Recent discoveries in nutritional science have shown that the best diet for optimal human health uses fat as the primary macronutrient in your daily calorie requirements. The ketogenic diet is a fat based diet designed in the early 2000’s and loosely based off of the Atkins Diet from the mid-nineties.
How to Enter the Ketogenic State
To enter the ketogenic state, you will need to eat less than 25 grams of carbohydrates a day. Carbohydrates convert into glycogen which is used to fuel metabolic processes in the body such as breathing, thinking, circulation and immune system response.
If you consume less than 35 grams of carbs a day, you will begin to deplete the glycogen stores in your body. It usually takes around three to five days for glycogen to deplete completely, this time frame depends on the person, but most people should be able to complete the depletion phase in less than a week. As the depletion phase comes to an end, you will feel very lethargic and energy less as if you have not been eating at all, this is a common side effect of the depletion phase known as ‘the keto flu.’
With glycogen depleted, the body has no fuel source; the brain signals the liver to begin to produce ketones from dietary fat sources and body fat stores. The ketogenic process will continue until you eat carbohydrates again.
Foods to eat on a Ketogenic Diet
Going keto requires you to eliminate all carbohydrate sources from your diet and rely only on fat and protein for your nutritional needs. The correct macro nutrient ratio of protein and fat for the ketogenic diet is; 80-85% fat and 20-15% protein.
The majority of your daily calories should come from healthy sources of fat. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats contain vital Omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial for health. You can find these fats in fruits and nuts such as avocados and almonds. Saturated fats such as coconut oil and other MCT oils make for excellent sources of dietary fat.
Fatty fishes such as Tuna, salmon, and mackerel are good choices for a serving of quality fats, Omega-3 fatty acids, and protein. Avoid energy drinks and alcohol while you are in a ketogenic state. Even the lowest calorie alcohol will be enough to knock you out of ketosis and back into gluconeogenesis.
The Water Weight Illusion
During the depletion phase of the ketogenic diet, you may find that you are losing weight rapidly. This effect is due to the glycogen depleting from your system. Every gram of glycogen binds to four grams of water. As the body consumes glycogen, the water is freed and excreted through urine.
Some people can lose ten to fifteen pounds of water weight in the first week of starting the diet. This water weight will come back when glycogen is available once again.
The Health Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet
Nutritional science has shown that high-fat diets such as the ketogenic diet have a myriad of health benefits. Here are the top five benefits of running a ketogenic diet.
#1 Eliminate Inflammation
Research has shown that eating a diet that is high in refined carbohydrates is bad for your health. Carbs create massive amounts of inflammation in the GI tract, lowering your immune function and decreasing your feeling of well-being.
#2 Improve Fasted Blood Sugar Levels
By removing the carbs, you will dramatically improve your fasted blood sugar levels and improve your insulin sensitivity.
#3 Reduce Total Cholesterol
Carbohydrates are responsible for elevated total cholesterol in the blood, as well as raising the ratio of LDL (bad cholesterol) to HDL (good cholesterol). The ketogenic diet will reverse this and improve the level of HDL to LDL while dropping the total levels of triglycerides in the blood.
#4 Lose Body Fat
Ketosis can assist with accelerating the results of a fat loss diet. Body fat stores are mobilized to produce ketones for energy.
#5 Think Clearly
Reduced inflammation improves blood flow to the brain, improving focus, attention, and decision-making.
If you think that the ketogenic diet could be worth a try, make sure that you plan for the effects of the ketogenic diet before you start. Remove all carbs from your household and prepare to feel tired during the depletion phase. Keep a journal of everything you eat, as well as your total calories and macronutrients consumed. Analyze the data after thirty days and decide if the ketogenic diet is for you.