Well, I’m glad you asked. If you are reading this, you most likely believe or want to believe that is does. But have you ever stopped to yourself “How does keto work exactly”?
Most people don’t care how Keto works, they only care about the results. But this is a catch 22 because if you don’t know how Keto works, then you can never be sure if the results are optimal. Could you be healthier? And, it makes it more difficult to tweak or troubleshoot if something isn’t going right.
I have written a lot about the metabolic processes that make for an optimal ketogenic diet. Sure, fat loss is an important factor (super important) but there is more to it.
Here, I want to answer some of the most common burning questions that I get asked all the time about different ketogenic diets, the success rate of Keto, and whether or not “Keto works”.
How keto works: (The Brief)
So, let’s take a brief look at how the Keto Diet works from a biochemical perspective.
When you eat a meal that includes carbohydrates, your body breaks down the carbohydrates into glucose and releases that glucose into your blood.
Glucose can’t stay in your blood, so your pancreas releases insulin which tells your muscles and liver to absorb as much of the glucose as they can.
In your muscles and liver glucose is converted to glycogen which is basically just long chains of glucose molecules. When your body needs quick energy, it will use the glycogen for fuel.
The Keto Diet works because drastically reducing your carb intake reduces insulin levels and burns off the glycogen. This enables your body to burn the fat for energy instead of glucose. When your body burns fat for energy, it does it by your liver changing fat into ketones. This is the state of Ketosis. Your liver makes ketones from fat, and your cells use ketones for energy instead of glucose.
So, that’s the basic idea behind the Keto Diet. By eating a high fat, low-carb diet, you can force your body to burn fat for fuel instead of glucose. This will result melting off pounds and other health benefits.
Now for the questions I get in email, on social media and around the dinner table with friends and extended family…
Does keto actually work for weight loss?
Obviously it does. Millions of people are losing the poundage every day utilizing ketogenic diets.
The keto diet is more effective for slimming down than other diets. But someone who sent me an email had a read an article in a popular health magazine that Keto is just all water loss. NOPE.
A study published in the Journal of Obesity found that people who followed a ketogenic diet lost more body fat than those who followed a low-fat diet. The keto group also had greater reductions in body fat percentage and body mass index.
Another study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that people on a ketogenic diet lost more body fat than those on a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet.
There are many other studies that have shown similar results. The bottom line is that the keto diet works for fat loss, not just water weight loss.
What are the negatives of keto diet?
There are a few potential negatives of the ketogenic diet, but they are mostly related to the fact that it is different than the SAD diet (American Standard Diet) and our relationships with food.
1. You have to eat a lot of fat. This can be difficult for some people to do, especially if you are used to eating a low-fat diet and are hung up on the old food pyramid.
2. You have to give up many of your favorite foods. This can be hard to do, especially if you are used to eating a lot of carbs.
3. You may experience side effects such as the keto flu, fatigue, and constipation. These side effects are usually temporary and will go away once your body adjusts to the diet.
4. You may have difficulty sticking to the diet in the long-term. This is because the keto diet is a very low-carb diet and it can be hard to maintain if you don’t find enough recipes that you like. Variety is the spice of life.
5. You may not get all of the nutrients your body needs on a keto diet if you don’t eat your veggies. This is because many people approach Keto like it’s the bacon and cheese diet.
Overall, the ketogenic diet is a very effective diet for fat reduction. However, it is important to remember that you have to be responsible for rounding out your diet, and not just eating cheese all day long.
If you are in very ill health and thinking about trying the ketogenic diet for the first time, talk to your doctor first to make sure it is right for you.
How fast will I lose fat on keto?
The answer to this question depends on a few things. First, how overweight you are and how much you need to lose. Second, how well you stick to the diet and third, how active you are.
If you are overweight and need to lose a lot, then you can expect to lose a lot of very quickly in the beginning. This won’t be all stored fat, but along with a lot of water weight as well.
