To keto or not to keto…that is the question.
In August I attended the Emerging Science of Carbohydrate Restriction and Nutritional Ketosis conference at OSU. There, alongside 300 medical practitioners from all around the world, I was presented with overwhelming evidence that low carbohydrate/high fat diets are beneficial for many people including those with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, seizure disorder, ADHD, and even athletes! I left feeling confident that nutritional ketosis is something that most people should at least try to see if they would benefit.
Since August, I’ve put many patients through the keto diet and most have had amazing results! Patients who had trouble losing on other diets finally shed the weight. It’s a good way to break through a plateau as well as get through sugar cravings. Fat makes you feel full and satisfied.
How is a keto diet different than low carb, Paleo or Atkins?
Simply put, it’s a low carb diet that provides high fat and moderate protein (about 80% fat, 15% protein, and 5% carbs).
Dr. Atkins started the low carb revolution but didn’t focus enough on healthy fats. Too much protein can trigger a process known as gluconeogenesis which generates carbohydrates from non-carb substances (amino acids), and creates excess acidity in the body, which can lead to numerous other health issues.
Paleo diets focus on lower carb and higher protein with moderate fat. This will not allow the body to switch over to ketosis, although it’s still a healthy eating plan for many, depending on the individual and their health goals.
Eating Keto will shift your body into a fat burning state as opposed to its usual sugar burning state. Ketones are produced by the liver to be used as energy and your brain depends on them…in fact, they’re a better energy source for the brain and tend to benefit those dealing with “brain fog”. The side benefit is that once the body enters ketosis, it is then forced to use stored fat as energy…ta-da!…weight loss!
Being in this metabolic state can have numerous other benefits, including improved energy, mental clarity and focus, blood sugar management and cardiovascular health.
Nutritional ketosis has been around since the 1920’s and has been routinely used to treat tough cases of epilepsy.
How do you do it?
Carbs should be 5-10% of your total caloric intake and most people find their carb threshold (amount you can eat and still be in ketosis) between 20-50g/day. Healthy fats are a huge part of this diet and necessary to enter into nutritional ketosis. Think avocado, medium chain triglycerides, grass fed butter, coconut and olive oil, pastured egg yolks, nuts and seeds. Protein should be moderate.
Why I like it.
Kick sugar cravings for good! Fat provides a feeling of satiety. After a few weeks, sugar cravings should be completely gone.
A few words of caution…
Who should NOT do the keto diet? It’s worthwhile to try for 6-12 weeks and then do some blood tests to see if inflammation shifts above baseline. Additionally, electrolytes, thyroid, and sex hormones should be tested. Check with your doctor if you are on diabetes meds, hypertensive meds, or have cancer, or are pregnant or breastfeeding. Breastfeeding mamas should note that milk supply COULD decrease temporarily but tends to recover after awhile. Do not make major diet changes while establishing supply (first 8-12 weeks).
Be aware that having adrenal fatigue (especially in women) may require MORE carbs than a typical ketogenic diet recommends and therefore needs to be tweaked from week to week. You may find that weight loss stalls if carbs are too low. Finding your carb threshold is important. Eat the highest amount of carbs you can while staying in ketosis.
Beware the Keto flu:
When transitioning to this way of eating, you may experience a whole host of symptoms called the Keto flu (lack of energy, brain fog, nausea, headaches, dizziness). This can be mitigated by increasing your salt intake (your kidneys process sodium differently while in ketosis therefore you must increase to 4-5g of sodium in the form of pink Himalayan sea salt). Make sure to get adequate amounts of magnesium and potassium. See supplement section.
How do I check my ketones?
We recommend a ketone/glucose monitor. Ketones should be checked regularly at first to make sure you maintain ketosis and to help find your carbohydrate threshold. Check on an empty stomach in the morning and once more before dinner. Nutritional ketosis is anywhere between 0.5 and 3.5.
Supplements to support ketosis:
Exogenous ketones (BHB/sodium/potassium)—will get you into nutritional ketosis within 15 minutes and helps when you’ve consumed too many carbs
MCT oil —gets into the cell and used as energy very efficiently and acts as a laxative
Ketogenic shakes are beneficial as a meal replacement and includes moderate protein, high fat, and very low carbs
Be sure to check out the Keto recipes section on our blog!
For individualized support getting started with Keto or any other type of dietary intervention, call (614) 888-HERB (4372) to schedule an appointment with Francie Silverman.