Keto: Clearing up the confusion

“I can eat bacon and eggs for every meal and still lose weight?! Count me IN!”

It’s the oldest “new” diet craze out there right now: Keto – or the Ketogenic Diet. High fats, super low carbs and moderate-to-low protein.

Chances are you’ve probably heard of it. Maybe you’ve tried it. But do you really know what Keto is?

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Let’s break it down

Keto comes from the term ketosis. Think about ketosis as our body’s backup energy system.

Every single process in the body depends on the intake of quality food – because that’s where we get our energy. Our main source of energy is glucose – we get it through the digestion of carbohydrates.

When we deprive the body of carbohydrates, it cannot use glucose as energy. That’s when we enter into a state of ketosis – our body turns fat into ketone bodies, which are used for energy instead. Sounds easy, right? Not so much…

(If you want to dive deeper into more science-y stuff regarding ketosis, check out this super in-depth article from Precision Nutrition.)


What’s old is new again

The Ketogenic diet has been around since the early 1920’s. The first people to discover the benefits were medical researchers looking to combat epilepsy and other brain disorders in children.

Since then, further research has shown that a Ketogenic diet may benefit people with neurodegenerative disorders like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. This led scientists to believe in a direct connection between diet and brain function.

Some people suffering from Type 2 Diabetes may also reap the benefits of a Ketogenic diet. Research has shown that ketosis may be useful as a short-term treatment or “boost” that helps to return a diabetic’s metabolism to a better-regulated state. (Note how we said short-term.)

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Source: The Hearty Soul


The Keto diet today

A lot has changed since the 1920’s. The Ketogenic diet has gone from a medical treatment to a household name. Scrolling through social media, it’s almost impossible to avoid a “Keto” recipe being forced upon you. You’re not crazy if this new low-carb, high-fat diet sounds a little familiar, though.

Keto. Atkin’s. South Beach. Paleo.

What’s the difference? Not much. They’re all centered around one thing: the elimination or intense restriction of carbohydrates. But why? There has to be some science to this, right?

Carbohydrates stimulate the release of insulin, which is a hormone that helps nutrients get into our cells. Long story short, low-carb advocates came to this conclusion: if we limit the amount of insulin, we will limit the amount of stuff going into our fat cells. Then our fat cells won’t grow.

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But everyone’s doing it!

Okay, so you’ve adopted this low-carb, high-fat lifestyle. But how do you know if you’re actually in a state of ketosis? It’s rather complicated. The only ways of measuring ketosis involves blood or urine analysis. Is your long-lost cousin Susie making frequent trips to the doctor for blood labs? Is she testing her urine using ketone strips? Probably not.

“Then how did Cousin Susie lose all that weight since she started Keto?”

Whenever a person goes from a moderate-to-high to a very low carbohydrate intake, their body will shed a ton of water weight. It takes approximately 3 grams of water to store 1 gram of carbohydrates. Get rid of the carbs, get rid of the water. Pretty simple!

Okay, so you’re riding the Keto train for a few weeks, eating minimal carbs. YES – your body is probably tapping into your fat stores. But how do you FEEL? Are you sluggish, tired and/or irritable? Are you unable to go out to eat with friends and family because you’re worried about your state of ketosis? Do you wish you could eat an entire loaf of bread?

All joking aside, you have to take a step back and think – is this a sustainable lifestyle for me? You can still lose weight and eat the things you love. Once you decide to have that carb-filled cheat day, your body will go out of ketosis… and then it’s back to square one.

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All carbs are NOT created equal

We hear a lot of bad things about carbs, don’t we? It’s hard not to believe everything you read online or hear on television.

Well, you may want to sit down for this one…
CARBS.
ARE NOT.
BAD FOR YOU.
There, we said it.

When most people think of carbs, they think of bread and pasta – definitely high in carbs and definitely okay in moderation!

Instead of automatically labeling carbs as bad, try changing your mindset. Think of carbs as veggies, fruits and whole grains. Those are the kinds of carbs our body needs!

This is why the Ketogenic diet rubs us the wrong way.

When it comes to nutrition, we’re all about finding a plan that’s sustainable for our clients. To be in a true state of ketosis, only about 5% of your daily calories can come from carbohydrates. For someone who takes in 2000 calories, that’s just 25g of carbs a day. (For reference, a medium-sized banana contains about 27g carbohydrates.)

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Source: Perfect Keto

Sure, low carb diets have their benefits. Forget the grains, pastas and processed carbs… think about only taking in 25g worth of veggies and fruits a day. You’re missing out on SO MANY essential vitamins and minerals that you need for your cells to function properly! If you have to resort to supplements because you aren’t taking in these nutrients from your food, then how on Earth is this a healthy diet to begin with?

Not only are carbs a main source of essential micronutrients, but they’re necessary in order to build muscle. Our muscles prefer glucose for energy – why mess with our body’s natural preference for muscle-building? Remember, ketosis is the body’s backup energy system. Would you throw your backup in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl if your star quarterback is perfectly healthy? Probably not.

bacon banana


Different strokes for different folks

In the end, it seems as though a lot of people who have jumped on the Keto train are looking for that quick fix. Let’s face it – true ketosis is very hard to achieve & maintain. In reality, they’re just following a low-carb plan, which most likely includes healthier choices than before they started – which is GREAT!

Here at Food For Fuel, we work individually with each of our clients to find what works best for them. We aren’t against lower-carb diets – sometimes they’re necessary. But we ARE against depriving our clients of what they need – and that’s a good balance of all macro AND micronutrients. Instead of another yo-yo diet, wouldn’t you rather find something you can do for the rest of your life?

If you take anything away from this blog post, we hope it’s this: do your research. Don’t take anything at face value. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


Want more guidance?

There’s so much more where this came from. If you feel overwhelmed, we can help you navigate this confusing world of nutrition! Check out our custom nutrition coaching programs here. Shoot us an email at info@foodforfuelnutrition.com for more information!

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