If you are active, then you will lose at a faster rate because you will be using up more energy. If you are sedentary, then you will lose at a slower rate. Legit right?
The bottom line is that everyone is different and will lose fat at a different rate. It is important to find a diet and exercise plan that works for you and stick with it. If you want to take off like a jet plane, check out this article about how to “Lose ten pounds in a week“.
I lost ten pounds in my first week on keto. You can too.
What is the success rate of Keto?
There are many variables that can impact the success of a ketogenic diet, such as compliance with the plan, overall health, and starting weight.
However, a large-scale 2018 study found that people who followed a keto diet for 24 weeks lost an average of 12.3% of their body weight, while those following a more moderate low-carb diet plan lost 5.7%.
While these results are promising, it’s important to remember that this study was sponsored by a company that makes keto-related supplements, so it’s possible that the study was skewed somehow.
Additionally, long-term studies on the ketogenic diet are lacking, so more research is needed to determine the true effectiveness of this way of eating.
I have been eating this way for almost five years and have kept the weight off and am a pretty fit old man if I don’t say so myself. Brandy says I’m a catch.
Does Keto Burn Belly Fat?
The keto diet can help you lose weight in many different ways, including reducing your overall body fat percentage and helping to shrink your waistline. You can’t really “burn fat” in just one area of your body. It’s an all over thing.
You can do exercises to strengthen your core and streamline your belly, but fat loss in one area isn’t possible.
What is the Best Fat Burning Food?
Oh dear, this one is like nails on a chalkboard. There is no such thing as a “fat burning food.” Foods don’t burn any fat, people burn their fat.
This is a click-bait type of statement if you see it on Pinterest or Facebook or wherever you read about Keto.
You can eat a truckload of celery, but if you’re still eating more calories than you’re burning, then you’re not going to lose weight. It’s really that simple.
That said, some foods can help you feel more satisfied after eating and help to control cravings. These keto friendly foods include high-protein foods, fiber-rich foods, and healthy fats.
If you’re looking for a way to help control your weight, focus on creating a calorie deficit by eating less and moving more. If you follow the Keto WOE, this will help your body burn up fat as fuel, and you’ll start to see weight loss results.
What Foods are Keto?
FOODS ARE NOT KETO – keep reading.
The keto diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate way of eating. This means that you will be eating mostly fats, with a limited amount of carbs.
Some people mistake the keto diet for a no-carb diet, but that is not accurate. While you are limiting your carb intake, you are still consuming some carbs, just not as many as you would on a traditional diet.
Food is not “Keto”. People can get into “Ketosis”, food can’t.
In that vein, some food makes it easier to maintain ketosis by keeping you fuller and more satisfied so that you don’t overeat calories. It’s a high fat diet that helps keep you feeling full and satisfied.
What is the Best Exercise for fat burning?
There is no one “best” exercise to burn the blubber. The best exercise is the one that you like the best and will actually do on a regular basis.
If you enjoy running, then running is a great way to help your body burn calories. If you hate running, then there are other exercises that can help you torch fat, such as hiking, biking, swimming, or yoga. Even walking the dog is great exercise and your best friend will love it too.
Is the Keto Diet Gluten Free?
Yes and no.
The keto diet is MOSTLY a gluten-free diet by default, as most of the foods that are lowest in carbohydrates are whole, unprocessed foods that are naturally gluten-free. Whole grains contain a lot of carbs so those are usually OUT.
But gluten is a protein and not bad for you UNLESS you have wheat or gluten sensitivities such as celiac disease. Vital wheat gluten is a protein, and the ingredient in commercial Keto breads that makes it rise.
You can save some money and make either of these fantastic Keto Yeast Bread Recipes:
I’m Lactose Intolerant so I CAN’T do Keto!
You do not have to consume dairy to lose weight and gain all of the health benefits that Keto has to offer. Brandy has nixed dairy EXCEPT for butter and she feels better than ever (and is looking pretty good too) Dairy was causing her to gain pounds.
