Understanding A High-fat Ketogenic Diet—and Is It Right For You?
While food trends come and go, high-fat diets—lauded for their weight-loss potential and brain-function benefits—have proven to have some staying power. Functional medicine M.D. Sara Gottfried contributes frequently to goop on the topic of weight-loss resistance. She’s spent the past two years rigorously studying the ketogenic diet—high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein. Named for ketones, which Gottfried explains are “the energy source made by the body when there’s not enough carbohydrates to be burned for energy demand,” the goal of the diet is to get the body to burn fat instead of sugar. Gottfried recommends the keto diet (as it’s commonly called) to help with a range of brain and focus issues—she finds ketones to be “very efficient fuel for the brain”; she also says it works well for some patients (not all) who want to lose weight but have trouble kicking sugar cravings. We talked to her about who the keto diet is right for (and whom, or when, it isn’t); the nutritional ins and outs of mastering it; and which keto-friendly meals are healthy for practically everyone, regardless of what diet we do (or don’t) practice. A Q&A with Sara Gottfried, M.D. Q What is ketosis? A In most circles, ketosis refers to nutritional ketosis, an optimized state in which you burn fat instead of sugar. Nutritional ketosis has been used to treat epilepsy since the 1920’s and its popularity for mental acuity and weight loss has surged recently. More technically, ketosis refers to a metabolic state in which most of your body’s energy comes from ketones in the blood, as opposed to glycolysis, in which energy supply comes from blood glucose. Ketones are the energy source made by the body (in the liver) when there’s not enough carbohydrates to be burned for energ Continue reading >>
7 Signs You Might Be In Ketosis When Doing The Ketogenic Diet
One of the main goals of starting the ketogenic diet is to get your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. Note: If you don’t know what the ketogenic is all about then check out the Ketogenic Diet: Beginner’s Guide to Keto and Weight Loss. This is when your body starts to produce a lot of ketones to supply energy for your body. Why is this good? Because it means your body has converted from a sugar-burner to a fat-burner. If your body is burning fat for energy then something amazing starts to happen. The fat on your body starts to disappear. But how do you know when you’re in ketosis? Besides using test strips or an instrument there are some signs that your body will give. 7 Signs You Might Be in Ketosis These don’t 100% guarantee that your body is in ketosis but if it is in ketosis then these signs will appear. 1. Weight Loss One of the obvious signs of ketosis is weight loss but this can also be pretty deceptive because many people don’t experience the kind of weight loss that they expect. This can happen for a variety of reasons but when you get close to entering ketosis or do enter ketosis you’ll find that you lose a healthy amount of weight quickly. For example, when you switch to low carbs you usually experience significant weight loss in the first week. In fact, my wife lost 12 lbs in the first 28 days of Keto and I lost 13. This isn’t your body burning fat but finally being able to release the water that was being held by the fat cells. If your fat cells don’t release this water then they can’t flow through the bloodstream to be used as fuel so losing water weight is a good thing. After the initial rapid drop in water weight, you should continue to lose body fat consistently if you are able to stick with the low-carb aspects of the diet Continue reading >>
The Ketogenic Diet Part 4: Avoiding Common Side Effects Of Ketosis
In the final part of this series, we’ll explore some common “side-effects” of a ketogenic diet, and how you can combat them. You can view previous parts here: The Ketogenic Diet Part 1: What is Keto?, The Ketogenic Diet Part 2: Sugar, Insulin, and Inflammation, The Ketogenic Diet Part 3: How to Become Fat Adapted Side-Effects and Dampers of a Ketogenic Diet People who follow a low-carb diet often complain of unpleasant side effects. In this section, I will explain what causes these side effects, and how to prevent them. I call my approach to the ketogenic diet a “well-formulated keto-adapted diet,” because it maximizes the benefits while minimizing any unpleasant side effects. Carb Quantity and Food Quality Low-carb diets often get bad press, and many times studies show that they “don’t work.” Why is this? Let’s dive into the so-called “low carb” studies. In these studies, the participants were reducing their carbohydrates to 150 grams per, didn’t eliminate gluten, and often didn’t eliminate dairy. Sure, reducing their carbohydrates from 300 grams a day makes 150 grams look like low-carb, but it isn’t! A well-formulated keto-adapted diet will be closer to 30 grams of carbohydrates per day. Cutting out these “complex carbohydrates,” as well as gluten, is essential in order for you to become the keto-adapted fat burner we all strive to be. Sugar Cravings One of the best side effects of becoming keto-adapted is the disappearance of the desire for carbohydrates and sugar, but it can take some time. If you find yourself indulging in carbs on the weekends, whether it is a beer or a piece of pizza, these indulgences will throw you out of ketosis. This is why I often discuss with my clients the possibility of adding specific supplements: bifido b Continue reading >>
How Many Carbs Should I Eat To Prevent Ketosis?
