In the war against fat, you have the choice of using many kinds of weapons. While some people swear by the results of boiled food with zero fat, some others claim that butter and ghee added to their coffee yields magical fat-burning powers. Keyboard wars are not uncommon when it comes to backing up one’s belief on a certain diet and as for achieving results, people on all kinds of diet will tell you that they have got results.
So the question on everyone’s mind is: “Which is the best diet?”. To find out the answer, you’ll have to read this article right till the very end. Ready? Here we go!
What is the basic concept of fat loss? Why and how does it happen? Imagine you have a bucket with an inlet pipe that brings water into the bucket and an outlet pipe that draws water out of it. Say the water goes into the bucket and comes out at the same rate. What happens then? Well, of course the level of the water would remain the same in the bucket, no matter what the rate of the water flow is.
Now imagine what happens if the inlet is more than the outlet? The level will rise and after a while, the bucket will overflow. What if the outlet is more than the inlet? The water level will start going down.
Now read the last paragraph again with these replacements: the bucket is your body, the water level is your weight, the inlet pipe is your food intake and the outlet pipe is the energy you spend through the day. And that my friend, is calorie balance.
Eat more than you spend and you’ll gain; eat lesser and you’ll lose.
That’s a very crude representation where I have removed many other variables which determine the quality of your weight loss or your metabolism, but that’s the crux of how weight loss happens.
Essentially, this is what it means: the quantity of food eaten (in terms of calories) and the energy spent (again, in terms of calories) determines how well you do on your weight loss journey. And that quantity is the basis of every diet you follow that gives you results. The specific nature of the diet has very little to do with your actual results.
Now whether you follow Keto or Paleo, Low Carb or High Carb, Low Fat or any other diet, it all comes down to your personal preference – as long as you stick to the basics.
Apart from this, there are two more things that are important from a quality and health perspective:
• Adequate protein intake to sustain your muscle mass
• Adequate fat intake to sustain your hormonal functions
No other factor really matters much.
After meeting these conditions, whether you eat fats to complete your required calories by adding it to coffee, food or elsewhere or you have rice or wheat late at night – none of these things will matter as long as the calories are the same and the basic protein and fat requirements are maintained.
What is Keto?
For the newcomers here, let’s understand what Keto is: The Ketogenic Diet is a kind of diet where all your carbohydrate sources are removed, protein is kept fixed at a certain quantity and the rest of your calorie intake is completed with fats.
So there’s a lot of butter, ghee, coconut oil, avocado, cheese, eggs etc. as a source of your fat intake. Essentially, you prevent your body from using carbs as a source of energy (which is the easiest source of fuel for your body, just like taking the car is for you instead of walking or running).
The body is smart. In the absence of carbs, it looks for a secondary fuel source to use in order to keep running your body viz. Fats. And these fats can either come from your diet or from the stored fat deposits in your body. In an ideal case of calorie deficit (when the inlet is less than the outlet), the body fulfils its energy requirement by using the fat in the diet first and the remaining amount of required energy is generated by using your body fat. The body enters a state called Ketosis where the fat is metabolized by the body to produce ketones. These ketones can be used by the body and also partially by the brain to fuel itself. That’s essentially how your body works in ketosis.
All this sounds great and quite convincing because it tells you that unless the body enters ketosis, it cannot use its fat deposits as a source of energy.
The Problem With Keto
Here’s the basic logic that people miss out on: Even if you are eating carbs, so long as there is a calorie deficit, the body will HAVE to look for a source of energy. Now if the food is less, there is only one energy source the body can fall back upon viz. the fat deposits. Therefore, even without entering a continuous state of Ketosis, your body CAN use its fat stores as a source of energy, since the body can use fatty acids directly even without the need for excess ketones.
But then, how do you lose kilos of weight right in the first week of Keto? Isn’t that what gives the Keto Diet an edge over the rest?
Here’s the thing: Your body stores carbs in the form of glycogen in your liver and muscles. When you deprive your body of carbs, it uses these glycogen stores first for energy. Every gram of this glycogen holds upto 3 grams of water which acts in the same way as the reserve fuel in your car or bike. When you start Keto, it is this water that you rapidly lose in the first few days leading to weight loss.
You must keep in mind that this weight-loss is just temporary and you WILL regain this “additional” weight once you get back on a normal diet with carbs. Does this mean carbs are bad? No. That’s just how your body is built to function.
Researches have shown that isocaloric diets (different kinds of diet with the same amount of calories) all give similar results in terms of fat loss.
So here’s the answer you were waiting for. Is Keto the best diet for fat loss, as believed by so many people? To put it simply – NO!
And The Best Diet Is…
It depends. It all comes down to your personal preference.
The deciding factor should be Adherence: “What diet would I be able to follow for a sustained period of time?”.
Do you do better when there are carbs in your diet? Then eat carbs.
Do you do better without carbs as it gives you a sense of absolute discipline? Then remove them.
But frankly speaking, it doesn’t make much of a difference. Just for your information, going for a long time without carbs has been shown to deteriorate thyroid levels. Besides, omitting an entire food group is not the wisest decision to make. For a short period of time, it’s fine, but do not do it for the long term. This applies not only to the Ketogenic Diet but also to staying in a caloric deficit as a whole. Make sure to take diet breaks and keep your calories at maintenance or surplus between your periods of deficit.
Here’s the takeaway: You can enjoy your potatoes, rice, wheat, oats, bread or fruits if you want to and still get the same results that you’d get from a Ketogenic Diet. Just make sure you have enough discipline to stick to your diet. For fat loss, it is better to create a caloric deficit by exercising more rather than depriving yourself of carbs.
In the fitness war, you can pick any weapon of your choice. Keto is just one weapon out of several available to you, there’s nothing “extra special” about it.
Author Credits: Dev Biswas