So I’ve been hearing all this hype about this highly effective weight-loss plan. Have you heard of the ketogenic diet?
What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat diet. Keto, as it’s commonly called, shares many attributes with popularized “caveman” diets such as paleo and primal.
The ketogenic diet is often referred to as a sugar elimination diet because carbohydrates, whether simple or complex are composed of glucose (aka sugar molecules), complex carbs are simply longer chains of molecules.
Simplified, carb restriction is sugar restriction.
The ketogenic diet involves reprogramming the body to rely on fat rather than glucose, for fuel.
Keto is gaining serious attention amongst endurance athletes due to its ability to provide the body with consistent, sustained energy.
Why would keto benefit endurance athletes?
Because glucose is short-lived and inconsistent fuel. Often athletes will speak of “hitting the wall,” this is essentially the point in the race where the body is running on empty. Once all the glucose is consumed the body will resort to fat reserves, but the reserves are difficult to tap into and require more energy. Basically, you’re better off reprogramming the body to utilize fat for fuel prior to race day for optimal energy.
How do you reprogram the body?
By drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and prompting the body into a state of ketosis.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body relies on ketones for fuel. Ketones are produced in the liver from fat. During ketosis the body directly breaks down its fat stores into energy instead of slowly converting fat and muscle cells into glucose for energy.
Simplified, your body is in a state of ketosis when it is feasting on fat (rather than glucose) for fuel.
So you’re telling me, stuffing my face full of fat will lead to increased energy and weight-loss?!
That’s exactly right!
Is that natural?
It’s said the body’s preferred source of energy is glucose. And glucose as we know is delivered to the body via carbohydrates. What you may not know, is that carbs are found in virtually everything- tomatoes, bananas, beets, avocados, nuts, seeds, cheese, onions, even garlic. Therefore, if you’re concerned that by eliminating starches and sugars from your diet, your body is not going to get an adequate carb load- let that shit go! It’s extremely challenging to get yourself into a carbohydrate deficit and nearly impossible to deprive yourself of carbs entirely.
While many argue glucose is our body’s preferred source of energy that was not always the case. For hundreds of thousands of years our Paleolithic ancestors thrived on a low-carb diet based on animals, plants and insects. Most Americans today are deriving the bulk of their carbohydrates not from veggies, fruits, nuts and roots; rather from beer, processed foods, breads, pastas and pastries.
Perhaps glucose is not the body’s preferred energy source, but rather a necessary accommodation to our “evolved” dietary model.
So getting back to the initial question, is ketosis natural? Absolutely, ketosis is a normal state of metabolism. In fact, most babies are born in a state of ketosis. However, in our modern era of carbohydrate abundance people rarely access ketosis making it a dormant metabolic pathway.
How do you know when you’re in ketosis?
Fortunately for us, ketosis is not some elusive metabolic state. Ketosis is 100% measurable. In order to know if you’re in a state of ketosis it’s imperative you test your ketone levels.
There are 3 common methods for measuring ketone levels:
- Urine Testing- The first method is through urine sticks. Urine sticks are designed to measure excess amounts of ketones within the body. Urine testing will help to determine if you’re in a state of ketosis, but they aren’t always accurate.
- Blood Testing- The second method is through blood testing. By squeezing a drop of blood onto a test stick you can test the level of Beta-Hydroxybutyrate in your body. This will effectively determine if you are in a state of ketosis. However, it is the most expensive testing method available.
- Breath Testing- The third method of testing involves breath testing. You can actually measure the amount of acetone in your breath using a breath meter. Though be aware that this is the least reliable method of testing for ketosis.
Now that we’re all clear on what the ketogenic diet is. Let’s move on to what sorts of benefits and side-effects we can expect while on the keto diet. See you inside The Keto Diet Masterclass Part 2: Benefits and Side-Effects of the Ketogenic Diet.