I love reading and writing about the latest, trendiest dietary lifestyles out there, and the keto lifestyle has definitely been all abuzz lately, so this week's topic is one of my favorites. I like a plant-based keto lifestyle because it has many benefits for the microbiome if implemented correctly.
The classic ketogenic diet is a very low carb, very high-fat diet. It has recently gained a lot of popularity in the wellness sphere because of some of its health benefits.
A ketogenic diet has been shown to help some people lose weight (yes, even with high fat). It can also help improve certain health conditions, like epilepsy in children.
Read on for some of the lowdown on how it reprograms your metabolism (for “ketosis”), and whether or not it’s something for you to consider.
What is “ketosis?”
Carbs (sugars & starches) are the preferred fuel for your brain and muscles. They use carbs first, whenever they’re available. This is why maintaining stable blood sugar can affect your attention, mood, and energy level.
However, when very low amounts of carbs are available for fuel, your body starts making compounds known as “ketones.” These are your body’s “backup fuel.” And your body makes them from fat. Ketogenic literally means “the generation of ketones.” And this is where the magic happens!
After a while being on a diet very low in carbs, your blood level of ketones increases. This is the metabolic state known as "ketosis." It's the same process that your body goes through if you've fasted for 72 hours and depleted your supply of carbs as fuel. That's the trigger for turning fat into ketones.
Pro Tip: “Ketosis” from a ketogenic diet is not the same thing as the dangerous condition known as “ketoacidosis.”
Ketogenic diet for weight loss
With a high fat intake, it may be surprising to know that studies show that a ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss. But it’s true!
It can also have better results than low-fat diets. At least one study showed that people lost 2.2 times more weight on a ketogenic diet than those on low-fat or calorie-controlled diets. In fact, low-fat diets are so yesterday, in my opinion.
How is this possible?
Eating all that fat and protein is filling! It helps release satiety hormones that tell us that we're full and satisfied, and we don't need to eat anymore. Many people don't need to count calories or track food intake, as they do with low-fat or calorie-controlled diets.
So, by eating enough fat and protein to go into “ketosis,” you can actually feel fuller and eat less food overall. Of course, this can help with weight loss.
Ketogenic diet for improved health - this is where the plant-based approach comes in
Some studies show other health benefits of the classic ketogenic diet. The problem with a keto diet, in its original form, is that it advocates loads of meat and dairy, which can be highly inflammatory and doesn’t take into consideration that some people might have allergies or sensitivities.
So, I believe that a modified form of it, a keto diet that focuses on adding more vegetables, high healthy fats and moderate protein, is a more doable, safer, and healthier version. I'm a huge advocate of putting more plant foods on your plate than any other macro; for example, 75% or your plate should be full of salad or vegetables, raw and cooked, a small portion of protein (animal or non-animal) and healthy fats. There is very important on-going research on the huge benefits of the reversal of type 2 diabetes with this type of keto diets, at the moment.
As you can imagine, having very low levels of carbs can help reduce blood sugar and insulin issues. One study showed improved blood triglycerides (fat) and cholesterol numbers. Others show lower blood sugar levels, and even up to 75% improvement in insulin sensitivity.
Several studies show reduced seizures in children who follow a ketogenic diet. This is huge and goes to show that this type of diet is amazing for its brain and gut benefits; it’s all tied it!
How to do the ketogenic diet
Not everyone should go on a classic ketogenic diet. Make sure you speak with a trained healthcare practitioner before you try it if you have any serious medical condition. But a modified keto diet with a plant-based approach can be safe for almost everyone, it can help balance hormones, reset the gut, weight issues and improve cognitive function.
On a classic keto diet which is heavy on the meat, dairy and fat, missing out on important minerals found in vegetables can have side effects, including the infamous “keto flu.” With a plant-based approach, if the focus remains on eating more vegetables, moderate protein and healthy fat, easing into a keto diet can be a breeze.
The ketogenic diet involves getting 60-75% of your calories from fat, 20-35% from protein, and just 5% from carbs, but again, leafy green vegetables you should eat with abandon, never ever leave those out of any diet.
Your microbiome will always benefit from having lots of fiber to counter the effects of switching to a higher fat and moderate protein diet, or any diet for that matter.
The foods to focus on for a ketogenic diet are:
(grass-fed, organic) meat
(wild-caught) fatty fish
healthy oils, avocados
low-carb, green, leafy vegetables (cucumber, celery, peppers, zucchini, mixed greens etc.)
The main thing to avoid are foods that are high in carbs. These include sugary foods and desserts, grains, fruit (a bit of berries is ok), legumes, starchy vegetables, alcohol and “diet foods.” Well, there you have it!
If you haven't already done so, please check out my free challenge where I walk you through 5 days of sugar-free recipes to help you kick your added sugars addiction, it's the first step to reducing inflammation, getting rid of cravings and busting brain fog!
In the meantime, enjoy this delicious recipe!
Tip: These are (high fat) super-rich desserts. Don’t eat too many if you’re not going full keto.
'til next time!