The Keto diet: if you haven’t heard of it yet, you’re probably not interested in healthy food, or you’ve been living under a rock. Short for Ketogenic, the Keto diet was originally developed in the 1920s and ’30s as a cure for Epilepsy. As a modification on a previously tested fasting therapy involving water, in 1916, in a report to the New York Medical Journal, it was reported that epileptic patients had been successfully treated using a diet excluding starch and sugar (both carbohydrates). This was further tested by the Mayo Clinic in 1921, with Dr.Russel Wilder coining the term ‘Ketogenic diet.’ Check out this colorful infographic below to see what you can eat on a Ketogenic diet!
As mentioned above, the Keto diet takes a large portion of low-quality carbohydrates out of the equation, which makes fat, protein and supplements your main source of nutrients (in that order).
What normally happens to carbohydrates is that the body converts them to glucose.
What happens to that glucose? It’s stored as fat (talk about unwanted baggage!).
The logic of the Ketogenic diet is that if you mostly cut out carbohydrates from the equation,
the body will go into Ketosis – a metabolic state where the body turns fat into energy.
Ketones are byproducts of the body converting fats into energy.
Researchers tend to underestimate Ketosis (burning ketones for fuel), maintaining that carbohydrate restriction, and eating fewer calories play a minor role in the benefits of the ketogenic diet.
In the absence of carbohydrates, the body is fooled into thinking it’s fasting.
It adapts by finding new sources of energy for the cells. One of these energy sources is ketogenesis: an alternative fuel source called a ketone body. These ketone bodies can be used by almost every cell in your body for fuel (except for the liver and red blood cells).
Ketone bodies and sugar behave differently.
For example, burning sugar for fuel creates more reactive oxygen species, which cause damage, inflammation, and cell death when they accumulate. This is why consuming too much sugar is known to impair brain function and causes plaque build-up in the brain.
Ketones provide a more efficient energy source and help enhance mitochondrial function and production.
In the absence of carbohydrates, a cellular process called autophagy occurs. This helps to improve cell health and resilience, clean up cell damage and initiate anti-inflammatory processes.
The combination of autophagy and ketone burning is instrumental in helping people with cancer and brain disorders like epilepsy, migraines, and Alzheimer’s.
If you embark on this arduous journey, what’s in it for you?
Here are some possible benefits:
What’s good to eat in a Keto Diet:
Fats, Proteins and Carbohydrates are the macronutrients in a Keto Diet.
Foods you should definitely eat:
Fats are 90% ketogenic. They steadily supply energy without the disadvantages of mood swings or cravings. Fats vary in quality, so there is a limit to the types and amount of fats that you can consume. If you go above this limit, the excess will be stored as fat, defeating the main purpose of your diet entirely.Since they are mostly consumed over the entire day, your body will be using the glucose that can be produced from (fat) glycerol without you even noticing it’s there.
The only time in the day that you may have to deviate from a consistent fat intake is after a workout. Fats slow down the digestion process and will slow the absorption of the protein you eat after your workout, so they’re not recommended at that time.
Good fats are:
Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils found in processed foods such as:
Should have as little fat as possible, but plenty of protein and nutrients
Eat a little of this:
Carbohydrates – the precious few – 5%:
A small amount of carbohydrates is recommended on this diet and is what determines the effectiveness of the Keto Diet. The number of carbs can vary between 20g to 100g, as allowances have to be made for pre-existing health conditions and predispositions.
As with any major dietary, lifestyle or change in activity levels, please check with your physician and/or licensed nutritionist before starting on your Keto Diet.
Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Strawberries
Everyone has a different metabolism, digestive system, and physiological predilections.
As a result, you can vary your proportions of protein, fat, and carbohydrates to suit your body, as long you try to follow the basic rule of avoiding most carbohydrates and low-quality fats.
It’s no free lunch though (bad pun intended).
Over the long term, you should find it easier to overcome your carbohydrate cravings, which means making a lifestyle change and adapting to your new Keto diet.