Eat Fat to Lose Fat?: The Truth About Ketogenic Diets

Ketogenic diets have been around for years, but have seen a huge boost in popularity recently. With so many diet trends coming and going, why has keto stuck around so long? And why has it become so much more popular recently?

Let’s begin by addressing what a “Keto Diet” is. In its simplest form, a ketogenic diet involves cutting out carbs, but there’s a lot more to a proper ketogenic diet that just not eating carbs. A general recommendation for a ketogenic diet is to eat 70% of your calories from fat and 30% from protein, eating as few non-fibrous carbs as possible (fibrous carbs are not digestible so eat your veggies. They’re an essential part of this diet). How is this possible? Surprisingly, carbs are not essential in your body. There are essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, but carbohydrates are not needed for your body to function. It’s true that glucose is your body’s preferred energy source, however, in the absence of glucose, your body will adapt in one of two ways. One option is for your body to undergo a process called gluconeogenesis in which excess protein is converted to glucose to be used for energy. As you may have guessed, protein being converted to glucose is not exactly optimal for gains. The other option is for excess fat to be converted into a chemical called ketones, which themselves can be used for energy. This is why it is ESSENTIAL to make sure you’re eating excess fat when doing a ketogenic diet, otherwise, your body will begin to burn through protein that could otherwise be used to build muscle. However, if you are eating enough fat, this will not be an issue. Ketone supplements may also be able to help put you in a state of ketosis even in the presence of carbs, however, I need to do more research before I comment on any of these claims. By now we’ve established that people can get away with not eating any carbs, but why would anyone want to cut out carbs?

Recently, people are joining the #WarOnCarbs (a term coined by world-renowned powerlifter Mark Bell) primarily as a way to lose body fat. The keto diet does allow for a tremendous amount of weight loss in a short time, but before we praise it as the new “miracle diet,” let’s take a look at how this weight loss actually occurs. A primary driving factor of fat loss from the ketogenic diet is the caloric restriction that occurs naturally from cutting carbs. This concept of calories in versus calories out (thermodynamics) is universal to all diets, meaning that keto does not hold an edge in this regard. However, it does have several other benefits outside of its direct impact on weight loss! Many keto-lovers are people who will binge on sugar uncontrollably as soon as they have a taste of carbs. With a ketogenic diet, these carbs are eliminated, making the diet easier to adhere to. Ketones themselves also have several other fat-burning benefits such as their ability to help suppress hunger, making it easier to eat fewer calories. Since the brain operates extremely efficiently on ketones you may also be more focused during your workouts! Their ability to help lower insulin levels will also provide more balanced energy, preventing the energy crash that you may sometimes feel after eating carbs. In terms of general health, ketones may also help to fight seizures and Alzheimer’s due to a potential increase in mitochondria in the brain. Diabetics may also do well on a ketogenic diet because the absence of carbs lessens the body’s reliability on insulin. Cancer patients may be the ones to benefit most from a ketogenic diet, however, as the cancer cells thrive in the presence of glucose. Because of this, the removal of carbs essentially “starves” the cancer cells.

Clearly, there are a ton of benefits to this diet. However, in terms of actual fat loss, almost every “benefit” relates to helping you to control your calories. While a ketogenic diet may all of for these calories to be easier to control, ketosis is far from necessary to achieve being in a caloric deficit. On top of this, much of the “weight loss” that occurs immediately is simply water weight. Your muscles store carbs as glycogen, a molecule that will be used for energy when you move. However, in the absence of carbs, theses glycogen stores will become almost completely depleted. Each gram of glycogen stored also carries 3 grams of water with it. This water is stored in the muscles so it will not make you look bloated, however, when you deplete your glycogen stores, you also lose the water that was previously stored within the muscle. This lost water weight accounts for much of the “weight loss” that many people initially see on ketogenic diets. I want to point out that this is alright as your body learns to run off ketones rather than carbs, however, this lost weight has nothing to do with fat loss.

There are also some negatives to a ketogenic diet that may discourage you from trying it. One of the biggest issues with a ketogenic diet is adherence. There’s no doubt that this issue exists throughout all diets, however, it is even more pronounced in the ketogenic diet. If you eat just enough carbs to take yourself out of ketosis, you will be left with no significant amount of ketones or carbs to use as energy, leaving you exhausted. Even if you remain in ketosis your performance may suffer due to the depleted glycogen stores that were mentioned earlier, which would greatly reduce recovery rates. It can also be difficult to get enough protein on a ketogenic diet. It would be nearly impossible to eat the 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight that the ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) recommends without going over your daily calorie allowance.

