By now, everyone has heard of the Ketogenic diet and that healthy fats help you lose weight. So, how exactly does this work?
Currently, I'm testing it out. I have been on a 60% fat (ketogenic) meal plan. A "true" ketogenic diet, though, consists of a higher ratio of fat sources — such as 75-80%. However, I have kept the portion low as I wanted to see what works best for my body, since the ketogenic diet is also great for building and maintaining muscle mass. For the most part, I primarily want to dig into eating fat, for fat loss.
I'll admit that eating fat scared the s*** out of me, at first. I grew up in the 80's, when the media proclaimed that eating high fat foods made you fat, in order to steer us away from fact that refined sugar is the real culprit. The process of ketosis is not new but there is new research to suggest that eating healthy fats will contribute to greater weight loss and that sugar is the real cause of increased fat stores.
Don't get me wrong, your body needs protein and carbs, as well as fats. However, the ratio of each is essential to the goal of losing weight.
How does the ketogenic diet work?
Let's start with the head honcho, here: Fat. Fat is a form of energy that our bodies need in order to function. Carbs and proteins are also necessary sources of energy. On a carbohydrate diet, which is what most people consume (especially those closely related to my Italian heritage *throat clears*), your body utilizes the glucose from the carba as a source of energy. The liver converts the glucose from the carbs, into glycogen. But your body only takes what it needs. The remaining glycogen is now stored, to be used later. Here's where it gets a little ugly. If the glycogen stores get too full, they turn to fat. Ideally, we want to keep this reserve on empty so that your body will start to use the fat stores.
However, if you're on a ketogenic diet, the liver converts the fatty acids (produced from the healthy fats) in the body into ketone bodies, or ketones. The idea here is so that your body starts to use the fat sources, instead of the glycogen sources from carbs, to burn fat. So, how does eating fat make you lose fat? If your body is now low in carbs, it has no choice but to use fat as fuel. Your body is now in ketosis, meaning your liver is using all the fat that you just put into your body, as well as the stored fat, and using it as energy —therefore, burning fat! It's kind of a no-brainer.
What are healthy fats?
Foods such as:
Avocados, eggs, coconut oil, olive oil, chia seeds, grass fed beef, grass fed butter, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and coconut milk (to name a few) all contribute to healthy sources of fat and thereby metabolizing into the ketones that will help you lose weight.
I hear there's a vegan version out there but I have yet to find a good one. I'll keep searching so stay tuned!
What are some of the benefits?
Well, for starters, I noticed that I have mental clarity and focus (no foggy mornings or lack of memory). I also noticed that I feel satiated for longer periods of time, without having to snack in between meals. My sleep has deepened and my mood, increased. The most noticeable difference though is the amount of physical energy I have, throughout my entire day. By 9pm, I'm ready to crash into a deep sleep. The first few weeks were, let's say, quite challenging. Now, after two and a half months, my workouts are more powerful and the time to complete my routines are much shorter--which is kind of a bonus. Who wants to spend 2 hours at the gym, anyway? Overall, a ketogenic diet should be combined with cardio and strength training to really reap the benefits and is highly recommended for those looking to lose a lot of weight.
Contact me for more details on how to get you started, what foods to eat, and the type of exercise that suits your lifestyle.