What in the world is the Ketogenic diet? Some of you may have heard of this before, but others may still be asking what the name even means. Turns out, this diet has been around for quite some time but has recently been picking up steam as one of the latest fads that many health conscious individuals are experimenting with.
What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet, or “keto diet” as some may call it, is based on minimizing protein, carbs (even more than protein), and focusing on consuming primarily fats . This process of (almost) knocking out all carbs transforms the body into a fat-burning powerhouse. This way of eating is said to have many potential benefits that can lead to increased health and performance, and weight loss, but does it work and is it safe? Let’s explore:
How does the Ketogenic diet work?
The name “keto” in this diet comes from the small fuel molecules that the body produces called, “ketones.” This alternative fuel for the body is used when the blood sugar supply is short. These ketones are produced in our liver when we eat very few carbs and sugar that are both converted to blood sugar quickly. Therefore, the body switches over and relies on ketones as energy fuel instead of glucose.
Many health experts that promote the ketogenic diet do emphasize that simply adding healthy fats to your diet does not help you enter ketosis. You have to ensure that you are drastically reducing sugar and carbs as well. On a ketogenic diet, the entire body switches over its’ energy supply from glucose to ketones, thus creating less insulin. This puts our bodies in a state called “ketosis”. This is where the diet is supposed to work its’ magic – the fat burning increases since it is now being used as energy.
So, what are the potential benefits of a Ketogenic diet?
- Studies have shown how the Ketogenic diet helped individuals control hunger which lead to weight loss.
- Some studies show it may help clear up acne.
- Other studies have shown that it may reduce inflammation. Reducing chronic inflammation in any way can help prevent disease as we age.
- Helps protect us from free radicals.
- It may increase energy since reducing grains and baked goods will naturally help alleviate blood sugar spikes and dips, which can cause fatigue throughout the day.
- Improved mental focus and concentration, since fats promote brain health.
What Are You Supposed To Eat On A Ketogenic Diet?
When it comes to reducing carbs and protein, these levels vary person to person since we all have different lifestyles and activity levels. According to the standards of the ketogenic diet, carb consumption should be no greater than 10 percent of daily calories. So that would encompass all baked goods, grains, and even beans and root veggies.
Foods to focus on include meat, cheese, nuts, fatty fish like tuna and salmon, vegetables that are low carb, healthy oils like coconut, olive, and avocado oil (and avocado’s themselves of course). Many people who follow the ketogenic diet also consume bulletproof coffee which is coffee blended with butter.
If you’re up for the challenge, give it a shot! But like any other diet, take it slow in the beginning. You don’t want to shock your body too much with such intense changes. There also may be some setbacks to this diet (as there is with every “diet”) like becoming acidic and developing kidney stones. So with any type of lifestyle change, it is crucial that you consult your doctor first. Do not give this lifestyle change a shot especially if you are diabetic, on insulin, on medication for high blood pressure, or pregnant and breastfeeding.
Contributing author: Lauren Cumbo
Lauren Cumbo is a senior undergraduate student at Loyola University Chicago, studying marketing. She is excited to be staying at Loyola one more year to complete her master’s degree in business. She has been a city girl since a very young age and loves going on all the adventures Chicago has to offer, spending time with family and friends, and traveling.