What is keto
A keto or ketogenic diet is a nutritional diet where the body uses fat instead of carbs as it’s main source of fuel.
In the absense of carbs (or sugar) the body will break down either the dietery fat or it’s own fat to ketones and use them for energy. When the body creates ketones, we are then in a state of ketosis.
Being able to use fat for energy and be in a moderate state of ketosis is sign of a healthy and flexible metabolism which has many benefits and should be the foundation of design a proper healthy diet.
Benefits of keto
A keto lifestyle has great health benefits as ketones are the preferred fuel for the body and the brain! Most people follow the keto lifestyle for the increased energy, clarity of mind and congitive function, better glucose and insulin levels and no cravings! In this blog post we are only touching the surface, but let’s have a look.
We start with glucose since so many people have an issue with their blood sugar levels. Unfortunately diabetes is one of the main killers of our age along side with cancer and heart attack.
The underlying issue is called insulin resistance. You see when we eat carbs these are converted very fast into glucose (sugar) and it travels our blood to be distributed into various cells A hormone called insulin then comes and acts as a key to allow glucose to be used by the cells as energy or to be stored as fat. However if you overconsume carbs by eating 5-6 times a day or you eat too many refined carbs the insulin requirements to distribute the glucose shoot through the sky. And after some time your cells stop responding and reject to uptake the glucose as they can’t meet the demand. The pancreas then secretes more and more insulin to keep the blood sugars in check, which results into a vicious cycle with only catastrophic results.
When you either have high glucose or high insulin, you need to remove those carbs. A keto or high-fat diet does not spike insulin keep the glucose levels stable and will help your body heal and become insulin sensitive once again.
This not one of the main benefits of keto but I want to mention it to clarify any wrong impressions about fat. Eating fat like butter or the chicken skin does not make you fat!
The mechanism of storing fat and burning fat is quite complex and we are discussing in depth in Nutrition Series 2, but it is mainly the job of insulin to signal storing of excess energy into your fat cells. That and vegetable oils which are heavily processed and should be avoided at all costs.
Eating fat will not cause you to gaining weight. It is actually the exact opposite! Fats carry many nutrients, are very satiating, will reduce your cravings and in the absence of insulin you will be a fat burning machine. We have seen that in every single of the people we are coaching. Read, in her post, how Christina reduced her weight and managed her glucose at the same.
Clarity of mind, focus and energy
Using ketones as fuel will switch your energy switch ON.
Without getting too technical you should remember two numbers. Each molecule of glucose can create 38 energy molecules (ATP) whereas each molecule of a fatty-acid can produce 129 energy ATP molecules. And this supply is steady and continious so you will have increased concentration and focus levels.
High-carb diets can make you tired as you burn through blood glucose quickly and consequent blood sugar plummets creating feelings of fatigue. When you’re fat adapted, you are on a fat-burning diet and have stable energy levels throughout the day, which means you experience more energy, less fatigue, more focus.
Fat has a lot of nutrients
Carbs are non-essential macronutrients, where as fats are essencial. Essential means that the body cant produce those nutrients, so we have to get them from food. Omega-3 (DHA, ELA) and Omega-6 are essential fatty acids (e.g from fish) which are key for brain health, healthy skin, hormone production, and much more.
Take butter for example. It is rich in nutrients such as Vitamin A, D, E, K, B12, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and short-chain free fatty acids (SCFAs). These compounds are essential and should be part of any healthy diet. And imagine that butter has been demonised the last 50 years! The reasons why are for another blog.
How to start a keto diet
You should always start slowly and step-by-by step. No need to crash and burn and just quite after a couple of weeks. This is a journey but here are some tips.
- Reduce carbs. In order to get into ketosis and use fat for fuel you will need to cut your net carbs typically below 50gr / day. Do this step-by-step. Cut first the processed foods, then grains and wheat etc.
- Keep it healthy. You will need to substitute your old food will better more quality options. Include plenty of salads and avoid any fast food, low quality meats. Avoid any deep-fried food.
- In a keto diet you are getting most of your calories from fat.
- Keto has many health benefits. In this blog post we have discussed it’s benefits on managing blood glucose, helping with weight loss and giving us energy and clarity of mind, while at the same time fueling our body with plenty of nutrients.
- Other benefits include lower inflammation, better gut health, lower risk of Alzheimers and more.
- Book your free discovery call to discuss how ketOntrack can help you start your nutrition journey.