You’ve probably seen those jaw-dropping before and after transformations of people shedding pounds on the ketogenic diet. But are these legit? And if so, what’s the secret behind this seemingly miraculous weight loss approach?
While we can’t say with certainty that all of the keto success stories out there are honest testimonials, we’d venture to say most are. Why? Because the keto diet is scientifically proven to support sustainable weight loss. Join us as we dive into the science and stick around ‘til the end for practical tips for navigating your keto weight loss journey.
What Is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet (short for ketogenic diet) is a very low-carb, high-fat diet. It aims to shift the body’s metabolism from burning glucose (obtained from carbohydrates) to burning fat and ketones for energy. This metabolic state is called ketosis.
On a typical keto diet, you consume about 60-70% of your calories from fat, 20-30% from protein, and only 5-10% from carbohydrates. By drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat consumption, your body is forced to use fat as its primary energy source. Ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fat, serve as an alternative fuel for the brain and body in the absence of glucose.
The keto diet was originally created to treat epilepsy, however, it has since gained popularity for its other potential health benefits. These include weight loss, more stable energy, reduced need for insulin in those with diabetes, improved brain health, and reduced hunger.[*][*][*][*]
Evidence for the Keto Diet’s Effectiveness for Weight Loss
The keto diet’s ability to help people lose body weight is supported not only by countless testimonials, but also by science. Here are some studies that support its effectiveness:
- Over six months, obese women experienced greater fat loss on a keto diet than those following a low-fat diet.[*]
- Over 12 weeks, military personnel saw significant improvements in body composition (including a 43% reduction in abdominal fat) while following a keto diet, without any negative impact on their physical performance.[*]
- During a 24-week keto diet, obese individuals experienced notable weight loss and improvements in other health markers, such as cholesterol levels.[*]
- Over 12 weeks, sixteen adolescents experienced greater weight loss on a low-carb diet compared to a low-fat diet.[*]
It’s important to note that these studies do not prove the keto diet will lead to weight loss for everyone. However, they do indicate that it has potential to be an effective approach for achieving weight loss goals.
How Keto May Support Weight Loss
Keto contributes to healthy weight management through several mechanisms, including:
#1: Increased Fat Burning
One of the primary ways the keto diet supports weight loss is by increasing fat burning. When you follow a keto diet, your carbohydrate intake is drastically reduced, causing your body to look for an alternative energy source. This is when your body starts breaking down stored body fat and dietary fat into molecules called ketones, which serve as a fuel source. By tapping into and utilizing your body’s fat reserves, weight loss is the natural result.
#2: Hunger Management
Another way the keto diet supports weight loss is through effective hunger management. Studies have shown that keto can help decrease the hunger hormone ghrelin.[*] Ghrelin is responsible for sending signals of hunger to your brain, making you reach for excess food or off-limit snacks.
By keeping ghrelin levels under control on the keto diet, you’re less likely to overeat, making it easier to maintain or lose weight.
#3: Reduced Cravings
This is where the keto diet plays a crucial role. By following a low-carb diet, you deprive your brain of its carbohydrate-based rewards, eventually breaking the cycle of carb and sugar cravings. When you’re no longer consuming empty calories from processed carbs, weight loss becomes a more achievable goal.
Tips for Maximizing Weight Loss on Keto
To supercharge your progress while following the keto diet, consider incorporating these helpful tips:
- Track your macros: Monitor your daily intake of fat, protein, and carbohydrates to ensure you’re maintaining your target keto macros. This will help your body maintain ketosis and efficiently burn fat for fuel.
- Watch out for hidden carbs: Check food labels and ingredient lists, as many products contain hidden carbs (namely sugar) that can interfere with ketosis. Sneaky sugar is found in many food items, from sauces to salad dressings to soups.
- Prioritize whole foods: Choose nutrient-dense, whole foods like leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats, and high-quality protein sources. These foods not only support your overall health, but also contribute to satiety, helping you to avoid overeating.
- Manage stress: High stress levels can lead to weight gain or hinder weight loss efforts.[*] Reduce stress by loading up on anti-stress foods and trying things like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
- Get adequate sleep: Ensure you’re getting enough sleep each night, as inadequate sleep can negatively affect weight loss.[*] Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep nightly.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water is essential for overall health and weight loss. Proper hydration can help suppress appetite, improve digestion, and increase energy levels. Just be sure you don’t drink too much water, as this can deplete your electrolyte levels. The best hydration solution is drinking electrolyte water to thirst. To make electrolyte water, simply add a packet of high-quality electrolyte powder, such as IQMIX, to water.
- Incorporate exercise: Combine your keto diet with regular physical activity for optimal results. Exercise can help increase fat burning, build lean muscle mass, and improve your overall health.
- Consider intermittent fasting: Combining the keto diet with intermittent fasting can further enhance your weight loss results. Intermittent fasting involves eating all your daily food in a specific time window, which can help regulate blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and promote fat burning. There are various fasting methods to choose from, such as the 16:8 or 5:2 approach, so find one that best suits your lifestyle and preferences.
- Keep keto-friendly snacks on hand: To curb cravings and prevent accidental slip-ups, stock your pantry and fridge with easy-to-grab keto-friendly snacks. Options like nuts, seeds, cheese, olives, low-carb vegetables with a healthy fat dip, and keto-friendly protein bars like IQBAR can keep you satiated and on track with your weight loss goals.
Get Started with Keto for Weight Loss
Following a keto meal plan offers a promising approach to weight loss, and by implementing these tips, you can maximize your results and enjoy sustainable success.
We invite you to try IQBAR and IQMIX to support your keto weight loss goals and overall well-being. Choose from IQBAR flavors like Lemon Blueberry, Matcha Chai, and Peanut Butter Chip, and IQMIX flavors, including Blood Orange, Lemon Lime, Peach Mango, and Blueberry Pomegranate. Packed with clean ingredients, these tasty additions will keep you energized, focused, and committed to your keto lifestyle.
Written by Katie Koschalk, a health and wellness writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and certified personal trainer based in California.