5% or fewer of your total daily caloric intake should come from carbohydrates.
A properly structured ketogenic diet can rapidly promote fat loss and changes in body composition.
A ketogenic diet and an Atkins Diet are only the same the sense that they promote low carbohydrate, and increased dietary fat consumption, but that’s where the similarities end.
A poorly structured ketogenic diet is just as bad for health and body composition as any other bad diet.
Dieting for fat loss isn’t any difficult as some so-called “guru’s” and healthy experts would lead you to believe. Getting the body into an energy deficit, eating the right foods in the right amounts, having a solid dietary “system” in place, and having an intelligent training and cardio regimen will produce results if allow of your proverbial fat loss boxes are checked.
Ketogenic diets, like any other fat loss diet, can be extremely effective at producing rapid fat loss and body recomposition changes when they’re structured correctly. By keeping protein intake high, limiting total carbohydrate intake to less than 5% of daily caloric intake, and increasing dietary fat consumption you can put the body in a state of ketosis, causing it to burn stored body fat for fuel as opposed to glucose from carbohydrates that occurs in standard diets.
But as with any other poorly structured diet, a bad ketogenic diet can bring fat loss to a screeching halt.
If you’ve been considering switching over to a ketogenic diet to take your fat loss efforts to the next level, using these five simple tips can help upgrade your diet and teach you to Keto Like A Pro:
Stop Eating So Much Protein
Athletes are hard wired to believe that more is always better. They believe stepping onto the gym and grinding out more reps, more sets, and more training sessions will somehow or someway end up equating to more muscle or better performance. But unfortunately in most cases the human body just doesn’t work that way, and we all reach a point of diminishing returns where the act of doing more starts to become counterproductive. And protein consumption is no different.
While it’s true that in order to recover from the demands of heavy training athletes do need to consume more protein than the average sedentary person, there just isn’t much evidence to support the need for anyone to consume more than 1.2g per/lb of lean body mass – athletes included.
As far as the body is concerned ,a steady stream of protein in the .8 – 1.2g per/lb range is more than enough to meet all of our daily protein requirements, allow us to adequately recover from the demands of training training, and build new lean muscle.
Trying to overload the stream isn’t going to result in more muscle. Instead the excess protein causes our metabolic riverbanks to overflow, resulting in any excess protein being converted into glucose by the liver during a process known as gluconeogenesis. And if there’s one sure fire way to wreck a ketogenic diet and kick your body out of fat burning ketosis, it’s having excess glucose floating around in the bloodstream. As long as you’re training hard and have a steady stream protein flowing in through evenly spaced meals throughout the day there shouldn’t be too much concern about losing muscle even if you’re dieting.
All athletes, both male and female, should aim to consume about .8 – 1.2g per/lb of lean body mass while they’re on a ketogenic diet.
Switch Up Your Fat Sources
Because ketogenic diets create a metabolic shift that causes the body to rely on burning fats for fuel as opposed to carbohydrates, it’s important keep in mind that not all fats are created equal. While it may be true that both nutritional science and the general public have evolved out of the stone age when it comes to their viewpoint saturated fat consumption and its role in the development of heart disease, shoveling in excessive amounts low quality meats that contain high levels of pro-inflammatory omega – 6 fatty acids is far from optimal if your goal is improve your health, physique, or performance.
In order to optimize your body’s fat burning efforts you want to make sure you’re providing it with plenty of fats to keep energy levels stable and help prevent the catabolism of lean muscle tissue. Be sure to vary your dietary fat sources and eat plenty of high quality mono and polyunsaturated fats from sources like nuts, olive oil, macadamia nut oil, avocados and wild caught cold water fish.
Saturated fats are essential for healthy brain, nerve, and immune function -not to mention the role they play in optimizing anabolic hormones like testosterone. Eating 1 -2 meals daily during your ketogenic diet that contain healthier sources of saturated fat like omega-3 eggs, grass fed beef, and coconut oil will provide your body will all of the health and performance boosting benefits of saturated fats and help provide the saturated: unsaturated fatty acid balance our bodies crave.
