You are what you eat. This wise old saying holds weight when you consider the current state of health in the western world. Health disorders and diseases such as obesity and diabetes are now so prevalent among all age groups and genders of Americans that they have been labeled an epidemic.
The impact of consuming a diet that has an excess of refined carbohydrates and sugar will lead to ill health. Previously, fat was the primary macronutrient responsible for cardiovascular disease and the gain of adipose body fat tissue. However, modern nutritional science has proven this statement to be incorrect.
Fats are essential for healthy living and should be the foundational macro nutrient of any healthy diet. The trans saturated fatty acids found in fast foods are not healthy for you, but the saturated fat and monounsaturated fats found in coconut oil and avocados are a rich source of energy and good for your heart health. Recent diet trends have shown that the ketogenic diet is gaining traction throughout the world as an alternative diet strategy that improves levels of physical health.
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
Developed in the early nineties as an alternative to the ‘Atkins diet,’ the ketogenic diet, focuses on consuming a majority of calories from fat sources, eliminating any form of carbohydrates from food intake. The ‘modified ketogenic diet’ arrived in the early part of the 2000’s and the difference from the previous strategy was an inclusion of more fat and less protein to improve ketone production and metabolism.
The ketogenic diet emphasizes that 65 – 70% of dietary calories come from healthy fat sources, while the remaining 30 – 35% of the diet is made up of protein and only trace carbohydrates. When the body eats less than 25 grams of carbs per day for five to seven days, the body’s stores of glycogen begin to deplete. Gluconeogenesis is the metabolic process of turning carbs into glucose to be used as fuel by the body for metabolic function.
When carbs are limited to under 25 grams, the body has no fuel source to complete metabolic function. The brain switches to survival mode in this state and begins to send the liver signals to produce ketones for energy. Ketones supply the energy needs of the body until the system receives more carbohydrates to convert into glucose for energy. These ketones convert the body’s dietary fat sources and body fat stores into energy.
The Health Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
Going keto has a wide variety of health benefits, here are the top five advantages of dropping carbs from your diet and going ketogenic.
#1 Reduce Inflammation
The primary ill-health effect of eating a diet filled with refined carbohydrates is the inflammatory response produced in the gut. Inflammation impairs assimilation of nutrients and lowers metabolic function. Immune system function drops off, and you are left exposed to infection and disease.
You can dramatically reduce levels of inflammation by changing what you eat. By using a ketogenic diet rich in fiber, healthy fats, and protein, inflammation levels in the body, will drop substantially. You will experience better levels of energy, clearer thought processes, and improved levels of well-being.
#2 Lower Fasted Blood Glucose Levels
Less sugar in your diet means lower fasted blood sugar levels. A ketogenic diet also improves insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance.
#3 Improve Cholesterol Balance
Healthy fats such as MCT oils and monounsaturated fats have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. They reduce the number of total triglycerides in the blood, as well as minimize the production of bad cholesterol while improving the production of good cholesterol.
#4 Balance Hormones
A ketogenic diet allows the body to control its production of hormones better. Leptin and ghrelin, the hunger hormones, find a better balance and you will not feel cravings for foods in-between meals.
#5 Prevent Cancer
Ketogenic diets have been shown to destroy many different types of cancer cells and prevent them from developing and metastasizing to other areas of the body.
Throw out your carbohydrate foods and start a ketogenic diet to improve your health. Once you get over the first five days of the glycogen depletion, you will pop right back to feeling great. Log your progress with the diet and make adjustments as your journey with the ketogenic diet continues.