How to Lose Weight on a Ketogenic Diet

24 Jan 2019 06:55
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There are many ways to lose weight, and following the ketogenic diet is one of them. In fact, keto is one of the most effective ways to lose weight rapidly and keep the fat off for good.

This doesn’t mean, that a high-fat, low-carb diet is ideal for everyone that is aiming for weight loss. Some people may fare better with other dietary choices that fit more snuggly into their current lifestyles.

Either way, it is possible for you to lose weight and keep it off. In this article, we will look at the research to find the most effective weight loss methods so that you can finally find something that works for you. But first, let’s get a better grasp on the issue of obesity and its potential causes.

The Obesity Epidemic

More than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or have obesity in the United States. In other words, being overweight or obese is the new normal for Americans.

Unfortunately, carrying more than a few extra pounds is an epidemic throughout the world as well. Since 1975, the prevalence of obesity in the global population has tripled. Now, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and older are overweight. Of these adults, over 650 million are obese.

Each one of these people carries an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders (e.g., arthritis and low back pain), cancer, type 2 diabetes, and depression. What’s even more frightening is that as the weight continues to increase so does the risk for these noncommunicable diseases.

And yet, despite how obvious it is that being obese is unhealthy, obesity rates are still climbing. Simply telling people to eat less and move more isn’t enough — one of the primary causes of this issue runs much deeper than self-control.

The Potential Causes of The Obesity Epidemic

Just like most health issues, many different factors contribute to obesity. The factors most responsible for the obesity epidemic seem to be our genetics and the environment, and how they interact to create our eating behavior. To gain a deeper understanding of how they contribute to obesity, let’s explore the organ responsible for our eating decisions — the brain.

The brain was built over millions of years of genetic evolution. The evolution of the brain (and its deeply ingrained behavioral patterns) depended on its ability to adapt to an environment that shared almost nothing in common with where we spend most of our time today.

The first humans didn’t have Walmart, grocery stores, and restaurants around every corner — they had wild plants to forage and animals to hunt that may or may not be there the next day. To adapt to this uncertain food environment, humans and all other animals developed a highly motivating and rewarding relationship with food.

As a result, humans and most other animals tend to eat much more than necessary in an attempt to store extra calories and other nutrients away for times when food is scarce. To put it more simply, we are wired to eat as much as possible when food is available.

More specifically, we are wired to seek out foods that contain different combinations of fat, carbs, protein, and salt. More food variety means more nutrients and better survival.

Given the choice of a fat and protein source like meat or a salt and carb rich food like potato chips, we are designed say yes to both. No matter how stuffed we are, the most primal parts of our brain will typically tell us that there is room for more if a novel food source is available. These behaviors were essential for our survival as a species. If we ate reasonably whenever food was available, then we wouldn’t have enough fat or muscle to fuel us when calories were scarce.

Unfortunately, our current food environment is nothing like what the human race initially evolved to handle. Today, we are constantly bombarded with endless processed food options, food ads, and smells that trigger our desires. As a result, the oldest parts of our brain motivate us to hunt for that food, which we now have a 100% chance of getting — and we don’t have to exert much effort at all to get it.

We will then act out our ancestral programming by eating the most calorie dense foods (i.e., pizza, french fries, cookies, cakes, etc.) and eating much more of those foods then what our body needs to energize itself until the next meal. This results in a vicious cycle of overeating and weight gain with the subconscious intention to prepare us for famine — famine that never comes.

When we consider our genetics and the current food environment together, a fascinating story reveals itself. The human species evolved from millions of years of genes that were trying to survive an environment that they didn’t create. As a result, humans evolved the ability to create their own environment that allows them to fulfill their needs at any given moment with minimal effort.

The irony in all of this is that the very genes that provided us with this astounding ability to create our own food environment have not been given enough time to adapt to the abundance that the majority of the human species created for themselves.

The result? A profound mismatch between the human and its environment that causes it to eat so much and move so little that humanity accelerates its own extinction. For a more specific example, take another look at how many people are obese or overweight in the United States — a country with one of the most convenient food environments.

The solution? One way of approaching this issue is through dieting. To adapt to such an abundant food environment, you need to give your brain new food rules to follow (e.g, a diet). Your brain needs you to tell it what to eat and what not to eat to meet your health goals. One of the best ways to do this is by finding a diet with simple rules that you can follow for the rest of your life.

The Best Diet For Weight Loss

Health is so complex that there is no “best diet for weight loss.” Every person requires unique dietary and lifestyle changes so that they can lose weight and keep it off for the rest of their life.

What we do know for certain is that calories matter. (The human body cannot escape the laws of thermodynamics.) If you eat more than your body needs to maintain itself, then you will gain weight. Conversely, if you eat less than your body needs, then you will lose weight. It’s a simple concept, but it comes with a ton of nuances.

Your daily caloric needs are not set in stone — they vary slightly from day to day. Because of the unpredictable nature of our calorie requirements, many scientists have posited that they don’t matter as much as other things like hormones.

High Protein Keto Diet -insulin hypothesis, for example, proposes that the primary cause of the obesity epidemic is insulin stimulating foods like sugar and starches. The logic behind this hypothesis is based on one of the many actions of insulin.

When carbs are consumed, insulin is released by the pancreas. Once insulin interacts with fat cells, it prevents fat from being burned as fuel and triggers fat storage.

Because of this phenomenon, the supporters of the carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis tend to believe that all you need to do to lose fat is restrict carbs. However, this is a reductionistic view of obesity that doesn’t account for the complex nature of the human body.

The truth is that there are multiple mechanisms for fat storage in the body that depend on calorie intake, not insulin. Insulin has also been shown to play a role in regulating our metabolic rate, which increases our caloric output to a minimal degree.

To sum up what we learned in this section, here’s a helpful way to think of weight loss:

Calorie intake makes the biggest impact on whether you gain or lose weight.

Other factors like exercise and insulin also matter, but to a much smaller degree.

The current literature argues between calories and carbohydrates. Below, we discuss it further.

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