With a ketogenic diet relying primarily on the creation of a caloric deficit, it is far from a “miracle diet” for fat loss as many people claim, it could still very well be the best diet for you. In the end, I am not arguing for or against a ketogenic diet. I’m saying that you should adhere to the diet that works best for you! What makes you feel good? What is most convenient for you? What allows you to train harder? What allows you to recover best? What gives you results? All of these are questions that you should know the answer to in order to make sure you’re getting the most out of your diet. Look at these answers and decide if the keto diet works best for you! If you’re interested in switching to a ketogenic diet, do some more research and try it out! Just note that my basic explanation of the diet was just to give you an idea of what this diet is all about. Do some more research on exactly what you should be eating before starting. It is also a good idea to check with your doctor before making any big changes to your diet. To make this simple, the diet that is best for you is the diet that makes you feel great and is easy to follow. Find that diet and stick to it!

Thank you for reading! Let us know in the comments if you have any questions or reach out on social media (@thefitexpo) and let us know what you want to see in the future!

Alex Gaynor (@alexgaynor_)

What to Expect at TheFitExpo

If you’re about to attend your first fit expo, get excited! It’s a blast! Many people have some common questions before attending their first expo, so we’re here to answer them!

Planning Your Trip

First thing’s first, you have to plan your trip. If you’re from out of town, check out thefitexpo.com for a  discount on local hotels for a limited time. Before you go, be sure to check out our website to make a list of the celebrities and companies that you want to see! Also be sure to check out our schedule of events. This way you won’t miss out on what’s important to you! Again, all of this information can be found at thefitexpo.com . If you’re planning on competing in any of the competitions that are offered such as powerlifting, bodybuilding, Max Reps,etc., check our website to see how to sign up!

Continue reading “What to Expect at TheFitExpo”

Intermittent Fasting: What You Need To Know

Intermittent fasting is a popular dieting technique that has been around for years. About two years ago the hype surrounding intermittent fasting blew up due to its promotion by several internet fitness celebrities such as the Hodge twins, and the diet has remained popular ever since. However, as many of you know, popular does not necessarily mean effective. Data is often exaggerated or misinterpreted by companies looking to sell products. It is essential to do extensive research before starting any diet in order to minimize health issues and maximize results. However, some of you may not even be familiar with this diet so before we get into what the research says, let’s first discuss what intermittent fasting even is!

Intermittent fasting is a dieting technique which involves fasting (ingesting no calories) for a specific period of time, and then consuming all of your calories during your “feeding window.” The most popular, and most studied, form of intermittent fasting is 16/8, meaning a 16 hour fast followed by an 8-hour feeding window. As difficult as this sounds, remember that you are sleeping for 6-8 of these fasted hours. Still, why would you want to limit your eating to an 8 hour period? The most common reason people choose intermittent fasting is its “fat-burning effects.” At the end of the day, a calorie is a calorie, regardless of when it is consumed. That does not mean that intermittent fasting is useless for fat loss, however. In order to fully understand the purpose of intermittent fasting, let’s take a look at all of its potential benefits, as well as the studies that this data comes from.

Continue reading “Intermittent Fasting: What You Need To Know”

IIFYM: What You Need to Know

Today we’ll be discussing the popular form of dieting known as “if it fits your macros” or “IIFYM” for short. Some people love it, some people hate it, but what does science say?

First, let’s break down exactly what IIFYM is. IIFYM (also known as flexible dieting) relies on the tracking of the three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. These are called macronutrients because you need to consume them in large quantities. Micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, trace elements, amino acids, etc.) conversely, are only needed in trace amounts. Optimally, IIFYM also includes tracking your micros, though this is often mistakenly overlooked by IIFYMers.

IIFYM generally starts with the calculation of your BMR (basal metabolic rate) to determine your total calories burned at rest during a day. There are many online calculators that will do this calculation for you such as this one (https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bmr_calculator.htm). This gives a starting place for determining your optimal macronutrient intake. Tracking your macronutrient intake also allows for indirect tracking of calories as each macronutrient has its own caloric value. 1g of protein = 4 kcal, 1g of carbohydrate =4 kcal, and 1g of fat =9 kcal. It should also be noted that 1 g of alcohol = 7 kcal. Therefore, tracking your intake of protein, fats, carbs, and alcohol allows for you to indirectly track your total calories for the day as well.

shutterstock_420688300

Once you’ve figured out your BMR, you can add or subtract calories based on goals, activity level, and current diet. If looking to gain weight you will need to eat more calories than you burn through your BMR+exercise. Fat loss occurs when you eat less kcal than you burn through your BMR+exercise. It is important not to make too drastic of cuts however in order to see continuous, long-term progress. This calculator (https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/macronutcal.htm) will help to determine your optimal daily caloric intake.

Continue reading “IIFYM: What You Need to Know”

Post-Workout Nutrition

Most people are at least somewhat familiar with the importance of post-workout nutrition, yet few truly know what to eat in order to optimize recovery after a workout. Optimal recovery will allow you to get back in the gym sooner and hit your next workout harder. As many of you may know, anabolism (muscle-building) does not actually occur in the gym. In fact, training is generally catabolic (causes muscle breakdown)! Muscle-building actually occurs during the recovery period, making proper post-workout nutrition essential for gaining muscle. This article will discuss how you can make the most of your post-workout meal so that you can recover more quickly and keep chasing gains!

