We are always so obsessed with diets for various reasons ranging from I just want to be fit and healthy to what diet will give me this celebrity’s body, usually Beyonce… sigh, don’t we all. Or maybe Cristiano Ronaldo for men?
A quick google search yields a plethora of different ‘expert’ advice complete with before and after results. Again now you’re stuck. Should I eat low carb and high proteins? Or do I need low carb and high fat? Should I adopt the Paleo diet ? but for sure the Atkins diet seems more popular… but then there is the south beach diet, the Mediterranean diet, the vegetarian diet, the dash diet… And it’s usually at this point when you give up and finish that last slice of pizza left in the box postponing the whole issue until the next time you notice you gained another kilo.
It’s indeed a nerve racking process, not to mention the increasing tons of social pressure no thanks to the socialites. I was surprised to discover there are actual serious medical conditions linked to the weighing scale; Gravitophobia which is the fear of weighing scales and scale addiction, where people, usually on diets, tend to weigh themselves many times per day… also there is this video on YouTube.
At least I’m not the only one who has a bad relationship with scales.
Suffice it to say, dieting is a major thing in today’s society, especially for women, but it is still somewhat of a mystery, and faced with the aforementioned problems I decided to skip the dizzying list of diets, take a more scientific approach and find out what actually makes you lose weight in the first place which is when I stumbled upon Ketosis.
Again lifted directly from this article on WebMD, “Ketosis is a normal metabolic process, something your body does to keep working. When it doesn’t have enough carbohydrates from food for your cells to burn for energy, it burns fat instead. As part of this process, it makes ketones.
If you’re healthy and eating a balanced diet, your body controls how much fat it burns, and you don’t normally make or use ketones. But when you cut way back on your calories or carbs, your body will switch to ketosis for energy.
KETOGENIC DIET 101
You can trigger ketosis either by extended fasting or by reducing the amount of carbohydrates and increasing the amount of fats you consume.
Basically, a ketogenic diet ( low- carb, high-fat diet) puts your body in ketosis and forces the body to burn stored fat (which is where your weight comes from) due to the absence of the usual sources of energy. In this state energy comes from the produced ketones in the blood. This is in contrast to the glycolysis state where blood glucose (sugar) provides most of the energy.
Normally our bodies run on glucose for energy obtained from carbs (carbohydrates), however, a large portion of the brain can also use ketones for energy such as during starvation or when your diet is low on carbs.
In fact, according to research after only three days of starvation ,the brain gets 25% of its energy from ketones. During long term starvation,this number rises to around 60%!
But let’s face it, fasting is never easy, especially with sweet smells emanating from fast food restaurants on your way to work (three new ones popped up on the way to my workplace ,the torture).
Moreover most people don’t like to “just eat less”, and be in a constant state of hunger forever. That’s dieting for masochists. Sooner or later a normal person will give up and ‘backslide’ to their normal eating habits, sometimes even worse, hence the prevalence of “yo-yo dieting”.
I was therefore less drawn to fasting and more to the low-carb, high-fat diet which achieves the same result but without the pain of starving yourself, yeeey!
A WORD OF WARNING
Ketogenic diets are controversial, and with good reason. When overdone, like most things, it’s can have extreme negative effects on your body. Extreme ketosis leads to a condition known as ketoacidosis.
According to WebMD, ketoacidosis usually, Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), is a buildup of acids in your blood. It can happen when your blood sugar is too high for too long and It could be life-threatening. However it usually takes many hours to become that serious and you can treat it and prevent it, too.
As you can tell this is mostly a condition associated with diabetes where if your body doesn’t have enough insulin your cells can’t use the sugar in your blood for energy, so they use fat for fuel instead. Burning fat makes acids called ketones, as discussed earlier, and if the process goes on for a while, they could build up in your blood. That excess can change the chemical balance of your blood and throw off your entire system.
In our case we can build up ketones in the blood by overdoing the ketogenic diet either by completely eliminating carbs or by starving for way too long. Do not over do it!
According to WebMD symptoms of ketoacidosis may include:
- Symptoms of high blood sugar, such as dry mouth, feeling really thirsty, or peeing a lot.
- You’ve been throwing up for more than 2 hours.
- You feel queasy or your belly hurts.
- Your breath smells fruity.
- You’re tired, confused, or woozy.
- You’re having a hard time breathing.
The ketogenic diet works by eliminating carbohydrates from the diet and keeping the body’s carbohydrates stores almost depleted preventing too much insulin from being released during meals.
With less insulin around your body starts burning its own fat for energy helping you lose weight quickly.
The beauty about all this is your body will then continue to burn fat even while you are sleeping at night that means your body is burning fat 24/7!!!! How cool is that??
More reasons why I think it’s a much better weight loss strategy:
- Higher protein intake: some ketogenic diets lead to an increase in protein which has many weight loss benefits including helping to maintain muscles.
- Food elimination:Limiting your carb intake also limits your food options.This will noticeably reduce your calorie intake
- Gluconeogenesis: Your body converts fat and protein into fuel.This process helps burn additional calories.
- Appetite suppressant: Ketogenic diet helps you feel stuffed hence you’re less hungry compared to other diets.
- Improved insulin sensitivity:This helps fuel utilization and metabolism.
- Deceased fat storage:Some ketogenic diets may reduce lipogenesis,process of converting sugar to fat which causes weight gain.
Even though the ketogenic diet is a high fat diet, it will not raise your cholesterol or increase your risk for heart disease. Heart disease is caused by inflammation, influenced mostly by the intake of trans fats and sugar, not by heart-healthy-fats.
Following a Ketogenic diet includes lowering your carb intake and increasing your fat intake. Recommended fats include:
- Healthy saturated fats – coconut oil and high fat dairy like grass fed butter and ghee.
- Omega-3 fatty acids -Found in salmon ,chia seeds and flax seeds.
- Healthy omega-9 fatty acids -Found in olive oil,avocados,almonds,sprouted nuts and seeds
Please note that Ketosis can become dangerous when ketones build up. High levels lead to dehydration and change the chemical balance of your blood so do not overdo it. It is recommended that one should follow the diet for a three-to-six-months period because your body does need carbohydrates long-term to function at its best.
Most diets include some form of ketosis like the first part of the Atkins diet and the Paleo diet, which stress proteins instead for fueling your body. So, if you want to lose weight, reduce your risk for cancer and improve your blood sugar, a ketogenic diet maybe what you just need!
Remember while weight loss is important, what’s more important is the quality of food you put in your body – food is information that quickly changes your metabolism and genes ~ Mark Hyman