Cutting back on carbs is a common approach to shedding body fat. Yet, most gym rats cringe at the notion of a long-term low-carb diet, fearing that they’ll wither away. Truth is, the error lifters typically make is not one of excess but rather they don’t cut carbs enough. Following a ketogenic diet—one in which you drop your carbs to a mere 5% of your total calories—may be the best diet for getting ripped in a hurry, and it’s certainly the most enjoyable. If you can’t imagine giving up burgers, cheese, and bacon to gain visible abs, a ketogenic diet is for you.
Sound too good to be true? Read on for our comprehensive guide to ketogenic dieting, geared toward helping you burn fat, feel better, and perform at your peak. Believe us: You can eat bacon and not end up looking like a porker.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE KETOGENIC DIET
To fully understand how the ketogenic diet works, you must first understand how your body responds to different foods.
When you eat, your body automatically stores part of your meal as fat so it can be released later for energy in times when you’re not eating. When you eat carbs, insulin—a hormone that regulates blood sugar—is released to help take the carbs out of your bloodstream. Since your body can only use a certain amount of glucose (the simple sugar that carbs break down to with digestion) at a time, insulin sees that the excess sugars are shuttled straight into your fat cells for storage. Over time, excess weight, inactivity, and stress can cause your cells to become insulin resistant and make it harder for them to absorb glucose from your blood. If this happens, it becomes difficult to burn stored fat because you’re always refilling your fat cells with glucose.