So the post you’ve all been waiting for(I assume). What is the Ketogenic diet?
In simple terms you make your body use fat and fat stores for energy instead of glucose. By doing this you have to eat a high amount of fat so your body can go into ketosis and produce ketone bodies(KB). In summary: To use/burn fat you have to eat fat. But don’t think if you eat more fat on top of your regular diet you will burn more fat. No. To reach a state of ketosis you have to eliminate all carbohydrates so your body can turn over to a keto adapted environment.
So what is a ketone body(ketone)? Its pretty much a conversion of fat to fuel/energy. Instead of carbohydrate to fuel/energy.
In a ketogenic diet your glucose and insulin levels are low, the body need energy to function, this will release stored triglycerides(body fat), these will then travel to the liver and will be oxidised to KB and by that you have energy.
Ketosis = Production of KB for energy.
In a normal high carbohydrate diet, your glucose levels rise when you eat a meal, the pancreas will then secret insulin and make glucose shuttle into the cells for energy.
So you can see that fat utilization is much higher than when on a normal high carb diet.
However you might say that carbs are important for energy, it is our main source of energy etc. Yes this is correct, however when you adapt your body to use ketones for energy, the body actually prefers this. But some parts of the brain can only work on glucose and by that the body can “transform” amino acids(proteins) or fatty acids to glucose by a process called gluconeogenesis (conversion to glucose). I honestly don’t know how much glucose the body can make by this process, I have read if you eat too much protein your body will convert more and knock you out of ketosis, but I’ve also read the body will not have a need to convert at all. I also asked my systems biology teacher how much glucose will be produced through gluconeogenesis, she didn’t know. So I honestly don’t know what is correct here.
Anyway, you might think well this diet must be perfect for weight loss! Yes it can, however for some it can be quite hard to follow. If you start looking back at ingredients labels you will quickly find out that most foods contain some amount of carbs. So it’s very important to always make sure you eat the right food sources when on this diet. Another thing is that some people simply don’t work well with a high fat diet. They can feel sick, sluggish even nauseated. So this diet is not for everyone.
Moving on, there is not all good things about the ketogenic diet. One thing is that when you try to get keto adapted. Most people will have a bad time with the transition from making your body use ketones for energy instead of glucose. You can feel tired, fatigue and headaches etc(other more severe side effects can occur to). However this will only last for a certain amount of time. They also say you will start to smell! Like ammonia. Apparently you wont be able to smell this yourself, so I’ll just have to see if anyone comments about my personal scent. Another thing that is not great about the ketogenic diet is that you eliminate a macronutrients. And this will end in eliminating some micronutrients. And make you deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. So taking a multivitamin on the side is important. (although I think this should be taken regardless of what diet you are on)
So how do you do this? Simple. You can do it in many different ratios(fat/protein) 4:1, 3:1, 2:1, 1:1 or you can eat 65-70 % fats 25-30 % protein and 5-10 % carbohydrates. Or any another way, as long as your main source of food comes from fat.
They say you can eat more food when on a ketogenic diet than a high carb diet. If this is true? Maybe? But lets face it, if you eat too much you will gain fat. Period.
So what do you eat? Eggs, full fat dairy products, avocados, green vegetables(insoluble fiber), isolate whey protein, bacon, fatty or lean meats, nut butters and so on. Anything that is high in fat and protein. But be aware, I’m sure you know we have different types of fat, saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat. They all have their own health benefits, but you want to eat them somewhat evenly. Eating too much of one is not good. But we can talk about that next week.
This diet is a bit restricted in food choices. But I think we all know that fat makes food taste better, so I do not think this is an overly big issue.
However, since this diet eliminates carbs from the diet. That simply means alcohol is a big no no. If you are not a drinker, that’s fine. But as mentioned earlier, I’m not a big drinker, but I like a glass of wine or three in the weekend. And as I’ve said, I’m all about lifestyle. So if I want a glass of wine, I will have it. Although I probably wouldn’t choose a sugary cocktail, but a nice glass of red or a dry white instead(which is within my preference anyway). The only problem with this is that if when in a state of ketosis and if you consume carbs you will knock yourself out of ketosis. However, how many carbs this takes, is individual. And how easy is it to get back in ketosis? Well this is what I want to find out.
I also want to see if you have to take all carbs into consideration – or if you only need to count net carbs? I will explain this term in a blog post very soon.
Another thing that is very interesting about the ketogenic diet is that it can help fight cancer. How? Well tumors need to ferment to be able to survive and grow, and to do this they need glucose. If there is no glucose available, they may eventually die off. There are many cases where this has been a success, however it has been found not to work on all types of cancers. But I’m not going to go any deeper into this, unless it’s requested.
So there you have it. I tried to keep it simple and easy for you to understand. If you want any deeper explanation, please let me know. However, I will write more about keto regards to muscle-building and other things next week. Anything you want to know, leave a comment in the section down below.
I have also managed to get one of my fellow nutrition students to join me in this diet experiment! It will be interesting to see what results we both get. If you want to join us, you are more than welcome(its only for 30 days). Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want any help or advice. I’m not an expert, but I’m more than sure I can be to good help. Who´s in?