You’ve probably heard it mentioned here and there. The word keto seems to be on everyone’s lips lately. And for good reason. The keto diet has personally helped me not only lose a dramatic amount of weight but keep it off for almost 5 years now! Weight loss was not the only benefit I’ve seen from adopting a ketogenic lifestyle. My main reason for trying the diet, to begin with, was depression. While suffering from a severe depression I came across a research article that changed my life. At the bottom of the article, it hypothesized that since a ketogenic diet is so effective in treating neurological disorders such as epilepsy, that it may be a viable treatment for depression. At the time keto was not a mainstream word and there was little information on the ketogenic diet. So naturally, as a scientist, I decided to conduct an experiment on myself. And I’ve never looked back.
What is keto exactly?
Keto is short for ketogenic which is the state of being in ketosis. Ketosis is a natural state of the body, fueling on fat sources rather than glucose. Ketones are metabolized instead of glucose for fuel in the absence of carbohydrates. This means a diet very high in fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate.
Ketosis is the process of using fatty acids and the generation of ketone bodies as a reliable fuel for constant energy supply. As a normal metabolic state, Ketosis has been utilized periodically throughout human history during periods when food sources were scarce. This is how the human body adapts to survive when there isn’t plentiful food. Additionally, ketogenic diets have been used to treat epilepsy since the 1930s.
When should you consider keto?
1. Do you have blood sugar imbalances?
That ‘hangry’ feeling is really a symptom of poorly managed blood sugar. By relying on larger fat stores for fuel instead of glucose, we see stabilized blood sugar levels. Because you are experiencing stabilized blood glucose you don’t get the same mid-day energy crash either. Consistent energy throughout the day is a major benefit of keto.
Blood sugar swings can wake us in the middle of the night, so if your sleeping issues are due to blood sugar imbalances it may improve with ketosis.
2. Have you tried the low fat, high carb approach to weight loss and failed?
Many have reported a decrease in weight once adopting a ketogenic diet, myself included. In simple mathematical terms consuming fewer calories than you burn will result in weight loss. A major benefit of a ketogenic diet is the power of appetite control. Keto allows you to eat at a calorie deficit without feeling like you’re eating a calorie deficit. This is due to the satiating effects of dietary fat. It is also why many people find keto to be more sustainable than other dietary approaches.
3. Do you suffer from chronic inflammation?
A typical North American diet of highly processed foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugar creates inflammation in the body. Research has shown a decrease in inflammation on a ketogenic diet by removing the processed foods and sugar that may lead to modern degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurogenerative diseases.
Additionally, inflammation may block the production of neurotransmitters that initiate sleep, therefore your sleep may improve with ketosis.
Who isn’t an ideal candidate for keto?
1. Pregnant or breastfeeding women
I caution pregnant or breastfeeding women against keto. Not because there is evidence against it but because of the lack of evidence for it. During pregnancy, a woman has higher protein demands that a ketogenic diet provides. Additionally, since the ketogenic diet is very good at minimizing hunger a woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding may not consume enough calories to properly nourish her baby.
2. Individuals under high-stress
High-stressed individuals are not ideal candidates since your body requires an abundance of nourishing nutrients at times of high-stress. I suggest focusing on a whole foods approach and removing processed foods and sugar from your diet.
In relation to high-stress, is adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is known as ‘burn out’. Your adrenal glands become depleted after a long period of stress. Resulting in your adrenal glands no longer producing cortisol. It results in exhaustion, sleep disturbances, weakened immunity and food cravings. If your adrenal fatigue is driven by sleep deprivation that I would suggest a nurturing whole foods diet.
3. Individuals who participate in high-intensity
High-intensity exercise tends to rely on large amounts of glycogen. Many individuals have had success with a targeting ketogenic approach. Once you are keto-adapted, consuming 5-20 grams of carbohydrate before exercising and every hour during the workout. You will most likely exit ketosis briefly but will be back into ketosis in a few hours. That being said everyone is biochemically unique and you may actually perform better while in ketosis.
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