No matter where you turn, nearly every niche within the food industry has taken notice of the popularity of the Ketogenic diet. Candy bars, shelf stable snacks, and boxed cereals now proudly feature labels declaring to be “Keto Certified,” it can seem harder than ever to fully understand what this diet is about.
Once deemed both peculiar and overly restrictive, the Ketogenic diet is now quite commonplace, as Americans continue to reduce sugar and refined carbohydrate intake. But…what exactly IS a Ketogenic diet?
The Ketogenic diet is a way of eating in which carbohydrate intake is restricted low enough to produce a metabolic state within the body known as Ketosis. Ketosis allows your body to operate efficiently and fuel itself from fat, as opposed to glucose.
The fat used for energy while in a state of Ketosis comes both from your body stores and your dietary fat consumption. This results in your body producing small fuel molecules called Ketones, an alternative fuel source used for energy when glucose (blood sugar) supply is low.
Interestingly enough, the clinical Ketogenic diet began as an effective dietary therapy for the treatment of epilepsy and epileptic seizures, primarily in children. In modern epilepsy management, it is used clinically to treat both children and adults.
Individuals seeking weight loss find this way of eating particularly helpful since insulin levels remain low and fat stores are accessed more efficiently and rapidly. Most people on nutritional Ketogenic diets report drastically reduced appetites, naturally reducing caloric consumption which leads to weight loss. The Ketogenic diet is also clinically proven as an effective form of controlling blood sugar instability and managing type 2 diabetes.
Many turn to a Ketogenic diet for the energy and mental performance benefits! In a state of nutritional Ketosis, the body doesn’t need glucose to function optimally, and is fueled consistently by Ketones with a small amount of glucose being synthesized by the liver. People who eat Ketogenic diets enjoy a steady flow of energy to the brain with little to no blood sugar swings. For many, this leads to better focus, concentration and mental clarity.
There are also a plethora of other benefits to a Ketogenic diet , including less gastric distress, increased athletic endurance and performance, fewer migraines, improvement of insulin resistance and insulin resistance related diseases like PCOS, less heartburn, and improved blood pressure.
In 2014, I began a whole food based Ketogenic diet, and successfully beat my morbid obesity by losing 190 pounds. I’ve easily been able to maintain my weight loss and a healthy body mass index and body fat percentage for over six years by continuing a Ketogenic lifestyle. I’ve reversed both severe hypertension and prediabetes, as well as found healing for my endocrine system and insulin resistance.
So, what does a Ketogenic diet look like exactly?
The daily diet will vary, but will typically be rich in high nutrient, low carbohydrate foods like greens, non-starchy veggies, berries, nuts and seeds, meats and fish, eggs, low-lactose dairy, and healthy fats like those found in butter, olive oil and avocados.
While some Ketogenic dieters choose to strictly count carbohydrates and calories, many of us, myself included, practice more intuitive eating with a focus on enjoying meals and snacks based around foods that are nutrient rich and naturally low in carbohydrates.
Whether you have considered a Ketogenic diet for weight loss, improvement or management of health issues or from a desire to cut down on processed foods and sugars, now is a better time than ever to give this way of eating a try and see if it’s right for you!