Ketogenic Diet: Here’s the Skinny on one of America’s most popular diets.
Everyone these days seems to be talking about the ketogenic diet. What is it, and more importantly, does the ketogenic diet work? The ketogenic diet is not a new fad. It’s been used as a weight loss tool for more than nine decades and is based on physiology and nutrition science. The ketogenic diet (often shortened to keto diet) has had success due to its ability to target the top underlying causes of weight gain including hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance.
The ketogenic diet is about eating more fat and fewer carbs
More fat? Yes! and here’s why. “Keto” in ketogenic comes from the body producing small molecules called “ketones,” which are fuel for one’s body when glucose (blood sugar) is in short supply. Ketones are produced when there isn’t enough glucose for the body to use for energy, so by eating fewer carbs and higher amounts of fat, the body shifts its focus to burning fat instead of sugar.
During a ketogenic diet your body almost entirely switches its fuel supply to run on fat. This means insulin levels become low and fat burning increases. At this stage, losing weight becomes even easier because your stored fat is burning off! When we eat carbs, blood-glucose levels rapidly rise. This causes a rapid insulin response from the pancreatic gland, which works to quickly remove the excess sugars from your bloodstream. These spikes in blood sugar and insulin cause you to feel hungry again quickly because your body prefers a steady stream of glucose to be used for energy. Eating fewer carbs results in steady sugar levels and less carb-induced hunger spikes.
Proper ketogenic diets call for high amounts of fat, moderate proteins, and very low carbohydrates. The macronutrient ratio of a keto diet calls for about 60% fat, 35% protein, and only 5% carbohydrates. Normally carbohydrates should be limited to 50 grams per day. When starting the keto diet, it is recommended to limit carbs to 20 grams, as this will ensure that the beginning of your journey is strict and will initially make sure you enter ketosis (producing ketones for fuel)! On a “strict” keto diet, typically fats make up over 70 to 80% of total daily calories, proteins make up about 15 to 20%, and carbohydrates just about 15%. So roll out the bacon, deviled eggs, and avocado! You can enjoy these delicious foods and still get the body of your dreams. It all comes down to science.
Other benefits of the Ketogenic Diet
You may wonder what are the other benefits of keto besides seeing the numbers on the scale drop? The ketogenic diet offers benefits such as keeping your mind alert and focused, less hunger and fewer cravings, and an increase in energy levels. Studies have also shown that the Keto Diet may actually reverse type 2 diabetes! You may also see an improvement on other health markers including cholesterol and less indigestion. The keto diet has been a proven and effective medical therapy for epilepsy since the 1920’s. Many people have been able to get off epileptic drugs while remaining seizure-free, thanks to keto!
Weight loss can be substantial and very rapid especially for those who are very overweight. Diets high in healthy fats (such as keto) tend to be very filling because the higher amount of fats sends a signal to the brain that the body has taken in enough energy (calories) for its need. Since the focus is on healthy fats and whole foods, you actually may reduce overeating empty calories and junk food.
Worried about cholesterol? There is evidence proving that low-carb, high-fat diets may help you live longer compared to low-fat diets. Saturated fat, in fact, has an inverse association with the risk of suffering from stroke. What does this mean? It means that saturated fat from whole foods (organic eggs for example) may help protect your cardiovascular system! All of these are the benefits of keto plus many, many more!
You might be thinking to yourself, okay, so what am I going to be eating on this keto diet? Healthy fats such as saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and certain polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, are the best to include into your everyday meals. Proteins have very few carbs, if any at all. Consume proteins to control hunger. Choose fattier cuts of meat (such as chicken thighs) rather than lean meats (chicken breast), keep the yolks in your eggs, and choose healthy oils such as coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil.
Beginning a keto diet might be a little rocky, at first
Staring may be very uncomfortable since the body must adjust to lower calorie and carbohydrate intake. You will most likely experience the usual brain fog, increased headaches, nausea, fatigue, smelly breath, increased sweating, and increase in urination. A sudden drop in electrolytes is common during the keto diet which means you will feel low on energy and probably won’t be interested in anything that includes physical activity. But don’t worry! This is all part of the keto diet. Your body is adjusting to this new lifestyle and the condition is sometimes called the “keto flu.”
On keto, you will also lose a lot of water weight in the beginning, because as your body burns off stored carboHYDRATES (they hold water), your body will release water from the carbs. Drinking bone broth will help with lost electrolytes during ketosis. If you have “keto flu” make sure to consume more fat if you’re hungry and increase sodium in the diet. Also make sure you get enough fiber and nutrients by eating more leafy green vegetables, avocadoes, and nuts. Day by day, your body will level out over time and many of the symptoms we mentioned will subside. Research has proven as your body gets used to the keto changes you can expect enhanced cognitive activity and increased focus. You will have much more energy than before.
With all its health benefits the ketogenic diet has proven its success. Are you ready to get the body of your dreams?