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The Ketogenic Diet (commonly refered to as the ‘Keto’ Diet) was originally created as a dietary management tool for epileptics in the early 1920’s. It is a low carb, medium protein, high fat diet that fuels the body via ketones rather than glucose. The keto diet has 4 main variations:
- Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): Typically comprised of 75% fats, 20% proteins and only 5% carbs.
- Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This diet involves a cycle of keto and carb days, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days.
- Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): Similar to the Standard Ketogenic Diet but with the addition of carbs before or after workouts
- High-protein ketogenic diet: A High protein version of the SDK where The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs
So who is the Ketogenic Diet recommended for?
This diet IS NOT recommended for Type 1 Diabetics or those with Uncontrolled Diabetes due to the risk of Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Type 1 Diabetics and those with Uncontrolled Diabetes can test their ketone levels via Blood Tests if they are concerned about ketoacidosis (either by a medical lab or home kids similar to blood sugar tests).
Due to the reduction in insulin production, it is highly beneficial for those with Type 2 Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes. Short term benefits for Diabetics include improved insulin sensitivity, lowered cholesterol levels and weight loss as shown in this study.
There have also been some claims that those with Metabolic Syndrome will experience an improvement in their weight management.
According to this study, women with Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome can experience improved fertility, weight management and hormonal balance while following a Keto diet. To learn more about how PCOS & Keto are an excellent pair click here.
So how does the Ketogenic Diet work?
The ketogenic Diet makes your body use fat instead of sugar as an energy source. This will optimise weight loss while reducing insulin levels present in the body.
By balancing a very low carbohydrate intake with a moderate protein intake you can alter the levels of glucose and ketones in the body. The trap most people fall into with the Ketogenic diet is eating too much protein (this is because protein breaks down into glucose, which is the energy source you are trying to minimise). You can measure your ketone levels via home testing of a urine sample, this will show what your ketone levels were 4 hours prior to conducting the test.
While there are home testing kits that use blood samples which give almost real time results, PLEASE DO NOT USE THE BLOOD TEST KITS UNLESS YOU ARE A TYPE 1 DIABETIC OR HAVE UNCONTROLLED DIABETES. This is because in late September 2017 there was a shortage of these crucial monitoring kits that put the lives of some diabetics at risk. For people without insulin disorders, a 4 hour window on ketone results is perfectly acceptable (however not having access to the blood test kits could be lethal to a diabetic).
After approximately 1 week on a well balanced keto diet the body will enter a state called ‘Ketosis’. This is usually identifiable by a bitter taste in the back of the mouth and a sudden reduction in hunger levels. Once your body enters Ketosis, you might experience something commonly called the ‘Keto Flu‘ which will usually pass within 2 weeks.
A big ‘key to success’ with the Keto Diet is to avoid calorie counting/restriction. You will need to learn that eating until you feel full is a big component. This diet type requires a good knowledge of your own body and excellent self control in the first few months.
Interestingly, those who successfully follow a balanced Ketogenic Diet will typically claim to have significantly improved mental clarity, energy levels, clearer skin, less bad cravings and improved blood sugar levels.
It is definitely one of my personal favorites and closest to my naturally prefered diet. If you want to give this diet a shot definately talk with your doctor and experience the benefits for yourself!
Stay Tuned for more posts about the Ketogenic Diet coming up soon! The next post will be the basic rules for a Ketogenic Diet 🙂