Ketogenic Diets have grown in popularity and criticism over the last twenty or so years. Popular Ketogenic Diets include: South Beach Diet, Atkins Diet (induction phase only) and several natural diets all over the world used by various tribes and peoples.
Ketosis, to put it simply, is the state in which you burn fat for fuel. The human body isn’t stupid, it will burn what it has in most abundance that yields the most energy for its volume. Carbs (some) burn up quick but are packed with INTENSE fuel that yield large bursts of energy. Compare this to an energy drink that a lot of modern culture seems to adore. Fat and protein burn slowly and allow a steady stream of energy; your energy levels won’t soon crash because your body can’t get rid of it near as fast as carbohydrates.
Ketosis also helps regulate your blood without complications. Involving complex carbs into your diet causes your body to heighten your blood sugar and as a result produce insulin. This stuff is nasty in large amounts; consider it to be your blood’s very own personal, fat-kicking police force. High blood sugar is interpreted as TOXIC by your body, so the insulin regulates your blood to cleanse it. Soon, though, your body starts struggling to keep up; when you take high amounts of carbs (sugar) and the insulin cant keep up….your body converts sugar to fat and insulin stores it in cells. Your body is capable of regulating your blood sugar on its own without help when you aren’t mainlining so much sucrose. Ketogenic diets avoid such problems!
“But what about heart disease and cholesterol? I DON’T WANNA DIE; BACON ISN’T WORTH IT!”
There is no evidence linking ANY bad cholesterol or heart disease with animal fat. Early human beings ate more than FIVE TIMES the modern recommended intake of animal fat and protein; do not worry about high ANYTHING while on Keto other than energy levels.
What Do I Eat and Why?
I’m a firm believer in having a varied, balanced diet. Keto offers plenty of options in this department. The fact is that you eat exactly what you want to. Some keto-ers do their entire meal plans with bacon and eggs with multi-vitamins. Some do all veggies, some fish and eggs with NO vitamins. I, personally, eat everything. Leafy greens, beef, pork, chicken, fish, and eggs are a part of my regular diet.
“So whats up with fat, protein and fiber and all that crap? What does it all mean?”
Fat is essentially satiety. Eating fat keeps you full and makes you not want to gorge on french fries and coke every two hours. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to eat 100000g of fat to stay in ketosis. Though it is GOOD for ketosis, it has nothing to do with how much fat you take in. Protein is muscle fuel, to put it simply. Maintaining protein levels keeps you burning fat and not muscle tissue. While little evidence is present to suggest you NEED fiber in your diet, it can be used keep your bowels in check. PLUS, you naturally get fiber from leafy green veggies. Green veggies, while being delicious, are rich in vitamins A and K AND fiber. So why dislike fiber when it comes with all kinds of amazing beneficial nutrients. EMBRACE THE GREENS.
Carbs, carbs, carbs. As long as you’re generally under 20 grams of them per day, you’re fine. but try to get those carbs in vegetables or nuts (simple carbs!). Fiber is technically a carb, but we love it to death. You often hear Ketoers mention the term net carbs. Net carbs are the amount of carbohydrates in a food minus the fiber, as you cannot digest fiber and it doesn’t cause an insulin response. Its important to note that fiber isn’t an undo button, though. You can’t eat a bowl of ice cream with green beans and subtract carbs from the ice cream. You subtract it from the carb count of the food that contains the fiber. In general, try to get all the colours in food you can. Doing so ensures that you’re getting a wide variety of nutrients and even minerals. (Mmm…liver).
Are There Bad Foods out There?
Ketogenic diets aren’t just about eating butter and shedding fat. It’s about improving overall health. While things like hot dogs and Velveeta (processed cheese) are TECHNICALLY ketogenic in that they don’t contain tons of carbs…they’re generally not the best in terms of WHAT is in them. What’s in them you ask? Read the ingredients and see for yourself. If you cannot replicate an item in your kitchen… chances are you shouldn’t be eating the stuff anyway. Take pride in your food and what you make. Buy a low carb cookbook or try new recipes from pinterest. Buy fresh, local ingredients. CHALLENGE YOURSELF. Adopting a positive lifestyle around a diet can circulate into other facets of your life, too. That being said, when faced with the choice of un-organically sourced pork and a cream cake, use your common sense and opt for the lesser of two evils. Don’t use a bad situation as an excuse for poor judgement.
Exercise – Where Do I Start?
This is perhaps the most controversial question in all of for the community. Exercise is great for your health, there is no question about it. Does exercise contribute largely to weight loss? Not really. The answer of if you should or should not lies within the question of what YOU want from a ketogenic diet. Do you want to shred tonnes of weight? Do you want to build way more muscle? Do you want to do both at the same time? Do you just want to tone muscle? All of these come into play when exercise becomes involved. Someone like Gary Taubes will tell you that exercise isn’t for weight loss because it leads to overeating later and you often eat more than you burned with the rigorous exercise. For way out of shape people, this may be the way to go for MOST of the weight loss journey. If you can exercise and not overeat, by all means continue. What exercise you take up is up to you. Do something you enjoy, simply put. Do you like running? Buy a pair of shoes and have at it. Cycling your thing? Bike to your heart’s content! It’s all good for you but remember to never let exercise get in the way of your goal. Take things in stages. Maybe you need to lose a hundred pounds or so before you start involving cardio or HIIT. This isn’t supposed to happen overnight. There is no right or wrong answer other than whats appropriate for you. Exercise is important for health but not a complete staple for weight loss.
How Long Should I Do Keto?
The short answer is for as long as possible. Some of us indulge more in carbs when we reach our target fitness but many of us never go back. After all, you don’t tell a druggie or an alcoholic to partake once in awhile for indulgence sake! This isn’t meant to be a temporary fix or an excuse to go back to binging on hundreds of grams of carbs.