For those not aware, the keto diet refers to putting the body into a state of ketosis. This is done by eating fewer than 50 g of carbs or net 30 g of carbs in a day. When this happens, the body stops using glycogen (glucose) to produce energy and instead produces and burns ketones.
The keto diet has been touted to reverse type 2 diabetes and accelerate fat loss!
So does the keto diet work at all?
First off, I want to say that I do not think keto is good for any person doing high-intensity workouts, e.g., CrossFit, Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting or HIIT. During these workouts, we push our muscles to the breaking point. Our muscles work off glycogen—so no glycogen, no power production for fast, explosive movements.
For everyone else: It CAN work, but I still don’t recommend it as a regular diet plan. The keto diet can be cycled into your annual meal plan or you can adopt days of the week to eat KETO-ISH. It’s really just low-carb eating at that point.
To begin, let’s talk about how much 50 g of carbs is. It’s an apple. You get to eat the equivalent of an apple a day in carbs. No more licking the jelly off the spoon you made your kids peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Here’s the thing: Most things you eat on a daily basis contain carbohydrates. Milk, fruit, vegetables, protein powders, and so on contain carbs. It’s pretty difficult to avoid, but it can be done. I have done keto 2x at a month in length. The first week is pretty tough and after that, it isn’t too bad. Eating keto definitely affected my energy levels for working out.
Ketones also have this interesting effect: They change the pH level of your blood, making it acidic. Ever heard of keto breath? The high pH levels create an almost copper taste in your mouth and can produce an unpleasant smell that most people won’t want to get close to.
The high pH also leeches calcium from your system. This can cause brittle bones and weakened muscles when done long term. If you are going to do keto I recommend supplementing with a calcium supplement, especially women.
But here’s what I warn against the most: You can’t go in and out of keto. Cheat days don’t exist on the keto diet. Once you’ve carb-loaded you’re out of ketosis and somewhat defeated the purpose of eating keto.
When your body no longer utilizes glucose, your pancreas stops producing insulin. Now you have a massive influx of glucose into your system, and you know what happens? Your pancreas freaks out and produces a TON of insulin to bring your blood sugar levels back to normal. Do this enough times and you’ll fry your pancreas—and that leads to diabetes.
Keto doesn’t work well with athletes, it’s not sustainable long-term and athletes won’t have the fuel needed to workout and recover. I do not recommend the keto diet for most people. MOST.
We have recommended keto for some type 2 diabetics and reversed their condition completely. Off all meds!!
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