Well in just a few words I can tell you that the ketogenic diet is a very low carb, very high-fat style diet.
But there is a lot more to the ketogenic diet then just the types of foods that you are allowed or supposed to eat.
Recently its gained a ton of popularity in the wellness community for a couple reasons, one of those being some its health benefits.
Of course, the primary reason most people are trying the ketogenic diet is because they want to lose weight.
Its certainly true that a ketogenic diet has been shown to help some people lose weight (yes, even with high fat foods, hallelujah!).
The ketogenic diet actually reprograms your metabolism for “ketosis” and there are many factors that you should consider before deciding it the ketogenic diet is something that you want to try.
What is “ketosis?”
First some biochemistry, carbs (sugars & starches) are the preferred fuel for your brain and muscles.
They use carbs first, whenever they’re available and this is why an unstable blood sugar can affect your attention, mood, and energy level (ever been HANGRY?).
But, when you eat a really low amount of carbs from your food, your body starts making compounds known as “ketones.”
These are your body’s “backup fuel.” And your body makes them from FAT.
Ketogenic literally means “the generation of ketones.”
So what happens is after a while being on a diet very low in carbs, your blood level of ketones increases and this state is known as “ketosis.”
It’s the same process that your body goes through if you’ve ever attempted a very long fast and depleted your supply of carbs as fuel.
But what about weight loss?
With a high fat intake, it may be surprising to know that studies show that a ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss. This is unfortunately an old myth that has ingrained itself into society, but it’s true!
It can also have better results than low-fat diets. At least one study showed that people lost 2.2 times more weight on a ketogenic diet than those on low-fat or calorie-controlled diets.
So, how is this possible?
Well the answer is surprisingly simple, EATING ALL THAT FAT AND PROTEIN IS FILLING!
It helps release satiety hormones that tell us that we’re full and don’t need to eat anymore.
In fact many clients actually stop needing to count calories or track food intake, as they do with low-fat or calorie-controlled diets.
So, by eating enough fat and protein (and almost eliminating carbs) to go into “ketosis,” you can actually feel fuller and eat less food overall.
According to the pyramid of weight loss priority it makes perfect sense!
So…. how to do the ketogenic diet?
Let me say that I don’t think that everyone should or needs to go on a ketogenic diet.
I believe that there are many great lessons to be taken from the ketogenic diet and how it is helping people on their weight loss journeys, but it is not a perfect system by any means.
First, make sure you speak with a healthcare practitioner before you try it. It can have side effects, including the infamous “keto flu.”
The ketogenic diet involves getting 60-75% of your calories from fat, 20-35% from protein, and just 5% from carbs.
Many people including myself find it SUPER RESTRICTIVE and kudos to the people out there who are able to stick with this style of eating.
But for most of my clients, I teach them to incorporate health and nutrition into their lives, and the keto diet I feel is very much the other way around.
It teaches us that certain foods, in fact an entire nutrient group should be avoided, and though this can definitely produce results in the body, it has a tendency to screw with our minds in how we think about food, how we feel about going into social situations and ultimately can produce a feeling of “cheating” or “failing” if we eat the “wrong” foods.
Some tips if you do want to try it out….
Focus on the following foods: meat, fatty fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, avocados, and low-carb vegetables (cucumber, celery, peppers, zucchini, leafy greens, etc.).
and the main thing to avoid are foods that are high in carbs. These include sugary foods and desserts, grains, fruit, legumes, starchy vegetables, alcohol and “diet foods.”
Ultimately the ketogenic diet is extremely popular these days. As a system it is certainly effective and can be helpful for weight loss, and other health conditions.
But, It’s not for everyone and places a very high bar for compliance that can take a toll on a personal mentally. It’s very difficult to maintain for most people over a long period of time, and it’s not the only way to achieve the weight loss that you might desire.