The Keto Diet! Or maybe Keto Light! What, Why, How, and for Who????
Ketogenic diets are very trendy right now. Everybody has their opinions on what exactly this diet is, and what it is not. It has been touted as curing everything from cancer to diabetes. It is all so confusing but honestly, its only confusing because we are making it that way. I want to help you figure this all out. Lets go.
What exactly is a Keto diet?
In a nutshell , it is a high healthy fat, moderate protein (size of the palm of your hand) and low starchy carb diet (which are all root veggies). I am not going to give macronutrients because nobody should have do math by calculating grams of food they are eating. It should not be that time consuming or complicated. By restricting carbohydrates, you are pushing the body to find another fuel source besides sugar. In this case, you switch to ketones.
What are ketones/ketosis?
These keto molecules are an end product of fat metabolism. Ketones are an alternative energy source when glucose is low. Low-carbohydrate diets will lower your glucose level and then your body moves to a different energy source, in this case fat stores. Currently there are lots of studies showing the benefits of low carb diets for diabetics, certain cancers and neurological conditions such as Parkinsons Alzheimers and dementia.
Why Do Keto in the first place?
Our standard diet is carb heavy. When you eat carbs your blood sugar increases. When the blood sugar rises insulin is called in to action to bring the level back down. Once insulin is circulating you will store those calories as fat. A little known fact, insulin is your fat storing hormone. Once it is circulating you have little chance of losing weight, you will always be fueling from sugar and not from your fat stores. As you decrease your blood glucose, the Keto diet encourages your body to access those fat stores. I'm sure you've heard of "nutritional ketosis", well this is it. You encourage your body to switch from your glucose gas tank to your fat gas tank.
How do I start?
No need to overthink think. If you cut out all grain (wheat, oats, rice), all sugar (and yes, all sugar, honey included) you are 75% of the way there. Next, add in your organic protein source, wild caught fish, free range chicken/eggs, grass fed beef and last but not least, your healthy fats. Healthy fats have zero affect on your blood sugar levels, nada, zippo, none. So enjoy that olive oil, organic butter, egg yolks, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, salmon...don't be afraid of healthy fats. They will keep you satiated and keep you off the sugar roller coaster. The Keto diet often gets confused as a high protein diet. It is not. It is moderate protein but high fat. Healthy fat is the key to stopping you feeling hungry and deprived. You should not ever feel hungry on this diet, if you do, try increasing your protein and/or fat intake.
Who should and who should not?
There is no one size fits all when it comes to nutrition. The list of people who should avoid the Keto diet is short, primarily pregnant or breastfeeding Moms (no need to switch your fuel tank now) and people who have no gallbladder or have gallbladder issues. Because of the high fat nature of this diet, bile is needed to break down the fat and this bile is stored in the gallbladder. If you have no gallbladder or a malfunctioning gallbladder this is not going to work.
Who may this diet work for? People suffering from weight problems. This diet helps fat loss by increasing fat burning, suppressing hunger hormones, and increasing your satiety! In other words, you stay full. Type II diabetes is an intolerance to carbohydrates. Doesn't it make sense to cut back on carbs if your body is intolerant of them? Healthy fat has no affect on blood sugar, none and stabilizing blood sugar should be the #1 priority of diabetics. Digestive issues such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation can be helped by cutting back on carbs that can provide a fermentable substrate in the gut. Gluten, dairy and sugar are the worst culprits here. Skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis can be helped by addressing the root cause, the gut. Our skin is the largest cleansing organ of our body. Signs of skin conditions can signal our body struggling to clean itself of inflammation.
What to expect...
The "Keto Flu" - honestly, the most symptoms I've seen are headaches, crankiness and cravings, like any withdrawal symptoms from an addictive substance. In this case the addictive substance is the simple sugar in carbohydrates.
Constipation - well this does happen. Keto isn't HUGE on veggies and healthy fats do tend to bind us up. At the end of the day poop is toxic, its garbage our body wants to get rid of. If it stays in our large intestine it is getting old, losing its moisture by that moisture getting reabsorbed in to our blood stream. Not ideal. Drink more water. Take a probiotic. Eat fermented foods. Eat lots of non-starchy veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mushrooms.