meals (plus snacks) per day, you will feel sluggish, sick, and gain weight. It’s another portion control game in disguise. Sure, the fat keeps some people full. Some people. Little Timmy who has been competitive eating deep fried mayonnaise balls for most of his young life probably won’t feel the filling effects of the fat, and if you have high cholesterol, blocked arteries, or heart problems, this one isn’t for you. On a side note, if you have IBS or issues with constipation, forget it. Heartburn sufferers should also proceed with caution. Health complications aside, you will probably lose weight, if you control your portions.
Portion control, huh?
Yes, finally the magician’s trick has been revealed. Sure, there is a ton of science backing the ketogenic diet as the go-to for fat loss but is it truly because of the macronutrient composition of the diet or is it because portion control implies that calories are being controlled? In my personal experience with the ketogenic diet:
- In order to lose 0.5kg per week on a normal diet I would need to eat 1200 kcal.
- On the ketogenic diet I could only stomach 600-800kcal
- I lost a ton of weight
- I was miserable and snappy
- I craved chocolates, cakes, fruit, and starchy vegetables
- My family would get annoyed at dinner
- I was that chick at the restaurant asking for all the carbs to be removed from my plate.
To me, it wasn’t worth it, so I quit…
And lost more weight, because carbs have less calories from fat than lipids, and my stomach had shrunk, and I was getting more fibre. The side effects were not pretty. The recovery process was a real eye-opener for me. On day one, after binge eating healthy carbs (and some chocolate, and candy coated popcorn), I called my sister, almost in tears because my body felt nourished. I hadn’t felt that good or energetic or happy in such a long time. I understood that flooding the body with sugars and starchy carbohydrates probably was not the best way to come off the diet, so every week I increased carbs and calories by about a hundred (understand that on the keto diet, I’d eat 600-800kcal, mostly from fat. Off the keto diet, I’d get 300-400, hence the drastic weight loss). Right now I’m at 1200kcal per week and still increasing the calorie content for weight gain. I wouldn’t say I’m stick-thin, but I have work to do, and with as much determination as I lost the weight, I will regain it until I reach my goal weight.
The takeaway message:
DO NOT COMPROMISE YOUR HEALTH FOR WEIGHT LOSS. DO NOT CUT OUT A FOOD GROUP. YOUR HEALTH AND SANITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE NUMBER ON THE SCALE.