Obesity affects more than 93.3 million adults in the United States alone (CDC, 2018), which is roughly 40 percent of our population! And the issue is much more important than not fitting into a favorite pair of jeans. Obesity-related conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancers, are causing premature deaths. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2018) 40percent of Americans (more than 100 million adults) have diabetes or prediabetes. A leading cause for stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure is hypertension (high blood pressure) and guess what can lead to hypertension? About 30% of hypertension cases are attributed to obesity. People are quite literally dying from obesity. This has led many people to various diets, including low-fat diets, a paleo diet, and the low-carb diet, high-fat keto diet. People are starting to question the dietary guidelines that have led to more, not less, the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related disease.
Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
We know this from personal experience and it’s why we created Keto-Mojo. Before we started a high-fat diet and keto meal plan, we were overweight, unhealthy, and sick of being sick and tired. And while everyone should talk with their healthcare provider and perhaps a dietitian before making any dietary changes, we want to try and educate others on the benefits of the ketogenic diet for weight loss. While it may seem daunting to change your whole view on food and diet, there’s a loving and supportive ketogenic community that will be happy to offer a shoulder for you to lean on while you get lean and aim for long-term weight loss!
Research on the Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss
The ketogenic diet has been gaining traction in the medical community as a fantastic tool in treating obesity and obesity-related diseases. This has spurred countless research into not only its efficacy, but also its safety, and overall health benefits, including fat loss.
A recent study on 83 obese patients over 24 weeks looked to examine the long-term health implications of a strict ketogenic diet (Hussein et al., 2004). The BMI (body mass index) of the participants was between 35.9±1.2 kg/m2 and 39.4±1.0 kg/m2. All participants were subjected to liver and renal function tests, and glucose and lipid profiles, using fasting blood samples, and a complete blood count. Thereafter, fasting blood samples were tested for total cholesterol levels, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (otherwise known as “good” cholesterol), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (known as “bad” cholesterol), triglycerides, blood sugar, urea and creatinine levels at the eighth, 16th and 24th week. In addition, weight and height measurements, and blood pressure were monitored at each visit. During the duration of the study participants received a diet consisting of 30g of carbohydrate, 1g/kg bodyweight protein, and 80% fat (via healthy high-fat foods). The participants saw a drastic reduction in weight, going from a mean bodyweight of 222.73lbs to 191.07lbs. In addition to the reduction in body weight and subsequent BMI the participants also showed a significant decrease from week 1 to week 24 in their total cholesterol as well as their triglycerides and blood glucose. The participants also saw a positive increase in the HDL cholesterol numbers.
And while many of you may be interested in the science surrounding the ketogenic diet and its many benefits (feel free to read through our other articles), perhaps you are here looking to learn how to implement the diet for weight loss, and not just losing water weight.
Keto, which focuses on low-carb foods, may be one of the least complicated diets out there, but due to the overwhelming amount of information in the form of blogs, websites, Instagram, Pinterest, and doctors, it can appear complicated.
But what the ketogenic diet boils down to is getting your body into ketosis (the metabolic state in which you burn fat for fuel versus glucose).
So how do you get started on your weight loss journey with the fat-burning ketogenic diet? Follow our five easy steps and we will have you on a healthy eating plan in no time!
Step One: Consult your Healthcare Provider and Take Your Measurements
Always consult your healthcare provider before making any lifestyle change, particularly if you are on medications, so they can advise you on proper precautions, run any necessary lab work, and also make them aware so they can monitor your progress and avoid any undesirable side effects (other than the keto flu, which is a bit of a right of passage).
If you are a diabetic you will especially want to talk with your healthcare provider as keto will have an effect on your blood glucose levels and you may need to adjust your insulin to ensure proper dosing. Once you get the okay from your healthcare provider, we recommend taking your body measurements, calculating both your BMI and your body fat percentage (your healthcare provider can help you with this), and get an accurate weight. All of this information will help you to personally monitor your progress. With any form of weight loss it’s easy to focus solely on the scale, but the scale is NOT the only way to measure success! And when you feel like giving up because you aren’t at a certain number, look back at your starting point and appreciate how far you have come!
