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The Ketogenic Diet: Will it Work for You?

The ketogenic diet has come to rise in recent years with many people experiencing a myriad of health benefits confirmed by scientific research. Some of these include weight loss, reducing risk of Type 2 diabetes, lowering risk of cancer and reducing inflammation in the body. There are a number of variations of this diet, often called ‘keto’, but it generally focuses on minimal carbohydrate consumption, moderate amounts of protein and high healthy fat consumption. You may know someone who has dropped kilos on the keto diet, but will it work for you?

ketogenic diet

How Does a Ketogenic Diet Work?

There are sound scientific principles underpinning the ketogenic diet. There are essentially two sources of energy for the body: glucose (sugar) and fat. When consumed, carbohydrates convert to glucose, which the body utilises for energy. Glucose is also stored in the liver and muscles but any excess glucose beyond storage capacity may be converted to and stored as body fat. The ketogenic diet promotes consumption of high-quality dietary fat, encouraging the body to use fat (including excess body fat) to provide energy instead of glucose.

In particular, it is the ketone bodies from stored fat that are utilised as energy in a ketogenic diet. Ketone bodies are a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat and can be measured through a variety of tests involving blood, urine and/or breath samples. The daily goal of following a ketogenic diet is to put your body into a state of ‘ketosis’, which is a metabolic state that occurs when most of the body’s energy comes from ketone bodies rather than from glucose.

You might have noticed that there are several variations of the ketogenic diet out there. The most well-known is the Standard Ketogenic Diet (a.k.a. ‘SKD’), where you aim to get approximately 75 percent of calories from sources of fat, 20 percent from protein and 5 percent from net carbohydrates (Total Carbohydrates minus Grams of Fibre).

High quality foods that may be included in a ketogenic diet include:

FATS 

  • Oils, ghee
  • Nuts, seeds
  • Avocados
  • Olives

PROTEINS

  • Meats
  • Wild-caught fish
  • Eggs
  • Bone broth

CARBOHYDRATES

  • Fibrous carbohydrates e.g. asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, carrots, cauliflower, celery, kale, psyllium husk, spinach, zucchini
  • Herbs e.g. turmeric, ginger, garlic, parsley, oregano, rosemary

“But what about all that fat?

Some people have concerns about the quantity of fat consumption in a ketogenic diet, fearing negative health implications. This school of thought gained momentum in the late 1950s when researcher Ancel Keys proposed a direct relationship between the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet and the incidence of coronary heart disease. However, since then much research has pointed out the flaws in these conclusions. Fats from animal and vegetable sources in fact are an excellent source of energy, assist in absorption of certain nutrients, and provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones.

Does Keto Work for Everyone?

Research in the 1930s by dentist, Weston A Price, supported the view that the way individuals process and metabolise food can be heavily influenced by their genetic makeup along with other factors such as stress, climate and level of exercise. Price conducted pioneering medical research when he travelled the world for a number of years assessing the health of primitive tribes and modernised societies within close proximity. The results were simply outstanding. He documented far superior conditions of health in isolated tribes compared to modernised societies. He attributed this to the quality of nutrition and other lifestyle factors.

Interestingly, out of the fourteen groups assessed, only one isolated tribe (the Eskimos) were applying what we may now refer to as a ketogenic diet. The foods these Eskimos adopted, which were provided by the selective pressures of nature, included sea animals, sea plants, sorrel greens and berries. Foods were often preserved with fish oils for later consumption.

In short, it is important to eat in accordance with your individual biochemistry, which can be affected by your genetics, where you live and your lifestyle. So if you have Eskimo ancestry, the keto diet may be well suited to you. But if you do not, how do you know if your particular biochemistry is suited to it?

If you try the ketogenic diet, you’ll know it may be well suited to your particular biochemistry if you experience the following:

  • increase in muscle mass
  • lose body fat
  • not hungry between meals
  • maintain ideal cholesterol ratios
  • maintain good moods and concentration levels (Note: You may experience headaches within the first 48 hours while the body is switching from glucose to ketones bodies, called ‘keto flu’.)

If you experience any of the following on a ketogenic diet, this could indicate that this diet may not be suited to your individual biochemistry and needs:

  • lethargy, depressed mood
  • constipation and/or frequent urination
  • sweet cravings
  • addition of body fat
  • not able to reach ketosis despite strict compliance
  • vitamin and mineral deficiencies (organic food may reduce this risk)

We are all as different on the inside as we are on the outside. Everyone requires  macro-nutrients with each meal and snack to fuel their body’s needs. This may differ from person to person. How will you know if you are getting the correct nutrition for your body? You will feel satiated between each meal/snack (in other words, you’re not hungry and craving sugar while crawling up the wall!), good energy levels and your digestive system is working well. So whenever implementing a change of nutrition it is best to monitor these factors and above all listen to your body!

Author: Mark Varitimos

Editor: Wendy and Words 

 

References

Price, W (2008, 8th Edition) “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” The Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Lemon Grove, California

Chek, P. (2004) “How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!”, CHEK Institute, San Diego, California

Fallon, S and Enig, M (2001) “Nourishing Traditions”, NewTrends Publishing Inc, Washington DC

https://articles.mercola.com/ketogenic-diet.aspx

https://draxe.com/nutrition/guide-to-keto-diet-for-beginners/

 

Comments

  1. Pete Roberts says

    Hi, can you please send me an invite to the me to the Keto diet event on 10 Feb. I’m not on Facebook. Pete

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