The Ketogenic diet or Keto diet is getting a lot of buzz lately. Although it may seem like new information, it was actually discovered almost 100 years ago as a treatment for children with epilepsy believe it or not. A form of it became popular in the 1970’s and 80’s as the Atkins Diet.
What is a Ketogenic diet and why has it become so popular?
With a typical American diet the body is using the glucose derived from carbohydrates (breads, grains, root vegetables etc.) to fuel its cells along with whatever protein you eat and vegetables. When you are following a Ketogenic diet you are eliminating most of the carbohydrates from your diet and replacing those calories with healthy fats from oils, nuts, seeds and dairy products and an adequate amount of protein and vegetables. This forces your body to find a different source of fuel for its cells. Your body will then start to break down and use the fats from your diet and excess body fat to produce ketones as its fuel source instead of glucose. Basically it changes your body from a glucose/sugar burning engine into a fat burning engine.
What are the benefits of a Ketogenic diet?
- Initially the diet was used specifically to treat epilepsy in children and is still widely used to reduce the amount of medication needed to keep seizures under control.
- Since the diet forces your body to use fats as it primary fuel source it is widely used for weight loss. It also has positive effects on blood sugar and diabetes because it lowers the amount of glucose circulating in your body. This can lower cholesterol by lowering the triglycerides and help regulate insulin production.
- Ketones are also a higher quality fuel source for your brain than glucose so many people report better mental focus and energy on a Ketogenic diet. Because fats burn slower and more steadily as a fuel source it helps alleviate the highs and lows of appetite and hunger than that of a high carbohydrate, low fat diet often has.
- The Ketogenic diet is high in healthy fats so many people report improved condition and appearance of their skin and hair as well.
Is the Keto Diet right for everybody?
Short answer, no. If you meet any of the following then it is strongly recommended you avoid a Keto diet unless advised otherwise by your healthcare practitioner:
- You have diabetes or other serious blood sugar issues
- Pregnant or nursing women
- If you have a thyroid disorder or adrenal fatigue
- You’re underweight or nutrient deficient
- People with a history of kidney stones or kidney disease
- You have an enzyme defect or deficiency
What can you eat on the Ketogenic diet?
In order for your body to get into ketosis (the state in which you are burning fats instead of glucose for energy) you will need to restrict your carbohydrate intake to approximately 15 grams or less a day. Carbohydrates include all breads, grains like rice or corn, sugars including agave, honey, maple syrup etc. as well as fruits and root vegetables like potato or yam. Obviously soda’s, candy and juices are also not on the menu.
What you want to include in the diet are:
- Meats of all kinds, including eggs
- High quality fats such as coconut oil, olive oil and other saturated fats such as nut butters
- Leafy greens like kale, spinach or other dark greens and vegetables that grow above ground such as cauliflower, broccoli, peppers etc.
- Seeds and nuts
- High fat dairy products such as butter, hard cheeses and cream
- Fruits such as avocado and berries (raspberry and blueberry) can be eaten in small amounts
- You can use sweeteners such as Stevia, monk fruit or other low carb, natural sweeteners.
You should eat approximately 70% of your calories from fat, 25% from protein and 5% from carbohydrates. This should break down to having only 20-30 grams of net carbs per day. The formula for figuring out the net carbs is your total dietary carbs minus the total dietary fiber per day. Staying below 25g net carbs per day will increase your results. You may need to keep a diet journal daily to keep track of what you are eating. There are also UA strips that measure the ketones in your urine that can help you determine when you are in ketosis and when you may have fallen out of it so you can modify your diet if need be.
To kick start your body into Ketosis you can use Exogenous Ketone Salts by Metagenics. Metagenics also developed other products to support your ketone diet such as their Ketogenic protein shakes, soups and MCT oils that are all designed to help you achieve and stick to the diet as well as program guides and daily diet suggestions. Download a detailed Metagenics Ketogenic Program Guide here to learn more about the Keto diet and how to get started.
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Dr. Ron Ledoux is a licensed Chiropractor from the midwest who has been practicing since 2001. He’s also certified in clinical nutrition and has extensive training in nutritional therapies and is enthusiastic about educating and offering natural health care to his patients and the community.