The Ketogenic diet is all the rage right now. For many, when executed properly, this high fat, low carbohydrate method of fueling forces the body into a state of ketosis, where the body resorts to burning fats rather than its first choice energy source (carbohydrates).
Many athletes know that carbohydrate intake is important while training and recovering. Under normal circumstances, carbohydrates in our diets are converted into glucose and sent around the body to break down as a quick source of fuel, which is helpful during training. However, if very small amounts of carbs are consumed, the liver transforms fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. Elevated ketone bodies in the blood replace glucose as the body’s energy source (1).
There are several pros and cons to the Keto diet – for active people in particular.
Ketogenic eating plans were developed over time to help alleviate the symptoms of epilepsy (1), however, many have found it to be beneficial for combating other health issues, mainly higher than average weights (precursors for a number of other problems including heart disease and type II diabetes). Keto diets have been shown to help some shed a significant amount of weight in the form of fat.
The Ketogenic diet is restrictive and for many, unsustainable. 70-75% of the day’s calories should come from fat, leaving 15-20% for a moderate amount of protein, and a mere 5-10% for carbohydrates. If you are counting your macros accurately, this means that the plan itself is extremely low calorie, and that the recommended 30ish grams of carbs get used up quickly.
The high fat and moderate protein of a keto plan ensures satiety, or feeling full and satisfied, even on fewer calories due to the fact that fat and protein take longer for the body to process (2). Plus, for those who execute little to no physical activity throughout the day on a regular basis, a keto plan makes a lot of sense: keeping carb levels low when you expend little energy can be more achievable for less active people.
Athletes with intense training schedules, however, or even people who workout vigorously most days of the week, might have a harder time going Keto. As the body adjusts to relying on fat, athletes might experience extreme levels of fatigue, often described as “Keto flu” (3). This is the body’s natural response to carb withdrawal as it adjusts to burning fat over glucose, its normal go-to. While many athletes overcome this and function well on Keto-based regimes, it is often suggested that dieters restrict physical activity to avoid this. If you move a lot, and move hard, Keto might not be for you.
So what can I eat on the Keto diet?
For those who eat meat, you can get our fats from:
- Grass-fed beef
- Full-fat dairy (yogurt, butter, milk, cream, cheese)
For plant based eaters, try:
- Nuts, nut butters, nut flours
For both types of people:
- Oils (olive, coconut, avocado, nut & seed oils)
- Non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens, broccoli, peppers, mushrooms)
- Simple condiments (vinegars, spices, salt + pepper)
What should I avoid?
- Traditional sweets and baked goods
- Sugary beverages
- Grains (rice, oats, cereals, etc.)
- Starchy vegetables (corn, squashes, potatoes)
- Beans + legumes
- Sugar-filled condiments (ketchup, BBQ sauce, salad dressings)
Where does protein come into the equation?
This one is important! While protein is limited to a moderate intake on Keto, your body still needs this macronutrient to function properly, and it serves as a friendly reminder that calories are king: one of the main points of Keto is that you are eating on a deficit. Going crazy on Keto-approved foods will not matter if you are still consuming too many calories, so making sure you get a clean, quality source of protein to keep you full and satisfied is vital.
Protein: what to eat on the Keto diet
Macro counting on Keto is critical: it is important to remember that very few foods are composed explicitly from one macronutrient. For example, a medium avocado is high in fat, but also contains anywhere from 10-15 grams of carbohydrates, which makes up roughly a third of the day’s carb allotment. Protein intake can be made simple on Keto by utilizing the best Keto protein powders and MCT oils. Promix’s Whey Protein Isolate perfectly compliments the protein needs of a Keto eating plan. The unflavored variety has low fat, carbs, and sugar to simplify macro counting. With 30 grams of protein and only 125 calories, adding it to a meal replacement shake ensures you feel fuller longer, promoting fat loss. You’ll also get the muscular recovery you need, boosting you over the hump of that “Keto flu” or better yet, avoiding it all together.
Need more help deciding if Keto is right for you? Touch base with your doctor and/or Registered Dietitian, and always feel free to contact us and firstname.lastname@example.org for more details about how we can help support you as you reach our goals. Be sure to follow Promix Nutrition on instagram for the most up-to-date announcements and more posts to inspire you! We’re here to solve the problems that face every type of athlete.
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(1) Nashiz, Noma. How to Eat Keto the Right Way, According to a Nutritionist. Forbes Website. https://www.forbes.com/sites/nomanazish/2018/08/31/how-to-eat-keto-the-right-way-according-to-a-nutritionist/#2581873e2c5e. Published August 31, 2018. Accessed January 3, 2019.
(2) Hendon, Louise. The Ultimate Guide to the Keto Diet Plan. The Keto Summit Website. https://ketosummit.com/ultimate-guide-keto-diet. Updated October 28, 2018. Accessed January 3, 2019.
(3) Ketogenic Diet: Keto Guide. Diabetes.co.uk, The Global Diabetes Community Website. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/keto/side-effects-of-ketogenic-diet.html. Accessed January 3, 2019.