Whenever I have given a presentation on nutrition, in the last few months, one question that comes up consistently is whether or not I endorse or follow the keto diet. If you’re anywhere on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube these days, there is no doubt you’ve heard about the ketogenic diet or keto diet for short.
What exactly is it
The keto diet, in its simplified version, is a low carbohydrate diet that instructs the body to use fat for fuel instead of glucose (sugar). Once the body uses its glycogen/glucose stores for fuel, it switches to fat. The process causes the liver to convert fatty acids to ketone bodies, which the body then uses for energy to fuel the heart, muscles lungs, organs and most importantly the brain. Ketones are the preferred fuel source for the brain, when available. Ketones are a much cleaner burning fuel than sugar. Think about how sugar affects your car engine if you put it in the gas tank. A ketogenic diet is largely about a low carb intake to shift the body towards using relatively more fat for energy, be that your body fat or dietary fat.
The difference between ketosis and ketoacidosis
The word “ketosis” can be a bit intimidating. It sounds and looks so much the word “ketoacidosis”. But no need to be alarmed, they are very different. Ketosis is a healthy way for our bodies to use fat for fuel, as described above. Ketoacidosis, on the other hand, is a very dangerous situation.
Ketoacidosis is almost exclusively a result of poorly managed insulin in diabetics. Inadequate
insulin leads to elevated blood glucose levels (upwards of 250). Because insulin is not released, the body releases ketones for energy. This causes an out of control increase in both blood glucose and ketone bodies. Since ketones are slightly acidic the high levels of ketones during ketoacidosis can dangerously shift the blood pH, leading to coma and possibly death. This happens mostly in type I diabetics and sometimes in type II diabetics. But if your insulin is controlled, the situation is very rare.
Benefits of a Ketogenic Way of Eating
This would be a shorter post if I were to discuss what the detriments to the ketogenic way of eating are.
- Burn stored body fat. The ketogenic diet is a fantastic way to lose body fat. Ketones suppress ghrelin, the hunger hormone. And because eating the keto way of life is a much more satiating way to eat you won’t need to eat as much to feel satisfied.
- Stable blood sugar. Because your body is now relying on more fat for fuel and not glucose, you won’t get the highs and lows of the carbohydrate craving roller coaster. The word “hangry” will no longer be part of your vocabulary.
- Better sleep. A ketogenic lifestyle can improve sleep by reducing your carb cravings and swings in blood sugar during the night and reducing systemic inflammation. Inflammation essentially blocks the neurotransmitters that help us sleep.
- Decreased hunger. If you’re looking for weight loss…and who isn’t, wouldn’t it be nice to not feel hungry while on the weight loss journey? As mentioned before, a ketogenic diet is very satiating and helps reduce hunger throughout the day.
- More sustained energy throughout the day. No more mid-day slump! No more trips to the coffee shop or vending machine for an afternoon pick-me-up. This could even lead to an increase in your productivity for the day. Wouldn’t that be nice?
- Reduces your risk of cancer– Cancer cells need glucose/sugar/carbohydrates to thrive. If you deplete the body of glucose, cancer has no fuel. The healthy cells can thrive without glucose. They can rely on ketones for fuel and thrive.
- Better mental focus. Ketones are the brain’s preferred source of fuel. Not only that, brain fog is most often due to disruption in the gut-brain axis. Certain fermentable carbohydrates (think processed grains) promote the growth of bad bacteria which produces neurotoxic substances. These substances make their way to the brain and make you feel like your brain is moving through mud. A well-formulated keto diet (or even a proper low-carb diet) can dramatically improve gut bacteria…reducing the dreaded brain fog.
- Improved blood lipids. In general, people who become fat-adapted on a ketogenic diet tend to see a remarkable improvement in blood lipids. HDL increases; LDL, triglycerides, and glucose decrease. This is NOT the case, however, for everyone. This is something that needs to be addressed on a case by case basis. A good coach can walk you through it.
- And so much more… Want to know more? Click here.
So do I endorse a ketogenic diet? Absolutely! But there is more to it than a definite yes or no. Because we are all individual precious snowflakes, everyone will react differently. Some of you may thrive on a ketogenic diet for years, others of you may thrive on a well-formulated low-carb diet, but not be in ketosis.
I hope this helps you understand better what a ketogenic diet can do for your body, your brain, and your overall health. Being in ketosis can be a formidable tool for both fat loss and better health. But like all tools, it needs to be used in the right situation and for the right reasons.
If you decide to give the ketogenic way of eating a try, don’t be afraid to reach out for help and support. Like most diets, there are good ways to do it and not so good ways to do it. I help my clients get to where they want to be by supporting them in their each unique journey.
We are constantly bombarded with information about food and health. I can take you through the complicated maze and come out on the other end with confidence.
When you’re ready, click the link to my calendar for a complimentary phone call to see if the Ketogenic way of eating is right for you.