Jul 16, 2020

What is the ketogenic diet?

Every elite athlete thrives on a thorough and nutritious diet. With a drive to achieve the best, athletes experiment with different diets to find the best results for themselves. One of the most intriguing and unique diets is the ketogenic, or keto diet. The Reach Outcomes team is determined to inform its athletes about the safest and most effective diet plans. With this in mind, our team dove into the details of the keto diet to offer a detailed list of what to know. Reach Outcomes understands that every athlete is unique and requires a diet plan that represents this. We do not recommend beginning any diet plans without explicit recommendations from a registered dietitian. However, our team is experienced and apt to provide athletes with an encompassing training plan for any and all diets.

The ketogenic diet is a diet consisting of only 1 percent of the individual’s intake from carbohydrates (less than 50 grams), 60 to 80 percent from fats and 20 to 40 percent from proteins. For starters, it is important for athletes, and all individuals, to understand that a ketogenic diet is a difficult diet to achieve, as it requires an individual to be in a keto-adapted state. This state, which is found via a blood test, is defined by a higher count of ketone particles in the bloodstream. While the typical amount of ketones does not exceed .3 millimoles per liter of blood, the amount of ketones of a keto-adapted individual is .5 to 3 millimoles per liter. To understand how to start a keto diet, it is important to realize that achieving this measurement is a must, and the time it takes to become keto-adapted varies greatly, with some achieving it in a few weeks, while it may take months for others. 

A diet low in carbohydrates is often mistaken for a keto-adapted state, but until ketosis is achieved, the ketogenic diet is not fully in effect. This discrepancy is due to the body’s response to its functions while in ketosis. While in most typical diets the body utilizes glucose as its source of energy, the body of an individual fully practicing a ketogenic diet is being powered by ketones produced in the liver. This process turns fats into ketones, which are then burned as the primary source of energy. The ketogenic diet’s heavy reliance on fat-originated ketones is a large contributor as to why this diet is effective in short-term weight loss. Intermittent fasting is also a common aspect of the keto diet, as the body naturally creates ketones during fasting stages. 

One of the most notable keto diet side effects is the “keto flu.” This term refers to the side effects individuals experience in the beginning stages of pursuing ketosis, and eventually, the ketogenic diet. The symptoms and severity of the keto flu can vary for each person, but generally, these symptoms will arise within a few days of the pursuit of ketosis and last for about a week. Some of the most common symptoms of the keto flu include nausea and vomiting, headaches, muscle weakness and cramps, as well as several others. 

The keto diet can be highly effective in promoting weight loss, especially in short periods of time, and is a good option for receiving energy quickly, due to the way the body breaks down the ketones. Due to its efficient ability to burn fat, this plan could be helpful in offseason areas to lose weight. However, the keto diet will likely not be an incredibly effective option for most athletes. Weight gain is extremely difficult while functioning on this diet, and therefore, it is not recommended while in any competition or pre-competition phases. If an athlete is in either of these phases while practicing the keto diet, incorporating carbohydrate timing into workouts and meals can help to counter this issue.

Each athlete is unique and requires a diet that supports this, as well as guidance from experienced health experts. If you are interested in using the keto diet, Reach Outcomes encourages a thorough examination of other similar diets, including a low carb diet, as well as consultation with one’s health provider and experienced dietitians. A lower-carb diet does not require ketosis to be achieved and operates on 10 to 30 percent of the daily intake from carbs (50 to 150 grams) and is also beneficial in short-time weight loss. We welcome athletes functioning on all diets and are adept team can provide the perfect routine to complement any diet. 

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