You may have heard of the ketogenic diet before, but what exactly is it? Click on this article for a comprehensive beginner's guide to the ketogenic diet.
Have you ever heard of the ketogenic diet? It seems like there's always some new miracle diet that everyone's talking about - THIS is the answer to your health and weight loss problems! Yeah, right.
Of course, the only real answer is a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition. The best eating habits are the ones you'll actually stick too. Extreme diets are often difficult because you can't eat anything you enjoy.
The ketogenic diet is a bit strict, but it may be a helpful tool to throw in your toolbox. Weight loss, more energy, and better concentration are just a few of its many benefits.
You're allowed to have both butter and bacon, so how bad could it be? Keep reading to learn more about the diet and if it might be right for you.
The Science behind Ketones
The idea behind this diet is a biochemical process called ketogenesis. Let's have a quick lesson about how the body works.
Glucose is the element that your body can convert the easiest into energy. It comes from sugars and carbohydrates. In most diets, this nutrient is readily available and used as a source of fuel.
But what does your body do if there's a lack of glucose? Where does it get its energy from?
This is where ketones come in. When glucose is not readily available, your liver speeds up the production of ketones. This puts your body in a ketogenic state.
The building blocks of those ketones are your fat stores. You can see how this would be beneficial to weight loss.
Of course, your liver is always producing ketones. The idea of this diet is to push that production into overdrive.
This has lots of health benefits, weight loss being the most obvious. Some people claim that it sharpens their mental focus. Others have found that it helps control cholesterol and blood pressure.
Folks have used this diet to control epilepsy for years. It may also be a good plan for diabetics looking to control blood sugar. There's even some research showing it's good for skin conditions like acne.
Types of Ketogenic Diets
The basic ketogenic diet advocates eating a pretty strict (and unusual) nutrient ratio. You should get about 75 percent of your total calorie intake from fat, 20 percent from protein, and five percent from carbs.
Wait, what? You should be eating a diet that is 75 percent fat? That sounds a little counterproductive for weight loss.
Remember, you can't eat too much sugar or carbs. To keep it at five percent, you can only eat around 35 grams of carbs.
This eliminates processed foods and other unhealthy sources of fat. What's left is the good stuff. More about that in a minute.
There are a few versions of the ketogenic diet. The standard plan is the one that uses the ratios we've already mentioned.
The cyclical version involves relaxing the diet every few days. For example, you may have five strict low-carb days followed by two high-carb days.
A high-protein version adjusts the ratio a little. This version is often 60 percent fats, 35 percent protein, and five percent carbs. However, beware that eating too much protein can throw you out of ketosis.
The standard diet is the most researched and recommended. If you're interested in trying it out, we recommend sticking with the original, at least at first. Talk to your doctor to find the best plan for you.
What to Eat and What to Avoid
How is it possible to eat that much fat without getting tons of carbs?
There are lots of healthy foods that provide omega-3s and MCTs. Fat isn't all ice cream and fried chicken.
Have you ever wondered if there's a diet that will let you eat all the bacon you want? This is it.
Bacon and other meats - red meat, sausage, chicken, turkey - are all on the table. Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are also excellent choices.
Eggs are awesome, and so are dairy products like cheese, butter, and cream. Virtually any kind of nuts, seeds, and berries are great. Hint, these make great snacks! (But don't overdo it of course).
Unrefined oils like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil are fantastic. The avocado itself is also a great source of healthy fats.
As far as vegetables go, stick with low-carb ones like leafy greens. Starchy veggies like potatoes and yams are a no-go.
This might be obvious, but you should avoid all grains. Most fruits (with the exception of a few berries) have too much sugar and carbs. Stay away from anything that is pure sugar (honey, maple syrup, agave, etc.).
It's not necessary to take supplements as part of your ketogenic diet. But there are a few that can be helpful in producing and maintaining ketosis.
MCT powder is an excellent supplement that you can add to drinks or yogurt. It helps your body enter into a ketogenic state. You can even use it for recovery after indulging in carbs on occasion.
Caffeine can even be helpful to this diet. Try tossing a little MCT powder in your morning cup of joe as an easy pick-me-up.
Exogenous ketones is another great supplement. It helps your body produce more ketones.
You may also want to increase your salt and mineral intake. Ketosis is a diuretic, so you'll find yourself going to the bathroom a lot once your body enters this state.
You'll also feel extra thirsty and tend to drink a lot of water. This can dilute the minerals and electrolytes in your body.
Is the Ketogenic Diet Right for You?
As with all diet plans, the ketogenic diet is not right for everyone. Lots of people have had success with weight loss and controlling diseases. But every person's situation is different.
We recommend speaking with your doctor before beginning any new diet regimen. This eating plan is quite restrictive, and you should always take care when making extreme diet shifts.
Nothing can replace your doctor's advice. But you may have burning questions about the diet and what supplements you can take. Feel free to contact us - our friendly staff will be happy to help!