"Doesn't fat make us fat? I've lived low-fat my whole life!"
Here's what's REALLY up with the research suggesting that a high fat diet is not only good for our metabolisms, but that it can reverse and stave off chronic disease! (Whaaaaat?! Seriously- read on)
A ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet that offers many a health benefit. Losing weight and improved vitality are obviously important, but this diet may even have benefits in controlling diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease. So how does it work?
Reducing our carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat kickstarts our fat burning mechanisms. Normally the brain uses glucose (sugar) as its primary source of energy but if there is a shortage of sugar the liver then converts fats into ketone bodies. These ketones pass into the brain and replace glucose as the primary source of energy. This new metabolic state is called ketosis. Our body then becomes extremely efficient at burning fat and turns fat into ketones in the liver, which then supply energy for the brain. Besides the increased and stabilized energy, you may find an increase in cognitive functioning and mood stabilization.
So why is all this important? Besides losing weight and burning fat, here are some major benefits to the ketogenic diet.
Reduced visceral fat - Visceral fat is fat that surrounds our organs. Having a lot of fat in that area can increase inflammation, and increase insulin resistance
Triglycerides decrease - Blood triglycerides, which are fat molecules in the blood are a well-known risk factor for heart disease. Triglycerides lower when human’s carbohydrate intake lowers.
Increased levels of High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) – It is well known that the higher your levels of HDL, the lower your risk of heart disease will be. Higher fat diets increase HDL levels.
Reduced blood sugar and insulin levels - The best way to lower blood sugar and insulin levels is to reduce carbohydrate consumption. This is also a very effective way to treat and possibly even reverse type II diabetes.
Blood pressure decrease – Studies show reducing carbohydrate intake will decrease blood pressure. Lowering blood pressure will lead to a reduced risk of many common diseases.
The Standard Ketogenic Diet typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein, and only 5% carbohydrates of your caloric intake.
Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) –same as the SKD, but allows carbohydrate to be eaten before and after workouts to be used for energy, and improve athletic performance. So, the percentage of calories from carbs will be higher than the SKD.
Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) – this plan allows for a less rigid lifestyle and an easier social life, with 5-6 days of low carb intake and 1-2 days of high carb intake.
High protein ketogenic diet (HPKD) – a higher protein version of the SKD; 60% calories from fat, 35% from protein and 5% from carbohydrate.
Here are some of the foods staples of a ketogenic diet: Fatty meat and fish, nuts and seeds, cheeses, eggs, and full fat yogurts, and veggies.
So: there are lots of ways to incorporate this into your daily life, if you so choose. Keep in mind- all ways of eating are not created equal- for you! Meaning- only your body can tell you what is right. Have fun experimenting with some high fat foods you may have avoided for many years- you may realize you get great energy from them!
Improvement of Metabolic Syndrome – Low carbohydrate diets have been proven to effectively lower all key symptoms of the metabolic syndrome, which is a condition known to predispose people to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Epilepsy and other brain disorders – The brain burns glucose to function. On a low carbohydrate, high fat/protein diet, a large part of the brain can also burn ketones, which are formed during starvation or when carbohydrate intake is very low. This mechanism has been shown to drastically improve if not cure seizures in epileptic children. Other studies are being done to see improvement on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.