Is the Ketogenic Diet Right for Me?
The ketogenic diet, which is often referred to as “keto diet,” is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that helps people lose weight, increase their energy, sleep better, improve brain function and decreases the risk of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Following the ketogenic diet is a lifestyle change rather than a “quick fix.” Learn more about the diet and decide if it’s right for you.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a lifestyle change that involves eating very few carbohydrates, a moderate amount of protein and a high amount of fat. People who follow the diet typically aim for their diet to be five percent carbohydrates, 20 percent protein and 75 percent fat. The diet is so low in carbohydrates that it forces the body to go into a state of ketosis.
What Happens During Ketosis
During ketosis, the body switches from using glycogen as its energy source to fat. When carbohydrates, such as bread, fruit or sugars, are consumed, the body makes insulin in order to use the carbohydrates for energy. The carbohydrates are converted into glycogen during this process. This process is known as glycolysis and it allows the body to fuel itself off of the blood sugar.
When the body no longer is being fed carbohydrates, it is forced to turn to another source for energy. Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body uses ketone bodies for energy. During ketosis, the body turns to fat stores to fuel itself, which in turn leads to rapid weight loss. It typically takes anywhere from seven to 14 days for the body to switch to ketosis.
How to Know if You are in Ketosis
Once beginning the diet, it’s normal to want to know if you have reached a state of ketosis. The following symptoms may indicate that your body is in ketosis:
- Lack of hunger
- Bad breath
- Weight loss
- Excess ketone in the urine as tested on a ketone strip
- Increased focus and energy
- Short-term fatigue
- Digestive problems
Foods that May Be Eaten on the Keto Diet
Followers of the diet typically track their “macronutrients,” which are the fat, protein and carbohydrates in food, in order to stay within the recommended keto percentages. Foods that are eaten on the keto diet include:
- Heavy cream
- Coconut oil
- Low-carbohydrate vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, spaghetti squash and zucchini
Foods to Avoid on the Keto Diet
Eating more than 20 to 30 grams of carbohydrates per day may throw a person out of ketosis. Foods that are high in carbohydrates include:
- Sugary treats, such as cookies, cake or candy
Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet
In a state of glycolysis, the human body needs continual food in order to function. When carbohydrates are limited, the body will become fat-adapted and be able to use its own fat for fuel. Additionally, the lack of carbohydrates will decrease the amount of insulin the body makes. Because insulin prompts the body to store food eaten as fat, less insulin will mean more weight loss.
Decreased Hunger Cravings
When people eat carbohydrates, the body quickly uses them and then craves more carbohydrates for more fuel. When the body can use its own fat for energy, it no longer needs to eat constantly for energy. This will decrease hunger and carbohydrate cravings.
Carbohydrates will automatically cause blood sugar levels to increase and produce a lot of energy for a short period of time. Once the glycogen is used, the body either needs more carbohydrates or it will “crash.” People who follow the ketogenic diet never run out of fat as an energy source, so they typically notice they have a lot more energy while on the diet.
The brain needs some carbohydrates in order for it to function properly, but the majority of the brain actually functions better when using ketones for energy. Once a state of ketosis is reached, many people note increased mental clarity.
Decreased Risk of Cardiovascular Problems
It may seem contradictory, but studies show that following a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet decreases fasting triglyceride levels, raises HDL (good) cholesterol levels and decrease blood pressure.
Disadvantages of the Ketogenic Diet
Until the body converts to a state of ketosis, people may experience a condition known as the “keto flu.” Though it’s not actual influenza, the “keto flu” makes people feel tired, lethargic, nauseous and have headaches. These symptoms typically go away within seven to 14 days.
If done for too long, the keto diet could have the reverse effect and cause insulin resistance. This is when you body can’t respond to sugar in the blood stream as effectively. Basically, it is one of the first stages of diabetes. To counter this, make sure to add in a day or two each month of carbs. Some athletes and bodybuilders may need this day every 10-14 days.
Talk with Your Doctor
Though the keto diet may be beneficial to a lot of people, it’s not recommended for people with kidney or liver failure. Talk with a doctor before beginning the ketogenesis diet to ensure it’s right for you.
If you or someone you know would like to know more about increasing energy and performance, book a Free Discovery Consultation with me today!
Photo by Jessica To’oto’o on Unsplash
Rich Jacobs is a Board Certified Integrative and Functional Nutrition Practitioner who specializes in resolving gut, insomnia, low libido, fatigue and fat issues. He uses a holistic approach and functional lab work to identify root causes such as hormone imbalances or gut pathogens that could be impacting your health.