What is it?
Ketogenic (Keto) diets are high fat, moderate protein and very low carb diets. They’re great for weight loss, and if done properly have a number of health benefits. That said, if you have diabetes (especially type 1) check with your doctor first before beginning a keto diet.
How does it work?
When you have less than 50g of carbs per day, your body runs out of blood sugar. When that happens, your body needs to turn to another source of energy. If you’re having a high fat diet, up to 90% of your calories from fat, your body will burn fat for energy. It does this by producing ketones.
To put that in perspective, a banana is about 30g of carbs. So if you stay under 50g of carbs a day, it’ll take 3 – 4 days for your body to switch over. That could be an uncomfortable 3 – 4 days, but it’ll be worth it!
What are the benefits?
- Your body becomes much more sensitive to insulin, and so it produces a lot less. The more sensitive your body is to insulin, the less fat you store.
- Increased insulin levels have been linked to increased cancer cell growth. Less insulin, slower cancer cell growth. How’s that for a big one!!
- Reduces risk of heart disease, if you stick to healthy fats. Healthy fats push up the good cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, which reduces the bad cholesterol, LCL cholesterol. Risk of high blood pressure, hardened arteries and heart failure is reduced.
- Manages acne. Yup. Carbs have been linked to acne, so by making your body more sensitive to insulin and restricting carbs, you’ll better manage acne.
- Manages epilepsy. Keto diets have been used to treat epilepsy since the 1920’s.
- Reduces risk of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Since insulin can cause POS, reducing it reduces the risk.
- Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s & sleep disorders are all positively affected by keto diets. Science isn’t sure why yet, but the effects are there!
What are the side effects?
Most of the side effects are minor and can easily be managed, and only last for the first few days. These include constipation, mild low blood sugar, indigestion, kidney stones, acidosis, headache, weakness, irritability and fatigue.
Constipation, indigestion, kidney stones and acidosis can all be managed and avoided entirely by making sure to include a big portion of greens (salad/green veggies etc) with each meal, and by making sure you drink 2 – 3 litres of water a day. Remember, more water isn’t always better, so 2 – 3 litres is good. Don’t go over 4 litres.
The rest, it’s just a matter of allowing your body the time it needs to start producing ketones and switch into fat burning mode.
What can I eat? What must I avoid?
These diets rely on having a high fat content. Foods rich in healthy fats should be your first priority (along with low carb veggies).
Make sure you eat at least one of the the following with every meal:
- Olive, peanut, and canola oils
- Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans. Not peanuts!
- Seeds such as pumpkin and sesame seeds
- Sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils
- Flax seeds
- Canola oil – though higher in monounsaturated fat, it’s also a good source of polyunsaturated fat.
Then you can have the following once or twice a day:
- Full fat cheese
- Full cream milk and butter
- Meat products inc fatty cuts, chicken etc.
- Eggs (must include the yolk)
- Coconut and coconut oil. This is highly recommended to include, as there are many benefits to fat burning unique to coconut oil.
Low carb fruits like berries are good as well, so long as they are restricted. If you’re not sure, google the nutritional info of whatever it is you’re thinking of eating. So long as you stay under 50g of carbs a day, you’re good.
In my experience, this is one of the best ways to kick off weight loss.
It is recommended that you check with your doctor first before beginning a keto diet. But if you don’t (who will), then not losing weight on a keto diet often indicates another underlying health issue.
Feel free to shoot questions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like more info or clarity. Or just use Google, there is tons of info out there.