A far cry from a fad diet, the ketogenic diet is transforming the way our bodies work
What is Keto?
A focused mind; steady energy; reduced body aches and pains—like (very upbeat) broken records, those who’ve taken on ketogenic diets continuously tout the game-changing benefits of overhauling their habits and committing to keto. Though the diet can be restrictive and challenging at first, this is hardly a price to pay considering the dramatic health benefits it boasts: it is known to lower blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar levels, improve cholesterol levels, alleviate the symptoms of epilepsy and to support the treatment of cancer and neurological diseases.
Keto is intensely low-carb and high-fat, with healthy fats expected to make up 70-80% of daily calories. Protein should account for 15-20%, with carbs rounding out the final 5-10%. The diet works like this: normally, the body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which becomes its energy source. The Keto Diet deprives the body of carbs, thus cutting out its typical energy source and forcing the body into a state of ketosis—hence the diet’s name—wherein the liver burns fat to produce ketones for use as energy in place of carbs.
The Keto Diet is similar to the paleo diet, though it takes carbohydrate restriction a step further. Many ketophiles stick to low-carb paleo diets on a regular basis, cycling into a keto diet monthly or yearly as a way to cleanse. Though both diets focus on cutting out chemicals, carbonation, refined foods and processed foods, paleo allows more carbohydrates and thus doesn’t lead to ketosis.
Ketosis mimics starvation in the body, which immediately responds by hoarding every possible calorie and forcing the metabolism to slow down. Because of this, the transition into a ketogenic lifestyle can be “hellish” for many. Exhaustion, moodiness and anxiety overtake the body, causing many to quickly call it quits. Those who have pushed through, however, report that all that lost energy and focus return with a vengeance once the body has adapted, and they feel better than ever.
Iva Paleckova, owner of a Paleo-centric restaurant Blooming Beets, details her experience with Keto as “fantastic.” Though she admits the transition from carb-based energy to ketones was tricky and exhausting, once her body got used to running on ketones, she felt better than ever—so much so that she finished her first 100-mile race while in ketosis.
Another proponent of going keto is Mary Kay Irving, a psychotherapist who has been studying its effect on a variety of health issues. As Irving explains, it has been shown that the keto diet can potentially lead to a reverse in symptoms and/or progression of diseases.
As the Epilepsy Foundation details, children with epilepsy whose seizure have not responded to other treatments often turn to the keto diet to help manage their seizures. The diet is also currently being studied as a method of reversing or mollifying the effects of Alzheimer’s, and Oncologists have been exploring the effects of ketogenic diets during chemotherapy. Additionally, as Irving can personally attest, keto can reverse the effects of pre-diabetes and can help diabetics manage their symptoms.
Should You Go Keto?
Keto is far from a crash-diet; for those looking to quickly drop a few pounds, Keto is not the way to go. The drastic changes the digestive and metabolic systems must undergo are too harsh for the common yo-yo dieter.
Lifestyle Overhaul: YES
For those seeking a lifestyle overhaul, whether due to illness or a general desire to be healthier, going Keto is a great choice.
Disclaimer: Mary Kay Irving is not a doctor and is not offering medical advice. Readers should consult with a doctor if interested in medical advice.