The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is the idea of transitioning your body from burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. The body produces two substances when carbohydrate intake is high:
- Glucose: Glucose is the easiest molecule for the body to convert to energy. This is the reason that carbohydrate intake will negate the ability of the body to enter ketosis. If carbohydrate intake is high, the body defaults to using glucose for energy.
- Insulin: Insulin aids in the transport of glucose around the body. When you reduce your carb intake and replace it with fat, it puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
Ketosis is defined as the process by which your body breaks down fatty acids to produce ketones in the liver, which can supply both the brain and body with energy. Ketones come in three forms:
- Acetoacetate (AcAc)
- Beta-hydroxybutyric acid (BHB)
Simply put: carbs must be avoided if you want to stay in ketosis. Generally, you want to stay under 25 grams of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) per day.
You also want to watch your protein intake. Protein is not the enemy, as with carbs. You want protein to make up a significant part of your diet. Protein provides plenty of essential functions that are still valuable to your body’s function in ketosis. However, keep this macronutrient to only a quarter of your diet.
In ketosis, fat is king. The rest of your calories should come from fat. This is the new energy source that your body will be breaking down for energy in the absence of carbs.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF KETOGENIC DIETS
When it comes to the keto diet, there are several types. The variety of keto diets include:
Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)
The SKD is the standard diet an individual new to the keto diet would follow if they were first starting out. This diet follows the general guidelines of keto including low-carb, moderate protein and high-fat intake.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)
The CKD is more suited for athletes and active individuals alike who simply need the carbs to fuel their intense training sessions. This diet involves a period of higher-carb refeeds during the week. An example would be 5 days of following the SKD and then 2 days of high-carbs (anywhere from 400-600 grams).
Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)
The TKD is also meant for more active individuals who struggle with energy during their workouts, but it’s less intense compared to the CKD. The TKD follows the SKD for the most part, but with an additional 25-50 grams of net carbs around your workout times (about 30 minutes pre and post-workout).
High-Protein Ketogenic Diet
This type of ketogenic diet isn’t too far off from the SKD, however, it does include more protein. Compared to the 25% of protein included in the SKD, the high-protein ketogenic diet often includes up to 35%.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE KETOGENIC DIET
When it comes to the health benefits you can gain from the ketogenic diet, the list goes on and on. The ketogenic diet can not only help you lose weight, but research shows that the keto diet is superior to the often recommended low-fat diet for weight loss. Some top health benefits of the ketogenic diet include:
1. Improves Weight Loss
Overweight and obese individuals have had tremendous success with weight loss following the keto diet. One study, in particular, found that people on a keto diet lose 2.2 times the amount of weight than those on a calorie-restricted low-fat diet. The keto diet is also known to turn your body into a fat-burning machine. What does this lead to? Weight loss.
2. Reduces Inflammation
While inflammation is a natural biological response, chronic inflammation is a bad thing. A keto diet can help reduce inflammation in the body by switching off a number of different inflammatory pathways.
3. Increases Energy Levels
When you switch to a keto diet, your brain switches to ketones as fuel instead of carbs. Running off of ketones, you experience fewer energy slumps as you do when compared to eating a lot of carbs. Ketosis helps clear the brain of brain fog while creating more mitochondria (cells that help generate energy and power).