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.
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?
The body’s preferred source of energy is in fact, 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 it’s true, our body’s preferred source of energy is glucose. 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.
Is the ketogenic diet dangerous?
While the ketogenic diet boasts a laundry list of Hulk-like health benefits, there are certainly ways of going about it all wrong. I will be discussing these, as well as mapping out the ketogenic diet for weight-loss how-to in next week’s post. Ttyl. 🙂