The Ketogenic Diet – What exactly is it?
I am often asked to explain “what is the ketogenic (or “keto”) diet?” The keto diet, from a macronutrient composition, is a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein, and relatively high-fat diet. Eating this way will put you in a state of nutritional ketosis. While your body is in this state, it will switch from using glucose (sugar) to using ketones (produced from fat by the liver) as the main source of energy.
Low carbohydrate consumption has a relatively quick impact resulting in a reduction in blood sugar and also a drop in insulin levels as the requirement for insulin to store excess sugar in fat cells is also reduced. This forces the body to switch to using ketones for fuel. Ketones are produced from the fat you eat and from the fat stored in your body. This is why a keto diet can result in significant weight loss – there is no excess glucose to be stored as fat, and existing fat stores are used by the body for energy.
The ketogenic diet today is mostly used for weight loss/weight management, and also as a means to control blood sugar levels in diabetes patients.
Important notes before you start:
- If you have diabetes, you must consult with your doctor before you change your current diet. A low carbohydrate diet will impact the level of medication needed to manage your blood sugar. An improper dosage can lead to serious and immediate health impact.
- When you start, some of the initial weight loss is a result of the water that is attached to your glycogen stores. This rapid water loss can result in an electrolyte imbalance, so electrolyte supplementation is recommended.
- It can take days to weeks before your body becomes efficient in the use of fat for fuel. While you should not be hungry, cravings for high-carb foods are not uncommon. Be patient and the results will follow. But if you are hungry, eat more fat!
I will be following this article with other keto related posts covering topics such as: Foods to eat/avoid, keto friendly supplements, keto lifestyle tips, and more.
Next check out this article about how to start a ketogenic diet.