The phenomenon colloquially known as the keto (or ketone) diet whoosh effect is probably not mentioned at all in those terms in any medical literature relating to that particular diet. This is because this “whoosh effect” is a product of social media and word of mouth.
The idea is simple enough; if you go on a keto diet (a form of diet in which carbohydrates are drastically reduced in order to invoke a metabolic state known as ketosis) then you’ll eventually find yourself waking up to a visibly different shape implying successful weight loss.
This article examines the effect, what it is and if there is any substance to it; it also covers healthy approaches to diet and weight loss.
The signs of the whoosh effect
The science behind this will have us believe that the keto diet will, when you begin its course, enable fat cells in the body to retain water, and that this effect can be readily seen and felt, even to the extent that areas of body fat acquire a spongey or ‘jiggly’ feel. It is central to this belief that when such a diet is sustained for long enough, your cells will begin to release fat and water in this way.
At the beginning of this process is when this effect occurs, though what it is exactly that causes the “whoosh” is still debatable. When the water content has left the cells, this body tissue will appear firmer and tauter, with the appearance of weight loss.
Some advocates cite the onset of diarrhea as a sign that this effect has been achieved. However, diarrhea is never a sign that all is well; far from it, it causes dehydration and is an indication that the body is not getting the crucial nutrients it needs.
Is this real or is it just a social media myth?
Let’s put this myth to bed right now, shall we? This effect is not something which is either real or even remotely recognized by the dietary or clinical community. It’s a made-up thing, a promotion by social media which has been invented by people who want you to buy their keto diet program, possibly as part of their affiliate campaign.
Let’s have a closer look at the science which lies behind this, just to make sure.
Real dietary science behind this
Keto (or ketone) diets are recognized as being high in fat and low in carbs, and many respected dietitians advocate this as an accompanying diet for people, especially children, who suffer from epilepsy. In particular, the Epilepsy Foundation says that this is useful in handling the prevalence of seizures, especially where conventional medication may have failed to provide a solution.
The keto diet in more detail
The end purpose of the keto diet is to cause a metabolic change to occur in the body and so produce a state of “ketosis”, where the body burns fat for its energy instead of carbohydrates. Hence the emphasis of the keto diet on high fat and low carb consumption.
Why this whoosh effect is just a myth
People who insist that the whoosh concept exists describe two events as occurring in the body, and these are water loss and fat loss, and the weight loss which is in turn associated with the loss of both water and fat.
The state of ketosis itself burns fat for its energy. The level at which the body burns fat is largely dictated by the energy requirements of the body in its daily use. The calories needed are burned and the calories ingested are in the food eaten in order to provide that energy (except in this case the food is high in fat and low in carbs).
Water retention seemingly plays a large part in this process. Water retention is largely governed by the kidneys, and it is thought that if you drink more water you’ll be able to “flush” unwanted water from your system. It is this effect that bears a close resemblance to the so-called whoosh effect; the weight which is lost is actually water, and this is reflected when your bathroom scales show you as weighing less than you did before.
Is it possible to emulate this effect?
Because this so-called effect isn’t real, it is certainly not a good idea to attempt to emulate it!
Yet there is such a lot of misinformation on the Internet, the vast majority of it on social media and in particular on Reddit, about how to attain this, including regular fasting followed by a low-calorie meal. Certain bogs maintain that alcohol consumption can trigger this because of the effects of alcohol as a diuretic. Other sites maintain that assiduous fasting followed by a keto diet will bring this about.
None of these is to be recommended.
Is this safe?
The basis of these aims at reducing weight because of dehydration. Because our bodies will be in want of water, and because water weighs quite a lot, then we will weigh less if we are deprived of water. But this is neither a result which will last nor would be want it to!
Sensible dieting aims to produce a permanent and steady, healthy weight loss; this is neither healthy nor permanent or even remotely sensible. A research study in the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science in 2016 stated that weight loss which was noticeable only occurred when it averaged between eight and nine pounds. This takes time. This idea of a sudden “whoosh” is complete nonsense and it may even be dangerous.
Recommended paths to weight loss
Among the diverse methods of weight loss available there is bound to be one which will be a good fit for any given individual. What may be measurable are the results of different weight loss regimes over time. You may want to consider that a healthy, recommended and sensible approach would involve the following:
- A realistic method which aims at losing between 1 and 2 pounds in any one week
- A plan which involves a nutritious and healthy diet and includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein as part of a balanced diet
- Balancing the diet with a sensible exercise regime that maintains a healthy and active lifestyle and one which recognizes how calories in relate to calories out.
This should be a holistic approach to lifestyle and activity as well as diet; it should not be confined to fussing about your waistline but should be about the whole person, body, and mind. Emotional and mental well-being should be part of this holistic approach.
Nobody should be fooled by the keto diet whoosh effect; this social media invention isn’t a real thing, nor does it have any basis on sound dietary practice and knowledge. At best, it’s the weight that you lose when you’re feeling uncomfortably depleted of water.
Some people have been shown to have benefited from the keto diet, but everything should be taken in context. An approach that is based on shortcuts isn’t healthy or long term. Are you really going to be a healthier, happier person if your weight loss plans are based on such a flimsy thing?