What Is the Ketogenic Diet?

You’ve probably heard of the ketogenic diet before, or “keto.” Whether you are interested in learning more about it or it’s completely foreign to you, this post’s goal is to help you better understand the basics of the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is essentially a “low carb high fat” diet. The goal while on keto is to limit the number of carbs you consume while increasing the fat content in your diet. 

The Science Behind it

The result of a low carb high fat diet is a shift in what your body uses as energy. When the human body consumes limited carbohydrates but a sufficient amount of fat, the body stops using glucose as its main energy source and begins using ketones that are produced in the liver when fat is broken down. This is usually brought about by eating consistently a diet where daily intake of calories is broken down as 75% from fat, 20% from protein, and 5% from carbs.

When the body is using ketones as fuel, the body enters a metabolic state known as ketosis. Ketosis is a natural metabolic state that our body enters when our food intake is low or when it is brought on by the presence of ketones in the liver. When the body enters ketosis, fat is its main energy source and the results include weight loss and better mental/physical performance.

Wait…What?

You’re probably thinking that this sounds completely backward. We’ve been taught our whole lives that fat is bad. That it should be avoided at all costs. For years America has produced and consumed low-fat milk, cheese, chips, etc. We avoid eating too many eggs and only eat bacon on the occasional Saturday morning or (when we want to splurge) on a burger. I mean look at the classic food pyramid for example. Fats and oils are at the top, while carbohydrates are the very foundation:

 

food pyramid 1
Credit: PBS.org

 

The thing is, the whole “fat is bad” schtick is only half true. Excess fat is bad if you are eating a large number of carbohydrates and receiving your energy from glucose. But, if carbohydrates are drastically reduced and the body is running off of ketones, then fat is good. In fact, it’s great. 

Recap:

This article is in no way exhaustive and there are more to come, but here’s what we covered:

  • The keto diet is low carb high fat.
  • The keto diet forces your body to use ketones in the liver as energy as opposed to glucose. 
  • When your body uses ketones as an energy source, you enter the metabolic state of ketosis. 
  • Within the metabolic state of ketosis, your body needs fat for fuel, resulting in weight loss and other benefits. 
  • Though it seems counterintuitive for weight loss, it’s because of years of misinformation. Fat is good when your body is actually using it. 
FURTHER READING

ruled.me

Diet Doctor

Keto Connect

 

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