What is the Keto Diet

What is the Keto Diet and Does it Work?

By Bryan Carroll CFMP, NTP, FAFS

March 2, 2018

You may have heard about this “new” diet that is rapidly circulating around the globe called the Keto Diet. You may also know quite a few people who are on Keto, or currently trying the Keto Diet out. This is where the question “What is the Keto Diet” comes from and why we should dive into it.

I put the word new in quotes because right now it seems revolutionary, however the Keto Diet was actually created back in the 1920s. It was used as a way to provide a different approach to treating Parkinson's and Epileptics that didn't require having to fast for extended periods of time.

Now, we think of the Keto Diet as the high fat diet. It may also be called the low-carb diet, low-carb high-fat diet, and the ketogenic diet.

This whole idea of keto being new is because so many of us grew up hearing that fat is bad for us, and the best health advice was to eat low fat foods only.

Why the Shift From Low Fat to High Fat?

Back in the 1950s, Ancel Keys did a research study on heart disease and diets. This research study was later published as the 7 Countries Study. In this study, he noted that 7 countries that ate higher amounts of fat also had higher levels of heart disease.

By looking at that statement alone, we can already debunk this idea because correlation does not automatically equal causation. We could look at these same countries, and note that they all had toilets available for use, therefore we can make the claim that sitting down on toilets can cause heart disease as well.

But that isn't the main problem with the study. There were actually 21 countries that he studied, but 14 of them didn't fit his model of what he was trying to prove. So instead of ditching his research, he decided to get rid of the 14 countries that skewed his hypothesis, and kept the 7 countries that would make his theory correct.

Once his study was released, it gave the massive food corporations the okay to mass-produce high carb processed foods (which are much cheaper to produce) that are “heart healthy” for us to consume (thanks, dude).

And thus the low-fat, high-carb approach began…

Fast Forward to Today

We have been in a scientific food experiment for the past 50+ years. Our society is sicker than ever before, and the only reason we live as long as we do is because of our advancement with immediate medical care. You know there is a problem with the health of our society when 18 year olds are suffering from heart attacks.

We are finally starting to realize just how much this food experiment has impacted us, which has led to the resurfacing of diets such as the Keto Diet.

How Keto Can Help

When you start to increase your fat consumption, and decrease your carbohydrate consumption, then your body will start to convert fat into what is known as ketones.

Ketones can be used by the body as a fuel source instead of glucose. This will help to stabilize your overall blood sugar levels, give you an abundance of energy, normalize weight, and more.

Now that we have explained what is the Keto Diet and how it came about, let's dive in to what it can do for you.

What Are the Benefits of the Keto Diet

Most of us come from a place where our health isn't exactly where we would like it to be. There is so much information (and misinformation) out there that it can be difficult to know how to help ourselves.

The Keto Diet helps us to reset our bodies back to the state it is most comfortable in- the fat-burning state.

Blood Sugar Control

When you eat a diet high in carbs, it will increase your overall blood sugar levels.

For those who have elevated blood sugar levels, or are diabetic, it is important to reduce the blood sugar levels to a reasonable level.

By using fat as the main fuel source, you will naturally reduce blood sugar levels. This will also help to stabilize your energy.

Weight LossWeight Loss

The Ketogenic Diet uses your fat stores plus the fat that you ingest as the body's main fuel source. This means that naturally, your weight will start to normalize.

This is a great added bonus because weight loss is one of the most sought-after benefits people look for. Your body literally learns how to burn off its excess weight!

Mental Clarity and Focus

Mental FocusKetones are a great source of energy for the brain. In fact, ketones pass straight through the blood-brain barrier and into the cells of the brain, which works well if you do have elevated blood glucose levels and the cells start to become insulin-resistant.

The Keto Diet has been shown to be a great asset for those with dementia, Alzheimer's, or any cognitive decline.

Increased Energy

Increased EnergyFat burns for a longer amount of time, therefore the energy received from it is much more sustained and ongoing.

Fat also helps with overall satiety, meaning you will feel fuller for longer, without that dreadful need to eat every 2 hours!

Skin Health

Clear SkinWhen you provide high quality fats to your diet, then you are giving your body the building blocks needed for healthy skin.

The Keto Diet has been very effective in improving overall health of the skin. These improvements could be a reduction in acne, better hydration to dry skin, and more.

Sometimes when starting the Keto Diet it is best to avoid inflammatory foods like dairy. If you notice an increase in acne, remove the dairy for 2 weeks and see if your symptoms improve.

How to Eat on the Keto Diet

On the Keto Diet, you will be eating a very high percentage of fat, with very low carbohydrates to fuel you in the process.

Getting into ketosis is dependent upon how strict you wish to be while on this diet. The more strict you are, the faster it is to get into ketosis.

When I am talking about being strict, I mean that you want to keep your carb count low. And by low, I mean around 20g net carbs, or 5% of your total caloric intake.

What does 20g net carbs look like? Well, this link is a great resource to gauge what 30 grams of carbs look like, so you would reduce the quantity by 1/3.

20g net carbs might not work for most people however, so you will need to adjust your carbs depending on how you feel.

Do Eat:

  • Leafy greens: kale, spinach, etc
  • Above-ground veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, etc
  • Berries: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc
  • Avocados
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, cashews, macadamia, walnuts, flax
  • Meats
  • Coconut
  • Sweeteners: stevia, erythritol, monk fruit
  • High-fat dairy (if well tolerated): cream, hard cheeses, butter, etc

Foods to Avoid:

  • Grains: wheat, corn, rice, cereals, etc
  • High sugar fruit- apples, bananas, mangoes, etc
  • Tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc
  • Sugar: honey, agave, maple syrup, etc

Keto MacrosIf you remember that the Keto Diet is high fat, moderate protein, and low carb, then you will be on the right track.

Typically you would be looking for 60-75% fat, 15-25% protein, and 5% carbs while on Keto. You can see your macronutrient needs by using this keto macronutrient calculator!

If you notice a huge decrease in energy, try to up your carbohydrates a little bit to see if it helps to stabilize your energy.

You can force yourself into ketosis by being extremely restrictive (not fully recommended), but I prefer a more gradual approach.

Avoiding the Keto Flu

If you have researched Keto at all, you probably heard of the Keto Flu.

It is exactly as it sounds. You may experience symptoms very similar to what you would have during the flu.

This occurs for a few reasons:

  • The body was forced into a ketogenic state without preparing the body
  • Electrolytes are out of wack
  • You are experiencing withdrawal from carbohydrate addiction
  • The body isn't eliminating toxins very well

It would be best to increase your electrolytes and increase your water consumption. This should help in most cases of Keto Flu.

In our Keto Restore Program, we go into other ways to prepare your body before entering keto so that you don't experience such harsh symptoms.

Want to Learn More About the Keto Diet?

Join us for our Free Webinar on March 8th

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Join Us For Free Keto Diet Webinar

What is the Keto Diet and how it can be beneficial
About the author

Bryan Carroll CFMP, NTP, FAFS

Bryan Carroll is a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and Movement Therapist who helps the outdoors community to reduce injuries and improve their health so they can get back to exploring nature. His big health crisis from mold exposure taught him the importance of finding the root causes to illnesses so you can take back control of your life. He is also the host of the Summit For Wellness Podcast.

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