Here’s the thing about dietary fat: For decades, it was more or less lambasted by mainstream media and “conventional” medicine for being the driving factor behind maladies such as obesity and heart disease. We were told to eat less fat, eat more whole grains, eat less overall, and exercise more.
Of course, health is much more complicated and nuanced than that. These days, most of us are starting to hear that healthy sources of dietary fat (from high-quality animal sources, nuts, and oils) is actually an essential part of well-being and longevity. In fact, many scientific researchers have found that transitioning to a diet with a high amount of fat may actually be better for you in numerous ways.
Enter the ketogenic diet.
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The Ketogenic Diet 101
What It Is:
Ketosis is a natural physiological state induced in your body when you spend a prolonged amount of time restricting glucose intake. You can achieve this state in a few ways:
– Take supplemental ketone bodies (which are naturally produced by the liver as an energy source when glucose isn’t available).
– Practice intermittent fasting.
– Follow a ketogenic diet.
What it Looks Like:
The ketogenic diet is essentially a high fat, moderate protein, and suuuuuper low carbohydrate meal plan. People who follow this style of eating will eat a lot of real food, including whole eggs, fatty and lean meats, organ meats, full-fat dairy, healthy fats and oils (e.g., coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, lard), and green veggies. They eat little to no starches, fruits, and nuts (let alone carb-rich junk food like pasta, rice, crackers, and candy).
What The Benefits Are:
There’s a robust amount of scientific evidence to support the notion that a ketogenic diet is healthy for most people. Here are some of the most well-known benefits once your body kicks into ketosis:
– Accelerated body fat loss and improved body composition
– Improved appetite control
– Improved blood lipid profile (including increased “healthy” HDL cholesterol and decreased triglycerides)
– Decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome
– Decreased systemic inflammation
– Improved control of blood sugar and blood pressure
Ketogenic and low carb diets may even have a beneficial and therapeutic effect on people living with conditions including epilepsy, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
Precautions to Consider:
We’ll admit it: a “true” ketogenic diet is pretty hardcore, and the only real way to know if you’re actually in ketosis is by checking the level of ketone bodies in your blood. You can do this with a common glucose monitor (such as the Precision Xtra, recommended by ketogenic proponents/experts Tim Ferriss and scientist Dominic D’Agostino). Technically speaking, you’re “in ketosis” when the level of serum ketones in your blood is between 0.5 to 3.0 mmol (millimoles).
If you don’t think you can commit to checking your serum ketone bodies, or if a keto meal plan is a little overwhelming, you may prefer what Tim Ferriss calls a “slow-carb” diet instead, which is essentially Keto Lite.
Likewise, the ketogenic diet may not be for you if you have certain health conditions, and we hope it goes without saying you should always chat with your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise routine.
The bottom line?
If you’ve been struggling with your fat loss goals for a while, it may be time to re-evaluate how much fat you’re getting in your diet. Experiment, talk to your doc, and do some research on your own to ultimately see if a ketogenic diet is right for you!