Whenever someone decides to go on a diet, one of the first thoughts going through their mind is whether or not they are going to get hungry or not. Most people don’t want to even start a ketogenic diet if they believe they will become ravenous.
The good news is that on a ketogenic diet, this doesn’t happen. In fact, it’s not even close to reality!
On a ketogenic diet, you are eating fewer carbs and more protein and more fat. You may not have noticed, but it’s when you are eating carbs that you end up getting ravenous. It’s not uncommon for carb “junkies” to go beyond normal reasoning to quickly get to the closest vending machine or the closest drive-thru restaurant, or even in extreme cases, break in at a donut shop to get donuts – quick carbs – when their blood sugar levels are very low.
That’s because when the blood sugar hits a low point, it literally shifts your whole body’s central nervous system as well as metabolism to drive you to do certain things that may not be rational. Those certain things are always geared towards eating and getting immediate fuel. Your body acts like it’s in extreme stress once your blood sugar level goes pretty low. That’s because you ARE in a state of stress when the blood sugar level is low.
One of the big keys to decreasing your stress is to keep your blood sugar level in the normal zone – not too low and not too high. And eating a high carb diet will cause both those fluctuations. That’s why a ketogenic diet can help a lot of people who are pre-diabetic or have just recently been diagnosed with diabetes.
If a high carbohydrate diet – the traditional diet every American is on – is eaten and it causes periods of the day where hunger is ravenous, what happens when very few grams of carbohydrates are eaten on a ketogenic diet?
The answer is that the whole piece of the hunger puzzle where carbohydrate foods cause low blood sugar is removed. The ravenous hunger only occurs when the blood sugar level hits a low critical point. It doesn’t ever occur when the body is successfully burning fat for energy. Burning fat means sustained burning of calories during the day on an even keel. That translates to no ravenous hunger.
What Does the Research Say About Ketogenic Diets and Appetite?
In 2015, researchers at the Sydney Australia Medical School at the Borden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders actually combed through decades of medical studies to find the truest answer of what happens to appetite on a ketogenic diet.
They found that people who ate a ketogenic low carbohydrate diet were less hungry and had a reduced desire to eat. The researchers stated that “The clinical benefit of a ketogenic diet is in preventing an increase in appetite, despite weight loss, although individuals may feel slightly less hungry (or more full or satisfied). Ketosis appears to be a plausible explanation for this suppression of appetite.”
So there you have it. Even the researchers agree – you won’t get hungry on a ketogenic diet.
Source: Gibson, AA, et al. Do ketogenic diets really suppress appetite? A systemic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev 2015 Jan;16(1):64-76. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25402637