The movie The Full Monty had an iconic line “fat is a feminist issue”. It isn’t, but I think the insinuation was that it’s only women who worry about their weight. Of course in the modern world this is far from true! The fitness industry is as big now as it has ever been.
You may have heard of the keto diet. You may have heard of ketosis. You probably have no idea what these terms mean. Don’t worry, neither did I! The keto diet is a specialist diet that tries to get your body into a state called ketosis. In this state your body is burning fat to provide energy. Burning fat is good! But let’s have a closer look at this ketosis process.
Let’s take a campfire as an analogy. With a campfire you can burn different types of fuel with different results. You can burn kindling, logs and coal. In this analogy the kindling is carbohydrates. Carbs give us quick energy and that is why the body craves them. Like with the kindling they burn quickly though. Then you have logs. These last a lot longer but are hard to light. These are proteins. If you set your fire up properly you then pour on your coal and it will last a long time. Coal is fat and it is the last thing to go.
Obviously fat is the thing we want gone. But in our body it is always going to draw its energy from the other sources first. The ketone diet re-addresses a typical human diet. Usually we have a diet where about 60% of it is carbs. In the keto diet this is dropped to a mere 5% and replaced largely with fats. This may sound a bit counterintuitive. You may think “hang on aren’t I trying to get rid of fat, why am I putting more in?”
When you’re in a state of ketosis your body is burning fat. This has lots of benefits. It is good for your brain and makes you feel generally more energetic. Top athletes experience ketosis often. When it is happening there is a bunch of hard to explain chemical processes going on in your body. However there are some negatives too. Burning pure fat means that the keto diet is great for weight loss. However the processes inhibit muscle growth which means you won’t see the gains at the gym you might like. It can also cause something called ketosis flu as your body adjusts to the new fuel source.
Should I do the keto diet?
This is contentious and our advice would be to always consult your local doctor before embarking in any sort of diet. For a long time keto diets such as the Atkins were vilified because of the potential effects of excess fat in a person’s diet. Our personal advice would be to up your exercise and eat more fruit and veg. creating a calorie deficit is the most effective and safest way of triggering weight loss and increased exercise will up your metabolism and help with creating the deficit.
Due to the effect that ketones have on burning fat some people supplement their diet with raspberry ketones. There have been studies on the effect of the ketones that suggest they aid in the breakdown of fats and help supress appetite. However these studies tend to be independent and highly biased. They are expensive and may be a bit of a fad, most of the evidence that they work seems anecdotal. Once again we recommend just a healthy, balanced diet and plenty of exercise.