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Let's Chat, Diets:


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Welcome back to Let's Chat, Diets. This week we take on the increasingly popular Keto diet. Normally participants go on this diet in order to lose weight. We are not the diets biggest fans but as with all these diets, the key to success is sustainability so if you can sustain the Keto long term then fantastic. We make sure to cover it all though so you have all the information you need about the Keto diet. All studies referenced can be seen down below.


Starting at the beginning the Keto diet is one that was initially medically used in order to treat children with epilepsy. Classically the diet was 90% fats, 6% protein, 4% carbs but the more modern variation is 75% fat, 15-20% protein and 5-10% carbs. So, a high-fat low carb diet. This puts the body into something called KETOSIS which is when the body uses fat instead of carbs for fuel. 


Weight Loss. So the body is burning fat instead of carbs so we are burning all our fat right? This is incorrect. Your body will burn whatever you put into it for fuel but in terms of fat loss, the only way this is achieved is by achieving a consistent calorie deficit. Where the keto diet gains a lot of traction is participants getting excited over the initial rapid "weight loss". "Weight loss" is the key term. As we've established on older episodes when you cut out/down carbs you will initially lose a LOT of water weight. 1g of carb is 4g of water. After this initial buzz on weight loss unless you are in a calorie deficit you will not start losing fat and your weight loss will plateau. This is where we find sustainability issues lay. There are actual keto zealots who think calories are a myth but we get into that more on the episode!


Sugar Addiction. This is something that has been blown up hugely especially on social media. If something gets said enough right or wrong it gets known as "fact". Example, sugar is more addicting than cocaine. The actual evidence for this is weak at best. What is "addicting" is highly palatable foods which include foods high in fat as well. Go now and have a tablespoon of sugar and see if you want another spoon. We highly doubt it.


Insulin. I'd highly recommend going back and listening to our carnivore diets episode for more on this as we spend a lot of time discussing it. This essentially goes back to the keto zealots and their disbelief in the calorie and that fat loss is all to do with insulin. This is simply not the case.


Sports Performance. Pretty clear cut evidence on this one. In pretty much all cases there is a clear benefit in the consumption of carbs to sports performance. There is no strong evidence that the participation of the keto diet improves sports performance. We can however see a benefit in sports where a drastic weight loss is required. Example cutting weight for a boxing fight. Going keto for a week will aid in water weight loss. We also bring in some common counter arguments of keto zealots and use some material from Alan Aragon to aid.


Brain Health. Glucose is the brains main fuel source so naturally, you'd think being keto would cause you to have brain meltdown. What we do know is that ketones (fat energy) can provide 70% of the brains energy needs. The rest of the brains needs are from glucose. What our body does is initiate something called glucogenesis. This is where the liver breaks down the amino acids in protein to create glucose. The body then uses this glucose so fuel where needed. Fun fact, if you're on a high protein diet your body may initially ignore ketogenesis and favour glucogenesis so using your protein to get the glucose to fuel instead. Glucose is the bodies preferred fuel source after all. Lots of mice studies done on this one in support of keto so we need more robust studies conducted.


Cancer. Mixed data on this one so we need a lot more studies done. As you'll hear in the episode Bill brings in some data in opposition and then Tom finds some in support but data aside if there was any concrete evidence that cutting down all carbs and going keto would aid in regards to cancer it would be more heavily publicised and more heavily used. With most of our diets, cancer is a big buzz word used to promote a diet.


To really conclude, we need more long term data on the keto diet, it's certainly not superior for fat loss compared to other diets and it may hinder sports performance. If it works for you then great but don't go around spouting false information to fit your bias and love for the keto diet. Tom calls these people "ketards" 


Studies Mentioned 

Co-consumption of Vegetables and Fruit, Whole Grains, and Fiber Reduces the Cancer Risk of Red and Processed Meat

Comparison of dietary macronutrient patterns of 14 popular named dietary programmes for weight and cardiovascular risk factor reduction in adults

Low carbohydrate versus isoenergetic balanced diets for reducing weight and cardiovascular risk

Sugar addiction: the state of the science

Ketone Bodies and Exercise Performance

Effects of Carbohydrate Restriction on Strength Performance

Muscle Growth

Macronutrient considerations for the sport of bodybuilding

Effects of a ketogenic diet on body composition and strength in trained women

Low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet impairs anaerobic exercise performance in exercise-trained women and men

Impact Of Ketogenic Diet On Athletes: Current Insights

Adaptation to a low carbohydrate high fat diet is rapid but impairs endurance exercise metabolism and performance despite enhanced glycogen availability

Re-Examining High-Fat Diets for Sports Performance

Sugars in diet and risk of cancer

Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets

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