Ketosis is a metabolic change that occurs when your body uses fat for fuel instead of glucose. But can keto help you lose belly fat and get in shape too?
Keto promotes burning body fat for energy, which makes it one of the best diets if you are wanting to burn fat in your belly and other problem areas.
The keto diet has become increasingly popular over the years among people looking to lose weight. This is because keto has proven to be very effective, not only for weight loss but for improving overall health as well. Keto has even been found to reverse or eliminate a number of conditions and illnesses such as type-2 diabetes, according to a 2019 study performed at Bethel University and published in the National Library of Medicine.
Even if you aren’t trying to reverse an illness or condition, keto can still be extremely beneficial. Continue reading to find out how you can lose belly fat by following the diet.
Keto and Weight Loss
Keto is more than just a diet. Sure, it works for temporary weight loss, but if you want permanent changes, it’s best to approach this way of eating as a complete lifestyle change.
The principles behind keto are pretty simple and straightforward. You will be eating foods that are high in healthy fats, moderate amounts of protein, and little to no carbohydrates. In the beginning, you won’t have to count every calorie, but as your weight loss slows over time, food tracking becomes more and more important.
When following a keto diet correctly, you’ll be putting your body into a state of ketosis, which triggers your body to release hormones such as glucagon and insulin, according to the American Diabetes Association. These hormones play a huge role in stimulating your metabolism, meaning they can lead to your body burning more fat than normal.
As your body burns fat, it begins to produce more ketones into your bloodstream and urine. These ketones are converted into energy by your liver, making them easier for your body to break down. One downside to this at the beginning of your keto journey is that you will feel like you’re starving. This is just your body becoming confused and if you can get past this initial period, you’ll find that your hunger subsides significantly.
Keto is one of the most popular ways of eating right now! For more examples of why, check out my article titled This is Why Keto Is So Popular.
How Do I Stay Motivated on Keto?
Staying motivated is one of the hardest parts when you’re embarking on a weight-loss journey. All you can think about is the results you want to see, but those results require hard work and won’t happen overnight. If you are new to keto and are finding it difficult to stay motivated, one of the best things you can do is focus on something that you look forward to each day.
Some people distract themselves by setting goals like seeing how long they can lose two pounds a week on the scale. Other people schedule time every day for some exercise, even if it’s just walking around the block. Simple things like this can keep your mind distracted and by making even small changes, you’ll find it easier to stick to keto while increasing your overall fitness at the same time.
How Does Keto Burn Fat?
As I mentioned above, one of the top benefits of following a ketogenic diet is that it’s highly effective when it comes to burning fat. When you follow keto, you put your body into a thermodynamic state known as ketosis.
Ketosis causes your body to use the fat that it has stored for fuel rather than relying on carbohydrates, which are stored in the form of glycogen. This means if you continue to follow the keto diet, you can expect to see a significant amount of fat loss.
Many people ask exactly how the keto diet forces your body to burn fat for fuel because the above answer seems too simple and almost too good to be true, but I can assure you that it is not. It all comes down to science.
When you stop feeding your body excess amounts of carbs, your body panics and immediately starts looking for new sources of energy. The first thing your body finds are fatty acids and starts using them. Next, it stops producing glucose and begins to break down the fat it has stored. Fat loss occurs because your body is literally consuming fat, burning it, and turning it into energy.
Types of Belly Fat
I’ve seen it mentioned all over the internet that there are as many as seven different types of belly fat. I’m not sure where all of that has come from, but according to Dr. Jillian Kubala, there are two distinct types of belly fat.
Subcutaneous – This is the fat that is located directly under the skin of your stomach. The fat is soft and when you walk or run, this is the fat that you can see jiggling around. While men and women both have subcutaneous belly fat, women seem to have more of it on their abdomen.
Visceral – Visceral fat is that fat that does the real damage to your body. It is found much deeper in your abdomen and can begin to surround important internal organs such as your liver, pancreas, and kidneys. Visceral fat also contains more nerves, blood vessels, and active cells than subcutaneous fat.
