What Is Speed Keto (and Does it Work?)
The keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that’s meant to get you into ketosis — a metabolic state in which your body burns fat for fuel instead of carbs.
Recently, a book called Speed Keto has been growing in popularity. Its author, Harlan Kilstein, bills himself as an expert coach and says that his program is “the fastest way to get results on keto.”
Here’s a closer look at Speed Keto, how it differs from a normal keto diet, and the benefits and downsides of following a Speed Keto meal plan.
What is Speed Keto?
Speed Keto combines a traditional keto diet with intermittent fasting.
On a standard keto diet program, you eat high fat, moderate protein, and very low carb. On a typical day, you’d break your calories into:
- 75% fat
- 20% protein
- 5% carbs (under 50 grams of carbs per day)
On a Speed Keto program, you do a normal ketogenic diet, but you also add one-meal-a-day fasting (OMAD). That means you eat all your daily calories in a single sitting, and you only drink water for the rest of the day.
Speed Keto Benefits
The main goal of Speed Keto is to speed up weight loss by helping you get into deep ketosis.
There are a few potential benefits to Speed Keto.
Faster Keto Transition
Any time you start a keto diet, your body has to transition from burning carbs to burning fat as its main fuel source.
For many people, transitioning into keto comes with flu-like side effects (called the keto flu). There are a few days when you aren’t giving your body carbs, but it’s still not used to burning fat. That in-between period can come with low energy, fatigue, brain fog, and dehydration.
A Speed Keto diet plan involves long fasts, which can help your body burn through its carbohydrate stores faster and switch over to ketosis in just a day or two, instead of 3-5 days. If you want to get into ketosis as quickly as possible, Speed Keto may help.
However, the tradeoff is that you may experience a more intense keto flu during those couple days. If that happens, supplements like MCT oil, exogenous ketones, and electrolytes can help you get rid of keto flu.
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It’s harder to overeat when you’re only having one or two meals a day. If you don’t like counting calories, intermittent fasting may help you stay in a calorie deficit without having to portion out your meals.
Keto and intermittent fasting work well together because a high-fat diet suppresses appetite[*] and stabilizes blood sugar[*], which prevents energy swings and makes it easier to fast for most of the day.
However, some people may find that OMAD is unsustainable as a fasting schedule. Many keto dieters prefer 16:8 fasting, which is an 8-hour eating window (say, from 12-8 PM) and a 16-hour fasting window. A 16:8 fasting schedule is more moderate than OMAD but still gives you the benefits of combining fasting and ketosis.
Both keto and intermittent fasting reduce inflammation.
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to stress, infection, physical trauma, and a variety of other challenges. In many situations, inflammation is good. For example, your muscles become painful and inflamed after a workout, but that inflammation is what drives muscle growth.
But not all inflammation is beneficial. Many people struggle with chronic inflammation — a constant, low-level inflammatory response that is associated with a number of prevalent diseases, from heart disease to cancer[*][*].
Studies show that a keto diet reduces inflammation[*][*][*]. Ketones, the energy source you get from fat burning, are less inflammatory than glucose, the sugar-based energy source you use on a higher-carb diet[*].
Intermittent fasting also reduces inflammation[*]. People fasting during Ramadan showed lower inflammatory markers[*]. Other studies have found that fasting protects your cells from oxidative stress, which triggers inflammation[*].
Speed Keto combines two powerful anti-inflammatory strategies, which makes it especially good if you struggle with inflammation.
Dangers of Speed Keto
While it may work for some people, Speed Keto is a fairly extreme diet. It comes with potential downsides and may not be for everyone.
May Be Unsustainable
The more restrictive the diet, the harder it is to follow it long-term.
Speed Keto is more restrictive than most diets, and while it may help you burn fat short-term, many people will find it difficult to maintain over time.
May Make it Difficult to Build Muscle
If you’re trying to build muscle, Speed Keto may not be for you.
A rule of thumb is that if you want to build muscle, you should eat 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body fat. A 200-lb. person, for example, would aim for 160 grams of protein per day.
It’s challenging to eat that much protein in a single meal. For reference, you’d have to eat two pounds of ground beef or four whole chicken breasts in a single sitting (plus other food to meet your micronutrient needs).
If you’re trying to build muscle on keto, you may want to stick to a more moderate dieting plan.
Risk of Nutrient Deficiencies
When you’re only eating one meal a day, you have to make sure you get all your nutritional needs in that single meal.
In addition, you’re probably going to have less variety in your diet, unless you cook a bunch of different dishes for that single meal.
With less variety, it’s important that you eat highly nutrient-dense foods to cover all your nutritional needs. You also want to make sure you get enough protein and fiber.
If you’re going to do Speed Keto, be sure to plan out your macros and micronutrients each day, and keep your diet varied throughout the week. Otherwise you risk developing nutrient deficiencies over time.
May Promote an Unhealthy Relationship with Food
Speed Keto is a highly restrictive way of eating. You’re going through intense fasts every day and are also cutting an entire macronutrient out of your diet.
Restricting yourself so severely could cause you to develop an unhealthy relationship with food. You may want to consult a dietitian or nutritionist before starting Speed Keto. If you have a history of eating disorders, you should probably skip it entirely.
Sample Speed Keto Eating Plan
If you do decide to try Speed Keto, it’s important that your daily meal is high in protein and particularly nutrient-dense. Here’s a 7-day sample Speed Keto meal plan that will meet most of your nutritional needs.
Speed Keto combines traditional keto with OMAD intermittent fasting. It can be a good way to get into ketosis faster, and can help you lose weight and lower inflammation.
However, Speed Keto is a fairly extreme diet. It may not be sustainable long-term, could lead to nutrient deficiencies, and may also contribute to an unhealthy relationship with food.
While some people may thrive on Speed Keto, it isn’t for everyone. A more moderate approach is the standard keto diet, or a combination of keto and more sustainable intermittent fasting.