A Ketogenic Diet…what is that?

The Ketogenic diet is all the rage these days…again! It came, it went, it came, it went and now its back again. Before I dive into what the diet/lifestyle is, let’s first understand what the word “Ketogenic” means. Ketogenic comes from Ketosis which is a process your body undergoes to burn fat instead of glucose (sugar) and carbs. I have been interested in the Ketogenic diet for a while and would like to dive deeper into it myself. I feel my absolute best when I am on a fairly low-carb diet myself meaning I stay away from bread, pasta, Sugar loaded foods such as cakes, cookies, pies (anything using white or whole wheat flour) and fast food (because that is most likely carb loaded)! Blocking these foods out and uping good quality fats in your diet results in a build-up of acids called ketones. Okay okay so what is a Ketone? Ketones are substances that are made within the body when it breaks down fat for energy. So your primary source of energy will come from fat and not sugar.

Should you be considering a Ketogenic diet? There are a lot of brain benefits with the Ketogenic diet. People who have bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, mood disorders or mental fatigue, the Ketogenic diet could be awesome for you for preserving your brain. It will help you optimize your brain. People who are morbidly obese however and have fatty liver may do better switching up the macro levels a bit meaning a higher protein, lower carb and moderate fat level instead of a high fat level which would be normal for a Ketogenic diet. I believe average ratios for macronutrients on a Ketogenic diet would be around 70-80% fat, 10-20% protein and 10% carb. This was told to me by a friend so don’t quote me here but the fat ratio is up there! A body builders macronutrients might look something like this 40% carb 40% protein and 20% fat. So you can definitely see the difference in the Ketogenic diet vs. an average lifter at the gym looking to put on muscle. If you’re looking for a tool to keep track of your macronutrients, try “My Fitness Pal” app. But it’s really not about reorganizing macronutrients here. It’s about changing your lifestyle so you feel awesome! You can still eat a moderate amount of carbohydrates and still be “In ketosis” via exercise. Immune based disorders can really benefit from a Ketogenic diet…Thyroid problems however are a bit trickier from what I understand. They say going “low carb” will result in a bad thyroid. It’s an interesting topic. When we make our body metabolically efficient, we dont’ need as much thyroid hormone because it’s upregulating cellular energy according to Mike Mutzel (a Ketogenic guru). A lot of people on a Ketogenic diet report that they feel so much better. They have more energy, regular bowl movements, sleeping better etc..If you’re looking to rewrite your epigenetic blueprint, I hear you can totally do that through this diet. Gut health is so important and everything seems to stem from there so we need to look at that first. A diet like this can really clean out the gut. And I don’t believe you need to eat a ton of animal protein either. Can you be in ketosis on a plant based diet (no animal protein)? Honestly I don’t know. From what I understand, beans and lentils are out. Quinoa would probably be okay. Im really not sure about soy products either.  I like a plant based protein powder called “Vega”. You’ll need to do your research on all of this to really understand if that’s a possibility.  We need to always go back to the basics like meditation, exercise, proper sleep and stress management as well whenever we go on any diet. You might have the diet part down and still can’t loose weight so what’s going on? It’s so interesting to me how so many factors play a role in health and it’s not just one thing. Look at your relationships. Are you stressed about someone or something? Look at your Career…is it causing you more stress or are you fulfilled and happy in that area? Look at your physical fitness…are you finding time and making it a priority to really MOVE every sing day? Look at your spirituality…are you in balance with the universe or have a connection with God in some form or another? And especially look at your sleep…are you getting your 7-9 hours a night? When you balance these areas FIRST…I said FIRST not second, then you add in diet, you just watch your situation change…just watch! Sometimes we just go through stressful situations like a divorce or a death in the family. The gut can’t heal when it’s constantly under stress. Then of course there are the environmental things like chemicals in all your lotions, shampoos, makeup, household cleaners, air fresheners etc…all those things play a major role in our health as they effect the endocrine system. So yes, you might have diet down, but just look at the other things that might be holding you back. Don’t get me started on EMT’s (electomagnetic waves…we’ll talk another time about that :)) And read the book “Feelings buried alive never die”. Game changer.
So you’ve started a Ketogenic diet, how do you know you’re actually in ketosis or getting there? Can you skip breakfast? Can you skip dinner? Not intentional anorexia or anything like that but to truly go extended periods of time without food and not even thinking about that, having sustained mental energy in this state. Most people feel like they need to eat every 2-3 hours. The beauty of ketosis is the ability to have freedom from food and not feel starving or lose your muscle mass is attractive for sure. So this would be a good marker for you to truly know.
Buy a blood glucometer so you can test your levels. You could probably just YouTube or google how to do this.
This diet can be achieved however you want to achieve it. This can just be low-carb and cutting out the grains and processed foods. You don’t need to eat cheese, bacon and butter for every meal. But just know those fats are very welcome on this diet but again  you need to eat dark green leafy vegetables and organic meats and fish.
Let’s go a ahead and talk about the fats you’ll be eating on this diet..the GOOD fats. 1. Grass-fed butter. Butter is sweet and comforting. It gives food richness and reinforces the flavor of vegetables. Butter is predominantly saturated fat and provides our body with nourishment. “When produced from the cream of grass-fed cows, butter is very rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K2, which performs many functions, from supporting fertility and immune system health to supporting heart and bone health, it is a rich source of the antioxidant beta carotene, which accounts for its golden color. Butter is also an excellent source of conjugated linoleum acid-a fat with strong cancer-fighting properties that also supports metabolic health. “-J.M-The nourished kitchen
I use Kerrygold grass-fed butter all the time in my everyday cooking. I find this butter at my local Winco and Costco stores.  2. Lard and Bacon fat is also a great source of vitamin D. Make sure it’s rendered from pasture raised pigs. You can use it for sautéing vegetables and braising meats. 3. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. This is a great one to add to salads or quinoa. I also love it to roast vegetables. EVOO is extraordinarily rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants as well as vitamin E, all of which are extremely heat sensitive, so I like to use it as a finishing oil and not for frying or heating to a high temp in a pan. Drizzled on mashed potatoes its’ delicious although on a Ketogenic diet potatoes are out of the game because of their starchiness. 4. Nut and seed oils are fantastic sources of good fats. Walnut, pumpkin seed and hazelnut oils bring nice flavors to many dishes. I use avocado oil quit a bit these days because it has a higher smoke point and nice light flavor. I also love toasted sesame seed oil. Oils to avoid would be canola, soybean, corn and vegetable. These oils are typically refined and deodorized before bottling and contain petroleum-based chemical solvents such as hexane. They also lack flavor in my opinion. You’ll also be eating coconut oil or coconut butter, whole nuts and seeds, nut butters, avocados, wild caught salmon and organic eggs are all healthy fats. Since this diet is a high fat diet, you’ll want to really familiarize yourself with all the healthy fats you can eat and get a variety of them.
On a ketogenic diet, you may not be able to sleep well. Try carb cycling if this is happening, adding in a sweet potato in the evening ever so often.
Is this a lifestyle forever? It sure can be if you feel amazing. Eat seasonally. This will look different for everyone depending on where you live. What fruits and vegetables grow when? Eat those.  It’s the best for your microbiome and you’ll be living in harmony with your environment.

