A low-carb, ketogenic diet is beneficial in various ways, one being weight loss. However, weight reduction depends on a variety of personal circumstances. For example, whether you are physically active, your age, hormone health, and other preexisting conditions could all influence your weight-loss pace.
We'll cover the top tips you need to know to maximize accelerated weight loss while minimizing the transitory challenges of converting the body from relying primarily on glucose to using fat and ketones for fuel––like the notorious 'keto flu.'
Plus, it's essential to pack your shopping cart with healthy fats and other foods that aid in weight loss or boost energy to fuel intense workouts, like MCT oil, to maximize performance and results.
Let's start with the basics of eating a low-carb, high-fat diet, the things to expect when you eliminate carbohydrates and how to invigorate your mind and body so you may live an energy-filled life.
What is the keto diet?
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet initially used in medicine to treat children with difficult-to-control epilepsy. The body must burn fat rather than glucose once we eliminate carbs from our diet—leading the body to a fat-adapted efficient state.
The key is to drastically reduce your carbohydrate intake and replace those calories with fat to initiate the metabolic state of ketosis. Once you deplete your glucose stores through dietary changes or intense exercise, your body will seek other forms of fuel to function correctly.
Fortunately, the body and brain love fat and ketone-based power—with ketones able to cross the brain-blood barrier to act as an instant fuel source—and your body will reward you with enhanced energy levels and noticeable mental sharpness as a result.
After fat-adaptation, the body enters a fat-burning stage, quickly releasing extra body fat while managing hunger, glucose, and insulin levels, making weight reduction and hormone balancing extremely simple.
How does the keto diet lead to weight loss?
Calorie restriction is a weight-loss model many subscribed to for decades, but a ketogenic diet takes an alternative approach. While focusing on calorie intake versus output to create a deficit resulting in weight loss, a ketogenic diet prioritizes entering ketosis to trigger weight loss rather than drastically limiting caloric intake.
How much weight can you lose on a ketogenic diet?
The amount and rate of weight loss vary by individual, although anecdotal accounts of fat loss in the first week range from 1 pound (0.5 kg) to 10 pounds or more (5 kg). However, much of the early weight reduction visible on the scale is water rather than fat, so the bigger you are, the more water weight you're likely to lose when starting a keto diet.
While we all lose weight at alternating rates, the following best practices will help you maximize weight loss on a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet:
Determine your keto macros and keep track of them. To adequately meet their needs, everyone needs a distinct dietary regimen. With free online macro calculators you can quickly establish your optimum macronutrient budget based on your current weight, activity level, gender, and age.
Eat within a six-to-eight-hour window to leverage the metabolic power of intermittent fasting and the subsequent process of autophagy that discards old and mutated cells and replaces them with new healthy cells to prevent illness and disease.
Avoid dairy products and sweeteners. Sugar-free sweeteners are generally acceptable on a low-carb, high-fat diet, as are heavy cream and other dairy products. However, these ingredients can cause bloating and digestive problems for some. If you’re not losing weight, these ingredients may be preventing you from doing so.
Invest in a coach. Knowing you have the support and guidance of someone who has been where you are and has conquered the challenges you face is priceless. Moreover, accessing the knowledge and experiences of others can accelerate your success and spare you the frustration of unnecessary trial and error.
Exercise, exercise, exercise! Get active and burn additional calories to deplete your glucose stores and trigger nutritional ketosis. When running on fat and ketones for fuel, the body can quickly burn calories efficiently, even after a workout.
Consider monitoring total carbs instead of net carbs. Some count net carb grams, or total carbs minus fiber grams, but clamping down and using total carb intake as your standard measure may help with weight loss. Track your total carb intake for a week or two to determine if the amount you're eating is too high to sustain consistent weight loss.
Limit snacking or eating between meals. Whether you decide to eat one meal a day (OMAD) on keto or enjoy smaller meals throughout the day, snacking in between meals can create calorie surpluses that sabotage weight loss. So eliminate noshing between meals to limit overeating and stalling fat loss.
Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated is essential on any diet. Our bodies consist mostly of water, and it is necessary to replenish it regularly to prevent dehydration. Plus, metabolic ketosis causes the body to release more vitamins, minerals, and water than those consuming more carbs, making it particularly important to have H2O handy and sip some throughout the day.
Although weight loss timelines will vary, you can look to some broad ranges to set your expectations for weight reduction on a keto diet.
Keto Weight Loss: Week One
Expect to lose between one and 10 pounds on average after your first week on a low-carb, high-fat diet. Of course, the rate of weight loss depends on exercise, calorie intake, hormone levels, and other factors. Still, anecdotal experiences indicate that the noted range is a reasonable expectation during your first week of eliminating carbs and sugars.
Keto Weight Loss: Month One
After a month of adopting a low-carb, high-fat diet, most people reach fat adaption and a ketogenic metabolic state. Once fat-adapted, the body will burn calories and fat more quickly, and one could expect to lose an additional 10 pounds or more in the first month.
Increased exercise, counting total carbs instead of net carbs, resting well at night, and staying hydrated and fueled with nutrient-dense whole foods contribute to steady and continued weight loss on keto.
During this time, electrolyte management is critical, and most people will require more salt, potassium, and magnesium to counteract any symptoms of "keto flu" caused by electrolyte depletion.
Consider this a phase of transition in which your body constructs new transporters and messengers, teaching your system to run on alternate fuel at maximum efficiency by relying primarily on fat and ketones for energy. Be patient; acclimating the body to reliance on an alternate energy source takes time, and switching to operating on fat and ketones is gradual.
Keto Weight Loss: 90 Days on Keto
Maintaining a caloric deficit should result in a one-to-two-pound loss per week. So, one can lose between 20 and 25 pounds in 90 days, with many losing more weight based on various lifestyle factors.
Remember, the pace of weight loss can depend on your starting body fat percentage. As a result, you may notice a slower pace of weight loss as you lose fat and have a lower body fat percentage.
Maintaining your Ketogenic Weight Loss
Some may argue that losing weight is the easy part; keeping it off is the tricky part, and the ability to maintain your keto weight long-term relates to making the low-carb, high-fat diet a lifestyle choice rather than a fast fix.
Plus, if you've reached your weight-loss target or are an athlete, cycling through phases of eating more carbohydrates in your diet can make the program more sustainable and allow for occasional starchy indulgences, thanks to metabolic flexibility. Check out our recent article on the ways to tweak your ketogenic diet to identify your low-carb sweet spot while on a ketogenic diet.
Allowing for the occasional sweet potato on a ketogenic diet may keep you from seeking fast-acting carbs that increase blood sugar and throw you off track, jeopardizing the keto diet's health and weight-loss benefits. So, consider mindfully including moderate-glycemic foods in your meal plan if you are very active or find yourself missing these foods to the point that it triggers uncontrollable cravings.
A ketogenic diet is a fantastic way to lose excess weight, increase energy, and boost mental sharpness. Eliminating sugar and carbs leaves no choice for the body, shifting it into a thermogenic, fat-burning state.
While following a restricted carb diet, commitment and consistency result in impressive losses on the scale and improved hormonal and metabolic health. Consider the tips shared above to accelerate and maximize fat loss, but focus on the self-care element of eliminating carbs and enhancing your overall health rather than obsessing on the number on the scale––the results you seek will manifest if you stay the course.
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