By Nick Langer
Let me first start by saying every dieting fad or strategy that has ever been created can work. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about Ketogenic, Intermittent Fasting, Paleo, Whole 30 or low carbohydrate diets, all of these strategies can work. The problem lies in two simple facts, genetic predisposition and sustainability. In this article I will cover a few of the major diet “fads”, how each fad can be properly executed and the main reasons why people do not see results they want. Let’s start by talking about a few of the most prominent fad diets on the market.
I am presenting this diet strategy first as this is the most prominent one on the market at this time. This diet is a very low-carbohydrate with moderate-protein and high-fat diet. It typically contains 70%, 20% protein and only 10 % carbohydrates. (Depending on person and caloric intake, the protein & carbohydrate content may need to be lowered)
I specify the Standard Ketogenic diet because there are other forms of the ketogenic diet that are out there but I want to focus on this form specifically as this is the one that I see most commonly used. This dieting strategy is very useful when it comes to increasing insulin sensitivity and controlling stress. The main issue I see when it comes to keto is that people are not executing this diet correctly.
You see, in order for the ketogenic diet to work you need to be in full ketosis. This process only happens when the body has switched its’ energy source from glucose to ketones. This process only happens when glucose is completely depleted from the body. The biggest issue I typically see is individuals taking in too much protein. This high amount of protein causes the body to create a glucose like substrate from protein via a process called gluconeogenesis. If this process happens you are not in full ketosis and are therefore not getting the full benefits of a ketogenic diet.
The amount of protein and carbohydrates that each individual can take in while staying in ketosis is very person dependent. That is why I typically recommend that if you are going to use this strategy that you get ketone strips so that you can test your urine to make sure you are in full ketosis. If you see that you are not in ketosis you may need to lower your protein intake.
When done properly ketogenic diets can and do work. The only disclaimer I will say is that according to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health ketogenic diets should only be utilized for a timeframe of 2 weeks up to 12 months.
The second diet “fad” or strategy I want to cover is intermittent fasting. This dieting strategy has been around since biblical times and is still practiced in most religious cultures to this day. Intermittent fasting is characterized by periods of voluntary abstinence from food and drink. Much like the ketogenic diet there are many different versions of this style of dieting. I’m going to specifically focus on two styles that I have seen work with clients.
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– Time Restricted Feeding- Allows the individual to consume food within a specific time window. For example, in this style you would only be able to eat between 11am-5pm each day.
– Full days of Fasting- This form of fasting is great when you want to give the digestive system a break, when you want to focus on cell regeneration or if you need to put someone further into a caloric deficit but do not want to eliminate calories from other days in the week.
In a study done by the journal of translational medicine, over an eight-week period, they found that significant fat mass was decreased and observed that fat free mass was maintained. This means that while using this strategy their test subjects lost fat and maintained muscle tissue! This is great news for you that are looking to lose body fat while maintaining muscle tissue.
I can personally tell you that I use full days of fasting for myself and my clients. It is a useful tool when I want to push one of my clients into a further deficit while increasing food on the days they are not fasting. Let me explain, if I have someone eating 2000 calories across 7 days that gives me a total of 14000 calories they are taking in over a weeks’ time. If I implement a day of fasting but increase their caloric intake on the other 6 days by 100 calories they are now taking in 2100 calories 6 days a week but are still in a deficit in comparison to where they were prior. (2100×6= 12600 calories in comparison to 14000 calories) The positive side to this is that my atheltes’ “feel” like they are actually getting to eat more food through-out the week as they don’t think about the fact that we just eliminated a full days’ worth of food.
All of the information listed above brings me to my final point of why people do not see the results they want to see with these “fad” diets. I need you to understand a point I have been making through this entire article. These “fads diets” should not be referred to as diets at all. They should be referred to as nutritional strategies that all serve a purpose. As a strategy these “fads” can be used to obtain a goal you have in mind. Once you obtain the goal you are looking for then you have to choose healthy eating habits that are actually sustainable for you! The biggest issue I have with any diet is the fact that diets have expiration dates. They are supposed to be used for a limited amount of time to help you reach a goal. In the real world I don’t see someone never eating a carb again or fasting one day every week. It is not realistic or sustainable.
So, if you could take one message away from this entire article it is this. Nutritional strategies are used to help you reach an end goal. Once you reach that end goal you need to find something that is sustainable for you for the rest of your life. Once you have found that, you will truly be free and happy when it comes to the food you put into your body.
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