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Healthy Lifestyle Consulting

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Could I Have Been Wrong About Keto???

You've heard about it. You more than likely know someone who's doing it. Maybe you're trying it, yourself. Whether or not you know what it means, you're familiar with Keto. The ketogenic diet is all the rage right now. Is it a legitimately healthy way of eating? Is it a fad diet? Is it a good option or a dangerous distraction?

When I first started hearing about it, I was very skeptical. I tried to do some research, figuring I'd find plenty of sources that denounced such a crazy plan. I mean, who could benefit from a high fat diet? That's just crazy talk. 

Goodbye Carrots! Hello Bacon!

With "healthy" keto breakfast suggestions like the one below I was adamant that it was a dangerous fad.
  • 6 to 12 eggs cooked in 2 to 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 to 1 lb of bacon
  • 1 to 2 cups of spinach cooked in 2 to 4 tablespoons of butter
That's just ONE meal for ONE person. (Is that you, Gaston?) While I'm not going to sit here and say that I've never contemplated eating an entire package of bacon in one sitting, I don't think I have to tell anyone that it's not a good idea. If I have to tell you that eating a dozen eggs in one meal isn't conducive to good health, I'm not entirely sure why you're even following me. 

Serving sizes matter, people. Too much of a good thing is still too much and usually not a good thing. I spent months watching friend after friend posting pictures of their keto meals. It seemed like all they ate was bacon, cheese, avocados, and coconut oil. I just didn't get how that was supposed to be a miracle diet and I was truly worried that they were actually going to end up getting sick. Instead they felt great and weight just seemed to melt away. What was this sorcery?!?

So what the heck is "keto" anyway?

The basic concept of the keto diet is that if you eliminate carbs, your body will burn stored fat. It seems simple, I guess. Who doesn't want to burn fat? But... don't our bodies need carbs for energy? And isn't eating fat bad for us? (To be fair, we've all known for a very long time that sugar is the actual bad guy in our diets.) So what exactly happens to our bodies when we jump on this ketogenic diet bandwagon?

Our bodies' primary fuel is glucose. Glucose is sugar. We get it from carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, and fruit. Once we eat these carb-dense foods, our bodies break it down into glucose, which is absorbed into our blood stream. Once in our blood, it is known as blood glucose or blood sugar. If we take in more glucose than needed, our bodies store it. As fat. Yup. Carbs become sugar. Sugar becomes fat. (Extra sugar becomes more fat, but I digress.)

When we restrict carbs, there's less glucose for our bodies to process. The continual need for fuel prompts our bodies to find an alternative fuel source. Plan B is fat. Anything your body has stored is now fuel to burn. When your body begins burning fat instead of carbohydrates, your liver produces molecules called ketone bodies (aka ketones) that are detectable in your blood and urine. When your liver is producing ketones, you are in ketosis. Woot! But wait... if reducing carbs is going to get us burning fat, wouldn't we want to avoid taking in more fat? 

You've heard of "like dissolves like," right? To avoid a chemistry lesson, think of salad dressing. When you mix water and oil, they separate. When you mix olive and avocado oils, they dissolve into each other. See where I'm going, here? When you add dietary fat into your body, it helps to dissolve, if you will, your stored fat so it can become an alternate fuel source. Admittedly, this is an oversimplification of the process. This article explains it a little better and includes an analogy that I totally LOVE: "Think of mealtime like baseball spring training: young, hungry players (new fat) hit the field and show the general manager (the liver) that it's time to send the old, worn-out players (subcutaneous fat) home. And away they go."

Ok. So eating carbohydrates can lead to gaining fat and eating fat can lead to losing fat. Got it. 

But what about protein? Along with carbohydrates and fat, protein is a macronutrient. That means it's kind of a big deal. Protein is super important to the health of our body tissues including skin, hair, and muscles. Fun thing about protein on a keto diet plan - too much of it can cause your body to begin gluconeogenesis. That's a fun word, eh? If you break it down (gluco [glucose, or sugar], neo [new], genesis [creation]) you can surmise that it's a process by which your body utilizes protein to create new glucose. Where there's glucose, there's little to no ketones because your body doesn't need the fat. 

