Being mindful of what you eat is a way to take your life to the next level since how you feel and perform is a result of what you're fueling your body with. Cutting out sugar and processed foods is base level most people understand by now, and according to modern research next step would be replacing carbs with more healthy fats.
It's no longer just health junkies, biohackers and high performing athletes doing the Keto diet, it's quickly growing followers all over the world and seems to be on everybodies lips these days. Even Starbucks are noticing the demand for keto friendly foods and adjust their menu accordingly.
If you're still confused about what the keto diet actually is all about we'll help you out.
WHAT IS THE KETOGENIC DIET?
The Ketogenic diet is a high fat, moderate protein and low carb diet. Focus should be on whole foods and healthy fats and staying away from all kinds of sugars and carbohydrates. Maximum intake of carbs is about 30g per day. It's a stricter version of the more widely known LCHF-diet (Low Carb High Fat) where you normally allow a little bit higher carbohydrate and protein intake.
The ketogenic diet is based around foods such as: fatty fish, eggs, meat, nuts and seeds, cheese, healthy oils (coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil), butter and cream, avocados and low-carb vegetables.
The point of the Keto diet is to get the body into a state of Ketosis where the body is using fat for fuel instead of our primary fuel source, glucose, which is beneficial for the body in many ways.
KETOSIS - FAT FOR FUEL
The body has two alternatives to get energy, either from glucose which we get from sugars and other carbohydrates (and excess protein) or ketones (which can be created from fat by the liver). Fat can't be directly used as energy, it first has to be converted to ketones by the liver and then the ketones can be used as energy.
As long as there is glucose in our blood the body will always use that for energy since it's more readily available compared to ketones. But when you limit the intake of carbohydrates the body can't get enough glucose to fuel the entire system and instead it has to turn to fat for fuel. Which is called being in a state of Ketosis, where your body produces ketones at an accelerated rate. When the body becomes adapted to rapidly produce ketones from fat it will have an unlimited supply of energy since it can use our stored body fat. In other words, the body becomes a fat burning machine which is one of the reasons many people feel that it's so easy to loose weight on the keto diet.
THE BENEFITS OF BEING IN KETOSIS
The ketogenic diet origianted about a 100 years ago as a medical tool for treating neurological brain diseases like epilepsy in children (4).
Lots of new research suggest that following a Ketogenic diet might be the key to optimal health and the answer to a long list of health conditions (5). We don't have the full answer to that but research suggest that benefits of being in ketosis include:
- Unlimited supply of energy & enhanced athletic performance A main benefit of being in ketosis is that the body always has an unlimited supply of energy at all times even if we go a long time without eating since we always have access to our stored body fat. This is a reason why many endurance athletes prefer the keto diet. Many people experience increased overall energy levels as well.
- Mental clarity & sharper brain function. When your body starts burning fat for fuel you quickly start to notice that you can think much more clearly and any previous "brain fog" disappears. Ketones is suggested to be a more effective and longer lasting fuel for your brain compared to glucose (6).
- Apetite control & weight loss: Being in ketosis you notice that you're not hungry all the time because a high fat diet supresses the apetite. Many people experience a dramatic weightloss on keto without the same effort as on many other diets. This is because reasons like the increased fat burning mode, and that you stay full for longer when eating lots of fat. If you've ever tried to loose weight on a low fat diet you've probably experienced the feeling of always being hungry, never really feeling satisfied and always thinking about "when is the next time to eat?". And being hungry all the time is often a main reason why people fail with their diets long term. A ketogenic diet can help you lose more weight compared to a low-fat diet and all without the hunger feelings (7).
- Reduced inflammation and oxidative stress: Another very important benefit of being in ketosis is that it reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Modern research shows that inflammation is believed to be the underlying cause to most lifestyle caused diseases (8)
- Reversal of type 2 diabetes: A great health benefit of being on a ketogenic diet is reduced blood sugar levels and insulin levels which can be very helpful for people with diabetes. Loosing excess fat is also linked to the reversal of type 2 diabetes (9)
- Reduced Acne and improved skin: Many people following the ketogenic diet experience a more pure and glowing skin. Lower insulin levels and cutting out sugar and processed foods may help improve acne because it reduces inflammation in the body which is a main underlying cause of acne (10, 11). The ketogenic diet also include a lot of skin boosting foods such as fatty fish, avocado, olive oil and spinach.
- Heart health & Increased levels of good cholesterol (HDL): The higher levels of HDL compared to the bad cholesterol LDL, lowers the risk of many heart diseases. One of the best ways to increase your good cholesterol is by eating lots of healthy fats (12).
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Written by Camilla Henriksen