Ketogenic Diet &

Fat Loss

Like almost every other diet or nutrition protocol, one of the primary questions and points of intrigue revolve around weight loss, or in more specific circumstances, fat loss. In this article, we will dissect if the ketogenic diet is superior for weight loss and fat loss.

What is a Ketogenic Diet?

This simple question can be pretty confusing, depending who you speak with, but most people agree that a ketogenic diet is a nutrition protocol that revolves around 2 primary points. The first, a high intake of fat, and by “high”, we mean over 70-80% of your nutrient intake will be fat [4]. Secondly, carbohydrates should be kept extremely low; about 5% or less of your total calorie intake [4]. The remaining 20% of your calories would be protein, then [4].

As an example of these percentages, take a person with a total daily energy expenditure, TDEE, (which you can estimate using any calorie calculator) of 2000 calories. Multiply 2000 calories by .75 (that’s 75% in fraction, for fat) and you’ll get 1500 calories from fat. Then, take 2000 (again), and multiply by .05 (that’s 5% for carbohydrates), leaving you with 100 calories from carbohydrates. Finally, you can simply subtract your 2 calorie numbers (1500 & 100) from 2000 and you’ll have your 20% protein. Or, if you really want, you can calculate it the exact same way – 2000 calories multiplied by .2 (that’s 20% for protein) and you’ll get 400 calories from protein.

By a physiological definition, if you were to check your blood, you’d measure for ketone bodies circulating in your blood stream of 1.5 – 3.0 mmol (27mg/dL – 54mg/dL) [5].

Ketogenic Diet & Weight Loss/Fat Loss?

The ketogenic diet likely has other benefits and getting into a ketogenic state (ketosis) is a marvel of human physiology, but it does not lead to greater weight loss or fat loss if energy expenditure is matched [1][2][3]. People who use a ketogenic diet will see greater weight loss in the first week or two making one believe they are losing fat at a greater rate, yet a measure of fat loss yields that a person is losing less fat compared to conventional nutrition protocols (balanced meals) [1]. This seems counterintuitive; how can one lose more weight, yet lose less fat?

In the first week or two, being in ketosis leads to a greater loss of water as about 60% of weight loss is from water, likely a loss of glucose, which takes in water when stored as glycogen [2]. Fat loss is around 35% of weight lost during that time [2]. Meanwhile, a conventional nutrition protocol leads to greater fat loss in the first few weeks as one loses about 35% water, yet loses 60% fat [2]. So, the scale will tell you are losing more weight than the person next to you, in the first few weeks, but weight loss and fat loss are equal about a month in and continue to be equal moving forward [1][3].

SUMMARY

Overall, the ketogenic diet is a valuable nutrition protocol that can be used, and if adhered to, will result in weight loss and fat loss comparable to a balanced diet.

Author: Nicolas Verhoeven
References

[1] Hall, K. D., Chen, K. Y., Guo, J., Lam, Y. Y., Leibel, R. L., Mayer, L. E., … Ravussin, E. (2016). Energy expenditure and body composition changes after an isocaloric ketogenic diet in overweight and obese men. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 104(2), 324-333. doi:10.3945/ajcn.116.133561
 

[2] Yang, M. U., & Van Itallie, T. B. (1976). Composition of weight lost during short-term weight reduction. Metabolic responses of obese subjects to starvation and low-calorie ketogenic and nonketogenic diets. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 58(3), 722-730. doi:10.1172/jci108519
 

[3] Johnston, C. S. (2006). Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83(5), 1055–1061. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/83.5.1055
 

[4] Mawer, R. (2017, June 17). The Ketogenic Diet 101: A Detailed Beginner's Guide. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101

[5] Measuring ketosis on a ketogenic diet. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.diabetes.co.uk/keto/measuring-ketosis-on-a-keto-diet.html

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