Recent studies evaluating the ketogenic diet have shown that when compared to low-fat diets and calorie restrictive diets, it is more effective in weight loss, decreasing blood sugar, decreasing insulin resistance and improving health markers for cardiovascular health (cholesterol, HDL, LDL-lipid markers). This diet has been shown to improve fertility and decrease symptoms of PCOS- which is theorized to be largely affected by insulin resistance and weight gain. It has also been shown to improve and even reverse Type II Diabetes in some cases. The ketogenic diet has also been proven to have an effect on a wide range of conditions such as migraines, epilepsy, acne and more.
So what exactly is the ketogenic diet and how does it work? It requires drastically reducing carbohydrates and increasing fat sources of food in the diet. The goal of the ketogenic diet, is to induce a constant state of ketosis in the body. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body shifts from using glucose (from carbohydrates) as a primary source of fuel to fat and ketones. Ketones are a metabolic byproduct produced in the liver from fat, they are an important source of fuel for the brain. When the body is in a state of ketosis it burns fat more efficiently, and lowers blood glucose levels. A diet which is high in carbohydrates on the other hand, will encourage the body to use glucose as its primary source of fuel. This leads to an increase in blood glucose and insulin activity.
The ketogenic diet is high-fat, moderate protein and very low-carb sources of calories, derived primarily from healthy fats (avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil), healthy sources of protein (fish, poultry, lean red meat, eggs etc), and vegetables (with the exception of most root vegetables as they are high in carbs). The daily intake of carbohydrates must be below 20g in order for the body to induce a state of ketosis. The ketogenic diet does not require a calorie restriction; most people report a decrease in appetite and an increase in satiety due to the high fat and protein sources of calories.
It can take 7-30 days for the body to transition completely to ketosis. During this time, people tend to experience constipation, nausea, headaches, water retention and fatigue. This is a temporary state and will pass, however, it is important to support your body through this transition. Proper supplementation is crucial to help with cardiovascular and kidney function as well as electrolyte balance. It is important to consult your health care practitioner prior to beginning this diet. Book an appointment to learn more!