So, for a ketogenic diet to work, we need lots of healthy fat, some good protein, and few carbs. Yes, there are still some carbs on a keto plan. What kind of carbs, is the question. 

What kind of carbs?

Almost all carbs break down into sugar. Almost. Fiber is the part that doesn't. Fiber can not be broken down, so it passes through the gut, undigested. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and helps to lower glucose levels and keep cholesterol in check. Insoluble fiber doesn't dissolve in water and helps to push things through your digestive system. We are conditioned to believe that the best sources of fiber are grains. Most people turn to whole wheat bread, bran muffins, brown rice, oatmeal, etc. 

What if I told you that there are plenty of vegetables that provide lots of healthy fiber? You probably know that beans pack a fiber punch, but did you know that a serving of broccoli, raspberries, or avocados can give you more fiber than the above mentioned grains? (Avocados! Is there anything they can't do?!?) Check out this list for more fiber-rich options.

Are there benefits?

Yes. In fact, there are several illnesses for which a ketogenic eating plan is beneficial. Way at the top of the list is the disease that has been proven, through years of research, to be improved by a keto diet: epilepsy. While they haven't been researched nearly as much as epilepsy, people living with other illnesses have shown improvement in symptoms and/or quality of life when following a keto diet. These include Parkinson's, MS, autism, Alzheimer's, and diabetes. Obesity can also be overcome by following a keto diet. Getting your body to burn fat is obviously going to have a positive effect on your waistline. (I'm not a medical professional, so check with your doctor before making any big changes to your diet.

My Verdict?

I'd have to say that it seems pretty clear that keto is not the dangerous fad I originally thought it to be. Don't cut out healthy fruits and veggies in favor of unhealthy fats and you just might experience some fantastic benefits on a ketogenic diet. I've recently started a Plant-Heavy Keto program with my coach and fellow Nourished Warrior, Barbara Christensen. (Yes, a coach sometimes needs a coach!) I lost 10lbs in the first week!

Beginners and Keto Aficionados Alike

In her new ebook, Beginner's Guide to Keto - Ketolicious Reset, Barbara shares a wealth of information about the ketogenic lifestyle and outlines her plant-heavy program: Ketolicious Reset. She goes into much greater detail than I have here. Barbara shares a vegan approach to keto that is definitely beneficial in learning how veggies can enhance ketosis. While I do follow her lead, I am not vegan. I'm not even vegetarian. (Hello! Bacon!) I do tend to go a little overboard on protein when I'm filling my plate with meats and cheeses. Utilizing her advice and recipes for incorporating more keto-friendly veggie meals and snacks is extremely helpful.

Not only will you get valuable information and delicious recipes, Beginner's Guide to Keto - Ketolicious Reset also includes pages and pages of tips and advice for self care, detox, supplements, saving time and money, eliminating cravings, saving your sanity, and more! I'm not even kidding! You can download your copy of this ebook on your computer, tablet, or phone (or all of the above) for easy access to all the information at home and on the go. (While grocery shopping... Now what was in that recipe? Oh yeah! I have it right here!)

To find out more about Barbara's plan and her new ebook, visit her ketolicious page. If you're ready to order this fantastic guide, go directly to the PayPal checkout.* Whether you're vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, omnivore, or "meatatarian," I'm here to coach and support you! Contact me today for more info or to get started with your ketolicious program!

All of my Juice Plus+ Quad Blend (Garden, Orchard, Vineyard, and Omega) clients can get Barbara's guide and my coaching at NO cost. That's a pretty sweet deal! Just email me after you place your order (or right away if you're already on the Quad Blends plan) for your free ketolicious copy! 


*This is an affiliate link and I may receive compensation when you purchase.