Step Two: Know What Kinds of Foods to Eat on Keto
The ketogenic diet is a higher fat, moderately low protein, very low carbohydrate diet. This means that the majority of your calories will be coming from good sources of fat. But that does NOT mean you will only be eating sticks of butter and bacon grease! Nutrition is very important on the ketogenic diet. You need to make sure you are getting your “fuel” from whole foods. This means, vegetables, meat, dairy, oils, nuts, and berries (in moderation).
Sticking with whole foods makes things less complicated. When you look at “keto” prepackaged foods you need to sift through the ingredients looking for culprits that may not actually be keto-friendly. Read more about this in our article called Is This Keto Approved?. Also, learn how to calculate your macronutrients. It’s not just about calorie intake or carb intake; it’s about eating a diet of mostly healthy fats (coconut oil, olive oil, almond flour, macadamia nuts and more as listed below), moderate protein (grass-fed meat, chicken breasts and thighs, eggs, etcetera), and low-carb veggies (leafy greens, zucchini, bell peppers, green beans, and more). If you consume any fruit, you want to choose non-sugary berries that are low glycemic so they won’t cause a significant blood glucose spike, which in turn would affect your ability to stay in ketosis. More great options are in the infographic below:
Step Three: Calculating Macros and Calories
You have a basic idea of what you can eat. But how much should you eat? This is where the conflicting information starts. Now there are two different views on weight loss on keto. Some say you do not need to calorie restrict, just stick to keto calorie percentages alone (70% fats, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrates) or with 20g of net carbs per day. (Note that net carbs are total carbs minus fiber.)
With this school of thought you would eat until satiated and stop. Eating more fats as needed to feel satiated. Now this has been shown to work in clinical studies and lead to weight loss. But in many of those studies the participants were morbid to morbidly obese and just decreasing carbohydrates alone would have resulted in a weight loss, especially for the short-term. The issue here is that many people that are overweight do not know what satiety is. They may feel they need to have the feeling of being “stuffed” or full to be satisfied. So those people may be more likely to overeat, resulting in weight gain rather than losing weight.
The second school of thought is to track your macros (the amount of fat, protein, and calories you can have daily) and also have a caloric deficit. This is our preferred way as it seems to lead to more optimal results and ketone levels. For those looking to go this route, using a macro calculator such as MyMojoMacros will help you figure out the proper amount of protein and fats for your activity level as well as daily calories.
Step Four: Tracking The Keto Diet for Weight Loss
After you have decided on which method you would like to follow as far as calories and macros go you need to decide how you will track what you are eating. While pen and paper may be preferred for some, we love the simplicity of being able to use an app or website. We’ve recently reviewed a few of them so head over to that article to read the pros and cons of several of the most popular keto apps available for your mobile devices. Now here comes the tricky part. Once you have your macros, have your method of tracking, now you need to plan your meals so that you stay within your limits. For us we have always found that meal planning is the best way to stay on target. It is much easier to make adjustments to your day BEFORE you eat something. For us that means tracking our breakfast, dinner, and snacking first. Then using any remaining macros to make a delicious nutrient-rich salad! If you need more fats you can add avocados, cheese, dressing or oils. If you need more protein you can add eggs or meat.
Step Five: Self Experimentation on Keto Diet
Finally keep in mind that everyone’s body is different and reacts uniquely to foods, diets, and exercise. That means that foods that someone can have and stay in ketosis might kick you out. This is where monitoring your ketone and glucose levels will come in. Monitoring your levels and testing them before and after trying new foods will help you find what works best for you and your body. Your weight loss journey is just that, YOURS. That means you need to work at a pace that suits you. If that means starting slow and cutting out added sugars, sweeteners, and flour, making shopping lists for the right kind of nutrition, and working up to keto then that is what you need to do. If it means losing at a slower pace so that you feel more comfortable with all the change then that’s what you need to do. Keto can be a healthy sustainable way to lose weight and live. You need to think of it as a lifestyle change and not a “crash diet” to get you to your goal. And while the keto lifestyle is a great way to lose weight, you need to be in the right frame of mind to do so. Focus on your health, make small attainable goals (a few that have nothing to do with the scale), and stay positive. This is the key to success from the first week onward!