The idea of a Ketogenic Diet is nothing entirely new. By definition it is a diet that moves the body into a state of “ketosis” using fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. The mainstream nutritional model recommends eating a diet rich in carbohydrates so we can convert them into glucose for fuel and energy. Ketogenic diets are the opposite. To gain energy and assist in weight loss they restrict carbohydrate consumption and rely heavily on fat and protein. Diets that have worked in a similar fashion are the popular Atkins Diet, Dukan Diet, and South Beach Diet. Typically a Ketogenic diet can look something like 60%fat 35% protein and 5% carbohydrates.
What are the benefits of a Ketogenic diet?
Weight Loss: Many so-called weight loss programs tell us if we eat a low-fat, low-calorie diet rich in healthy carbohydrates that we will have measured success. This method has been proven to be unsustainable if you are constantly restricting calories and feel hungry all the time. If you eat enough carbohydrates to be in a satiated state, chances are you are producing too much insulin for effective weight loss. Insulin is a hormone that signals our bodies to store fat. By eating a low carbohydrate diet that is higher in fat and protein we keep our blood sugar stabilized and avoid these insulin spikes. We also reduce hunger and improve our fat burning capabilities. It’s much harder to overeat fat and protein alone – while you can blow through a few thousand calories easily when eating pasta, chips, desserts or any kind of starchy meal because it takes a much heftier portion to actually feel full. These starchy foods are also addictive because they are so high in sugar and a major reason why I don’t recommend them when trying to achieve weight loss.
As you probably already know, eating too many carbohydrates can make us feel cloudy and tired. Think about your mental motivation after eating a couple bagels or a big bowl of pasta for lunch at the office. I wouldn’t recommend it! Following a ketogenic diet helps our brains to react with more clarity and efficiency. In a way it can actually make us smarter…
The first few days of following this kind of diet may be an adjustment and come with some difficulty. Although, after a week of dramatically decreasing carbohydrates and increasing appropriate doses of fat and protein it’s likely you will feel more energetic and healthy.
Ketogenic diets have been studied for their positive influence on diseases such as cancer and epilepsy. Since cancer cells rely on glucose to do their damage, lowering blood glucose levels can help to starve cancer cells and inhibit their action. Furthermore, using ketogenic diets with those suffering from epilepsy has become a more recognized practice since the 90’s. While it’s not necessarily recognized in all circles, there is enough credible research for this diet to facilitate additional studies in the role of disease management.