Last week talked about gluten and why we prepare all of our meals gluten-free. In next few blog posts, we want to take the time to explain a few key words and phrases that are trending in diet world. Starting us off is the Ketogenic Diet. It promises to change the way your body produces energy by burning fat instead of glucose. Sounds great, right? Don’t eat carbs, melt the fat away! If followed correctly it can be done, but how does it work?
What is the keto diet?
Following a ketogenic diet consists of consuming a diet that is high in quality fats, adequate amounts of protein and very low carbohydrates (generally less than 50g). Normally, the human body uses glucose (sugar from carbohydrates) or glycogen (stored glucose) to produce energy. When all of your stored carbohydrates have been used for energy, the body will begin to use fat for energy. This means you need to consume large amounts of healthy fats to provide fuel for your body.
How it affects your body
Physiologically our bodies have not evolved far past our caveman days. This means that intuitively, your body understands that when food sources are low, it needs to adapt to be able to survive. When your body is completely deprived of the carbohydrates it naturally uses for fuel (when fasting we can deplete our carb storage in about 24 hours), it is able to switch the source from which it pulls energy. It begins to break down fats for fuel and producing ketones. Ketones are molecules produced in the liver and the body can use them for fuel. When this is happening, you body is in a state of ketosis.
Why would you want to be in ketosis?
Ketones are good for fueling the brain and the keto diet was originally designed in the 1920s to trick your brain into a fasting state and used for treating epilepsy. With the evolution of medicine, is not a widely used treatment anymore.
Studies show that keeping your body in a state of ketosis for extended periods of time can lead to weight loss, better blood sugar management and reducing the incidences of epilepsy related seizures.
Is keto healthy for you?
The promise of burning your body fat to produce rapid weight loss results is very appealing to many people! However, when following a strict keto diet, the positives don’t come without some possible downsides.
When body is adjusting to new way of producing energy, it may show symptoms of sugar or carb withdrawal. Although it’s not an actual medical term, people experience what is known as the “keto flu”. Possible symptoms of this include headache, fatigue, brain fog, irritability, nausea, sugar cravings, cramps, sore muscles and bad breath. As your body adjusts, these symptoms should begin to disappear.
Changing how your body metabolizes energy for a long period of time, doesn’t come without its risks. Some possible side effects of long-term ketosis are constipation, kidney stones, nutrient deficiencies and high bad cholesterol (LDL); especially if you are loading up on meats filled with saturated fats such as bacon!
While this is unusual for most healthy people, but if combining a keto diet with type 1 or 2 diabetes or severe alcohol abuse, it can cause a very serious condition called ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis occurs where they are extremely high levels of ketones in the body causing the blood to become acidic. Symptoms of this include excessive thirst, frequent urination, weakness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, difficulty breathing. If you are experiencing this, seek medical help right away as it can be life threatening.
Basically, as with any diet; there are pros and cons to following a keto diet and you can decide what is best for you. Some find it easy to say goodbye to carbs and some find this diet very hard to follow. If followed correctly, you will probably have some immediate side effects of feeling like you have the flu, but that will go away. Chances of weight loss increase with adherence to this diet, but so do your chances of getting a kidney stone. If you do decide to go the keto route, here are some foods that are allowed and not allowed.
Foods that are keto-friendly:
Proteins: stick to leaner options and avoid fatty sources such as bacon
Dairy: cheeses, plain unsweetened yogurt, sour cream, heavy cream,
Fats: butter, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil
Nuts: pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pecans, chia seeds
Vegetables: non starchy veggies such as: zucchini, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cucumbers, kale, celery, spinach
Fruits: very low sugar berries such as strawberries, raspberries and blackberries
Foods you should avoid:
Bread, pasta, chips, wraps, pizza, legumes, oats, starchy vegetables such as corn or peas, rice, sugary drinks
How we prepare keto meals
We love all the gluten-free carbs we can find over here at Grace Savory & Sweet, but we recognize they aren’t for everyone. That’s why we to cater to a number of dietary preferences and Keto is one of them. Our standard entrees are not designed to be keto-friendly but can be easily modified by substituting any of our grains or starchy veggies with a low starch vegetable and adding a little extra healthy fat. If the meal calls for pasta, we will replace it with a zoodle (zucchini in the shape of noodles). If a meal calls for rice, we will replace it with extra veggies or we will use riced cauliflower.
As always, just want to remind you that we’re not doctors here at Grace Savory & Sweet and if you think you are planning to switch to a keto diet you should always check with a medical professional before making changes to your lifestyle.
*Information found in this post can be found on Healthline.com in an article titled “What is Ketosis, and is it healthy?”