The ketogenic diet is the new craze in the health and fitness world. You have most likely seen it on the cover of magazines and heard celebrities claiming how fast it will help you lose weight. But what is it and is it really the magic bullet?
The basic breakdown of the Keto Diet is that it is an extremely low carb, high-fat diet, with moderate protein. By low cab I mean typically less than 30g of carbs a day, and high fat means 60%-70% of your intake is fat. The purpose of this is to get your body to burn fat as opposed to sugar for fuel. The difference between keto and other lower carb plans is that the body actually produces ketones and the brain uses these instead of glucose for energy. For many people on the diet, this is a plus because they feel more focused and clear headed. If you know anyone with type1 diabetes and have heard of ketones in that context you may be freaking out a bit, don't worry, I can explain. The body produces ketones at two different times, during very low blood sugar and very high. With diabetics the big concern is the high blood sugars, a condition called ketoacidosis and is toxic to the body. This is not the same as the body producing ketones because of the lack of sugar, which is not only non-toxic but can be beneficial.
Although most people have just heard about this diet, it has been around a long time, like 1500 years long. Keto has been used to treat epilepsy and other ailments since at least 500BC. In fact, it was introduced to modern medicine in the '20s and was used for the treatment of epilepsy for several decades, until modern medicine made it more convenient to take meds.
In the last decade or so Keto has made a huge comeback as a way to not only manage ailments but as a weight loss tool as well. So if keto is such an amazing tool why isn't everyone using it? Because it takes some serious effort to maintain in the modern world. Eating less than 30g of carbs a day and taking in that much healthy fats is a challenge in a world that falsely believes that carbs are healthy and fat is the devil. Our modern American diet is based on marketing more than science. Carbs are cheap to produce and are addictive so they make a great retail product, and this makes them hard to avoid.
So is the keto diet for you? Maybe, but I wouldn't start there. For must of us jumping from a Standard American Diet(SAD) or even, a fairly healthy diet to keto may be a bit drastic, for your body and your willpower. With my clients who are interested in keto, we clean up their diet first, removing anti-nutrients and getting the body used to burning clean fuel, then work our way down the carb scale. This takes about 8-10 weeks. Not everyone I work with goes all the way to ketosis, many get all the weight loss and health results they want at a higher carb level.
I don't believe that the Ketogenic Diet is the magic bullet, or that it is the best for everyone. I do believe that it is a tool to be used when appropriate. If you are interested in learning more about keto or my coaching, please contact me and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.