Obesity affects more than 93.3 million adults in the United States alone (CDC, 2018), that is roughly 40% 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) 40% 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—which has led so many people to various diets, including Paleo, Low Carb, and Keto. People are starting to question the dietary guidelines that have led to more, not less, 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. We were overweight, unhealthy, and we were sick of being sick and tired. And while everyone should talk with their healthcare provider before making any dietary changes, we want to try and educate others on the benefits of the ketogenic diet when it comes to 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!
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. 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 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, 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 body weight protein, and 80% fat. The participants saw a drastic reduction in weight going from a mean body weight 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 it’s many benefits (feel free to read through our other articles) some may be coming here looking to learn how to implement the diet for weight loss. This may be one of the least complicated diets out there, but due to the overwhelming amount of information out there in the form of blogs, websites, Instagram, Pinterest, and doctors it can make it appear complicated. But what the ketogenic diet boils down to is getting our bodies into ketosis-the metabolic state in which we burn fat for fuel versus glucose. So how do you get started on your weight loss journey with the ketogenic diet? Well follow our five easy steps and we will have you burning fat 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 to make them aware so they can monitor your progress. 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 bodyfat % (your healthcare provider can help you with this), and 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?. You want to choose berries and vegetables 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. Some 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. 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 over eat, resulting in weight gain.
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 planning before we eat a meal 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 snack first. Then using the 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.
And to make it easier to track and reference your glucose and ketone readings, be sure to order the Keto-Mojo Bluetooth connector so you’ll have all of your readings on your mobile device.
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 sugar and flour 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 keto 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!