Keto is all the rage right right now but what is it and how do you do it? We have asked one our favourite peeps Chris Miller of THE HEALTH & FITNESS GUY to give us the low down...
According to recent internet buzzing, the Ketogenic diet cures everything from Alzheimer’s to fungal infections to obesity.
Ketogenic dieting looks like this: 75% fat, 20% protein, 5% carbohydrates from leafy vegetables. High fat low carb is essentially just another name for it, or reflective of a diet where you have a higher than usual fat intake and less than the recommended carbohydrate intake: 50% fat, 30-40% protein and 10-20% carbohydrates.
Bacon, butter, pork belly, coffee with bacon and butter in it! Health and weight loss here I come! Let’s take a look.
From Hippocrates in the 5th C BCE it has been noted that fasting serves to cure/treat such conditions as Epilepsy. Late in the 19th century an Englishman, William banting, on the advice of his Doctor undertook a high fat low carb diet to cure his battle with obesity. In the early 20th century several doctors treated sufferers of Epilepsy with fasting protocols with great success.
Medical researchers and Doctors began to hypothesize whether the nature of a diet could affect neurological conditions and replicate the effects of starvation without actually starving people, because let’s face it, starving people sucks.
It was discovered by an endocrinologist that a high fat low carb diet could replicate the features of a fasting protocol! Pause and consider a few things for a moment.
Endocrinologist: A Doctor who specialises in hormones discovered that food had huge impacts on hormones, biology and neurological conditions.
Fasting: Eating high fat and low carb could replicate the effects of fasting protocols. What happens when you fast? You lose weight. As well, in an evolutionary trick to help you survive periods of food scarcity, your body evolved to break down fat reserves as a source of energy so that your ancestors could still think, plan and capture food.
SO now we had researchers discovering that high fat food dietary intake, when coupled with low carbohydrate intake could lead to improved health outcomes – weight loss, improved neurological conditions, improved fat utilization as a fuel source.
This research kept chugging along to Dr Atkins exploded into the world and declared deep fried bacon wrapped egg hamburgers were good for you! I still remember watching the news as a kid and seeing this “revolutionary diet” scoffed at by the news reader as it showed overweight Americans eating huge quantities of bacon and grilled cheese to lose weight. My dad was laughing over his mashed potatoes and when I asked my PE teacher at school the next day he laughed too (patted his little belly) and pointed at the food pyramid stuck on the wall, telling me to go eat some bread and avoid all fatty foods at all costs.
Research is now growing that ketogenic dieting has even more benefits than first thought with recent findings indicating that it may lead to:
- Weight loss
- Improved insulin sensitivity and blood sugar stabilization, which can lead to:
- Mood stabilization in mental/depressive disorders
- Improved mental focus
- Improved energy levels, oxygen capacity, endurance levels
- Migraine treatment
- Neuro-protective benefits in seizure disorders; ADHD; Alzheimer ’s disease, memory and cognitive function; Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis
- Stroke prevention; cardiovascular disease; metabolic syndrome management; improved cholesterol levels
- Inflammation management
- Endurance enhancement
TIME FOR KETO, I hear you saying. Hang on one second. Keto adaptation means that you have shifted your metabolism to relying on fat-based sources, instead of glucose (sugar) sources, as your primary source of fuel. Your body increases fat oxidation, and breaks down fats into ketones to be used as the primary energy source.
IS KETOSIS SAFE?
Being in a state of ketosis is mostly a safe process. There are two main forms of energy in the body: Glucose and Ketones. Glucose is derived from the breakdown of carbohydrates and excessive protein into sugars. Ketones are the naturally occurring byproduct of fat metabolism.
How do I achieve a ketogenic state?
Following a ketogenic diet requires the restriction of all forms of carbohydrates to under 5% of dietary intake. Generally, this equates to about under 20grams of carbs consumed per day. It is also important to note that these carbs should be solely sourced from green leafy vegetables. The rest of the diet is partitioned into 75% fat and 20% protein.
Most people make some serious errors when beginning the diet by either consuming too much fat, the wrong kind of fat and or too much protein. Deep fried foods should be eliminated
- Go-to fat foods for snacking
- Cheese ( don’t go overboard)
- Dark chocolate (at night snack)
- Nuts - macadamias, almonds, walnuts, pecans,
- Chia seeds
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil,
- Flour - coconut, almond,
- Butter, full fat cream,
- Fatty meat- pork belly, bacon, beef, chicken thigh,
- Celery and low sugar peanut butter
As good as it may seem I don’t recommend it to everyone.
- It can be very hard to maintain
- It can be restrictive
- It can be done very badly
- It can influence your cholesterol levels (which in itself don’t mean anything, but if you do that with a lot of “falling off the wagon” and carb binging it can lead to negative side effects)
- It needs a very nuanced approach to manage salt intake, monitoring of bloods, health parameters etc
- It often has less vegetables than I would want you to eat
- Is it really necessary for you?
- What are your goals?
Eating less than 5% of carbs a day, usually less than 20grams can be quite difficult. Can you maintain that?
Now if you are an endurance athlete (marathon etc)or need a massive health kick than I would say, YES you should do this.
If you are an everyday warrior like me, then I would say no. Go for a more moderate approach that can better suit your life. Regardless of your performance goals or health aspirations, fat loss must be a priority. Having a lean muscular physique doesn’t mean having the body of cover model, but rather possessing appropriate fat stores and adequate physical capabilities.
Having increased body fat causes hormonal and immune system changes associated with fatigue, aches and pains, recurrent infections, allergies and toxicity, unbalanced hormone profile, and menstrual problems.
Medical research has repeatedly demonstrated the link between increased body fat and the progression of degenerative diseases like Cardio-Vascular Disease, diabetes and cancer. What is disregarded or poorly understood by most are the primary causative factors of excess fat storage. The two main causes being a sedentary lifestyle and excess refined carbohydrates.
Eliminating carbohydrates in a structured manner will change your life, because, losing fat will change your life. Not only will debilitating physical symptoms improve but you will also notice changes in daily energy levels and an improved zest for life!
Such positive physical and physiological changes will also affect you mentally and emotionally, for the better. One of the most noticeable aspects of fat loss and it’s affects on the body is the increased ‘ease of day’. ‘Ease of day’, refers to how much easier your daily activities will feel.
So my advice to many is: Go for an approach that is appropriate for your life and goals.
Written by Chris Miller, The Health & Fitness Guy