You’ve probably heard of the low-carb ketogenic due to its surefire ability to produce significant and rapid fat loss. But what about the negatives to a ketogenic diet?
Although ketogenic diets may seem like a godsend to anyone who has struggled for a lifetime to lose body fat, there are some drawbacks:
- Ketogenic diets require an adaptation process that lasts 1 to 2 weeks, during which you may feel tired, ill, or sluggish.
It’s a somewhat restrictive way of eating, which some people don’t like.
It requires restraint and forethought in social situations.
It may not be appropriate for athletes with a high anaerobic energy component. The maximum rate of ATP resynthesis from ketones is only about 0.40 moL/min, whereas aerobic breakdown of glycogen can resynthesize ATP at a rate of 1.0 to 2.0 moL/min.
In order to overcome these drawbacks, here are ten tips that will help you reach success with a low-carb ketogenic diet.
#1: Individualize Your Diet.
The general ratios for a ketogenic diet are 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and 5 percent carbohydrates. However, these can be modified based on individual needs and goals. The rule of thumb is that for the initial adaptation phase, carbs need to be below 50 grams a day in order to shift the body into fat burning mode.
#2: Increase Protein
In order to promote muscle recovery, athletes are likely to benefit from a high protein intake such that 30 percent of calories are coming from protein. Ancestral humans ate about this amount daily, which corresponds to about 3g/kg/bw a day, indicating that a ketogenic can be safe if done properly.
#3: Don’t Be Afraid of The Fat!
At this point it should be obvious that dietary fat can be perfectly healthy and play a primary role in a diet geared at fat loss, but in light of the history of fat phobia, it may be worth mentioning. Just be sure to eat fat from a variety of sources (butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts, fish, and seeds).
#4: Get Extra Sodium & Potassium
Experts recommend that you get extra sodium and potassium to maintain nitrogen balance and preserve lean tissue. Get between 2.5 and 5 grams of sodium (1 to 2 teaspoons of table salt) and extra potassium from green veggies and other plants. Cooking with meat broths can help provide electrolytes if you are sweating a lot during exercise.
Exercise may accelerate the keto adaptation process by helping to get the body into fat burning mode. Both aerobic exercise (ranging from 55 to 75 percent of maximal) and interval training has been shown to increase the use of fat for fuel and improve metabolic flexibility.
#6: Drink Up
The body naturally reduces its water stores when carbs are restricted. Shoot for 0.6 to 0.7 ounces per pound of body weight daily in order to maintain hydration.
#7: Supplement With Magnesium
When you restrict carbs and train hard, magnesium can become depleted due to its role in insulin metabolism. Supplementing with 10 mg/kg of body weight (750 mg for a 165 lb (75 kg) person) may be beneficial.
#8: Get Adequate Fiber
Low-carb diets are extremely low in fiber, which can compromise gut health due to inflammation and an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the GI tract. Eat plenty of leafy green vegetables and consider taking a fiber supplement (this is what elite gymnasts did during a successful ketogenic diet study).
#9: Drink Coffee
Caffeine can be a useful aid when transitioning to a ketogenic diet. Drinking 1 to 3 cups of coffee can significantly enhance exercise performance and motivation when training with low glycogen stores.
#10: Stay The Course
Studies testing the effect of very low-carb diets on athletes have found that it takes at least seven days for full metabolic adjustment to a low-carb diet. Just because you don’t feel “right” during the first week doesn’t mean it won’t be effective. Once you’re body is adapted, energy levels, strength, and power will return and likely be enhanced.