Do you still have questions about the keto diet? I don’t blame you! With so much information out there, and new products labelled “keto”, it can be even more confusing.
The ketogenic diet has made its mark mainly through its rise on social media - did you know there are nearly 6 million posts on Instagram that use the hashtag #ketodiet?! But it seems that many people have different views of what a ketogenic diet looks like. For some, berries are fair game, while others love the excuse to pile their plate high with chicken wings.
Let’s look at everything you need to know about the keto diet:
What IS the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is an extremely low-carbohydrate, and high-fat diet that’s been recently made popular because of its ability to help with quick weight loss.
For the most part, those following a ketogenic diet will aim to stick to around 25 grams of net carbs (or lower). When you do this, your body goes into something called “a state of ketosis” where, instead of using glucose for fuel, it uses fat (or ketones). This is how so many people see such successful weight loss while on a ketogenic diet.
What ISN'T the ketogenic diet?
It’s not an excuse to eat a lot of bacon, sorry! Sure, bacon might be delicious, but it still doesn’t pack the same micronutrients as cup of spinach.
One trend that I see, mainly because of the success of the keto diet through social media, is the tendency for people to eat extremely fatty and processed meats - including bacon, pork belly, fried chicken (no breading), etc. However, choosing the right type of fat is essential to the success of the diet, and to reduce inflammation in the long run.
Who can benefit from the ketogenic diet?
Unfortunately, Instagram only shows the highlight reel of the ketogenic diet. We get to see everyone’s successful weight loss stories, but no one really talks about the keto-flu (flu-like symptoms you may feel as your body adjusts to the low-carb life), working out without carbs, the “mess-ups”, etc.
That said, the ketogenic diet can be extremely helpful for many people, not only to lose weight, but for those who live with a variety of diseases that can be impacted by our blood sugar.
1. Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimers has been dubbed “Type 3 Diabetes” or “Diabetes of the brain” according to functional medicine doctors.
So the ketogenic diet potential has 2 main benefits, especially for those who are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease: 1) The addition of healthy (keyword: healthy) fats, can help to coat our neurotransmitters and keep everything a little safer; 2) Balanced blood sugar through the Ketogenic diet may decrease our risk of developing alzheimer’s disease later in life.
The ketogenic diet was actually created for epileptics to reduce their rate of seizures. As it began to be more widely used, people began to notice its effects on weight loss, and the low-carb diet took the world by storm.
3. Type 2 Diabetes
Since the ketogenic diet reduces carbs so extremely, you start to lose that blood sugar spike and crash that happens for so many of us throughout the day. You know the one, it usually leaves you reaching for a 3PM sweet treat.
If you are at risk of type-2 diabetes, or are pre-diabetic, it may be beneficial for you to explore the ketogenic diet, or at least try to eat low-carb at breakfast and lunch to reduce sugar cravings later in the day.
4. Hormone imbalances
Many female hormonal issues actually stem from blood sugar imbalances. As mentioned, the ketogenic diet helps to regulate our blood sugar during the day, and we may see many benefits from it. As well, our hormones love healthy fats! However, this is said with a word of caution: suddenly restricting carbs, or not carb-cycling effectively while on a ketogenic diet as a woman can have negative effects on your cycles, hormones, and long-term fertility.
So what types of food can you eat on the ketogenic diet?
Foods to consume:
- Healthy fats like: avocado oil, wild-caught salmon, mackerel, sardines, olive oil, MCT oil, most cheeses
- Protein including: chicken, fish, beef, pork, lamb, whey protein, certain plant-based protein powders, collagen powder, whole eggs
- Low-starch vegetables like: leafy greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard), broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts
- No-sugar drinks like: coffee, tea, unsweetened nut milks, sugar-free sports drinks
- Nuts and seeds
- Lemons and limes
Foods that are off-limits:
- High-sugar fruits like: tropical fruits, bananas, apples
- Most condiments (except mayonnaise and mustard), and many pre-made sald dressings
- All grains including: quinoa, oats, rice
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, parsnip, squash
- Sweeteners including honey, maple syrup and agave
Is this diet for life?!
If you are thinking about trying the ketogenic diet, the first thing to remember is that this is not a life-long diet! Nor is it a quick fix. Depending on your current diet, it may be best that you gradually transition to a low-carb lifestyle to reduce stress to your body and see more long-term effects.
As well, adding in periods where you reintroduce carbohydrates (slowly, and choosing complex carbohydrates), can be helpful to work through any weight loss plateaus and add more variety to your diet.