One of the trends picking up steam in the fitness/nutrition world is the Ketogenic Diet, so I thought I'd share some basics here to help you understand what it is.
The Ketogenic diet (keto diet) is a very low-carb diet where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy.
Instead of carbs, the diet consists of mainly fats and moderate protein.
Here's some science behind carbohydrates:
- Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so that it will be chosen over any other energy source.
- Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body.
Since the glucose is being used as a primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored.
Typically on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy. By lowering the intake of carbs, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis.
What are The Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet?
-Reduced risk for diabetes
-Reduced Risk of cancers
-Improved heart health
-Less inflammation in the body
What Does a Ketogenic Diet Consist of?
Since the keto diet is composed of mainly fats, you will NOT be eating sandwiches and spaghetti that's for sure! But what CAN you eat?
-Nuts, seeds, nut butters
-Coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia oil
-Meat of all kinds. Most keto experts recommend grass-fed beef and fattier cuts of chicken and pork, lamb
-Eggs, butter, full-fat dairy
-Vegetables- all kinds
The keto diet restricts carbohydrates but there are still plenty of options to eat.
Things can get tricky when you go out to eat so if you do, plan accordingly. You can usually get a salad with a piece of meat on top or cottage cheese or eggs.
There's been a lot of research on ketogenic diets and this will continue.
It remains to be seen how effective the diet is for athletes but there is a great book called The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance by Jeff Volek.
Check it out- and his other book- The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living
My own experience with a keto diet was promising.
I spent approximately 2 months on a keto diet.
I lost some weight (not my goal at the time) and I felt great mental clarity after the first week.
I have to be honest, the first week was rough. But I got over it.
I had to make sure to eat enough as I was very hungry at my normal carb-heavy meal times.
I had to get over the general mental fog and fatigue that comes from switching from using carbs for energy to ketones.
Forcing your body to use fat as energy is a change and you will go through a transition. But it's not that difficult really.
You can do it if you really want to.
p.s. Remember to talk to your medical practitioner. If you have any pre-existing conditions you need to know what your doctor recommends.
What's the best training program to go along with a ketogenic diet?