Ketogenic diets are becoming increasingly popular with those of the modern dietary audience who pay attention to developments within the field – and other kinds of people too. However, in this day and age when something catches fire in the health and wellness or nutrition fields, a lot of false claims get made about what this or that lifestyle change or diet or exercise can really do for you. This stems mainly not only from the fact that everyone has different physiology but also because the placebo effect can equal up to 30% of the effectiveness of the actual intervention. People believe the ketogenic diet is a cure-all and so it kind of is for a while. It was much the same with vegan diets when they first began.
11 important facts about the ketogenic diet that anyone who wants to try it should know.
1. There is a Harsh Adjustment Period:
Everyone has a genetic ability to burn fat as a primary energy source. We all have these genes because our ancestors often experienced famines and scarcities that would last weeks. Nowadays, most people are in an unhealthy state referred to as “chronically fed”. The first 21-30 days of a ketogenic diet are harsh, punctuated by what most people refer to as the “keto flu,” this is because you’re turning on your fat-burning equipment, while your carb-burning equipment is telling your brain you’re starving to death.
2. Macros Matter:
One of the biggest problems, especially at the beginning, that people have with ketogenic diets is not keeping track of their macros (macronutrients). The classical ketogenic diet is also known as a “3-in-1,” and it entails 3 grams of fats per 1 gram of carbs and protein. Another method is commonly called the modified Atkins diet, which is more of a 60%-40% split. The most important thing is that protein and carbs must be counted as one unit, non-fat, which lies on the scale across from fat. Many people make the mistake of eating too much protein.
3. Bodyweight Matters:
The more you are in height and weight, the more carbs you can get away with eating. If you’re a smaller individual, there may well be a chance that 30 grams of carbs will knock you out of ketosis.
4. What Exactly Converts To Glucose:
Sometimes people lose track of what is made of what in the world of food. Anything that is carb and not fiber will reduce down to the same molecule – glucose, whether that’s the most organic freshly grown mango or the most processed slice of Wonder Bread. Not to say that all carbs affect you the same way, but in terms of taking in carbs and disrupting ketosis, you should more or less count them all as the same. Unaged dairy products, all forms of grains and cereals, anything sugary, most fruits, starchy vegetables, they all break down into glucose eventually. Again though, heavily processed packaged foods will always affect you more than a piece of fruit.
5. It’s about Freedom, Not Necessarily about Joy:
There’s no doubt that food is a very pleasurable experience for most of us. However, our ancestors ate whatever they could, and much of what the ketogenic diet represents getting back to a more foundational relationship with food. Finding things with a lot of fat can often mean you don’t get to eat the tastiest things, and if you’re hardcore, the best sources of fats are often not very tasty at all. However, while eating anything you want seems like the definition of freedom, there’s another sort of freedom in breaking yourself away from food addictions that most of us have without really knowing it. After a ketogenic meal and keto diet stack, knowing that your body doesn’t need anything more for hours and hours, knowing that you can easily afford to skip breakfast, that’s freedom.
6. A Ketogenic Diet is Great for Mental Clarity and Creative Output:
This is one of the many touted benefits which are backed by various replicable studies. Dr. Dominic D’Agostino has done great work in this field. In a ketogenic state, the liver is taking fat cells and converting them to acetyl-CoA, a macronutrient that fulfills many different functions. After acetyl-CoA is produced, it’s turned into a ketone, another macronutrient, and can cross the blood-brain barrier. Once in the brain, it’s turned back into acetyl-CoA and is consumed for energy. This is because the brain can only run on carbohydrates or ketones. When the brain is using ketones for energy, it seems to have the effect of increasing mental clarity and maybe even processing power.
7. In Some Cases, Fat Will Literally Melt off You:
If your genetics are optimized to burn carbs, and all you’re giving your body is fats, it will choose to convert glycogen, the stored form of glucose kept in your muscle and fat cells, back to glucose for energy. Despite the phrasing, fat is often not fat, but carbs stored in the muscle cells as glycogen. These carbs are normally used up during the adaptation phase in the first 21-30 days of a ketogenic diet, but depending on how much extra weight you are carrying, it can go on consuming your stored fat for months.
8. You Get All the Benefits of an Elimination Diet:
Many of the proclaimed health benefits attached to the keto branding are likely to be the result of an elimination diet. This predicates several different effects. For one, limiting one’s amount of food options, especially ones commonly available at restaurants and vending machines, naturally ends up reducing the overall calorie intake which is almost never a bad thing as it turns out. Another benefit is that there may be some foods you’re eating that cause you harm which you aren’t aware of. Gluten has recently earned the stigma of many people, and the removal of it from their diet sometimes allows them to feel far better. So, dairy and other common categories can cause discomfort or health complications, but that is perhaps too benign to notice. When someone says “I feel great, I have more energy…etc.” after starting a diet, it’s usually because of the elimination effects.
9. More Time Spent in Autophagy:
Autophagy is the cellular cleanup and repair process that can only happen in a fasting state. If you are digesting food, you can’t repair your cells. During the metabolic activity of almost any kind, autophagy is suppressed. But after about 8-12 hours without food, depending on the individual, your body begins to clear away dead cells and repair dead ones, a universally vital process that has been theorized to help promote healthy aging and prevent cancer, as it heals or destroys dead cells before they are allowed to mutate and become cancerous.
10. A Reduction in Inflammation:
Across the entire breadth of our species’ genetic diversity, the only thing that has been consistently linked with longevity is a low level of systemic inflammation in the body. Inflammation = a shorter life, and eating a lot of simple sugars and carbs = inflammation. This can be for multiple reasons. One reason is gut permeability. Bacteria in your gut, when starved of complex carbs and fiber, begin to eat the mucus membrane lining of your stomach and GI tract. This allows small particles of food to enter the bloodstream, which causes an immune response – an inflammatory response.
11. A Smaller Appetite:
A long-chain fatty acid consists of 14-20 carbon atoms and a carboxylic acid. After one of these bad boys enters a cell, over a hundred units of energy (ATP) are produced. When one unit of glucose is consumed, only 32 units of ATP are produced. The same measurable amount of fat to glucose yields more energy. As such, you won’t need to eat as often!