Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard about the ketogenic diet. It’s been all the rage in the media recently with people swearing that it changed their lives and others swearing it will kill you. Honestly, it’s pretty exhausting trying to pick a side, so I am here to set the record straight.
The Great Debate
Benefits of going keto range anywhere from accelerated weight loss and weight management, to increased energy and mood along with improved health markers. Studies have shown that a ketogenic diet paired with intermittent fasting actually switches on healing and detox genes in your body to trigger apoptosis of cells that aren’t pulling their weight. Study
Now, like with any health trend that comes along, the diet has gained its fair share of critics. Some studies claim that a high fat, low carbohydrate diet can lead to muscle loss, gallstones, and heart damage.
Now with most arguments in life, one side is correct, while the other is wrong. When it comes to something like this, I believe that both are actually right.
You see, cutting out bad carbs and using fats as your preferred fuel source can most certainly provide a whole host of improvements to your body. I mean the decrease in inflammation from the carbs alone will make a remarkable difference in your health! The key here is that it has to be done correctly or you may, in fact, experience some unwanted side effects
How does one do keto correctly you may ask? Well, it all starts with a little education on the matter.
1. Know Your Fats!
There is a difference in the fats you consume. When it comes to doing keto the right way, you can’t go cheap on the ingredients. One of the most frequent issues I see with this is with butter.
When comparing grass-fed butter to regular butter, studies have shown that grass-fed butter is much higher in key nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K2. It also contains up to five times more of the fatty acid known as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is currently used as a popular weight loss supplement.
Most of the studies claiming the negative effects of a high-fat diet were not using grass-fed butter or other nutrient-dense fats because most people believe that butter is butter. No matter the source. It makes complete sense why people experience plateaus and muscle loss while eating fats from unhealthy sources. They are just bombarding their body with empty, nutrient deficient fats!
The same principle remains true when shopping for eggs, bacon, MCT oil, or any other piece of food you plan on consuming. Natural, grass-fed matters.
2. Know the TYPE of fats you want (and the ones you want to avoid!)
Another issue I have found people run into is they think that as long as they are consuming fat of some sort, they are doing it right. I know a guy who was on a strict ketogenic diet for years. His favorite meal was to go to Chick-fil-a and eats loads of chicken nuggets to get the fats from the oils they are fried in. Now it may be pretty obvious to most people that consuming your weight in fried foods is a bad idea, but most people don’t know specifically what types of fats are the good ones and which ones you want to avoid.
1. Saturated fats: These are the ones you want to use for cooking. Saturated fats include the previously mentioned grass-fed butter, coconut oil, and ghee. These are high-heat stable which means they are your best choice for cooking as they won’t denature under the heat and become harmful to your body.
2. MCT’s: (Short for Medium Chain Triglyceride) You will want MCT’s to become a staple in your diet. They get on the healthy keto approved list due to their ease of use in the body. Because of their size, they are already in the perfect form for your body to digest and to use as clean fuel.
3. Healthy Monounsaturated fats: We are talking avocados, nuts, olive oil and well-sourced beef here. This is the type of fat that has been attributed to improved health markers and heart health (think Mediterranean diet).
4. Polyunsaturated fats: This includes organic olive oil, avocado oil, flaxseed oil, and other nut oils. The key to consuming these: Do not heat them. They are not very heat stable, making them best used as cold salad dressings and finishings for meals.
5. Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s: This is all about balance. Studies show that the typical Western diet is deficient in Omega 3’s, while elevated in Omega 6’s. You are going to want to shoot for a 1:1 ratio with these two. My advice? Get most of your Omega 3’s from wild caught fish. Salmon is a great example of an Omega 3 rich, low mercury fish.
Fats to avoid include:
1. Vegetable oils,
2. hydrogenated oils
3. Trans fats
4. Canola oils
It’s these fats that are associated with all of the negative side effects such as high cholesterol and inflammation.
3. Consider pairing intermittent fasting with your ketogenic diet.
Intermittent fasting has gotten a lot of hype recently, and rightfully so!
Studies have linked intermittent fasting with improved gene function, healthier hormone levels, and improved fat utilization (a.k.a. more weight loss!).
* Cellular regulation: Intermittent fasting allows the body to switch on key cellular repair processes, such as removing waste products and cell apoptosis 2
* Gene expression: Studies show that there are beneficial changes in certain genes related to longevity and protection from disease (3, 4).
* Studies have also linked intermittent fasting to increased levels of growth hormone. Preventing muscle loss often associated with the ketogenic diet (5, 6).
* You consume less calories early in your day, leaving you to eat like a king during lunch and dinner.
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