Step Up Your Fiber Game
Fiber is the Swiss Army Knife of the nutritional world. While it may not do anything particularly exceptional to land it in the category of “superfood”, its overall ability to improve health and performance is so wide ranging that everyone should make it a priority to work plenty of it in their diets – especially you’re going keto.
Any fat loss diet, ketogenic or otherwise, requires you be in a caloric deficit, which eventually leads to some pretty ravenous hunger cravings as the body does its best to maintain homeostasis and fight off your fat loss efforts. Not only does eating plenty of high quality fiber from leafy greens and other cruciferous vegetables add some bulk to your meals and help increase feelings of satiety, it also helps keep blood sugar levels stable and improves gut health thanks to soluble fiber’s prebiotic role in feeding the healthy bacteria that populate our digestive tract.
While the clinical data to support high fiber diets correlating with actual weight loss are questionable at best, including heavy doses of dietary fiber with each meal will help keep blood sugar levels stable during a diet that is otherwise free of any additional carbohydrate sources and help prevent the urge to go on a carbocidal binge that will effectively stall your fat loss efforts in their tracks.
Increase Your Meal Frequency
We now know that whether you choose to eat four, five, six, or even eight meals a day, there doesn’t appear to be any significant difference to increasing meal frequency when it comes to building muscle or losing fat as long as you’re providing the body with evenly spaced meals loaded with all of the high quality nutrition it needs to fuel your goals.
It’s not to say that nutrient timing doesn’t matter, because it absolutely does, especially when it comes to your pre, intra, and post workout windows. But the old idea that if you don’t eat six meals a day to “stoke your metabolic furnace” you’ll spiral into catabolism just flat out false.
That being said, when you’re dieting for fat loss eating more frequently does provide a distinct advantage when it comes to fighting off hunger cravings. While being in a caloric deficit and feeling hungry might go hand-in-hand, going more than three hours between meals can be a recipe for disaster that causes blood sugar and energy levels to come crashing down. Spreading your calories out evenly in meals every 2.5 - 3 hours will help to keep energy levels stable and hunger cravings at bay.
If necessary adding a sixth or seventh meal of only lean protein and vegetables, while limiting fats as much possible, can be added in if you’ve had a change in schedule and need to get in an additional meal to help prevent the body from going too long without fuel.
Replenish Don’t Refeed
When you’re dieting a well-timed cheat meal can feel a lot like someone throwing you a life raft after you’ve been stuck at sea float around in shark infested waters. But outside of the obvious psychological relief that allows you to break free from the rigid shackles of your diet, cheat meals actually do serve a purpose.
Fat loss, like just about every other function in the body, is regulated by hormones. One of the chief operators responsible for keeping your body’s metabolic machinery up and running is a hormone named leptin. Leptin has been called “the master regulator” because of the role it plays in so many bodily functions, including metabolism. When leptin levels are high, and our cells are open to receiving its signals, it helps trigger a hormonal cascade that ultimately leads to fat loss. But as we diet and our body reacts by going into “starvation mode”, leptin levels gradually begin to decrease, causing our metabolism to slow down. Adding in a cheat meal once every 10-14 days is a good way to keep leptin levels from dropping too low, and keep your fat burning metabolism running hot.
Here’s an important note to keep in mind when planning your cheat meal: ketogenic diets already contain high(er) amounts of dietary fat by design. You don’t need a traditional “burger and fries” cheat meal that contains high amounts of poor quality fats. Instead a keto diet cheat meal should ideally keep fats to a minimum, and consist primarily of simple carbohydrates to help refuel muscle glycogen stores and restore leptin levels. But don’t just pile in the carbs with impunity. The type of carbohydrates you consume during your cheat meal still matter.
Avoid consuming foods like sodas, some gummy candies, and even fruits because they tend to contain higher amounts of a sugar known as fructose. Unlike the glucose we obtain from other starchy carbohydrates, fructose can only be stored in the liver, not in the muscles. In order to refill muscle glycogen stores it’s best to limit fructose consumption during a cheat meal and opt for foods that will refuel depleted muscle glycogen stores instead.