While subcutaneous fat isn’t typically linked to many health risks, visceral fat has been shown to resist insulin, wreaking havoc on your blood sugar levels. Studies performed in the Departments of Chemistry and Physiology at the University of Ostrava in the Czech Republic found that increased visceral fat led to systemic inflammation, which has been shown to cause a greater risk for a number of diseases.
Visceral fat seems to have a greater effect on men, which is why they tend to have more round bellies as they gain weight.
Why Is Belly Fat Unhealthy?
Belly fat is known to increase your risk of developing heart disease and other serious conditions. In fact, there is a very strong correlation between abdominal obesity and type-2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.
Will I Lose Belly Fat on Keto?
While you’re going to see fast weight loss at the beginning of your keto journey, your overall weight loss may actually take longer than other types of diet plans. This is because, for most people, you aren’t going to be able to rely on the excess calories you would normally use for energy. Instead, you’ll be relying on burning fat for fuel until you reach your target weight.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t give up on keto easily. Many people lose up to 20 pounds in the first several weeks before weight loss slows. For some people, it even stops completely while their bodies try to figure out what’s going on. After the initial weight loss, you should give the diet at least a couple of months before you give up on it.
How Quickly Will Keto Burn Belly Fat?
There is no exact amount of time that you can expect to burn your belly fat while following a ketogenic diet. This is because there are several factors that you have to take into consideration.
Overall health – Your health when starting keto can play a huge role in how quickly you’ll be able to burn fat. Things like underlying health conditions require you to pay more attention to what you eat, which means it could take longer to lose the weight.
Starting weight – The weight you begin your journey at plays a huge role in how fast you can expect to lose belly fat. Someone starting keto at over 300 pounds is going to lose at a much faster rate than someone who is 125 pounds and close to their maintenance weight.
Activity level – Weight loss begins and ends in the kitchen. One of my favorite quotes says you can’t out-exercise a poor diet. With that said, adding an exercise regimen to your keto diet can help you burn the fat off faster than dieting alone. Is exercise a requirement when doing keto? I discuss that in Does Keto Work Without Exercise?
Other variables – There are a number of other variables that can have an effect on how quickly keto burns fat. Some of these include your age, gender, and height.
Ways To Burn Belly Fat
Although following a ketogenic diet is a great way to lose your belly fat, it isn’t going to happen overnight. While the weight comes off quickly at first, it’s not uncommon to slow to less than a pound per week once you are keto-adapted.
Here are some ways you can speed up your results:
- Exercise – You don’t have to exercise every single day, but a regular workout routine burns more calories than you may realize. Cardio is good for calorie burning, but consider adding some weight lifting to help you build or maintain muscle mass.
- Protein – So many people focus on the high healthy fat portion of keto that they completely forget they need protein as well. According to an article published at Marque Medical, you should aim for 0.6 to 0.8 grams of protein per lean pound of body mass each day.
- Track your food – Tracking your food will do wonders for burning fat, especially as you get later into your keto journey. Many people use apps like MyFitnessPal, but I prefer to use an actual food diary as I feel like it keeps me more honest. This food journal is the actual one that I use and I love it! There are many benefits to keeping a keto journal that I discuss in my article titled Should I Keep a Keto Journal?
- Water – Staying hydrated is essential to burn belly fat. Since water is vital for keeping your digestive system functioning properly, it’s important to consume plenty each day.
- Intermittent Fasting – This is another way to speed up your weight loss methods. Intermittent fasting involves alternating periods of fasting and eating. Some of the most popular intervals are 16 hours fasting and 8 hours eating, 20 hours fasting and 4 hours eating, and some people even follow a one meal a day schedule where they fast for 23 hours and eat for 1 hour.
Eating keto and following a ketogenic lifestyle will help you burn fat all over your body, including in your belly. With that said, it is not a miracle diet by any means. You still have to work hard and stay consistent.
Eating keto requires more discipline than a lot of other ways of eating. On many diets, you just count calories and nothing else. On keto, you have to pay attention to all of your macros, especially carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein. While the results speak for themselves, not everyone will be able to stick to it.
You should also remember that diet should only be a part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Things like getting plenty of sleep, water, and exercise should be part of the overall picture.
I speak from experience when I say that keto can change your life and have a huge effect on how your body looks by eliminating visceral fat, making you look better and becoming healthier in the process.