The Keto diet has become increasingly popular–and with it, a new influx of potential concerns related to dieting and exercise. How will the Keto diet impact your resting metabolic rate? If you notice changes, are they always bad? A better understanding of the Keto diet and its ability to impact your resting metabolic rate can help you make better, more effective decisions about your health goals.
The Keto Diet: The Basics
There are three important tenants of the Keto diet: low carbs (under 20 grams per day), moderate protein, and high fat. This diet is intended to help the body fuel itself differently: instead of using glucose, often taken in through high levels of carbohydrates, the body makes the shift to start using fat for fuel instead. For many people, the Keto diet is an excellent way to not only burn extra fat and drop those extra pounds they’ve been holding onto, but to do it fast! The Keto diet requires strict tracking of macronutrients in order to maintain that state of ketosis in which the body burns fat for fuel instead of glucose.
On the Keto diet, dieters must:
- Avoid high-sugar foods
- Avoid foods that are high in starch
- Track caloric intake to help decrease binge-eating, especially at first
- Fill up on healthy fats, which often help dieters feel full longer
- Keep an eye on protein consumption, since excess protein can be converted to sugar in the body
According to proponents of the Keto diet, it has a number of key advantages. Not only can going Keto increase fat loss and make it easier to burn off those extra pounds, but it can also help dieters fight cravings, stabilize blood sugar levels, and avoid many of the highs and lows the average person experiences throughout the day.
Understanding the Importance of Your Resting Metabolic Rate
Your resting metabolic rate tells you how many calories you burn at a state of rest–that is, when you’re not actually doing anything. Your resting metabolic rate isn’t the number of calories you burn while exercising, whether you’re running, swimming, or playing sports. Rather, it’s the number of calories your body burns to take care of a number of internal processes: respiration, healing, circulation, etc. Whether you’re an athlete trying to gain muscle or a frustrated dieter trying to take off some extra pounds, your resting metabolic rate can tell you a number of things.
You shouldn’t diet below your resting metabolic rate.
Many people attempt to consume fewer calories than their resting metabolic rate in a day in an effort to lose weight faster. Unfortunately, this rarely has the intended impact. Typically, dieting this will down regulate your metabolism, people will often refer to the down regulation of your metabolism as “starvation mode”, which means that it will be even more likely to hold on to fat stores–regardless of what type of diet you’re using. FYI: Starvation mode isn’t a technical term; but this wording is used too stress the severity of eating much less than your body requires.
Your resting metabolic rate provides you with a baseline.
Before you determine how many calories you need to eat in a day, you need to have a good idea of your resting metabolic rate. This is your baseline: the number of calories you actually need to consume daily to simply maintain your body. With this number, you can calculate either weight loss or muscle gain more effectively.
Knowing your resting metabolic rate can help you eat to build muscle.
Too few calories can prevent you from building the muscle you want and need, whether you’re a bodybuilder or a weekend warrior. With your resting metabolic rate, you can design a diet that will allow you the extra calories you need to build muscle without causing you to gain fat.
How Does Going Keto Impact Your Resting Metabolic Rate?
Because going Keto involves a strict dietary change–not to mention a difference in the way your body processes the calories you take in–it can have a significant impact on your resting metabolic rate. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Not all calories are created equal.
If you’re thinking about the Keto diet, chances are, you’re looking for a chance to lose weight. Research has proven that the simple calories in < calories out model is not as effective for weight loss as many people hope. The type of calories you eat also plays a huge role! Highly processed foods–those that are often staples of the modern American diet–can lead to increased weight gain even when you’re not eating as many calories. Fresh, unprocessed foods, however, are better for your body, and your body is able to break them down more efficiently.
The Keto diet also relies on burning fat, rather than burning sugar and carbohydrates, to create energy. On the Keto diet, your body must convert protein to glucose, which takes more energy than simply using sugar and carbs. As a result, your resting metabolic rate may increase because your body is working harder even when you’re at rest.
2. Losing weight naturally decreases your resting metabolic rate.
Your resting metabolic rate is designed to maintain your body as it is–that is, at its current weight. The body works hard to stay at that weight as much as possible: homeostatic mechanisms that prevent you from, for example, gaining a ton of weight just because you went on vacation, or losing a great deal of weight because of a short-term illness. It must use energy in the form of calories–on a standard diet, sugar and glucose; on the Keto diet, fat–to maintain your current weight. As you lose weight, you require less energy in order to maintain your current mass, which means that your dietary needs decrease.
This is where may people stall in their weight loss goals, whether they’re on the Keto diet or trying a simple calorie-restrictive approach. Over time, as you lose weight, you have fewer caloric needs. This means that your resting metabolic rate may naturally decrease, even if you’re working hard and using more energy on a daily basis. As a result, you may have lower calorie needs over time. If you end your diet and go right back to consuming the same number of calories you did before your diet, you may also find that your weight rebounds faster.
3. As you become Keto adapted, you’ll naturally burn more fat.
On a Keto diet, the body is able to burn fat more efficiently. This can increase lean mass, decrease fat stores, and lead to less insulin resistance, which can substantially improve overall health and help stabilize mood. The goal of weight loss, for many people, isn’t just to see the numbers on the scale decrease, though that’s certainly a nice reward. Many people are also hoping to increase their performance in athletic endeavors or to be more comfortable in their own skin–and a body that burns fat effectively often “looks” better, which many people appreciate.
The Keto diet is considered a thermogenic diet–that is, it naturally burns more fat than other types of diets. Your resting metabolic rate may increase due to this shift in the way you burn your body’s stored fat. Some people find that they can consume more calories on the Keto diet than they can on other types of diets–and still see the weight loss they’re looking for.
4. Ketosis has similar results to fasting without the downfalls.
When you’re in ketosis, you essentially put your body into fasting mode–but without the potential downfalls that go along with it. Since you’re eating a diet high in fats and consuming the right number of calories, you don’t have to worry about causing metabolic restriction that could damage the effects of your diet when you stop fasting. Instead, you’re able to maintain lean mass while burning fat at a faster rate. True fasting and strict caloric restriction, on the other hand, can cause long-term impact to your resting metabolic rate as they kick your body into starvation mode, where it will automatically hold on to any calories consumed. Generally, these calories are stored in the form of fat, which is the opposite of what you want your body to do! On a traditional low-calorie diet, you may also struggle to maintain or build muscle. The Keto diet, on the other hand, can help you build muscle.
5. Ketosis helps decrease cravings and maintain control of your diet.
Once your body is Keto adapted, you may find that you experience fewer cravings overall–which is critical to success for many dieters. As your body becomes more efficient at burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates, you may find that you no longer want those familiar “comfort foods.” As a result, you’re better able to stick with the diet long-term, which means you’ll experience more of its advantages.
Whether you’re already on the Keto diet and wondering how it has impacted your resting metabolic rate or you’re considering starting Keto and wondering where your resting metabolic rate is now, we can help! The foundation of any great diet begins with knowing your resting metabolic rate: that key number of calories that you actually burn every day. By working with us, you can identify those numbers and create a more effective diet that is more likely to help you meet your goals.
Word of warning: Keto isn’t a good strategy for everyone. In fact, it is not uncommon for athletes or super active individuals to need more carbohydrates than the Keto diet allows. Ultimately, your choice of nutrition strategy will need to take into consideration your preferences, health history, lifestyle, goals and more. There is no one size fits all approach to nutrition, so you need to make sure you are flexible in your thinking and always look to tailor your nutrition strategy.
Book all your body data testing at ELITE BODY DATA so we can help you get the info you need to create a customized plan.