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WHAT IS A KETOGENIC DIET?

Diets seem to come and go like passing fashion fades. Every fall, or spring, you see a new diet out and available for people to try. One diet that is sold time and time again is a ketogenic diet. Any diet that talks about putting your body into ketosis is a ketogenic diet. No matter what the brand name might be, and this includes, Atkins, Ideal Protein (low carb, low fat) and Keto Diet.

What Is Ketosis?

Most low carb diets attempt to get your body into a natural metabolic state called ketosis. Ketosis occurs when the majority of the body’s energy comes from ketones, instead of glucose. According to WebMD, this is when your body begins to burn fat for energy because it lacks sufficient carbohydrates to create energy.

Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred fuel source.

If you are eating a typical diet of 50-60% carbohydrates, you will not enter ketosis. This is because your balanced diet allows you to burn carbohydrates for fuel first.

Is Ketosis Safe?

While Ketosis can be safe, it can also be dangerous. Ketosis becomes dangerous when the ketones build up in the blood stream. High levels of ketones in the blood stream can cause dehydration and changes in the chemical balance of your blood. When ketosis reaches this point, it is typically referred to as ketoacidosis.

One of the best ways to prevent ketoacidosis is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. This is the reason it’s important to have a health coach or health professional monitor your progress.

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For people with metabolic conditions (high BP, Diabetes, high cholesterol), insulin resistance, epilepsy, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or cardiovascular conditions; ketogenic diets may provide additional health benefits. The Epilepsy Foundation recommends a ketogenic diet for people with uncontrolled epilepsy, especially children whose seizures cannot be controlled with medication.

How to Eat on a Ketogenic Diet

There are many protocols that call for high fat, low carb, low protein macronutrient ratios. Many people confuse the Atkins diet and the Paleo diet with a strict ketogenic diet. These diets can be ketogenic but are not always. Paleo is more of a lifestyle.

The Epilepsy Foundation recommends that adults consume 3-4 grams of fat for every 1 gram of protein and 1 gram of carbohydrate. This ratio is recommended to put your body into ketosis. A less strict rule recommended by WebMD, is to consume fewer than 50 g of carbohydrates per day to keep your body in ketosis.

One thing that you may have to adjust to is the addition of natural oils like coconut oil and olive oil, and lots of nuts and natural butter. In the Ideal protein program the emphasis is low fat, therefore, nuts and natural butters are not consumed.

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Be aware of too much protein! Healthline.com notes, that too much protein can actually turn into glucose and take you out of ketosis. This is done when your body takes some of the amino acids in the animal protein and turns them into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. This is one of the trickiest ways that low carbohydrate dieters take themselves out of ketosis and see stalled weight loss results.

If you are closely tracking your carbohydrate intake and still not losing weight, check your protein intake!

Side Effects of Ketogenic Diets

Many times people experience temporary fatigue when beginning a ketogenic diet. This is referred to as “carb flu.” This is the time it takes for your body to adjust to the process of ketosis. Other common side effects that you may experience include:

  • ‍Constipation
  • Low blood sugar
  • Indigestion
  • Kidney stones (less common)

These are the very basics of a ketogenic diet. If you’re wondering whether a ketogenic diet is right for you, consult your physician or dietitian. Only a health professional can tell you if a ketogenic diet is right for you.

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