The Keto Experiment: An Eating Plan for Increased Energy

When it comes to dieting, new trends pop up all the time. Remember the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet, and the Zone Diet? More recently, you’ve probably heard at least a little bit about the Ketogenic (keto) diet, a low-carb, high-fat eating plan that has taken the world by storm.

Here’s the science behind the plan: the ketogenic diet involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.

The goal of every day? To get more calories from fat than from carbs.

What are the benefits? Ketogenic diets can cause significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has some health benefits. And with a long list of delicious, filling food items you can enjoy, like cheese, meat and poultry, plus low­carb veggies, the plan is fairly easy to stick to.

The most commonly cited benefit, though—and what headlines tend to gravitate towards—is keto’s effects on weight loss. However, the benefits go far beyond that. Many people experience increased energy and lowered inflammation as well as improvements to their insulin resistance.

Tips: the keto diet, like every diet, should be discussed with your doctor or health professional before starting. Do your research before you begin.

And perhaps most importantly, understand that keto is not a magic pill—it takes commitment.

MY KETO EXPERIENCE
In the spirit of a New Year reset, our food writer Ilana Clamp decided to try something different for the month of January.

“Like everyone else, I had heard a lot about the keto diet and I wanted to see what it was all about,” she explains, “not specifically for weight loss, but to reset my eating habits and focus more on intentional eating.”

Traditional keto diets tend to focus on high-fat foods, regardless of the source of the fat—which can leave you feeling somewhat unhealthy. As a result, Clamp modified the keto strategy to better fit her wellness goals, focusing less on foods containing high saturated fats like red meat, processed saturated fats, and cheese, and placed more emphasis on eating healthy fats, like avocado, EVOO, nuts/seeds, egg yolks, fish, nut butter, low-carb veggies and greens. As part of the traditional keto diet, she also eliminated sources of sugar including fruit, processed foods, alcohol, starchy vegetables, grains, beans and legumes.


After trying the plan for one month, here are her takeaways:

PROS OF TRYING KETO

• Helps you become more mindful about your eating patterns

• You’ll gain an understanding about macros, ie. protein / fat / carbs in foods and meals, over the course of a day

• Great for breaking an unhealthy cycle for sugar, alcohol, processed food

• Interesting learning about intermittent fasting, and the role it can play to help manage blood sugar levels

• An effective ‘reset’—helping her manage bad habits ie. not drinking enough water, having too many snacks throughout the day

• Helpful to learn more about how our body manages different types of food and different ways of eating

• If you have tried paleo, keto may be a next step to push yourself
a bit further

CONS OF TRYING KETO

• You won’t know if you’re truly in ketosis unless you buy the ketosis urine strips – but they are an added cost

• Traditional keto can be very high in saturated fats such as red meat and processed foods

• May not be a good fit if you have high cholesterol or heart problems, or if you are diabetic

• Difficult to maintain this way of eating, as it is challenging to manage the extremely low carb intake

• Focuses more on restriction and suppression, so may not be the best way to make long term healthy lifestyle changes
Whether it’s for a lifestyle reset or to learn more about what helps you feel your best, the keto diet is one of many options you can try for healthier eating. Remember to consult with your doctor to learn more and see if it would be a good fit for you.
 

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