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Is a Keto Diet Right For You? Try This 10-Week Test Used in One Study

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Match diet with exercise for weight loss success.

If you are like many of us, exercise alone has not given you the results you expected toward weight loss. Here’s a sample of a Keto Diet study where experienced recreational athletes changed from their normal diet to a keto one and lost weight.


The Problem With Calorie-Restricted Dieting

Nobody can truthfully say that they enjoy calorie restricted dieting. For many who follow such a diet, they learn to cope and do lose weight; for others, however, staying on the diet is an almost insurmountable problem that more often leads to backsliding and an eventual end to their good intentions to lose weight.

One of the primary complaints of dieting is that there is a constant nagging pressure inside that reminds them they are on a diet and can feel it when each day is occupied with recurrent thoughts of “What low-cal meal am I preparing for the next meal” and “How long before that next meal?”

The Problem With Exercise-Only Dieting

Some dieters turn to increased activity for an average of at least 1 hour per day hoping that they can just exercise those pounds away without going through diet deprivation where their calorie intake is 1200-1500 calories per day as opposed to their more usual 2,000-2,200 calories per day.

Unfortunately, in most cases you cannot achieve healthy weight loss by exercising it away. It’s kind of like that old Frank Sinatra song “Love and Marriage”—you can’t have one without the other. It appears then, that the trick for successful weight loss is to find your own marriage matching the right diet with the right exercise. In other words, a diet where you are not constantly hounded by feelings of hunger mated with an activity you enjoy. And a Keto Diet just might be the right diet match for you.

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Finding the Right Match of Diet and Exercise

Evidence of this can be found in a 2017 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition where researchers took five athletes who on average regularly ran or biked a little over one hour per day every day and put them on a 10-week keto diet to determine the effects of a keto diet on individuals who are already fit.

In the study they were instructed to maintain their normal exercise regimen with the only change being to eat a low carbohydrate high protein/fat diet as found in a keto diet. The reason for choosing the five was based on that their exercise activity falls under an endurance categorization, which typically requires a high carbohydrate diet to aid performance. Again, the purpose of the study was to see if a keto diet has an effect on performance.

What is exceptional to note is that the five study participants’ demographics of age and activity level, fits that of many recreational athletes who are already active, but having difficulty losing weight—middle-aged men and women. And, what was even more exceptional was their daily calorie counts ranged anywhere from 1400 calories to 2400 calories while on the keto diet.

Sample Keto Diet Meals in the Study

As an example, here are two examples of what their meals consisted of for one day:

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For a 2450 calorie day consisting of 24 grams of carb, 103 grams of protein and 215 grams of fat:

Breakfast—½ cup granola, 150 ml coconut cream, 100 g mixed frozen berries, 30 ml coconut oil.
Lunch—125 g smoked salmon, 2 egg muffins, 100 g avocado.
Dinner—120 g fish cooked in 1 tablespoon olive oil, 80 g broccoli, ½ cup almonds, 50 g feta cheese.
Other—2 X Coffee (60 ml cream) and Water.

For a 1710 calorie day consisting of 9 grams of carb, 94 grams of Protein 94 g and 128 grams of fat:

Breakfast—½ cup granola, 125 ml coconut cream, 50 g mixed frozen berries.
Lunch—1 egg muffin, 100 g avocado, dessert spoon peanut butter, square chocolate.
Dinner—100 g pork straps, 70 g spinach, 1 cup cauliflower rice, 1 tablespoon butter square 85% dark chocolate, 180 ml red wine.
Other—Coffee, 100 ml soya milk; green tea; 1 strawberry; 20 g ham; 30 g almonds; and water.

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Results of the Study

After the study ended, the researchers found that going on a keto diet did not improve the athlete’s performance. In fact, the abstract states that the “…participants reported experiencing reduced energy levels initially, followed by a return of high levels thereafter, especially during exercise, but an inability to easily undertake high intense bouts.”

However, the participants were able to achieve an increase in their ability to utilize fat as a fuel source i.e. achieve a ketogenic state; and, reported experiencing enhanced well-being, improved recovery, improvements in skin conditions, and reduced inflammation.

But more importantly for our concerns, they also lost an average of nearly 1 pound per week while already at their ideal weights at the beginning of the study! And, reported that feelings of hunger during the 10 weeks was not an issue for them. Hence, the kind of results most of us would like to have from dieting and exercise.

The point made here is that this study could be used as a guide for your own 10-week test to see if a keto diet is really right for you and meeting your weight loss aspirations. If the keto diet is the right choice for you as a match with your favorite exercise activity, you may experience even greater initial weight loss than the study participants did and find yourself on the right path to better health.

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Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with an eye on the latest news, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on what you need to know for healthier living. For continual updates about health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image Source: Photo by Alex Azabache on Unsplash

Reference:Ketogenic diet benefits body composition and well-being but not performance in a pilot case study of New Zealand endurance athletes” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition; Caryn Zinn et al., published online 2017 Jul 12.