Today, ketogenic diets are skyrocketing in popularity because they shift the body into a state of fat burn. Lumen is a device that tracks your metabolism and helps you do the same. So what is the difference between Lumen’s method and the keto diet? Let’s take a closer look at each:
The ketogenic (or “keto”) diet is defined as any diet that increases fat consumption at approximately 60% of the total calories consumed, while also increasing moderately the protein intake. Additionally, the diet requires drastically decreasing (5-10% of total calories) the carbohydrate intake.
Compared to the traditional nutrition guidelines, this diet is vastly different in its recommendations. For example, the American Dietetic Association, recommends a minimum of 50% of carbs for achieving healthy and balanced nutrition. Although Keto is now used by many big names in Hollywood and other industries, before becoming a “fashionable” diet for weight loss, the keto diet was used specifically for the treatment of pediatric epilepsy due to the substances the body produces when on a ketogenic diet (ketones). It was popularized as a treatment in the 1920s and 30s, and dubbed the “Ketogenic” diet by Russel Wilder in 1921.
When the body is deprived of carbs for a sustained period of time, the body enters a catabolic state. We are not talking low-carb, we are talking under 50g of carbs a day. When the body does not have carbs to burn, the glucose stored in the body, also known as glycogen, gets depleted, forcing the body to shift to finding energy from fats. When done for an extended period of time, the body produces byproducts of this process called ketone bodies: Beta-hydroxybutyrate, acetone, and acetoacetate. These substances provide energy for the body, and indicate you are running on fats. Because of that, the keto diet has gained massive popularity in recent years. Interestingly, you can still be in fat burn, even when the body is not producing ketones, as ketones require an extended deprivation of carbohydrates.
The efficacy of this diet for the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy is unquestionable. However, in terms of losing weight and improving health, the answer is more complex. First of all, the success of any nutrition plan is based on how well individuals can follow the recommendations long term. Keto is a very restrictive diet that can be challenging to keep up for extended periods of time (or indefinitely). Additionally, a lack of sustainability is key to understanding why restrictive diets usually fail in the middle and long term.
Second of all, it is important to highlight that a long term carb restricting diet could potentially lead to micronutrient deficiency (like selenium, magnesium, vitamins B, among others), if the nutrition plan does not include enough variety of vegetables, fruits, and grains. This is especially concerning when someone has been on a no-carb diet for an extended period of time. In rare cases, extended carbohydrate deprivation can cause issues with elevated liver enzymes, weakened immune health, and weakened gut health from an insufficient diversity of nutrients. If not done properly, a high protein diet can also be rough on the heart, elevating triglycerides and hypercholesterolemia. Whenever adhering to a keto diet, it is important not just to limit carb intake, but to eat the proper fats and proteins as well.
When the keto diet is supervised by a healthcare professional, it can be a safe and effective tool for achieving a weight loss goal. One plus of the keto diet is that it naturally cuts down on sugar intake, one of the leading causes of obesity today, because of the lack of recommended carbs. However, a recent systematic review has confirmed that this restrictive diet “is not physiologically or clinically superior” in the long term to diets with a higher carbohydrate recommendation, for achieving weight loss or fat loss.
Once you have reached your fitness or weight loss goal, what happens when you want to (or need to) stop eating Keto? The biggest challenge in going off the keto diet is that you drastically change your macronutrient intake. It is well known that the regaining weight post keto is a common issue. Whether you decide to come off keto because you have hit your weight loss goal, or you just discovered restrictive diets are not for you, transitioning off of a ketogenic diet can be really challenging.
One of most common mistakes coming off keto is related to the misunderstanding of the essential principles of this diet. In order to create a hormonal impact for turning the body into a fat burn and ketosis state, ketogenic diets decreases carbohydrates to an extremely low percentage, while elevating the percentage of fats in the diet. The reason behind this is that the metabolization of carbs and fats is deeply connected as eating carbs stimulates insulin release (which is an anabolic hormone), stimulating fats storage as well. In this sense, coming off keto without inverting the equation, meaning, starting to eat more carbs while decreasing also fat consumption, leads easily to weight gain and an increase in body fat. Another common mistake when coming off keto is related to returning to high-carb or high-sugar eating habits.
The sudden consumption of carbohydrates after sustained carb deprivation, in some cases, can cause your body to convert carbs immediately to fat instead of using them as the efficient source of fuel that they are, especially after a sustained period of time on keto. Obviously, transitioning off of keto is something that should be done by adding incremental amounts of carbs back into your diet, but when you have trained your metabolism to run only on keto, it takes some time to adjust to carb intake.
The challenges surrounding going off a strict keto diet are one of the reasons that a diet focused less on ketones, and more on improving metabolic flexibility at an individualized level may yield better results in the long term. It is also important to note that someone in their twenties can workout effectively on both carbs and fats, and muscle growth can occur in spite of carb avoidance (like on a keto diet). However, for people in their thirties and older, they will likely perform better and grow muscle by consuming some level of carbohydrates. That does not necessarily mean eating high carb, but it does mean that optimizing carb consumption around workouts and based on your metabolism is an essential factor for reaching your goals.
Different stimuli lead to different responses. One of Lumen’s biggest advantages relies on the dynamism of its nutritional recommendations grounded in a holistic approach. Any time the body is exposed to the same stimulus for an extended period, like being on keto for a long term diet, adaptation occurs and the impact of that strategy is increasingly less useful. Due to this, breaking up the diet restrictions of keto with complementary strategies such as a higher carb intake on specific days, provides a more sustainable approach. While anyone on a keto diet can still use Lumen, Lumen’s method is slightly different from keto in that it trains your metabolism to use exclusively fats or carbs and switch between the two more easily.
World Champion Swimmer Michael Andrew, a keto athlete using lumen
Sustainable and long-lasting changes are not based on trends or fashion, they are based on what works for each individual person. Personalized nutrition differs from general recommendations or fad diets, because personal preferences for various foods and how we respond to certain foods is different for everyone. So, why should one claim that one nutritional approach or “diet” is the best for everybody? Your metabolism is unique and because of that, your nutrition should be also. For some, that means keto. With Lumen, keto lovers can still gain important insights and track their metabolism over time, while taking advantage of the other data Lumen provides as well.
Not on a keto diet? Lumen provides personalised nutrition recommendations based on your preferences and biology. Lumen’s method can work for keto lovers, as well as those looking for a bit more diversity in their diet. Additionally, Lumen will adapt to your personal metabolism and lifestyle over time.
Axel has a Bachelors degree in Human Nutrition from the Universidad ISALUD, Argentina, and a Masters degree in Nutrition and Metabolism from the Universitat de Barcelona, Spain. He is also a Certified Diabetes Educator from the Sociedad Argentina de Diabetes, International Diabetes Federation.