There are plenty of dairy-free keto options available, such as using almond milk or coconut milk instead of heavy whipping cream. You can also find keto-friendly cheese substitutes made from plant-based ingredients if you have to. We just leave cheese out of whatever my wife will be eating and I add it in later- easy. Don’t worry, she still develops Keto Recipes that include dairy. I just get to test more ;).
If you’re lactose intolerant, there’s no need to give up on the keto diet. Just be sure to focus on getting your nutrients from other sources, such as leafy greens, fatty fish, meats, and healthy fats.
I’m doing Keto but not losing weight!
There could be a few reasons for this.
First, calories still matter, make sure that you are actually in a calorie deficit. If you’re eating the same amount of calories that you’re burning, then you’re not going to lose weight.
Second, take a look at your portion sizes. It’s easy to overeat on the keto diet, especially if you’re used to eating larger portions. Try scaling back your portions and see if that helps.
Inflammation, stress and insulin can interrupt ketosis, so you may want to consider if your eating anything that is causing you pain.
Finally, consider adding in some exercise. Exercise not only burns calories, but it also helps to boost your metabolism and makes you more sensitive to insulin. This can help your body burn the fat more effectively.
Does Keto Cause High Cholesterol?
There is no definitive answer to this question as everyone’s body responds differently to the keto diet. Some people may see an increase in cholesterol levels, while others don’t.
I can tell you that my cholesterol actually went down. Most cholesterol (85%) is created by your body to respond to some inflammation or injury.
If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, be sure to speak with your doctor before starting the keto diet. You may also want to get your cholesterol levels checked periodically to see how your body is responding to the diet.
In general, the keto diet is considered to be a healthy diet that can help improve cholesterol levels. However, if you have existing health conditions, be sure to speak with your doctor before starting any new diet.
If I cheat on Keto Will I get the Keto Flu when I start again?
The “keto flu” is a term used to describe the symptoms that some people experience when they first start the keto diet. These symptoms can include fatigue, brain fog, and irritability.
If you cheat on the keto diet, you may experience these symptoms again when you start the diet back up. However, they should go away after a few days as your body adjusts back to ketosis.
To avoid the keto flu, be sure to start the diet slowly and increase your intake of electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium) when first starting out. You can also try taking a supplement such as Exogenous Ketones, bone broth or collagen to help alleviate some of the symptoms.
In general, the keto diet is a safe and healthy way to lose weight. However, as with any diet, there are some risks involved. Be sure to speak with your doctor before starting the diet to make sure it’s right for you.
Does Keto Work For Everyone?
Again, yes and no.
No ONE diet works for everyone the same way, and the keto diet is no exception.
Some people may lose a lot of weight on Keto, while others may not lose any weight at all. But there might be other issues at play.
Dairy and nuts cause inflammation in Brandy’s body. She thought Keto had “stopped working” for her until she cut them out. So she isn’t doing JUST “Keto”. She is also “Dairy Free” and “Nut Free”. It’s a combo deal for her.
The best way to find out if the keto diet will work for you is to give it a try. Start by following the diet for a few weeks and see how your body responds. If you don’t see the results you’re hoping for, you can always try another diet or return to your previous eating habits. It’s WORTH THE SHOT.
One quick note here, if you have issues with certain foods like gluten or lactose, you can do keto without those things just like you avoid them before you were doing keto.
Conclusion: Does Keto Work?
Yes, Keto Works very well indeed. You just need to listen to your body, and learn what works for you.
Keto is a safe and healthy way to lose weight, but it’s not the only way.
I’ll list some other posts below that will help if you are new to the Keto Journey.
Cheers and Keto on,
More Actionable Keto Diet Tips:
- The Benefits of Fasting on Keto
- Mindful Eating on the Keto Diet
- Calories Matter on Keto
- Apple Cider Health Benefits
- The Successful Keto Mindset
- Lose Ten Pounds in 7 Days without Starving
- Nine Signs of Ketosis