The Ketogenic diet is a very low carb, high fat diet. It can have benefits such as improved health, performance and memory as well as weight loss. Put simply, the diet helps your body to burn fat fast!
The Science Behind It
When you’re eating food that is high in carbohydrates your body produces glucose and insulin. Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to break down and therefore is turned into energy. Insulin is produced to process the glucose. As this is the easiest way for your body to gain energy, fats are not needed and therefore stored.
When you lower your carb intake and increase your fat intake your body enters a state of Ketosis hence the name Ketogenic Diet. When your body is lacking its primary fuel source of glucose from carbohydrates it looks for something else. This something else being ketones. When your body is in a state of Ketosis it produces small molecules called ketones from a process in your liver that breaks down fats. As such if you are eating a high fat, moderate protein diet this metabolic process will occur and your body will be fuelled from the alternative source - ketones.
As your body is running mainly on fat it very quickly increases the fat burning process and therefore assists in losing weight. The Ketogenic diet works by starvation of carbohydrates, not the starvation of calories.
Health Benefits and Risks
- Weight loss
- Blood sugar control - lowers blood sugar levels naturally from the types of food you eat.
- Increased energy - burning fat is a more reliable energy source making you feel more energised.
- Increased mental focus - ketones are great to fuel your brain improving concentration.
- Epilepsy - can help to manage seizures.
- Keto Flu - this is common, as your body adjusts to ketosis you may feel nauseous and/or lethargic.
- Cramps - again this is common when you begin the diet, caused by lack of minerals and magnesium.
- Reduced physical performance - as you begin the diet this can be an issue as your body gets used to using fat to fuel itself.
- Ketoacidosis - this is a risk if you have type 1 or 2 diabetes, ketones become stored up in your body making your blood acidic resulting in kidney, liver and brain damage.
- Weight regain - the keto diet is not always sustainable. Although you can lose weight whilst following it, when you come off the diet you are likely to regain that weight.
What to Eat and What Not to Eat
- High fat dairy - cheese, cream, butter
- Poultry - eggs and chicken
- Red meat - beef, lamb, bacon
- Fish and Shellfish (shrimp and crabs)
- Above ground vegetables - broccoli, capsicum, cauliflower, asparagus
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy oils
- Sugar - fizzy, candy, ice cream, juice
- Fruit - apples, oranges, bananas
- Grains - rice, pasta, bread
- Root Vegetables - potatoes, parsnip, sweet potato
- Unhealthy fats and oils
So their you have it, everything you need to know about the Ketogenic Diet. Now you can make an informed decision if its right for you to try!
*If you are making any drastic changes to your diet always consult your doctor first.