It seems like everyone and their brother is on the keto diet. It’s today’s diet of choice and appears to be one of the most popular conversation topics of 2018. Despite its prevalence, the ketogenic diet is often misunderstood. What a lot of people think of as ‘keto’ is actually just a low-carb diet, like Atkins. Before you decide to go keto, take some time to think about what you’re getting yourself into, and why.
What is the Keto Diet?
Forget your list of ‘keto-friendly foods’. Simply put, the keto diet is one that puts the body in a state of ketosis, whereby the body uses ketones, instead of glucose, as its primary fuel source. To achieve ketosis, most people have to restrict their carbohydrate consumption to fewer than 25 grams a day (about an apple) and keep their protein consumption at around 60 grams per day. This is very low.
The Nitty Gritty
In our natural state, humans rely on glucose, or carbs, to provide energy to our bodies. This is why athletes carb-load before a big event. Your body breaks the carbs you consume down into glucose and produces insulin to deliver this fuel to your cells. If you’ve got no carbs in your system, you’ll find yourself running low on energy (insert Snickers ad).
Through the use of strategically controlled nutrition, the keto diet looks to break this cycle and train your body to fuel itself differently. Those following the keto diet restrict their carbohydrate and protein intake so much that their bodies cannot produce glucose, and are forced to rely upon an alternative fuel source; ketones.
Ketones are produced when your body is convinced that it does not have enough fuel from other sources (carbohydrates or protein). If ketone levels remain elevated for a prolonged period of time, you will find yourself in a state of ketosis – but this typically takes a few days to happen.
Common Misconceptions of Keto
Ketosis is tough to achieve; most people who think they’re ‘keto’ are not. Typically, keto-practisers pick from a list of keto safe foods and construct a diet accordingly. But, keto-safe foods do not ketosis make. Like any diet, it’s all about balance; In order to achieve a state a ketosis, you must keep your total protein and carbohydrate intake low enough so to not induce glucose production. While a food may be keto safe on its own, the quantity and mix you consume can put your metabolic state at risk.
Benefits of Ketosis
The most commonly touted benefits of ketosis are associated with changes to mood and hormone levels. Unlike with carbohydrates, ketones provide a very steady source of energy. In a state of ketosis, your body is not subject to the highs and lows of glucose power and will be less likely to experience cravings, as a result. It truly is the ultimate ‘food is fuel' diet. Ketosis also fights against nagging hunger pangs, or relentless lethargy, that hits after a large meal.
The benefits of keto don't come from the foods you eat, but rather from the hormonal changes associated with prolonged adherence to the restrictive diet. If you don't alter your body's natural metabolic state, you probably won't experience improved mental clarity or fewer cravings. However, you will still see benefits from eating keto-safe foods even if you're not in ketosis, but this typically comes from deliberate decision making and consuming fewer total calories.
Downsides of Keto
Despite the praise for keto as of late, there are a number of risks associated with this restrictive diet. The keto diet was discovered as a treatment for epileptic children and was traditionally only used under close medical supervision, for a short period of time. Because it's relatively new to popular culture, there's not a lot of medical evidence to support the long-term use of the diet. The production of ketones puts a lot of stress on the liver and kidneys and may cause complications. For this reason, it's recommended that you seek medical advice and obtain regular blood tests if you decide to take on the diet.
Because the keto diet restricts the consumption of fibre-rich foods and relies so heavily on fat consumption, it can also have negative impactions on cholesterol and digestion. Plus, the keto diet is just very hard to maintain. It takes a few days to get your body into ketosis, so you can say goodbye to drinking and cheat meals if you want to seriously pursue it.
Before you decide to go keto, consider the implications. A lot of thought and effort are required to achieve the hormonal benefits associated with the diet. If you’re interested in a more moderate approach, look to increase your healthy fat intake with foods like nuts, avocados, and olive oils. Whatever you choose, look to Suppy protein for a simple way to supplement your nutrition plan - it's keto-friendly, with only 2 grams of carbohydrates per scoop.For more dietary advice, check out the nutrition section of the Suppy blog.