It’s officially mainstream. We all know someone who swears by going keto. But does the Ketogenic Diet really work? The answer will really surprise you. Read on to learn more about the Ketogenic Diet, what it is, and the information you need to be armed with before making the leap. PS – if you want to know if butter is really back, we’ll go there too!
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What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The Ketogenic Diet is one of the strictest nutrition protocols around. Its basis is 25-30 percent net carbohydrates, 5 percent fat, and the remaining 70 percent (give or take) healthy fats. When the body is starved of carbohydrates, fat is broken down and ketones are formed in the liver. This burns energy instead of glucose for energy. Your body is now burning fat faster than it can store it, which results in weight loss. When the body is using ketones as a fuel source, this is called being in ketosis, which is the whole goal of this diet.
Individuals often choose to try the Ketogenic Diet to:
- Lose weight
- Suppress appetite
- Feel and eat healthy
- Better brain function
- Reduce the risk of disease.
Many individuals go on the Ketogenic Diet to lose weight. By cutting sugar (which most Americans consume way too much of) and adding healthy fats, weight loss can be a very common attribute. Your body becomes a fat burning machine, which can aid weight loss.
Grehlin is the hunger hormone. It tells your body that you are hungry. The Ketogenic Diet supports grehlin suppression, which helps to decrease these hunger pangs.
This diet promotes eating healthy foods, which most Americans do not eat enough of. It promotes an increase in healthy fats from avocados, nuts, ghee, butter, wild fatty fish and healthy oils. In addition, it significantly cuts carbs and subsequently sugar.
Better Brain Function
When you are in a state of ketosis, the ketones supply energy to the brain. Additionally, an increase in healthy Omega-3 fatty acids may help with better brain function, memory, and attention.
Reduce Inflammation and Disease
The Ketogenic Diet will help to reduce insulin levels. Higher levels of insulin have been linked to increased inflammation. Increased inflammation is linked to many diseases such as cancer and autoimmune conditions.
It’s Difficult to Follow
For most people, this diet can be extremely difficult to follow. We are a carb and sugar-centric society. Switching over to healthy fats and giving up our beloved bread, bagels, donuts, pasta, and cookies is not easy for many. It’s also a complicated and calculated diet. You need to follow the plan precisely to ensure your body goes into ketosis.
Those Fats Aren’t Really Healthy
While healthy fats are good for you, too many highly saturated animal fats are not. Some may try to cut corners by not purchasing grass-fed or organic meats and fats. The quality of your fats is almost as important as the type of fats.
Most people in ketosis report that they have bad breath, playfully called “keto breath.” It’s common, and those who actually do home tests to determine if they are in ketosis, use the breath (and urine) as part of this testing.
Transitioning to Keto may leave you with flu-like symptoms. Brain fog, irritability, nausea, headache, fatigue, and overall malaise are common during the first week of the transition, but it could last longer. Many of these symptoms are due to your body detoxing from all of the sugar. If you already follow a Paleo diet, these symptoms might be minimal.
Diarrhea and Constipation
When you make major changes to your diet, your body needs to adjust and re-calculate. Common side effects can include either diarrhea or constipation.
The Cancer Connection
As stated previously, a Ketogenic Diet promotes limiting sugar, and can help to reduce inflammation. Consuming sugar helps to create a body that is hospitable to the development of cancer. So does having inflammation. While it would be foolish to say that a Ketogenic Diet would help someone prevent or heal from cancer, it is important to note the connection. Anyone who wants to prevent or heal from cancer should decrease and minimize the amount of sugar they consume, and they may find that following a Ketogenic Diet will help them achieve these results.
Is it Safe? What are the Warnings?
Don’t confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis, which is a life-threatening complication of type 1 diabetes. That being said, there are some warnings you should be aware of. A Ketogenic Diet will increase the acid load, which shifts your urine chemistry, possibly putting you at risk for kidney stones. Additionally, too many acidic foods help to deplete important minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium, which in turn causes an increase in inflammation.
There are many articles out there warning about the effects on those with thyroid issues. Two thyroid experts have offered their differing opinions. According to Dr. Izabella Wentz, PharmD, “I usually recommend a higher fat and lower protein ratio for people with Hashimoto’s.”
Dr. David Jockers adds, “Reducing inflammation boosts just about every process in the body. This style of eating encourages a healthy metabolism by burning off excess fat and stabilizing blood sugar levels. Without going into too much detail, a ketogenic diet simply enables the body to function at a much more efficient level and this may allow for a more balance production of thyroid hormones.”
Let’s put pure and simple logic into play. You are reducing or eliminating sugar, processed foods, and minimizing carbs. You are eating more healthy fats and vegetables. This in and of itself is going to be a healthier diet than the standard American/Western diet. It’s going to naturally reduce inflammation and help boost metabolic processes in the body.
That all being said, everyone is different. Everyone is going to respond differently to this kind of diet. Always consult a medical professional before embarking on the Ketogenic Diet or making any kind of dietary changes, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, elderly, or on medications.
Does the Ketogenic Diet Really Work?
Maybe. We all have our own unique blueprint. It’s either going to really work for you, have no effect whatsoever, or even cause reverse effects. While this is an overly simple answer, it’s true. We all have that friend who has gone on the [fill in the blank] diet and swears by it. But it never worked for you. And vice versa. For many people, the Ketogenic Diet will work, and will work well. For many others, being “keto-ish” is a sweet spot to land.
For me personally, my body doesn’t like too much fat and protein. I process much better on an overwhelm of fruits and veggies.
Is the Ketogenic Diet for Me?
Is the Ketogenic Diet right for you? Refer to the section immediately above. If you follow it precisely and it works for you, then stay with it. If you can’t seem to stick to it, or you are seeing any negative results, then it’s not for you. It’s not meant to be good or bad, just that different approaches to nutrition protocols work differently for everyone. Monitor closely and you will have your answer.
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