Low-carb diets long have been touted for weight loss. But today one also gains attention for its overall health benefits: the ketogenic diet.
Doctors originally developed Keto, as it’s commonly called, for people with epilepsy. They discovered that fasting helped epileptics control their seizures, but fasting cannot be done long term. They needed a way to trick their bodies into thinking they were fasting.
Enter the Ketogenic Diet.
Pharmacist Ben Fuchs says that the lifestyle proves to be “the single most-functional way to eat” for everyone. People with diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other chronic health conditions typically see great benefits, he adds.
“From a health perspective, the ketogenic diet is a panacea,” Fuchs says. “It’s good for everything, including just feeling better.”
Keto takes a very low-carb, moderate-protein, and high-fat approach to eating.
By consuming healthy fats and strictly reducing carbohydrates, the body adjusts to burn fat more efficiently. Healthy fats include avocado, butter, eggs, dairy, fatty fish, nuts and seeds. With a low-enough carbohydrate level, people enter ketosis. And those in ketosis find that they not only lose weight rapidly, they also calm rampant inflammation that leads to health problems.
The keto diet features very low carbohydrates (about 5% of daily calories, or 20 grams). Healthy fats (75% of daily calories, or about 100 grams) replace the higher carb level. Moderate protein (20% of daily calories, or 60 grams) fills out the macro-nutrients list.
The resulting ketones made by the liver supply clean energy for the body and rewire the body to burn fat as fuel. They take a lot more work to break down, making them our body’s most powerful form of energy, Fuchs says.
The Problem With Carbs as Energy
In recent decades, Americans have focused on low-fat diets and replaced those fats with carbohydrates. As a result, our bodies grew accustomed to burning carbohydrates as energy. But we often eat too many carbohydrates, and unused carbohydrates convert to sugar. Then, our bodies respond by producing insulin.
If insulin isn’t properly metabolized or used, it increases inflammation. And excess inflammation can lead to chronic disease.
“The ketogenic diet re-sensitizes your body to insulin so your body doesn’t have to crank out so much of it,” Fuchs explains. “When you go ketogenic, all of those health conditions improve.”
The best foods for this diet include saturated fats, which are solid at room temperature and less prone to oxidation. Butter, ghee, coconut, avocado, egg yolks and natural animal fats such as full-fat milk, cream, and cheese are great choices if you can tolerate dairy. Carbohydrates should come from green, non-starchy vegetables. Probiotics, including fermented vegetables, are extremely helpful. Staying hydrated with enough water also is important.
A 30-Day Burst Plan and Other Support
If you’re interested in trying the ketogenic diet, a 30-day Keto Burst plan created by Youngevity is a great way to start. (I am a distributor for Youngevity; you can read my full disclosure statement here.) A list of approved foods and the plan can be found HERE. Youngevity’s full line of products to support following a ketogenic lifestyle can be found HERE.
I will lead a group through a 30-day Burst program soon. If you are interested in trying the Keto plan with others, please contact me to learn when another group will start.
Tracy Wagstaff, a nutritionist, says that the keto plan takes people back to basics. And they see results when they are consistent with those basics.
“When you clean up the diet and when you get consistent with straightforward, healthy eating, everything can fall into alignment again,” she says. “And it’s amazing how fast it can happen with putting your body into ketosis.”
Following the 30-Day Keto Burst Plan provides plenty of nutrients and helps prevent cravings, Wagstaff says. Losing weight is stressful and chaotic for the body, so it’s important to give it all of the essential nutrients it needs for optimal health.
Products for Ketogenic Support
A new Keto shake and meal-replacement bars (or half of a bar for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack) provide micronutrients of vitamins and minerals, plus macronutrients of fat and protein with minimal net carbs.
Micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) pull the energy of the macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein) into the chemistry of the body and make them more effective, Fuchs says.
Once someone starts following a keto plan, limiting carbs to 20 grams per day, it can take 2-3 weeks to reach full ketosis. If someone has been taking in enough essential nutrients before starting a Keto Diet, often ketosis can be achieved faster.
But sometimes, people trying to get into ketosis don’t go low-carb enough, or they consume too much protein. Or they give up because they think they’re getting sick. The “keto flu,” with achy joints and low energy, may affect someone for a few days as they are trying to get into ketosis. The best plan, nutritionists say, is to stick it out if you can.
Everybody is different, Fuchs says, so results vary from person to person. But the Keto Diet allows us to move away from a model of medicine and sick care. That model often does not focus on the individual. The ketogenic lifestyle puts an individual’s needs at the forefront.
“What the ketogenic diet allows us to do in a fundamental way,” Fuchs says, “is to take control of our lives.”
For More Information
Have you tried a Ketogenic Diet? If so, how did it work for you? If you haven’t tried it, contact me if you’re interested in starting alongside an accountability group during a 30-day Keto Blast plan.
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