The ketogenic diet tries to bring carbohydrates down to less than 5 percent of a person’s daily caloric intake – which means eliminating most grains, fruit, starchy vegetables, legumes and sweets. Instead, it replaces those calories with fat. That fat is turned into ketone bodies, which are an alternative energy source: besides glucose derived from carbohydrates, ketones from fat are the only fuel the brain can use.
Focus on diet: It’s true that exercise can give you an immediate surge of energy, but smart eating throughout the day will fuel you with a steadier supply. “With proper nutrition and well-timed meals, you’ll keep your blood sugar balanced. This is important, since blood sugar spikes and drops are a leading cause of energy fluctuations,” says Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D., a nutritional biochemist in Salt Lake City and the author of The Secret of Vigor ($15, amazon.com). You’ll also help to balance your brain’s neurotransmitters, which are chemical substances (including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine) that keep your mood up and therefore your energy from plummeting.
Along with protein and good-for-you fat, fiber is one of those nutrition elements that keeps you full and fueled all day long. And if you’re trying to get fit and shed pounds, fiber is your best friend. In fact, in one an American Heart Association study, participants who consuming 30 grams of fiber a day ended up losing weight and improving their heart health. So when it comes to staying healthy and slim, aim for that 30 gram fiber goal!
This high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carb fad diet sends the body into a state of ketosis, in which the body uses stored fat for energy. Research published in Clinical Cardiology suggests the ketogenic, or “keto,” diet can be an effective weight loss method, but to be successful, you must follow the plan consistently with no cheat days — otherwise, you’re just eating a high-fat diet that may be high in unhealthy fats for no reason. (1) (A pro tip? If you're planning on doing the diet, consider perusing this complete keto food list and reading up on the healthiest fats for keto diet followers.)
The guidelines are extensive, but you do not need to meet every recommendation all at once. To establish a healthy eating plan, the goal is to begin to make gradual changes to your eating and activity. You can select one or two guidelines a week or month to focus on. Over time, you will be able to make most, if not all, of the guidelines a part of your life.
Created in 2003 by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, this low-carb diet features three phases. The first phase is the most restrictive, limiting carbs such as potatoes and rice. Each subsequent phase becomes more lenient, and the diet emphasizes lean protein, unsaturated fats, and low-glycemic carbs such as nonstarchy vegetables. South Beach promotes lasting lifestyle changes, according to the Mayo Clinic. (21)
If you like eating meat and want to lose weight, you might be tempted to try this recent extreme diet fad that proponents have made some pretty outrageous claims about. One: that eating nothing but meat can cure you of autoimmune diseases. The problem is that there’s no good research to support that notion, or any other health claim, for that matter. Indeed, omitting foods known to be good for you — fruits and veggies among them — can lead to a bunch of unwanted side effects, including constipation and potentially dangerous nutrient deficiencies. Still, since you’re cutting out so many food groups, there’s a decent chance you’ll lose weight, experts say. Regardless of any possible benefits you might see, this restrictive approach is definitely one you’ll want to ask your doc about before you even consider diving in.
The most important thing to read on the food label is the very first line. The serving size that is listed is what all of the rest of the information is based upon. For example, if you were looking at a label for cookies and the serving size was two cookies, all of the nutrition information on the label would be based on the consumption of two cookies. When you consume more than two cookies, you need to increase the numbers based on how many servings you consume. For example, if there are 100 calories in two cookies, and you consume six cookies, you would be consuming 300 calories.
There are so many tricks, shortcuts, and gimmicks out there on achieving optimal ketosis – I’d suggest you don’t bother with any of that. Optimal ketosis can be accomplished through dietary nutrition alone (aka just eating food). You shouldn’t need a magic pill to do it. Just stay strict, remain vigilant, and be focused on recording what you eat (to make sure your carb and protein intake are correct).
When you have a 5- or 10K (you get to eat more with a half or full marathon) on your calendar, it's important to plan out what you're going to eat the morning of the big day—something that will keep you fueled and also go down easy. While everyone is different, "We always have good luck with a high-carbohydrate breakfast such as a small bowl of oatmeal with fruit or a couple of pieces of toast with peanut butter or cream cheese," says Andrew Kastor, who also advises eating around 200 to 250 (primarily carb) calories about 90 minutes before you warm up for your run . And don't worry about nixing your a.m. caffeine fix on race day. "Coffee is great for athletic performances," Kastor adds, because it makes you sharper and may even give you extended energy. Talk about buzz-worthy!
Many diet plans cut out entire food groups, which can create nutrient deficiencies as well as health problems. For instance, if the diet is very low in carbohydrates and you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, it’s probably not a good fit. And if it’s too restrictive and you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s not a good idea, either. Keep in mind that pregnancy is not a time for weight loss. Speak with your doctor before making any changes to your diet if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
A study with an intent-to-treat prospective design was published in 1998 by a team from the Johns Hopkins Hospital and followed-up by a report published in 2001. As with most studies of the ketogenic diet, no control group (patients who did not receive the treatment) was used. The study enrolled 150 children. After three months, 83% of them were still on the diet, 26% had experienced a good reduction in seizures, 31% had had an excellent reduction, and 3% were seizure-free.[Note 7] At 12 months, 55% were still on the diet, 23% had a good response, 20% had an excellent response, and 7% were seizure-free. Those who had discontinued the diet by this stage did so because it was ineffective, too restrictive, or due to illness, and most of those who remained were benefiting from it. The percentage of those still on the diet at two, three, and four years was 39%, 20%, and 12%, respectively. During this period, the most common reason for discontinuing the diet was because the children had become seizure-free or significantly better. At four years, 16% of the original 150 children had a good reduction in seizure frequency, 14% had an excellent reduction, and 13% were seizure-free, though these figures include many who were no longer on the diet. Those remaining on the diet after this duration were typically not seizure-free, but had had an excellent response.
In a recent study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, Weiss and his colleagues found that participants performed worse on high-intensity cycling and running tasks after four days on a ketogenic diet, compared to those who’d spent four days on a high-carb diet. Weiss says that the body is in a more acidic state when it’s in ketosis, which may limit its ability to perform at peak levels.
Probably, and there are a few reasons why the keto diet usually equals weight-loss gold, says Keatley. For starters, people usually reduce their daily caloric intake to about 1,500 calories a day because healthy fats and lean proteins make you feel fuller sooner—and for a longer period of time. And then there’s the fact that it takes more energy to process and burn fat and protein than carbs, so you're burning slightly more calories than you did before. Over time, this can lead to weight loss.
After a grueling workout, there's a good chance you're going to be feeling it (we're talking sore thighs, tight calves). Relieve post-fitness aches by submerging your lower body in a cold bath (50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit; you may have to throw some ice cubes in to get it cold enough) for 10 to 15 minutes. "Many top athletes use this trick to help reduce soreness after training sessions," says Andrew Kastor. And advice we love: "An athlete training for an important race should consider getting one to two massages per month to help aid in training recovery," adds Kastor. Now that's speaking our language!
“There are many diet plans on the market today that promote good health,” says Emily Kyle, RDN, who is in private practice in Rochester, New York. “The key is finding one that does not cause you stress or agony.” Ask yourself questions such as: Would the diet guidelines make you happy? Anxious? Stressed? Are you able to follow them long term? “Factors such as enjoyment, flexibility, and longevity should be strongly considered,” adds Kyle.