Ah, here we are again. Talkin' about keto. I feel like this "trend" comes around every 3 years. Keto was a hot topic when I graduated Yale in 2011, and then again a few years ago in 2013/14, and now again in 2017.
You'd think the fact that it keeps dying/reviving is proof enough that its not the END-ALL-BE-ALL key to fat loss. In fact, I'd say its pretty dang un-sustainable. But, let's discuss. What's right for me may not be right for you.
So before we get into my professional opinion on keto; let's talk about what it is.
A ketogenic diet is very low in carbs. The typical keto diet is 75-80% dietary fat, 10-15% protein, 5% carbohydrate.
This means the keto-dieter will be eating a diet high in oils, nuts, butter, very fatty cuts of meat (like bacon), cream, avocados, egg yolks...all the fats.
The keto-dieter needs to eliminate all grains, pastas/breads, fruits, potatoes, corn, beans/legumes, desserts/pastries/ice cream. Veggies, especially in the first few weeks, also must be consumed with caution as even non-starchy veggies could potentially contribute enough carb to push you above the 5% limit.
By removing carbs from the diet, the ketogenic diet shifts the body from burning sugar for fuel to body fat for fuel. It is vital to not "sneak carbs" or "cheat" when eating keto, since the combo of carbs with high fat will result in massive fat GAIN rather than loss.
The shift usually requires a few days of "keto flu" (as your body makes the metabolic shift) but then is associated with increased energy levels. Many keto-dieters have so much energy they have trouble sleeping. In truth, this increased feeling of energy is related to a stress response, as your body thinks it is starving to death.
Who is the ketogenic diet right for?
Those who are motivated to be 100% compliant with a diet that requires a lot of planning and discipline/willpower
Those with normal thyroid function
Those with stubborn body fat, significant body fat to lose, or poor blood sugar control
There is great evidence that the keto diet helps treat seizure conditions. Discuss with your doctor.
Endurance athletes/runners who are more concerned with health goals rather than performance
Who should avoid the ketogenic diet?
Women who are trying to become pregnant, pregnant, struggling with amennorhea, or breastfeeding
Those who have had difficulty adhering to elimination diets in the past
Those with strength goals/muscle building goals
Competitive athletes with goals concerning performance/sprinting/speed
Okay, so now that you know what keto is & whether you think it could be right for you...there's one last thing I need to ask those who are trying keto to consider.
The quality of the fats you're consuming.
Eek. Okay, so I never want to be the food police, but this is one area where I feel VERY strongly about giving you guys a very serious heads up.
If you decide to eat keto, you have to give a hot-diggity-damn about where your fat is coming from. You cannot simply grab eggs & bacon from your business' cafeteria and use whatever ole' low carb salad dressing you find lying around. You have to make ketogenic anti-inflammatory, or you're going to end up with pancreatitis or some other chronic disease/metabolic disorder.
When choosing fatty meats, ya need to dole out the dough and purchase the more expensive grass-fed meats. By doing so, you are decreasing your exposure to pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids. Choose fatty fish such as salmon or tuna for an extra boost of anti-inflammatory omega 3.
When choosing oils: avoid soybean, safflower, non-organic canola, vegetable oil, corn oil and avoid cooking with olive oil.
When cooking: use avocado oil, grass fed butter/ghee, or coconut oil, toasted sesame oil. When making a salad: use olive oil or peanut oil.
When choosing dairy: use grass fed whole milk (Greek) yogurt, grass fed butter/ghee, grass fed cheese.
When choosing nuts/seeds: choose raw/uncooked.
I'm not saying this to be difficult, but because dietary fat plays such a critical role in mediating inflammation in the body. An inflamed body promotes chronic and acute disease. I want my real foodie friends feeling fab, burning fat, and un-inflamed.