This alteration in the body’s metabolism is achieved through a unique metabolic state known as ketosis. Ketosis is defined simply as elevated blood ketone levels. This state can be achieved in a couple of different ways:
Fasting-induced ketosis where in the absence of food, the body will seek alternative sources of fuel within to stay alive. In some form or way your body uses ketones or enters a mild state of ketosis every night since it is the longest period of time you spend without eating typically
Nutrition-induced ketosis where you only provide your body with a macronutrient balance that is able to push the body to rely on ketones. You guesses what macronutrient needs to be limited right? Carbs!
CARBS ARE NOT BAD FOR YOU BUT NEITHER ARE FATS
The most important message I want to send in this post is that I am not trying to bash on carbohydrates, but rather to explain that fat is not what you have been led to believe it is. Ask anyone what they consider a healthy diet to be and 4 out of 5 will always say something along the lines of low-fat foods. Fat has been vilified for decades as the culprit of heart disease and after really looking at the data that’s not the whole story. How can you explain countries in Europe who consume crazy amounts of fats have lower incidence of of heart conditions? (Ferriere, 2002) Science can be manipulated (like it was back in the 60s and 70s) to show an outcome that may not necessarily be correct like it was shown in the Seven Countries study (Keys, 1984). Today the food industry thrives on low-fat foods and they will do whatever and pay whoever to keep it that way. We are the only ones powerful enough to change that because we are the consumers. With a good education and understanding of fats and how they should be included as part of a healthy diet, there should be a shift in the products we see in the market daily. In fact it is already happening.
Extracted from Ferriere (2002)
I digress. Carbohydrates are not evil, in fact they are excellent sources of a myriad of nutrients along with fiber to keep our gut healthy. They provide us with the energy required to do our every day activities. Carbohydrates however, are not all the same. The ones predominately consumed in the United States are known as simple (or refined) carbohydrates. These type of carbs raise blood sugars chronically leading to the issues we see today in epidemic scale: Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Metabolic Syndrome. When you consume a carbohydrate (i.e. bread) a very important hormone is released. This hormone is known as insulin. Insulin acts on cell receptors by signaling them to open up channels or doors for glucose (blood sugar) to go in the cell to be metabolized for energy. The problem is that when we chronically stimulate it (when we consume carbs in high amounts, particularly those simple ones that raise blood sugar more than others) we start to develop a resistance to the action of insulin on our cell receptors. This is known as insulin resistance and this is the single most prevalent risk factor for many of the diseases we see in our society today. Beyond this, insulin also block lipolysis (or the breakdown of fats) from adipose tissues.
HOW CAN A KETOGENIC DIET HELP?
A Ketogenic lifestyle has many researched benefits from weight loss, to even therapeutic applications like childhood epilepsy, and most upcoming research shows important implications in metabolic disorders like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and even cancer (Paoli, 2013) The clear benefits of weight loss are evident based on the nature of that a ketogenic diet aims to achieve: rely of fat as your main source of fuel. People that are fully adapted to a ketogenic diet can burn up to three times more fat than those who aren’t.
IS IT FOR ME?
There are some conditions in which ketogenic diets may be contraindicated, most of them related to fat malabsorption within the gut, or any issues related to metabolism of fat. Some of those conditions include: Pancreatitis, Gastric Bypass surgery, gall bladder disease, carnitine deficiency, pregnancy, and others. Besides these I believe anyone can benefit from a ketogenic diet. I did it as a challenge for myself to go against what I have always been taught in school, to see how my body would adapt to limiting carbohydrates this much. It’s become a new lifestyle for me. My energy levels have improved, my hunger levels are much more regulated, and even my performance in training has improved tremendously.
HOW TO GET STARTED?
