What is the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet is essentially a way to get our bodies to enter into a condition known as ketosis.
When you reduce the amount of carbohydrate and increase the fat and protein in your diet, it has the effect of switching your body into fat burning mode. Instead of using the easily exhausted sugar from carbohydrates for fuel, your body burns stored fat for energy, and it’s this fat burning process which sheds the excess pounds and can greatly improve health and well-being.
The Science behind Keto
The science behind the ketogenic diet is solidly backed since the 1930s and more recently by the American science writer (and contributor to the NYTimes), Gary Taubes in his research books “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and “Why we get fat“.
When you eat carbs your blood glucose level is raised and your pancreas secretes insulin. This insulin puts your muscle and fat cells into “storage mode”. Your fat cells store away the glucose as triglycerides. Insulin also prevents your fat cells from breaking down those triglycerides back into fatty acids and releasing them into your blood stream for use as energy. This is important: Insulin both causes fat absorption and prevents fat from being used as energy. The bottom line is: Carbohydrates drive insulin, insulin drives fat.
Eating fat and protein does very little to raise your insulin level. Low Carb and Low GI diets work because they cut out carbs that cause spikes in insulin, which you now know will cause fat absorption and prevent fat burn.
How to do Keto
A keto diet involves the restriction of carbohydrates to between 20g to 50g per day. Sources should typically come from whole foods like vegetables, nuts, dairy, and so on. Refined carbohydrates, like bagels, pasta, and cereals, should be avoided, as should refined sugars (including high-sugar fruits and fruit juices).
Meals, therefore, should mostly be comprised of protein and some healthy fats (like olive oil, coconut oil, and avocados). A good rule of thumb is to follow the 60/35/5 rule in which 60% of calories come from fat, 35% from protein, and 5% from carbs.
It’s also important to not overdo the protein; a high-protein diet may prevent the body from entering into ketosis.
How do I know if my body is in a state of Ketosis?
If enough acetone is in our urine, it can be detected using a dipstick commonly called by the brand name Ketostix (though there are other brands, as well). Even though everyone is generating ketones continuously, this detection in the urine is what is commonly called “ketosis.”
The higher the concentration of ketones in the urine, the more purple the sticks will turn. The Atkins Diet, in particular, advises people to monitor ketosis as an indication of fat burning.