As an Integrated Nutrition Health Coach, I cringe when I hear the term "fad diet". Fad diets are associated with quick fixes, as well as calorie and nutrient deprivation that result in short-term results BUT are not sustainable. What makes the KETOGENIC DIET far from a FAD, is that keto is actually a lifestyle change in which you are upgrading your body's fuel source from glucose to ketones via a biological phenomenon called KETOSIS. It sounds scary, but ketosis is the holy grail for humans to operate the most efficiently and can lead to numerous benefits such as weight loss, more energy, improved focus, better sleep, clear skin, strength gain, reduced appetite, better digestion and balanced mood to name a few. In addition, research is now linking ketones to reduction in heart disease factors, prevention and treatment of cancer, and improved brain function (including epilepsy and Alzheimer's prevention/improvement). Celebrities ranging from the Kardashians to Mick Jagger are embracing ketosis with incredible results and I am going to explain why you should too!
SO WHAT IS A KETOGENIC DIET?!
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein and low-carbohydrate diet that forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported through the body for energy. Glucose (which is basically sugar/carbs) gives you quick energy that doesn't last long (aka your daily afternoon crash around 3pm) and your body cells can't use heaps of it all at once so it saves some in your liver and muscles, as glycogen. Once there is enough glycogen stored in your liver and muscles the remaining glucose turns into fat. (That is definitely not a good thing and the primary reason you gain weight!) However, if there are limited carbohydrates in the diet, the body needs to find a new fuel source. So the brain signals for the liver to convert fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. These ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source and you achieve a state of KETOSIS!
KETO DIET BASICS AND WHY IT WORKS
The key to the ketogenic diet is the ratio of your macronutrients. Macronutrients are fat, protein and carbohydrates. (I would argue that ketones are a 4th macronutrient, but that is for another blog post!). I recommend the following macro ratio for my clients when they first start the diet:
So that means on a daily basis, 75% of your calories come from healthy fats, 20% come from quality protien, and 5% come from carbohydrates (in the form of non-starchy vegetables). See more about what you eat on the ketogenic diet - here. After several days/weeks (depending on the person) of adhering to the ketogenic diet, ketone levels in the blood rise to a level in which you enter into ketosis. Once you’re in ketosis, your body is forced into burning your fat reserves for fuel rather than burning glucose. Burning fat as fuel = weight loss! Plus, ketones are secret weapons when it comes to long-lasting energy, enhanced mental focus, improved digestion, fighting cravings, and suppressing your appetite in a healthy way! Who doesn't want all of those benefits!?!
WHY I LOVE IT
One of the biggest reasons that I have recommended and implemented the keto diet to hundreds of my clients is because it requires one big thing: REMOVAL OF SUGAR FROM YOUR DIET! Sugar is literally the root of all evil and is the culprit in chronic inflammation, weight-gain, and a host of other health issues. For some perspective, a standard American diet includes about 40 to 60 percent daily calories from carbohydrates — mostly from refined foods, including products made with white flour and/or sugar! Also, most Americans are consuming over 14 tablespoons of sugar a day!! The first step in reclaiming your health is to kick your sugar habit, which is one of the core principles on the ketogenic diet. On top of this, the ketogenic diet is centered around healthy fats and quality protein that keep you SATIATED!! I am talking fatty-cuts of meat (including steak & bacon!), olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, nuts, butter and cheese!! These foods are REAL foods that our bodies were built to recognize and digest for nutrients. None of my clients have ever complained about being "hungry" on the ketogenic diet!
YOU MEAN I CAN EAT FAT AND IT WON'T MAKE ME FAT?!
Yes! Fat is the cornerstone of ketogenic diet. Here are some facts about fat that you probably didn't know, since it has been unjustly considered Public Enemy #1 for the past 50 years. Fat is the only macronutrient that does not stimulate insulin release at all, which is why it is often considered the best macronutrient. Fat is completely devoid of insulin-stimulating compounds. Fat even manages to blunt insulin release of other foods! When consumed in the context of meals, fat helps slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream, which keeps insulin levels low. Fat also helps boost nutrient absorption. It helps move nutrients into the bloodstream to be utilized by your body.
The trick to eating fat is to NOT combine it with sugar and carbs, which is how the ketogenic diet is prescribed. So ice cream (filled with sugar), cheeseburgers (slathered in sugary condiments and served on a bun), and cereal with whole milk (that is full of grains/added sugars) combine BOTH fat and carbohydrate macronutrients and will make you gain weight! The trick is kicking sugar and carbohydrates to the curb and eating fats with moderate protein and non-starchy veggies!!
While it may sound kind of scary, KETOSIS actually has so many positive impacts on the body, especially the brain. Ketones are a more efficient form of energy than glucose and your body will thank you for converting it from a sugar burner to a fat burner in the form of weight-loss, increased energy, improved mood, better sleep, clearer skin, and reduced inflammation to name a few. So what are you waiting for? Are you ready to trade in tired, overweight and bloated for energetic, lean, and happy?!! Check out my Resources page for all your need to get started!! This is not a diet, it is a lifestyle change! We have been a slave to sugars and processed foods for too long! It is time to make a change and it is a time to go keto!!