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Fitness & Health

17th Jul 2018

Should you try the Ketogenic Diet? Probably not – here’s why

Celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian and Halle Berry claim to have gone Keto - but that doesn't mean you should

Alex Roberts

Celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian and Halle Berry claim to swear by the Ketogenic Diet – but that doesn’t mean you should

‘Keto’, as it’s more commonly known, is characterised by a high-protein, high-fat and low-carb intake of food. Extremely low amounts of carbohydrate, to be precise. Your carb count on the Ketogenic Diet would rarely exceed 30-40 grams. That’s little more than a bowl of oats or two bananas.

Keto claims to help you get lean and lose fat, but that’s not strictly true. Here is what the evidence says:

Don’t forget fat

Your body does need fat, and that’s a fact. Fats are vital for helping your body absorb the vitamins and minerals from food, for example. Polyunsaturated kinds are the best – what you’d get from nuts, avocado, fish and eggs.

However, it’s worth remembering that fats are nine calories per gram. In both protein and carbs, you’ll only find four calories per gram. A diet high in fat risks consuming far too many calories – which could just cause weight gain, rather than prevent it.

Carbs are crucial

Forget that ‘no carbs before Marbs’ mantra. If you’re interested in getting the most out of your training, you need carbohydrates to fuel performance.

Not only is glucose, the sugar from carbs, your brain’s main source of energy, but it also fuels your workouts in the form of muscle glycogen.

Anyone looking to build strength and muscle mass should avoid this approach. Research found a high-fat, low-carb diet leads to decreased power and performance in athletes. A higher-carb diet produced more impressive results. In fact, if you just lead an active lifestyle at work then going Keto is probably not a wise idea.

Calories are key

Whether you lose weight or gain it is essentially about calories in, versus calories out. If you’re burning more than you take in from your meals, then you will lose weight. Whether those calories come from a higher portion of carbs or fat is largely irrelevant.

What matters is that you work within a deficit, if shedding the pounds is one of your goals. That said, protein should still remain high. The amino acids that you’ll find in your whey shake, chicken breast and turkey steak repair muscle tissue fatigued from hitting the gym. Protein also protects muscle tissue from weight loss when you’re looking to get lean.

Celebs gone Keto

Keto can work – but there’s a catch. Some studies have shown a low-carb, high-fat approach to benefit certain kinds of people, namely those suffering from type 2 diabetes.

If you’re not diagnosed with this condition then your body can likely make use of much larger carb quantities. It would be a mistake to assume most people should follow a Keto routine, as carbs provide the fuel for your gym sessions.

You might be thinking ‘celebrity X says it does work’.

When the Ketogenic Diet does work, it does so because of a calorie deficit. Not because protein and fat are both high.

In beginning to focus on what goes into your food, most people will naturally start to exclude fast food from a plan. That alone may take a chunk of calories off your overall intake.

If you’re intent on optimising your training performance then you can do better than the Ketogenic Diet.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about carbs