What is a Ketogenic Diet? What is Ketosis?
In short, a ketogenic diet is one where you eat high-fat, high-protein, low/no-carbs that is optimal for weight-loss. You want to consume 20 grams or less of carbs per day when shooting for ketosis. What? No carbs? That’s nonsensical! Your body needs carbs! No, it actually doesn’t. Carbohydrates, at least today’s version of them, are fairly new to the human diet. Many civilizations lived without carbs entirely, some had fruits and berries, but even then they where not the “primary energy source” for people back then. Regardless, that was then, this is now, times have changed, we aren’t cavemen anymore.
Ketosis is the state in which your body reaches when it doesn’t have a supply of glucose. What your body does at this point is it begins to convert fat into ketone bodies, which substitute sugar for energy. Your body doesn’t prefer sugar because it’s “better” for you, it prefers sugar because it’s an easier source of energy. When you have sugar, your body looks for more sugar, if it can’t find more sugar, it uses fat for energy. If you aren’t eating sugar and are just eating fat, the fat in your body is treated the same as the food you eat. This is why it’s hard to lose weight with a traditional diet, as long as you are consuming carbs, your body doesn’t want to use fat, it wants to continue using carbs.
If I was to sum up keto in as few words as possible, this is how I’d put it.
- 60% fat
- 40% protein
- 20 grams or less of carbs per day
- Most vegetables are OK (in the USA fiber is considered a carbohydrate, but your body can not use it as such)
- No bread
- No sugar (no fruit, candy, etc)
- Diet soda is OK
- Read nutrition facts on everything you eat, don’t worry about calories, just watch the carbs
- Fast food usually has sugar in the meat, but the quality of the food is low anyways so who cares
- Piss on ketostix every few days to make sure you are still in ketosis
Keto is probably the easiest way to lose weight. That is because it’s nearly impossible to gain fat while doing a ketogenic diet. Most people don’t even need to count calories and the pounds just fall off week after week. What better way to lose weight than to sit down and eat a big juicy bacon burger (no bun), dripping with cheese, and a side of vegetables.
Fat is bad for you though right?
Not at all, but I’ll get back to that. Let’s talk about carbohydrates for a moment. You’ve heard of high-fructose corn syrup I’m sure. High-fructose corn syrup is just concentrated fructose, a naturally occurring sugar that tastes sweeter than glucose, another natural sugar. It get’s the name corn syrup because typically, they get it from corn, but it is in most fruits. Does that mean fruits are bad? Not at all, all it means is that some kinds of sugar are bad for you. The same logic can be applied to fats when you have carbohydrates in your diet. When you don’t have carbs in your diet however, no fat is bad fat.
For some reason, when people think of fat, they think of low quality foods. Fat does not mean low quality, low quality means low quality. When doing a keto diet, you don’t eat fast food every day, and actually you can’t as most fast food has hidden carbs in it. You need to be eating food with lots good fat, like avocados, cheese, steak, etc. Fast food not bad for you because it’s high in fat, it’s bad for you because it’s low quality meats/cheeses/grains mixed with a bunch of preservatives.
Is a ketogenic diet safe?
Yes, it is. It is even prescribed to some people with epilepsy. People have been doing ketogenic diets since 1920, and even earlier. It had gotten a bad rep for being “harmful to your liver”, but that is caused by inadequate fat consumption. Sometimes when people do a “ketogenic diet” all they eat is lean meat, which means they are consuming more protein than fat, too much protein is bad for your liver if your body isn’t demanding it. For most people, you want to shoot for 60-70% fat, and 30-40% protein. If you have any questions about it, I suggest you check out the reddit community /r/keto. Most notable resources from /r/keto are “Keto in a Nutshell” and the /r/keto FAQ.