A word against the Ketogenic Diet: Women are confused when it comes to carb consumption. They aren’t sure what to do. It’s not something that can be recommended for everyone. It can be asking for problems in the long run according to Meredith Vieceli (an athlete and coach). We need a certain amount of carbs to feel balanced. It can be perceived as a stressor on the body and it will put out more cortisol hormone and dump excess blood sugar into the system. You might even see an uptake in blood sugar levels when going low-carb. Disrupted sleep and low adherence are also cons to this diet. You may end up bingeing on other foods because you feel unbalanced. This would be a reason not to do the ketogenic diet.

So where do I stand?  Everyone is bio-individual. What works for one, may not work for another. I am all for giving something a go for 30 days to see how I feel. I love experimenting with diets and foods and finding out what can truly become a lifestyle for me. I can totally see how this diet can benefit someone who has depression and anxiety. It makes sense to me that if the brain is mostly made up of fat, then consuming a high fat (good fats) diet, would be super beneficial. So I would play around with it. If you don’t see or feel results in 30 days…well…you gave it the old college try. At that point you can decide if it gave you any benefits at all and go from there.

Sources used for thoughts in this post: Podcasts: Wellness Mama episode 93 (24 minutes in), Better Everyday with Sarah and Dr. Brooke episode #56 with Mike Mutzel, There are also many podcasts that solely talk about ketogenic diets. Just type in Ketogenic in any podcasting app and you’ll see a list. I’m sure you’ll find some good information there.
Here’s to your Health, 
💓Health Coach Heather
https://articles.mercola.com/ketogenic-diet.aspx: Beginners Guide to Ketosis
https://www.marksdailyapple.com/where-i-part-ways-with-the-popular-keto-movement/: Great Article by Mark Sissens about parting ways with the Keto diet. 

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