So we’ve all heard about the craze around the Ketogenic Diet. Here are a few of the glorified benefits that this new diet has promised:
- Rapid weight loss & Mental Clarity (6)
- Improved Insulin Sensitivity (7)
- Reversing metabolic syndromes (i.e. high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides), that can lead to a reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases (5)
- Treatment or management of Alzheimer, Epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease and even Cancer (1, 2, 3, 4)
What is a Ketogenic Diet anyway?
The Ketogenic Diet is a very low carb, high fat and moderate protein diet. You will typically see macro nutrient (fats, protein, carbs) breakdowns that look like this: 70%/20%/10% or 70%/25%/5%. This diet involves drastically reducing your carbohydrates intake, and drastically increasing your fat intake. Over a period of time, your body will revert to using it’s primary source of energy from glucose to fat. This is known as nutritional ketosis. Your body will become extremely efficient at burning fat or ketone bodies made from fat, for energy. To simplify things, the average person can restrict carbohydrates to 50 grams or less per day, eat .5 to .7 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, and fill in the rest of your calories with fats. After a few days, your body will rely on fat and ketones for energy.
What NOT to Eat on the Ketogenic Diet
Here’s a basic list of foods that you will need to EXCLUDE from your diet in order to get into nutritional ketosis:
- Most Fruits
- Starchy Vegetables
- Baked Goods
Dangers of Ketogenic Diets
Most of what you’ll get on a quick google search for “Ketogenic Diets” will turn up a bunch of ” how to’s” & recipes guides telling you to eat nothing but butter, bacon, buffalo wings, steaks (I actually love steak..grass-fed, grass finished), and oils. Do this, and you’ll be on your way to weight loss and all of the other amazing benefits of being in ketosis. But pursuing this diet the way popular media outlets portray it, is a great way to actually get high blood pressure, and damage your body. You may see some weight-loss due to the carbohydrate restriction, but you’ll be depriving your body of massive amounts of micro-nutrients (vitamins, minerals). Micro-nutrients are extremely important in helping your body do all the metabolic process required on a daily basis. Without these, your body will surely break down and you may experience health issues that you thought you were being protected against on a ketogenic diet.
The Alternative: The Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet
If you want to explore a low-carb and high fat diet, there is a great book by Robert Santos Prawne, MS RD titled “The Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet” where he discusses the benefits of combining a ketogenic diet with a Mediterranean diet in order to achieve the same great benefits in a more healthful way. The basis of this diet is still grounded in restricting carbohydrates in order to achieve nutritional ketosis. But, as opposed to eating foods with no nutritional value you’ll be eating foods high in micro-nutrients and healthful fats.
The majority of foods that make up this diet are non-starchy vegetables, fatty fruits, nuts and seeds, eggs, dairy (excluding milk) fish and other meats. You’ll basically include all vegetables excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and corn. Eating in this fashion will get you into ketosis, and also help you avoid some of the pitfalls of the main stream keto diet “bs”.
There is so much more that goes into a ketogenic diet that will require a separate post. You should have the basics covered here and if you would like more details, please send me an email! You’ll want to make sure that whatever diet you choose to follow is safe, you have all the right information, and it’s something that you can do for life and not just short term.