The Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet is a lifestyle that promotes and maintains ketosis.
What is ketosis? Ketosis is the burning of fat stored in the body as opposed to the burning of glucose from carbohydrates. This is achieved through limiting your carbohydrates and increasing the amounts of proteins and fats in your diet. By doing this, our body will shift into Ketosis.
How do you achieve ketosis? Ketosis is achieved by reducing the amounts of carbohydrates and sugars you consume in your diet. As a result, this will deplete your stored levels of glycogen in the body. This causes a drop in insulin and blood sugar levels, which will cause the body to look for an alternate source of fuel, like fat! With limited levels of carbs and sugars the body will start burning more fat, and this is why the ketogenic diet results in weight loss.
But why is this process known as ketosis? When the body shifts from burning carbs and sugar to burning fat, this produces ketones. Without ketones you are not in Ketosis!
Why follow a ketogenic diet? While in ketosis the first benefit is going to be the burning of body fat! With the limited intake of carbs and sugars, the body first burns through all of the stored glycogen before it can start burning the fat. By burning all of the stored glycogen, this results in lower blood sugar and insulin levels, which then leads to a more consistent and effective metabolism. This creates an environment in the body that promotes the burning of fat and the small amounts of stored glycogen on a regular basis. As this becomes more of a natural environment for your body, mental clarity and cognition increase, hormone regulation increases, and physical energy sky rockets! Also, with the limiting of those pesky carbs and sugars, you will see a decrease in your hunger!
How do I start a ketogenic diet? The best way to do this is to start with ramping up the amount of green leafy vegetables that you eat! Get rid of all the bread, pasta, and other forms of refined carbohydrates. The sooner you can replace that foot-long sandwich for lunch with a big leafy salad with some type of lean protein (chicken, turkey, fish, beef) the better! This is the best way to start. All of the breads, pastas, chips, cookies, and processed carbs that are a staple in the American diet now are all carbs that fill up the body with way more glucose (sugar) than we need! The excess sugar that isn’t burnt off through the day is then turned into glycogen and stored as body fat, the one thing we all don’t want! So, start by adding a vegetable portion to each meal and replace it by a processed or refined carb such as bread. Now that you’ve added more green to your plates, it’s time to start adding in some more good fats!
Wait, I thought fat was bad for me? It is a misconception in our society! Actually, there are bad fats, and there are plenty of fats that are great for you! Some of these fats include your nuts and seeds, oils, and butter. While following a ketogenic diet, this creates an environment that changes from burning stored glycogen and glucose to burning fat for fuel which means you’re going to need a lot of these good fats to maintain your energy levels while in Ketosis.
There is so much more that we can talk about regarding the ketogenic diet but this is a good start as it includes all the basic information that will give you a reason to want to try it and how to get started.
The links below are great resources with more information on all aspects of a ketogenic diet.
Disclaimer: Please consult your physician before making and serious changes to your diet that can affect your blood sugar insulin levels.