What is a ketogenic diet?
A ketogenic diet is a diet that is made up of high fats, moderate protein and very low carbs. It will consist of a healthy combination of fats such as avocados, almonds/nuts, oils, lean proteins and fibrous veggies. Because the majority of your calories are coming from fat, it will give you satiety and fullness while your carb intake is almost nonexistent. The higher fat intake is often what is missing and why most carb diets do not work and cannot be maintained over long periods of time.
Keto is often the best solution for dieters who have developed insulin resistance and are very sensitive to carbohydrates. All carbohydrates break down into sugar and the rate at which they break down and raise blood glucose levels can have a dramatic effect on weight gain and fat storage. A great indicator of how quickly food will raise blood glucose levels is its GI or Glycemic index. Higher glycemic foods raise blood sugar quickly, while low GI foods raise blood sugar at a much slower rate. The higher the GI of a food, the greater tendency to store body fat.
This is where keto comes into play. When we limit our carbohydrate intake, we are keeping our blood glucose levels steady. Fats do not raise blood glucose levels the same way carbohydrates do so when we eat a diet that is high in dietary fat, we are keeping our blood glucose levels in check.
How exactly does it work?
When we are on a ketogenic diet, we are training our bodies to use fat as its primary fuel source as opposed to carbohydrates. Carbs are the body’s main fuel source. The problem? Our carb storage (muscle & liver glycogen) is limited. Think of it like filling up your gas tank. Once you are full, there is no added benefit to adding more gasoline to your car. In fact, it can actually do damage to your engine if you overfill your gas tank. This is the exact same thing that happens when our carbohydrate stores are full. The excess carbs will spill over and store as fat. With that said, when we keto diet, we are training the body to find an alternative fuel source since we have removed its carbohydrates. The body derives this energy from ketones which are derived from the breakdown of fatty acids and stored fat in the body. The benefit? The energy we store in our bodies as fat is exponentially greater than what we can store as energy from carbohydrates. This translates to high energy levels, increased mood and a lean body that is efficient at burning fat.
How do I know if I am in Ketosis?
Ketones can be measured in our urine and in our blood. Since most of us do not have readily available access to blood work on a regular basis, we use keto strips to monitor the level of ketones in our urine. These can be purchased at Walgreens or CVS. To measure your ketone levels, you simply urinate on the bottom portion of the strip and then match the color of the strip up to the guide on the box to monitor. Getting into ketosis does not happen overnight and may take up to a few weeks for individuals to fully get into. Carbohydrates will keep us out of ketosis so make sure that if your end goal is to get into keto that you are keeping your carb intake extremely low and derive almost all of those carbs from fibrous veggies. The monitoring of these ketone levels is so important to make sure that you never cross over into an unsafe level where you can put your body at risk.
Should I be taking any supplements on a ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet, just like any of our diets do not require additional supplementation. However, there are a few “supplements” that we do recommend while on a keto diet. For the sake of this document, the term supplement would include anything other than the food you consume. The first would be MCT oil. Coconut Oil is high in MCT’s, but we prefer to use pure MCT oil. MCT oil is a medium chain triglyceride. MCT’s are metabolized differently than the fats that we commonly find in our foods. They go straight to the liver so they are able to provide an almost instantaneous energy. The next “supplement” we would recommend would be a fiber supplement. It is hard to hit the recommended amount of fiber in a day on a keto diet. Although the MCT oil will certainly help with keeping your bowel movements regular, many individuals
still may need some additional fiber. Benefiber makes a great on the go packet that completely dissolves in water and is taste free. The final supplement we recommend is Salt. Again, we know salt is not a supplement but for the sake of this piece we are going to group it as a supplement. The body will secret excess sodium from the kidneys so it is crucial that we are salting all of our foods. Water intake is also equally important when keto dieting.
What should I expect on a keto diet?
The first couple days can be a rough transition. Especially if you are a person who is accustomed to eating lots of sugar and processed foods. It is very common to feel fatigue, headaches, sugar cravings, brain fog and have a few restless nights of sleep. This is just temporary so push through it. If you are experiencing these symptoms we recommend that you avoid exercise for the first couple of days while your body adjusts. Once you break through this adjustment period, the benefits of keto far outweigh the drawbacks of this initial transitional period. Benefits of a ketogenic diet include sustainable weight-loss, reduced risk for type 2 diabetes, high energy levels and increased mood and alertness.
Want to give Keto a try? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and lets get started.