Unlike many other dietary approaches where baby steps are key, a ketogenic diet should be all in. The reason for this is because the sooner you reduced your carbohydrate intake the sooner your body will start the adaptation process. This is known as KETO ADAPTATION and is a process that can take weeks to months. The first few days you are likely to experience symptoms associated with carb deprivation such as low energy, mental fog, and lethargy. These symptoms together are known as the KETO FLU. These are normal and are part of the process. Some key things to remember when starting are:
Calculate you macronutrient needs prior to so you understand how much protein, fats, and carbs you should be consuming daily. As a guiding point you can start with 70% of Calories from Fats, 25% of calories from protein (if you exercise), and 5% of your calories from carbs.
Stay properly hydrated at all times, and ensure you are consuming electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium, and Chloride. These are key to avoid the Keto Flu and get through the Keto adaption phase a lot faster
Don’t let carbs creep up on you. Know what foods you can and cannot consume.
Train HARD! Even though you may not want to, the key to reach a state of ketosis a lot faster is to train. You body will push harder for ketones since you are using much more energy.
IS KETO ANOTHER DIET TREND?
Now is this another diet trend that will come and go as the rest of them (Paleo, detox, zone, etc). Ketogenic dieting has been around for hundreds of years and though it didn’t have a title believe it or not it’s just how some civilizations in the world have lived their entire lives (i.e. Alaskan Eskimos). If you decide to jump into a ketogenic lifestyle make sure you know you follow it for the right purposes. This is not a short term fix or solution. Most people tend to fail following a ketogenic diet because after a month they don’t “see results” Commit to at least 4-6 months before you decide to embark on this journey. You may just end up staying in the low-carb band wagon.
IS IT SUSTAINABLE?
After reading you that will need to limit carbs to less than 20-40 grams per day you will realize this means cutting out the pizzas, the breads, the candy, even healthier things like sweet potatoes and fruits. Like me, for the longest time I told myself I just couldn’t live without my carbs. Believe it or not it’s not as hard as you would think. There are almost always an alternative to every single carbohydrate foods you can think about. For example for pizza, we make a type of dough known as Fat Head dough which is nothing more than cheese and almond flour. I think it’s even better than the real thing. Desserts? There are so many options to choose from, and if you check out my last 4-5 blog posts you will realize how easy it is.
WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE?
I believe education is key before starting anything new and the more you know the more prepared you will be to do this. I spent a lot of hours writing an awesome 35-Page guide to help you get started in this journey with sample recipes, meal plans, grocery shopping lists, and an extensive explanation of fats, macros, and everything KETO.
You can download yours HERE
Websites: www.ketogenic.com www.dietdoctor.com
The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek
The Ketogenic Bible by Jacob M. Wilson and Ryan P. Lowery
Lowery, R,P, Wilson J. The Ketogenic Bible. Victory Belt Publishing, 2017
Ferrières J. The French paradox: lessons for other countries. Heart. 2004;90(1):107-111.
Paoli, A., Rubini, A., Volek, J. S., & Grimaldi, K. A. (2013). Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. European journal of clinical nutrition, 67(8), 789-796.
Daniel L. Keene, A Systematic Review of the Use of the Ketogenic Diet in Childhood Epilepsy, In Pediatric Neurology, Volume 35, Issue 1, 2006, Pages 1-5, ISSN 0887-8994, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2006.01.005.
Ferrières J. The French paradox: lessons for other countries. Heart. 2004;90(1):107-111.
Ancel Keys, Alessandro Menotti, Christ Aravanis, Henry Blackburn, Bozidar S. Djordevič, Ratko Buzina, A.S. Dontas, Flaminio Fidanza, Martti J. Karvonen, Noboru Kimura, Ivan Mohaček, Srečko Nedeljkovič, Vittorio Puddu, Sven Punsar, Henry L. Taylor, Susanna Conti, Daan Kromhout, Hironori Toshima, The seven countries study: 2,289 deaths in 15 years, In Preventive Medicine, Volume 13, Issue 2, 1984, Pages 141-154, ISSN 0091-7435,