What is the Ketogenic Diet?
So, what really is this “ketogenic diet” thing?
What is a ketogenic diet?
A ketogenic diet, in its simplest definition, involves eating a high-fat content (70% of your calories are from fat), moderate-protein intake (25% of your calories are from protein), and low-carbohydrates (<50 grams/day).
It involves eating high-quality fats and protein, from sources like nuts, avocados, coconuts, fish, and grass-fed meat. It involves supplementing enough fiber and vitamin intake from nutrient-dense, low-starch vegetable sources like spinach, broccoli, kale, asparagus, and cauliflower. By following this approach, what you consume in your diet inevitably shifts towards more healthy, natural, and wholesome foods. Your main focus, besides eating a healthy combination of high-quality fats from both animal and plant sources, is to cut the carbohydrates, i.e. sugars and starches. In doing so, you’re removing all of the garbage, processed foods that make up typical Western diet.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: You could live your whole life without consuming carbs. Your body could not survive without consuming fats or protein. How, then, did we become a nation scared of fats and in love with carbs?
Why is it called “ketogenic?”
It’s called ketogenic because when you restrict your carbohydrate intake for a few days, your body begins to shift into a different metabolic state called ketosis. In ketosis, your liver is producing ketones as a byproduct of burning fats, and your body uses these ketones, along with dietary and body fat, for energy instead of sugar and glycogen, like it has been your whole life.
How do I do it?
To get into ketosis, your carbohydrate intake needs to be low enough and you must consume enough fat. If you want your body to burn and run off of fats, you need to be eating a sufficient amount and mixture of good and healthy fats.
What are the effects on your body and metabolism?
By restricting the amount of carbohydrates you eat and supplementing your caloric intake with fat instead, your body is essentially transforming from a sugar-burner to a fat-burner. Believe it or not, your brain and body prefer and thrive off of fat as fuel. When you think of high-fat, think of high-quality fat. This diet, and its successfulness therein, relies on your consumption of a healthy combination of fats from both animal and plant sources. However, it’s crucial to quit the carbs, or this excess consumption of fat will not result in the weight-loss, muscle-gain, energy increase you are looking for.
As your metabolism transforms into an efficient fat-burner, you will notice an increase in energy levels, and a reduction in crashes (which are due to carbohydrate consumption). Once you’re fat-adapted, you won’t be feeling the crash of coming down from insulin spikes.
Some other effects on your body from the ketogenic diet are a decrease in blood pressure, decrease in insulin resistance, increase in insulin sensitivity (which is a good thing), reduction in inflammation in the body, ability to heal yourself more quickly, being less prone to sickness, and having more mental clarity, or a reduction in “brain fog”.
How long does it take to work?
Getting into this ketogenic state can take any range of time between a few days and a couple of weeks, dependending on how much excess glycogen your body has stored. You are completely changing the way your metabolism has been working through the duration of your entire life, so the transition can be rough for the first few days or even weeks. When your body becomes accustomed to, and efficient at burning fats for energy, you will become more energized, while weight loss/muscle transformation is accelerated.