Understanding the Ketogenic Way of Eating
The Ketogenic Quick Overview
Simply put, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate way of eating that has powerful and amazing health benefits.
The ketogenic diet was originally developed in the early 1920s to treat epileptic seizures, however, was banned by the medical establishment once anti-seizure medication became available to patients. More than seventy years later, the keto diet found it's way back as an effective alternative method to pharmaceuticals. Since then, the ketogenic diet has increasingly grown to mass popularity in treating a wide variety of health issues.
What Exactly is the Ketogenic Diet?
For centuries, people had consumed mostly meat and vegetables - I believe it was (is) called the "Cave Man Diet." However, with modern civilization creeping upon us with new developments in agriculture and the multi-complexity of processed foods, the consumption of starches and refined sugars were sneakily forced upon us and it soon became apparent that the human body could not utilize such a vast amount of carbohydrates. Symptoms of poor health would invade our bodies, including obesity, diabetes, damaged organs, such as livers, kidneys, and gallbladders. Not to mention brain fog, lack of energy and libido. Stress was harder to handle, and a good nights sleep turned into waking up several times at night and frequent trips to the bathroom. Sound familiar?
But wait! There is great news!
The ketogenic diet or "way of eating" (WOE) offers a solution for reversing all of these modern day plagues of poor health and obesity.
Sugar (glucose) vs. Fat
It is really ironic how so many people (including some physicians) cling to the belief that glucose is the only fuel source for the human body. Because of this belief, they live with the fear of running low on glucose.
The ketogenic diet is often thought of as a sugar-elimination diet, when in reality, it is a low-carb diet. This, is where the distinction presents itself and clarity needs to be understood.
The purpose of the ketogenic diet is to drastically reduce or eliminate all foods that turn into sugar within the body, including carbohydrates, refined and natural sugars, and yes, even protein. Did you know that complex carbohydrates (this includes "healthy" whole grains and root vegetables, like potatoes) are glucose molecules that are connected in a very long chain that the digestive tract breaks down into glucose.....which is known as sugar?
Calories In and Calories Out
Most people (and I can tell you I was one of them) who have been on diets most of their adult life will admit that they would focus on calorie reduction for weight loss, because they have been taught that our metabolism relies on "calories in vs. calories out." Sounds reasonable, right?
Well, the human body is much more complex than that. It's difficult to lose weight by simply reducing your caloric intake. Eating less and losing body fat are not necessarily the right combination.
When a diet calls for a low-calorie and high-carbohydrate equation, a series of biochemical signals will take your body out of balance, making it much more difficult for your body to access your stored body fat for energy. What does this mean?
You will reach a plateau on your weight-loss journey in which you simply will not lose any more weight. Sound all to familiar?
Not only will you reach a plateau and stop losing weight, a restrictive caloric diet will cause you to feel deprived, hungry, and frustrated. In turn, you begin to feel unsatisfied and then go off your diet feeling like a failure because of your lack of willpower.
The Ketogenic Good News!
Here's the truth about successful weight loss. Successful weight loss has little to do with discipline. It's all about what to eat than how much.
The ketogenic diet focuses on eating enough to feel satisfied and still lose your body fat without going crazy on counting calories.
I really embraced this when I first started the keto diet. I didn't count calories, but I did make sure I got all my macros in for each day. The ratio percentage between my protein, fat, and carbs was easy to follow.
The one thing that became apparent as I started to lose weight and inches, was my macros needed to change.
For instance, I no longer needed as much protein. I went from eating 8-10 of steak, down to 3-6 ounces. My veggies increased, and I didn't need as much fat, as my own fat was burning off.
How the Ketogenic Diet Benefits the Body
The human body has two available sources of fuel: sugar (glucose) and fat. When the body burns fat properly, it produces ketones which fuel the body's cells. So how do we know when our body is burning fat rather than sugar? When your body becomes a fat-burner, you are then keto-adapted.
The sole purpose of the ketogenic diet is to help the body metabolize fat instead of sugar. For most people, it will take anywhere from two to six weeks for your body to reach the state of ketosis.
Because of my type 2 diabetes, it took a little longer for me to reach ketosis. But once I did, the weight began to fall off.
Get Healthy to Lose Weight
Wow! What a concept! Get healthy to lose weight! Not lose weight to get healthy.
I learned this phrase from Dr. Eric Berg. He was the first Dr. came across in my search of the keto diet. That phrase changed my life in the way I think and eat.
Our bodies have become slaves to processed foods, and unhealthy carbohydrates for years and in fact have created underlying health issues that must be addressed first to be able to lose weight healthily.
Too many people continue to believe that glucose is the only source of fuel; however, the effect of unhealthy processed foods may have an instant energy boost effect, but the long term of eating and drinking these foods will have an adverse effect on our organs and prevent healthy weight loss.
What's really frustrating is that sugar and carbohydrates are so readily available anywhere, not to mention cheap. We should not rely on them as a primary fuel source.
The fact is, the human body only needs a minimal amount of glucose, which is pretty much most of what the liver can supply daily.
Eating a vast amount of carbohydrates has proven to be the cause of so many metabolic problems and overwhelm our health-care system.
Are You a Sugar Burner?
To really understand what being keto-adapted means, we need to understand the what it means to be a sugar-burner.
A sugar-burner cannot access stored fat easily for energy.
What does this mean? It means that a sugar-burner's muscles cannot break down (oxidize) fat. Our bodies depend on the oxidation of fat for nearly all of it's energy needs.
When you are keto-adapted, your fat tissues release fatty acids approximately four to six hours after your last meal or while fasting. This is only because the muscles are able to use the fatty acids as fuel.
However, if you eat non-keto foods, such as bananas, bread, granola bars and other carbohydrates, your cells will start to burn sugar, not fat!
So what happens when after you burn up all your blood sugar?
You become hungry and reach for another granola bar or slice of bread, because the blood sugar has been used up and the cravings return.
If your body is burning sugar for energy, it will not and cannot process the fat you eat for energy. The fat (not dietary fat) you get from carbs is stored, not burned. What predicts your weight gain is the low ratio of fat-to-carbohydrate oxidation.
Formulating Macro Nutrients to Your Specific Needs
The ketogenic diet consists of three macro-nutrients that our bodies need for not only weight loss, but for overall health and growth. When you formulate a well-balanced ketogenic diet, these macro-nutrients should be arranged from high to low.
- FAT: 100 g or less
- PROTEIN: 75-100 g
- TOTAL CARBS: 20 g or less
Now, you must remember that these numbers are a guideline, because everyone is different and may or may not have underlying health issues.
For example, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes with my A1C at 9.6. After discovering the ketogenic diet 2 years ago, I began to follow the simple guidelines. I lost 20 pounds, but then I couldn't lose another pound. I tried everything, everything but adjusting my macros. Because I have high insulin resistance, I reduced my total carb intake from 25 g per day down to 10 g or less per day. I also adjusted my fat and protein intake as well and then the weight began to come off once again. To date, I have lost 65 pounds and counting. My A1C has been between 4.9 to 5.1 and I am no longer on diabetic medication.
Do Your Research
As with anything you take on in life, it is very important that you take the time to do your research. Your health is worth it and the ketogenic diet could be the best thing you ever gave yourself. Follow this simple guideline:
- Do your research. Take time to read and watch videos, etc and get yourself acquainted with the ketogenic diet.
- Do not just go on the ketogenic diet without talking to your Doctor first. It's important to know the status of your health and if you need to address any underlying issues.
- Remember to never compare your weight loss with anyone else. Everyone is different, including yourself and your macro-nutrients will be different.
How familiar are you with the keto diet?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Liz Rayen