why do keto, intermittent fasting and tracking macros work?
You’ve seen the before and after photos of friends or family that went on the keto diet. They look great! And they got to add a stick of butter to every meal! Oh man, talk about major flavor!
Another friend only has to eat a few hours a day and they’re dropping weight like crazy! Yeah they have some gnarly hunger cravings, but the results are WORTH IT!!!
Your neighbor can’t stop raving about IIFYM. If it fits your macros, you can eat anything you want!! Bring on the donuts and beer (as long as it fits those macros).
Seriously though, why does this work for some people? How can so many different varieties of diets guarantee results? Which one is the best for you?
The answer is all of them. The reason why? INSULIN.
Click here to watch a video that explains insulin and it’s role in the human body.
So, how do the different diets influence insulin, leading to weight loss?
If you have insulin present in the bloodstream, your body will not pull fat out of its fat stores for energy. If you want to get rid of fat tissue, you need to lower your insulin levels.
When you eat carbohydrates, your body produces insulin.
Your body produces insulin to control blood-sugar levels as well as make it possible for different systems in the body to use glucose.
Above is the Food Pyramid. It originated in 1974 and introduced to the United States in 1992. Oddly enough, from 1990 to 2000, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity made the largest increase in both men and women. Coincidence? I’ll let you decide.
So, why do these diet trends work?
The focus of the keto diet is to replace the calories from carbohydrates with protein and fat. The average goal is to keep carb intake to less than 30 grams per day. What happens when you reduce your carbs? Your blood-sugar levels will decline. When your blood sugar declines, your body stops requiring insulin as frequently to manage that blood sugar.
Most commonly, those doing IF practice 16 hours of fasting, or no food and drink, with an 8 hour eating window. Often, people will eat dinner, then not eat or drink again until lunch the next day. If you aren’t consuming anything for 16 hours, you won’t be taking in any carbs in the form of cereal, bread, pasta, rice or sugar. Not consuming those things helps to manage blood-sugar levels, which leads to insulin management, allowing the body to start using fat for energy.
Tracking Macros (IIFYM)
This form of dieting was made popular my MyFitnessPal. The idea is to balance your macro intake (protein, carbs, and fats). This brings an increased awareness of what type of calories you are consuming, in turn, reducing carbohydrate intake from 65-80% to 20-30%. Those calories are then replaced by an appropriate balance of protein and fat. Guess what? This leads to a certain hormonal change in your body….(lower insulin)
Hopefully this makes sense and gives you an idea of why these ‘diets’ work for some and not for others. Calories are still important! Some people will still argue that none of this matters as long as calories are controlled, but thermodynamics are not the end-all and be-all when it comes to losing fat. If that were the case, then anyone would be able to reduce their calories by 500 a day and lose a pound a week until they weigh nothing.
That definitely will work!!!
Bottom line, there is rarely a one-size-fits-all solution to losing weight. Start with a goal and choose one of the many paths available to get to that goal. **Hint** Every path will involve a decrease of sugar and adding more vegetables, if you’re looking for better health and improved fitness.
P.S. Your fitness journey doesn’t have to start with exercise! (It’s definitely more fun if does) If you would like us to answer any questions you might have, schedule a consult today by clicking the link below!
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Inspiration provided by Coty Bradburn at CrossFit Mountain Island