Muscle-building occurs from an increase in muscle protein synthesis (or mps for short). One of the main factors responsible for increases in mps is the mTOR pathway. Proper post-workout nutrition should seek to stimulate mTOR for optimal results. mTOR is stimulated exercise, insulin, and the consumption of leucine. (1) Obviously, exercise has already been completed before your post-workout meal. Insulin is released after carbs are consumed and leucine can be consumed through protein or BCAA supplementation. These stimulatory factors are discussed in greater detail below.

Continue reading “Post-Workout Nutrition”

Surviving Your Memorial Day Barbecue: 5 Tips to Help Keep Your Diet in Check

It’s almost Memorial Day, and you know what that means! Barbecues! But, for all of the fun that barbecues can be, they can wreak havoc on your diet. For those of us trying to get (or keep) our bodies looking good for summer, this can lead to all kinds of stress. While a good diet is essential to reaching your goals, one day won’t kill you if you keep your diet somewhat in check. Not only is it difficult to track every single gram of protein, fat, and carbs in the many homemade dishes being served, it’s awkward and you don’t want to become “that guy.” So how do you balance the stress of sticking to your diet and not freaking out when you deviate from it slightly? You compromise. Following the tips below, you’ll be able to eat as closely to your diet as possible without having to bring those dreaded Tupperware containers of chicken and broccoli to your Memorial Day BBQ. If you start to get stressed that you’ve gone too far off of your diet, remember that Memorial Day only comes once a year. Be mindful of what you’re eating but don’t stress!

Tip #1: Eat Your Burgers Without Buns

If your normal daily carbohydrate allowance lets you have the bread, go for it. For many of us who are eating low-carb diets, however, these buns are sure to send our carbs way over our daily allowance. This is why eating burgers without the buns is an easy way to stick closely to your diet. When it comes down to it, burgers are not that much different than the chicken breasts that many eat on the daily. There’s some extra fat for sure, but calories are still significantly lower than they would be for a burger with a bun. It’s an easy change that cuts out a ton of unnecessary calories!

Tip #2: Stay Away From the Pasta Salad

Continue reading “Surviving Your Memorial Day Barbecue: 5 Tips to Help Keep Your Diet in Check”

Top 5 Pre-Workout Ingredients

There’s a lot more to a good pre-workout supplement than just a caffeine boost! Pre-workouts can help to boost muscle protein synthesis (mps), endurance, strength, pump, energy, even help to limit muscle soreness. Listed below in no particular order, are 5 of the top pre-workout ingredients on the market. If you’re looking to take your results to the next level, read on to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your pre-workout.

  1. Beta-alanine

shutterstock_574926061

Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is taken up by muscle fibers where it will combine with histidine to create carnosine. Carnosine helps to buffer metabolic waste such as lactic acid, resulting in increased endurance, strength, power, and recovery. (1) The wide variety of proven benefits offered by beta-alanine make it a top pre-workout ingredient for anyone looking to boost their performance in the gym. Optimal dosage ranges from 2-5 g. (2) Some people prefer to split up these doses due to the tingling sensation (called paresthesia) that is often caused by taking large doses of beta-alanine. Don’t worry though, this is a harmless side effect that some people actually enjoy.

  1. Citrulline Malate

shutterstock_548136127.jpg

Citrulline Malate (or L-Citrulline Malate) is simply the amino acid citrulline bonded to malic acid. Citrulline is one of the premiere pump-inducing ingredients on the market. A majority of arginine consumed is broken down by the liver long before it can cause an increase in NO levels (and give you a pump). Citrulline, however, bypasses the liver and is then converted to arginine within the body, and eventually to NO. In fact, citrulline has been shown to boost blood arginine levels more than citrulline itself! (3) Though L-Citrulline can provide great pumps on its own, combining citrulline with malate also provides the ATP boosting benefits of malate which helps to generate more ATP through the Krebs cycle to give you more energy. (4) Optimal dosage for L-citrulline itself is about 1-3 grams, while doses of citrulline malate should be about 6 grams in order to provide you with a full dose of L-citrulline (5). Also, look for citrulline-malate in a 2:1 ratio, meaning that there are 2 molecules of citrulline bonded to each molecule of malate, for optimal dosing.

Continue reading “Top 5 Pre-Workout Ingredients”

Carbs Are Not The Enemy

We’ve heard it time and time again. “Eat a low-carb diet and you’ll lose weight!” The #WarOnCarbs has taken over social media and news cycles alike, but is it correct? Not necessarily. I’ll explain below.

Why did the #WarOnCarbs begin?

Weight loss is a serious issue in the world today, and people want something to blame for it. Carbs became an easy target as soon as people realized that a reduction in carbs led to a significant weight loss in the short term. In the long term however, the results are nearly identical (1). This means that there are no significant differences in weight loss between a low or high carb diet long term.

Lowcarb VV conventional weight loss diets.pdf.png

Continue reading “Carbs Are Not The Enemy”