By far, the most popular nutrition program right now is the Ketogenic Diet, or Keto for short. Physicians and health professionals everywhere have reported extensively on the many benefits that can be achieved by following this process. Is it easy? For many who consume a lot of carbohydrates, your answer would be no. However, after you reach the point where your favorite carbs are no longer a habit, and you begin to see and feel the benefits, it becomes much easier. Many report feeling healthier than they’ve ever been. While others are proud to show their before and after photos, as well as positive reports from their physicians regarding previous health conditions.
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. It lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, and shifts the body’s metabolism away from carbs and towards fat and ketones by drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain. Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has numerous health benefits
A ketogenic diet may provide many health benefits, especially with metabolic, neurological or insulin-related diseases:
- A ketogenic diet can help you lose much more weight than a low-fat diet. This often happens without hunger.
- The ketogenic diet can boost insulin sensitivity and cause fat loss, leading to significant health benefits for people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.
- Heart disease: The ketogenic diet can improve risk factors like body fat, HDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar.
- Cancer: The diet is currently being used to treat several types of cancer and slow tumor growth
- Alzheimer’s disease: The keto diet may reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and slow its progression
- Epilepsy: Research has shown that the ketogenic diet can cause massive reductions in seizures in epileptic children
- Parkinson’s disease: One study found that the diet helped improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
- Polycystic ovary syndrome: The ketogenic diet can help reduce insulin levels, which may play a key role in polycystic ovary syndrome
- Brain injuries: One animal study found that the diet can reduce concussions and aid recovery after brain injury
- Acne: Lower insulin levels and eating less sugar or processed foods may help improve acne
Foods to Avoid: Avoid carb-based foods like grains, sugars, legumes, rice, potatoes, candy, juice and even most fruits.
- Sugary foods: Soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
- Grains or starches: Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
- Fruit: All fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries.
- Beans or legumes: Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
- Root vegetables and tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
- Low-fat or diet products: These are highly processed and often high in carbs.
- Some condiments or sauces: These often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
- Unhealthy fats: Limit your intake of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
- Alcohol: Due to their carb content, many alcoholic beverages can throw you out of ketosis.
- Sugar-free diet foods: These are often high in sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels in some cases. These foods also tend to be highly processed.
Foods to Eat: Base the majority of your diet on foods such as meat, fish, eggs, butter, nuts, healthy oils, avocados and plenty of low-carb veggies.
- Meat: Red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken and turkey.
- Fatty fish: Such as salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel.
- Eggs: Look for pastured or omega-3 whole eggs.
- Butter and cream: Look for grass-fed when possible.
- Cheese: Unprocessed cheese (cheddar, goat, cream, blue or mozzarella).
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
- Healthy oils: Primarily extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
- Avocados: Whole avocados or freshly made guacamole.
- Low-carb veggies: Most green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
- Condiments: You can use salt, pepper and various healthy herbs and spices.
No matter your culinary taste, there are plenty of ketogenic recipes online that will undoubtedly become a family favorite. There’s everything from burgers and chili, to tacos and enchiladas, to delicious mediterranean dishes.
Next week in Nutrition Corner, we’ll explore some sample Keto Meal Plans and tips for eating out. Stay tuned, and watch for our ACTIVZ blog posts for a deeper look!
Remember to always check with your physician with any health concerns before changing your diet.