The Ultimate Ketogenic Overview
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 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 rest 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 liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood means you are in a state known as ketosis. 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).
HOW TO ACHEIVE KETOSIS
Getting your body to enter full ketosis is no small feat. It requires forgoing all starchy vegetables, breads, sugary drinks (including fruit juice), pasta—essentially everything that isn’t a healthy fat, quality protein or non-starchy vegetable. It’s a tall order that only gets taller, because, once you’ve started the process, the body begins feeling deprived and often undergoes a transition phase referred to as “low-carb flu.” For the first few weeks, physical and mental performance—at work, in the gym—can decrease noticeably and uncomfortably as the body tries to tap its missing fuel source. Not everyone is able to push through this "low-carb flu", but if they can - they will reach the euphoria that is ketosis! If you don't stay consistent in this way of eating, ketosis will not be maintained. As a result, this is truly a lifestyle change and not just a short-term fad diet BUT the results are worth it! See more information regarding the ketogenic diet - here.
There are 2 alternative ways to achieve ketosis: fasting and exogenous ketones.
FASTING: If you don’t eat for many hours, your body will naturally go into fat-burning mode. There are many different fasting protocols to get into ketosis, but the most common is called intermittent fasting, which consists of not eating for 12 to 16 hours. Many people find not eating for long windows of time to be very challenging and once they break their fast, they tend to binge on sugar and refined carbs (which defeats the purpose). So although fasting is an option, it is hard to sustain these non-eating time windows initially without the help of some sort of supplement. Also, women's bodies in particular are very sensitive to "starvation mode" so fasting for long periods of time can lead to the brain signaling to the body to store fat rather than burn it. As a result, fasting is definitely an option to get into ketosis but may not be sustainable in the long-term without other diet and lifestyle changes. See more information regarding fasting - here.
EXOGENOUS KETONES: Another option for keto beginners, people that want the benefits of ketosis without the strict diet, or people who want to fast-charge their ketogenic diet results is exogenous ketones. These ketone supplements that you ingest exogenously (a fancy word for outside the body) are the newest science breakthrough, making the job of drastically cutting carbs from the diet much easier. Exogenous ketone supplements are somewhat new on the scene, with only a select few companies manufacturing them for dietary use. The products currently available on the market are comprised of beta-hydroxybutyrate salts, which flood the body with ketones and eliminate the symptoms of carbohydrate withdrawal. They put the body in ketosis within 30-60 minutes so you can reap all the amazing health benefits of ketosis in a simple and effective way (just mix the exogenous ketones with water & drink!). Research is now linking exogenous ketones to a multitude of benefits, including athletic performance enhancement, more efficient weight loss, cancer prevention, cognitive improvement, neuroprotection and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, exogenous ketones are an extremely useful tool to easily transition to the ketogenic diet. When taking these daily, they can reduce your carb/sugar cravings, turn on your fat burning fuel, give you more energy, and keep "low-carb flu"at bay. See more information regarding exogenous ketones - here.
Switching from foods that cause chronic illness and make you fat (aka sugars, processed foods, and refined carbs) to foods that keep you permanently lean and energetic without getting hungry (healthy fats, quality protein, and green vegetables) would seem like a no-brainer. But it’s difficult, and most of us don’t know where to start. The average American today is what nutritionists call “a sugar burner.” We ingest carbs for breakfast, so our blood sugar goes up quickly then comes crashing down before lunch, when we get our next carb fix. The process happens over and over again without our bodies entering ketosis. We don't know what living to the FULLEST really is, because we are using glucose as fuel rather than the superior source of fuel - FAT & KETONES. Achieving ketosis is possible, it just takes the correct tools. Whether you choose to be strict in your diet, implement fasting, use exogenous ketones or do a combination of all of these - it is possible to get into ketosis and once you do, you will never want to go back!!! What are you waiting for?! Let's get started!
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