Here I’ll dive into the facts on what’s so good about the keto diet to help you decide if it’s for you.
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic, keto or ketosis diet is a very low carb, high fat diet. It creates a shifted metabolic state where your body primarily burns fat for fuel instead of sugar.
If you’re being strict, a keto diet has a ratio of 3-4 grams of fat per gram of protein and carbohydrates. That means about 75% of your daily calories come from fat. The rest is made up of approximately 20% protein and 5% carbs.
However, there are looser variations of keto that most people find it easier to adhere to while still getting the same or similar results.
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Foods that are plentiful on a ketogenic diet include:
- Fatty fish
- Whole eggs
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy oils
- Low-carb vegetables
For a list of the good and bads in your Protein, Carb and Fat choices, check out our other article here.
What Happens to Your Body on a Ketogenic Diet?
Carbs i.e. sugar, are usually believed to be the body’s preferred natural source of fuel. But, what a lot of people don’t realise is that fat can be an equally as good (or even better), fuel source.
When your body doesn’t have a steady source of carbs, it turns to fat for energy.
So, on a keto diet when your calories are mainly coming from fat, your body enters a state that’s called ketosis. In ketosis, your body uses fat over glucose, creating bi-products called ketones that can then be used by your brain, organs and muscles to create energy.
What’s So Great About Being in Ketosis?
Now you know what a ketogenic diet is, why would you switch to one?
The ketogenic diet was first designed as an effective way to treat epilepsy in children. But, as the effects of the diet were more researched, keto has become a popular solution for weight loss as well as a host of other health problems.
Losing weight is the number one reason why people start a ketogenic diet. It’s effective for a number of reasons including:
- Your body is primed to burn stored fat
- Insulin sensitivity is improved so your body is less likely to store everything you eat as fat
- It has a positive effect on your hunger hormones, so you feel more satisfied and less hungry
- You’ll experience fewer cravings
- You’re less susceptible to sudden hunger caused by a sharp drop in your blood sugar levels
- The high fat content will keep you full for longer
Increased Mental Clarity
Your brain and heart actually run more efficiently on ketones than they do on sugar. So, eating a high fat, low carb diet has the power to improve your brain function, thought clarity, memory and ability to learn new skills. Studies in rats have even shown that a ketogenic diet may protect against cognitive decline too.
Do you know what causes 3:30itis? No, it’s not how boring your work is! It’s carbs and low blood sugar levels.
After switching to a keto diet, most people quickly notice that their energy levels improve and stay steadier throughout the day. Running on ketones, your body has a steady and readily available source of continuous fuel that’s not so dependent on eating at the same time throughout the day.
Ketosis has even shown to improve physical performance and endurance.
Reduced Risk for Type II Diabetes
A reduction in body fat coupled with improved insulin sensitivity make ketosis a great, natural way to help prevent the development of type II diabetes.
However, if you do have diabetes, be sure to consult your doctor before starting a low-carb diet as your insulin dosage may need to be adjusted.
Protection from Heart Disease
Recent research has shown that eating fat and/or cholesterol doesn’t translate to having high blood cholesterol. Instead, it’s the processed, inflammatory, sugary, trans-fat laden foods that we need to avoid.
In fact, the keto diet has been shown to improve good cholesterol and reduce the bad while lowering blood pressure to keep your heart safer.
Possible Protection from Cancer
Preliminary studies indicate that the ketogenic diet may protect the body from cancer by ‘starving’ diseased cells. It’s believed that cancer cells might not be able to make the same shift to using fat for energy like the rest of your body does. So, while cancer thrives on a highly processed, inflammatory diet that’s low in nutrients, a diet that’s low in sugar and processed carbs may have the power to reduce the risk of developing cancer, or even more impressive, be able to fight it!
The benefits of being in ketosis just seem to grow and grow. Studies have also shown that it’s beneficial for improving gut health, clearing up acne, lessening IBS symptoms, reducing pain from inflammation, decreasing the severity of migraines and reducing heartburn.
Early studies have even suggested that because the keto diet lowers insulin levels which reduces oxidative stress, high fat, low carb diets may even slow down the effects of aging.
Basic Steps to Get into Ketosis
You might think that a ketogenic diet is too restrictive for you but, there are more moderate approaches that still reap the same results.
If you want to try ketosis, start by:
- Reducing carbohydrate intake – Eliminate processed foods and limit grains, fruit and starchy vegetables.
- Increase healthy fats – Eat plenty of healthy fats such as coconut and olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds and butter.
- Maintain an adequate protein intake – Protein helps to keep you full while preserving lean muscle mass. Aim for between 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight depending on your activity level.
- Get active – Exercise helps you get into ketosis faster by depleting your stored glycogen levels.
Do’s and Don’ts of a Ketogenic Diet
- DO eat real food
- DON’T eat processed foods that are labelled as ‘low carb’ or ‘sugar free’
- DO include a variety of fat sources
- DON’T eat unhealthy fats such as vegetable oils
- DO eat plenty of low carb vegetables
- DON’T go overboard on fruit or starchy vegetables
- DO listen to your natural hunger cues
- DON’T obsess over calories and/or macros
- DO stick to it for the first few weeks! You might initially feel more tired but this will soon correct itself as your body adjusts
- DON’T stress if you slip up! Just eat your next meal like normal
If you’re impressed by the many benefits of being in ketosis but would like some help implementing it in your lifestyle, get in touch with me today.
As an experienced personal trainer and health coach, I’ve seen it all and know that there isn’t just one approach to suit everyone. Hit me up and we’ll find a nutritional lifestyle to get you looking and feeling great.
Weight Loss Specialist
Because we cant transform your body without transforming your life.