Really, it shouldn’t be so difficult to figure out which eating regimen will set fire to fat while maintaining muscle. Fortunately, the International Society of Sports Nutrition just released its position paper, which combs through all existing scientific studies to report how every diet will affect your body composition. Here, we’ve pulled five of the most six-pack-friendly diets and streamlined how they’re great, as well as why they might be right (or wrong) for you—according to the hard science.
“Regardless of how solid they are, your diet and exercise plans won’t work if you aren’t sticking to them. You’ve made a commitment to yourself, so come through with it,” Roussell says. As you plan your meals or snacks, Roussell suggests putting an X over it on your menu map. If you skip a meal or eat something that isn't in your plan, circle that meal. At the end of each week, count the number of meals you ate according to your meal plan and divide that number by the total number of meals, snacks, and post-workout smoothies you had planned, then multiply it by 100.
What the doctors never tell you is that you could also just eat completely different and take none of this crap. So that’s what I did. I stopped all of them all at once. Sure I don’t recommend that, but this damn disease and my disgusting visceral fat filled stomach ruined every aspect of my life-professional, relationships, sexual, mental. I am now 41 living back at home having to start from the bottom. I don’t want what the book recommends. I want every disgusting piece of fat off this body so I can excel again. If staying in ketosis every moment for the rest of my life will get me there then that’s what I’m going to do.
The researchers agree that the diet itself isn’t inherently dangerous. But, cautions Weiss, “If you have any medical condition, if you take any medicine at all – there are lots of things that change how medicines work in our bodies, and nutrition is definitely one of them. If you’re making a real change in your nutrition, you really should talk to your doctor.”
The crazy thing is it is not hard, if it matters. Sure I can see it being hard for someone who does it to lose weight, then when they get closer to their ideal, they want to have treats, etc. Well, for a type one diabetic there’s no end in sight, this is it, and it’s a relatively complication free life (many people reverse their complications when they bring their A1C down to normal) vs. one with inevitable complications. So, perhaps it was too hard for you after a year (you didn’t say, but I assume you are not a type one diabetic), but that is a choice you can make. Not I.
“I’m no longer on insulin, and I have cut down my medications due to keto. I never had to deal with trying to find a spot to inject or having to deal with bruises on my belly,” she says. “I know this may sound silly, but I have a picture of my old insulin syringes in my wallet. I look at it to remind me of what I had to do before keto. It grounds me, and when I have days of self-doubt, I remind myself how far I’ve come.”
While reading the weekly meal plans I could close my eyes and picture enjoying the tastes of these dishes while soaking in the awesome summer weather on the patio with my girlfriend, with a glass of my favorite California red wine. “The diet also recommends four ounces of red wine in the evening with your meal. Red wine contains flavonoid which helps reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. That’s my favorite part,” shared Susan.
Cheese isn’t traditionally thought of as something you consume to encourage weight management, but calcium-rich Parmesan, when eaten in moderation, can help stave off sugar cravings that can easily lead to weight gain. How does that work, you ask? The native Italian cheese contains the amino acid tyrosine (a building block of protein) which has been shown to encourage the brain to release dopamine without any unhealthy insulin spikes. What’s more? The combination of calcium and protein found in dairy products such as Parmesan has been found to increase thermogenesis—the body’s core temperature—and thus boost your metabolism.
The comments defending the keto diet suggest that the individuals are successfully using the keto diet to help them maintain a healthy weight and a healthier A1C level. The individuals also suggest that they view it as a way of life rather than a diet. This is good news for many of us who are facing the question of whether it will be helpful and necessary to reduce carbohydrate intake to keto producing levels in order to halt or reverse the onset of type II diabetes. I think like those individuals, Tami is speaking from her own personal experience where she had success losing weight, but had difficulty maintaining the keto diet long-term. I am sure that though you have been successful, you can understand that there are many who might find it difficult to maintain. I too have been given very bad guidance by Medical Doctors who lean on old Med School information to practice medicine rather than continuing to broaden their knowledge base and learn more about nutrition. I cannot get back the 20+ years of suffering with a debilitating disease that could have been cured because my doctors were not well informed or willing to listen to information that disagreed with their limited knowledge base. Those years are gone and the destruction to my body is not reversible. So I understand the anger you feel toward a system that isn’t working in the best interest of the patient. But I think that expressing anger toward those who disagree with our personal experience, is not solving the problem. Hopefully we can change the ADA guidelines by respectfully urging them to reconsider their position based on the sheer volume of the comments they receive from successful people like you, who are living the keto diet lifestyle and living better. I commend you for becoming your own best health advocates. Thanks for your encouragement and your passion. And thanks to Tami as well for sharing her personal experience and the information she had collected. We all have to be true to what we believe and we all have a right to come to our own conclusions. It is good to know that there are success stories out there. I wish you all good health and continued success. I also hope that one day medical training will do a much better job of preparing doctors to become their patient’s best advocates, actively learning and searching for cures rather than treating symptoms in ways that cause even more disease to develop. The system is failing so many of us.
