People with a tendency to accumulate fat often struggle to lose weight with standard hypocaloric diets (1). Cutting calories, in equal parts from carbohydrates and fat, will still burn part of the body fat. The main problem is that the body hardly uses fat as energy source, so burning fat will be the last thing it wants to do (2). The good news is there is a way to push the body to do that and it's called ketosis.
It can be hard to manage it, but it's amazing what this kind of diet can do, especially in solving specific health issues (3). As with starting any diet, consult a professional before starting. And remember, success depends on individual approach, what works for one might not work for another.
For those who are familiar with or are about to start the ketogenic diet, follow few tips to succeed:
1. BE PATIENT - IT GENERALLY TAKES UNTIL THE 3rd DAY BEFORE ENTERING KETOSIS
One easy to use test is called the Ketur-Test, which confirms that the body is burning fat and usually it occurs after the 3rd day. This is done by testing the amount of ketones in the urine. Be careful not to take the test many times per day, or it fails. It's enough to do it once per day, preferably in the morning.
2. DRINK AT LEAST 3 LITERS OF WATER PER DAY
The body, but in particular the brain, has to adapt to the lack of carbohydrates. Physiologically, sugar is the brain's first choice for source of energy.This phase of adaptation can result in a constant but light headache. The only way to bypass this situation is to drink enough water during all day.
Stop lifting weights or practicing sports that require high energy expenditure and start doing gentle aerobic exercise. Long walks, biking, yoga workouts are the best allies to push the body to burn more fat and preserve muscles.
4. TAKE SUPPLEMENTS
It's usual to feel tired especially during the first couple of weeks. That is due to the lack of vitamin intake from fruits and vegetables excluded from the diet. It becomes necessary to integrate the diet with multi-vitamin supplements and also with minerals such as Magnesium and Potassium to avoid muscle cramps.
5. CHOOSE YOUR FAT SOURCES WISELY
It's not hard to reach 70-75% of daily fat intake by consuming cheese, avocado, butter, red meat, etc.; but you have to be careful when choosing these kind of fats because they are not the same. Go with fat-fish like fresh salmon or tuna instead of red meat for a higher content of omega3; eggs instead of cheese, to lower water retention; and coconut oil instead of butter, as its kind of fat is easier to digest and to use as source of energy.
6. BE SURE TO GET ENOUGH FIBER
The very low content of carbohydrates causes impaired gut motility and this can lead to a persistent feeling of being bloated for most people on ketogenic diet. In this case, get fiber such as psyllium and glucomannan, but not the flavored ones that contain maltodextrines of dextrose (other forms of sugar).
7. AVOID CHEWING GUM
Even though it's sugar-free, there will be sweeteners such as aspartame, mannitol, erythrol, sorbitol etc. The reason why you have to avoid products that contain even just one of these “innocent” zero-calorie sugars, is because as the brain receives the signal that you are eating something sweet, it will react in the same way it reacts when you eat real sugar. In case you chewed some already - don't panic, you won't be thrown off ketosis, but you will start to crave all that sugary food you learned not to desire any more and it will be harder to stay loyal to the diet
It could be hard at the beginning, but if you plan the diet with a professional and keep in mind these tips, you will not fail. And if you are concerned about meal prep because you have no time, don't worry! niKETO will be opening soon and will provide you with a variety of delicious ketogenic dishes to keep your diet on track.
(1) Joshua Lowndes, Diana Kawiecki, Sabrina Pardo, et al. The effects of four hypocaloric diets containing different levels of sucrose or high fructose corn syrup on weight loss and related parameters. Nutrition Journal. 2012; 11: 55. Published online 2012 Aug 6. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-55. Accessed Sep. 16th, 2018.
(2) Wayne C. Miller PhD, Michael G. Niederpruem MS, Janet P. Wallace PhD, Alice K. Lindeman PhD, RD. Dietary fat, sugar, and fiber predict body fat content. Journal of the American Dietetic AssociationVolume 94, Issue 6, June 1994, Pages 612-615.
(3) Eileen P. G. Vining, MD; John M. Freeman, MD; Karen Ballaban-Gil, MD; et al. A Multicenter Study of the Efficacy of the Ketogenic Diet. Arch Neurol. Nov. 1998;55(11):1433-1437. doi:10.1001/archneur.55.11.1433.