Healthy Living Makes a Difference

To Keto or Not to Keto

  • Erika Geisheimer, Blog Coordinator
  • Communications, Good n' Natural Health Food Store

The Ketogenic diet has been getting a lot of attention lately. Whether you have heard about it online through social media or have seen it featured in a health magazine, this high fat low carbohydrate diet has taken off. However, what exactly does this diet entail? Does not eating fat make you fat? Is going “Keto” for everyone? Searching for these answers on the internet can lead to confusion and more questions. Knowing if the Ketogenic Diet is right for you may take some professional guidance.

So what is the Ketogenic diet? The Ketogenic Diet, also referred to as the Keto Diet, focuses on foods high in fat and low in carbohydrates to promote a process called ketosis. Ketosis is a process where the liver is converting fatty acids from food into ketones for energy instead of using carbohydrates for energy (the bodies default energy source). This diet is also typically lower in protein as well so that the body can become wholly adapted to burning fat. As one progresses in the diet, more carbohydrates, as well as proteins, can be added to suit individual needs. The benefits of the Keto Diet include weight loss, improved body composition, clear skin, reduced inflammation, mental clarity, reduced craving and anti-ageing effects. It also promotes mitochondrial biogenesis which increases the mitochondria in cells. More mitochondria in the cells mean more energy!

The Keto Diet sounds perfect, right? Get the body, skin and energy you want by eating fat? Well, that is not just it. When it comes to doing the Keto Diet, one does not just exchange bread and pasta for cheese, bacon and butter. While these foods are allowed and okay to eat in moderation, it is essential to focus on food quality and a diet primarily consisting of plant-based fats. Too much animal fats in the diet can lead to inflammation and not balancing the diet properly for your own body’s needs can lead to unwanted side effects. Sleep problems, anxiousness, digestive issues, increased acne and a rash, are known to occur if the diet is not balanced correctly or modifications are not made to suit the individual’s needs. It is also common for one to experience symptoms similar to the flu called the “keto flu” when the body is transitioning from being a sugar burner to a fat burner. These flu-like symptoms can be lessened or disappear altogether when proper adjustments are made to the diet like ensuring plenty of electrolytes. Many people on the Keto Diet try to avoid as many carbohydrates as possible, including vegetables, which are sources of electrolytes and fibre. Supplementation may be required to make sure electrolyte and fibre needs are met. Fatty acid ratios can also be imbalanced during this diet, and a fish oil supplement is necessary. If there are not enough omega-3 fatty acids, inflammation can occur.

You may still be wondering, how can eating more fat make one lose weight when we have been told for years to avoid fat? The simple truth is that eating fat does not make you fat. While it is essential to be eating good fats (fish, avocados, coconut, grass-fed beef and butter for example), they are not the culprit. Carbohydrates and sugars are behind the fat we store on our bodies. When we eat more carbs than we can burn, the rest are stored to body fat, and in the Standard North American diet, that is common.

There is a lot of planning and preparation to do this diet properly, and it may not be for everyone. The Keto Diet is meant to be a therapeutic, healing diet, but done incorrectly it can have unwanted effects. It is important to seek the guidance of an experienced coach to provide meal plans, recipes, supplement suggestions, and one-on-one coaching to make the Keto Diet simple and easy for those ready to make the transition. Not looking to start the Keto Diet but want some nutrition guidance? Seeking nutritional counselling for other types of diets and dietary restrictions can help anyone who needs direction on how to begin their new health journey.

The Keto Diet does work and has made an amazing impact on many lives. However, that does not mean it is right for everyone. Each person is unique and has their own needs to feel their best, live fully, and have the energy to face each day. This wellness journey can begin by connecting with a Nutritional Coach to help you figure this whole “food” thing out. Stop letting social media and magazines tell you how you should eat and live. It is your time to discover a personalized plan that is unique and tailored to fit the one and only you!