Fat isn’t unlimited either. As with wine, it's possible to get too much of a good thing when it comes to healthy fats. The American Heart Association points out that while the Mediterranean diet meets heart-healthy diet limits for saturated fat, your total fat consumption could be greater than the daily recommended amount if you aren't careful. That’s 65 g per day. (32)
Though the ketogenic diet is quite safe and even beneficial for diabetics, there is sometimes a chance a patient can develop diabetic ketoacidosis. Anytime you change your body’s primary energy source from carbohydrates to fat, your blood becomes flush with those ketones we talked about. And, anytime there are too many ketones, there is a potential risk for developing ketoacidosis. However, this is most likely to occur in those with type 1 diabetes. It can still happen in individuals with type 2 diabetes, although is it quite rare.
In case you haven’t jumped on the keto train and are wondering what exactly all the hype is about, here you go: The diet is very high fat and (almost) no carb. The ratio of fat to carbs and protein is 4:1. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to burn fat for energy rather than carbohydrates, resulting in weight loss. And, advocates claim there are many benefits beyond the number on the scale going down.
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat dietary regimen which has been linked to improvements in insulin sensitivity and higher rates of weight loss — both positive factors in managing type 2 diabetes. Lowering carb intake induces a metabolic state known as ketosis, through which the body produces ketones which burn fat — rather than carbohydrates — for energy.
Thank you for your wonderful comments Marcia. To share more about me personally with you all…I am not a completely non-diabetic Certified Diabetes Educator. I found out I had Prediabetes 15 years ago when I became a Diabetes Educator. I tested my own A1c and found it was 5.8%. The incredible news? There have been years when my A1c dropped to a normal level of 5.4%…out of the prediabetes range. My last A1c in May was 5.8%, so I still have Prediabetes 15 years later, but not diabetes, and without any medication, just the sensible diet I’ve discussed and exercise, so I really am living with this. I feel it everyday, I wonder what my A1c is going to be just like you every 6 months when I go to have it drawn.
Researchers at Florida State University studied watermelon for its ability to regulate blood pressure due to it being “one of the richest natural sources of L-citrulline”, an amino acid that the body converts into L-arginine, which improves circulation. They discovered that watermelon, due to its high L-citrulline, may prevent pre-hypertension from becoming full blown hypertension.
When compared to the calorie-restrict diet, the subjects who underwent the ketogenic diet experienced a reduction three times greater in hemoglobin A1C (1.5% vs. 0.5%).  In addition to observing greater improvements in diabetes-related markers, researchers observed a greater reduction in medication usage in subjects that underwent the ketogenic diet treatment. Thus, due to their overall findings, the researchers stated that “Lifestyle modification using low carbohydrate interventions is effective for improving and reversing type 2 diabetes.” 
Being in optimal ketosis for a prolonged period of time (say, a month) will ensure that you experience the maximal hormonal effect from eating a low-carb diet. If this doesn’t result in noticeable weight loss, you can be certain that too many carbs are NOT part of your weight issue and not the obstacle to your weight loss. There are, in fact, other causes of obesity and being overweight. The next three tips in this series might help you.
Due to the highly restrictive nature of the keto diet, it is not safe for certain populations, including pregnant or postpartum women, children or growing teenagers, or individuals with certain diseases. If you are considering this diet, it is important that you speak with your primary care physician first and work with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to make sure you are getting all of the essential nutrients your body needs to thrive.
The keto diet has been shown to help people lose weight in the short term; however, the long-term benefits of the diet aren't as clear, according to the Mayo Clinic. The diet is named for ketosis, which is the condition the body goes into when following the plan. In ketosis, the body uses ketone bodies, or water-soluble molecules produced by the liver and the breakdown of fatty tissue for cellular energy as opposed to sugars from ingested carbohydrates. And in some people, this results in weight-loss.
Con: Results can vary depending on how much fluid you drink. By drinking more water, you dilute the concentration of ketones in the urine and thus a lower level of ketones will be detected on the strips. The strips don’t show a precise ketone level. Finally, and most importantly, as you become increasingly keto-adapted and your body reabsorbs ketones from the urine, urine strips may become unreliable, even if you’re in ketosis.