You’ve probably heard of the Ketogenic Diet, more commonly referred to as Keto. This high-fat, low carbohydrate approach has been extensively studied and today we’re going to dive into exactly how it works.
Keto is based on the core principle of reducing carbohydrate intake whilst increasing fat intake. When carbohydrate intake is restricted, the body is depleted of glycogen stores, which are the primary source of energy.
Due to the absence of sufficient carbohydrates, the liver produces ketone bodies as an alternative energy source. This shift in macronutrient ratios places the body in a state of ketosis, whereby it utilises fat for energy rather than carbohydrates.
There are several versions of the Ketogenic diet -
Standard Keto (SKD): Low carb, moderate protein and high fat. Typically aiming for 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carbohydrates.
Cyclical Keto (CKD): Involving low-carb days followed by higher card refeeds. Typically, this will include five days of keto followed by two days in which a greater amount of carbs is consumed.
Targeted Keto (TKD): Similar to CKD in that you consume a higher amount of carbs at certain times, however these are consumed before, during or after a workout. This is designed to help fill glycogen stores, prevent low blood sugar and improve performance.
So, once you’ve chosen your plan, it’s time to get started. To set yourself up for success, there are a few simple steps you can follow:
- Calculate your macros and plan your meals - focus on whole, unprocessed foods that are low in carbs and high in healthy fats and protein.
- Clear your kitchen of any no-go items that may be tempting! Stock up on some keto friendly snacks such as nuts, seeds and olives.
- Listen to your body - be willing to adjust your approach depending on how your body responds.
The Dos and Don'ts
- Do focus on healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish
- Do choose non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, and zucchini, which are low in carbohydrates
- Do pay attention to labels for any hidden sources of carbohydrates and added sugars
- Don’t forget to drink water as dehydration can be common during ketosis
- Don’t overconsume protein, excessive protein can be converted into glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis, which can affect ketosis
- Don’t forget fibre, this can be incorporated from non-starchy vegetables, flaxseeds and chia seeds
There are a myriad of benefits that the ketogenic diet can provide, the most well known being the use of the diet as a tool for weight loss. However, keto can be greatly beneficial to our overall health -
Improved Blood Sugar Control - Helping to stabilise blood glucose levels.
Reduced Triglycerides - The keto diet often leads to lower levels of triglycerides in the blood, associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
Improved HDL Cholesterol - Some studies suggest keto can increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, often referred to as the ‘good’ cholesterol, associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
Epilepsy Management - The ketogenic diet was originally developed as an alternative treatment for epilepsy. This was designed for individuals who did not respond well to traditional medication and has been shown to help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures.
Increased Energy Levels - Although the initial transition to ketosis may be difficult, once adapted, many report to sustained and stable energy levels throughout the day, without the spikes and crashes associated with high-carb diets.
Mental Clarity - Ketones serve as an efficient fuel source for the brain, thus many reports increased focus and reduced brain fog whilst following keto.
What To Be Aware of Before Started
Whilst the ketogenic diet is typically safe when performed correctly, some people have been known to experience side effects, known as ‘keto flu,’ as the body transitions. This typically occurs within the first few days to a week of starting the diet and symptoms tend to mimic those of the flu, hence the name.
To mitigate these symptoms, be sure to consume enough healthy fats to provide energy during the transition. Increasing salt intake may help, as the body tends to excrete more sodium on a low-carb diet. You may also want to consider supplementing with electrolytes to help balance deficiencies that can cause muscle cramps.
As when embarking on any dietary adjustment, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional or dietician to determine whether keto is right for you.You’re all set. Get cooking in comfort in our Athleisure Club Sweatpants.