Before discussing the details of the ketogenic diet, it is necessary to first discuss some general concepts which relate to body composition, metabolic rate, dieting, and fat loss. Most dieters tend to focus on bodyweight as the only measure of a diet's effectiveness. This is an incomplete approach and may be partly responsible for the failure of many mainstream weight loss approaches. Simply put, changes in bodyweight do not tell the entire story during a diet. Rather the prospective dieter needs to change focus to look at body composition: the ratio of body fat to total body weight.
Experience has shown that most dieters tend to reduce calories excessively. While this causes rapid initial weight loss, a plateau occurs as metabolic rate slows. This drop in metabolic rate may increase the chance for weight regain when the diet is ended.
A discussion of the various components of metabolic rate is followed with equations to estimate maintenance calorie levels as well as how to estimate caloric intake for fat loss and muscle gain. Most dieters, especially those who are used to starving themselves to lose weight, are surprised to learn how much they should eat for optimal fat loss.
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