When you’re on a low-carb diet, your body kicks into action, breaking down fats into ketone bodies to use for energy. This increase in ketones -- called ketosis -- is a normal adaptation to cutting carbs. In fact, the switch to ketosis is why low-carb diets work. Even though you could eat enough carbs to prevent ketosis, it's important to clarify why you want to avoid it. There's nothing unhealthy about ketosis, so you may just need to correct any misinformation to make the best decision for your weight-loss goals. Video of the Day Deal With Concerns Over Ketosis Ketosis is often confused with ketoacidosis, which is unfortunate -- ketosis is normal, while ketoacidosis is a dangerous condition related to type 1 diabetes. Most people on a low-carb diet tolerate ketosis without any problems. Then after the pounds are dropped, carb intake is gradually increased so you're out of ketosis by the time you reach the maintenance phase. If you decide to stay in an induction phase longer than the low-carb plan recommends, consult your doctor to be safe. People with type 1 diabetes are at risk for developing ketoacidosis from lack of insulin. Due to the complex metabolism of diabetes, they end up with high levels of blood glucose and ketones, which upsets the body's normal acid-base balance. When that happens, ketosis becomes ketoacidosis, causing symptoms like thirst, frequent urination, dry mouth, nausea, belly pain, rapid breathing and fruity-smelling breath. If you have symptoms, contact your doctor immediately -- diabetic ketoacidosis is a medical emergency. You may be wary about ketosis because you've heard about "ketosis flu." It's not really flu, but in the first few days or weeks of a low-carb diet, some people experience headaches, dizziness, fatigue, constipation or wea Continue reading >>
Common Ketosis Killers
“I’ve tried your low-carb diet, Dr. Nally, and it didn’t work.” “Hmm . . . really?” If your mumbling this to yourself, or you’ve said it to me in my office, then lets have a little talk. I’ve heard this statement before. It’s not a new statement, but it’s a statement that tells me we need to address a number of items. If you’ve failed a low carbohydrate diet, I’d suspect you are pretty severely insulin resistant or hyperinsulinemic. You probably never really reached true ketosis. I’d want to have you checked out by your doctor to rule out underlying disease like hypothyroidism, diabetes, other hormone imbalance, etc. Next, switching to a low-carbohydrate lifestyle is literally a “lifestyle change.” It requires that you understand a few basic ketosis principles. And, it takes the average person 3-6 months to really wrap their head around what this lifestyle means . . . and, some people, up to a year before they are really comfortable with how to eat and function in any situation. I assume, if you are reading this article, that you’ve already read about ketosis and understand the science behind it. If not, please start your reading with my article The Principle Based Ketogenic Lifestyle – Part I and Ketogenic Principles – Part II. If this is the case, then please proceed forward, “full steam ahead!” There are usually a few areas that are inadvertently inhibiting your body transformation, so let’s get a little personal. First, this is a low carbohydrate diet. For weight loss, I usually ask people to lower their carbohydrate intake to less than 2o grams per day. How do you do that? (A copy of my diet is accessible through my membership site HERE.) You’ve got to begin by restricting all carbohydrates to less than 20 grams per day. Continue reading >>
What Really Happens To Your Body When You Stop Eating Carbs
Many people think that the Atkins Diet marked the beginning of the low-carb diet craze, but that's simply not true. In 1862, an obese undertaker named William Banting, tired of experiencing hearing problems, sought the advice of an ENT named Dr. Harvey. Harvey told Banting his problem wasn't in the ears, but rather, in the fat pressing on his inner ear. He put Banting on a diet of meat, vegetables, wine and fish only — no starch or sugar (except for the wine). Banting lost weight, and his hearing problem disappeared. Over the years, many studies and many low-carb diets were tested. In most cases, subjects lost weight. That could be why, today, low-carb, high fat diets are still a thing. But are they safe? What happens to your body when you deprive it of carbs? You do lose weight Critics of the low-carb diet will say most of the weight lost is water weight. They're right. But, as former endurance athlete and Olympian Mark Sisson points out, that might not be such a bad thing. He says, "Retained water can amount to 10, 20 or more pounds depending on how large the person is." Since diets high in sodium and insulin-promoters (like refined carbs) force the body to store water inside and in between cells, the body doesn't really need it. So, when you cut out carbs, your body gets rid of it, resulting in weight loss. Keep in mind, however, that Sisson promotes the Primal Diet, one that encourages people to eat enough carbs to provide enough glucose for brain function and some anaerobic exercise. His point? Depending on how active you are, you may need to consume more carbs. A caveat here – no self-respecting nutritionist or dietitian (or former endurance athlete/nutrition guru) will tell you it's OK to eat refined carbohydrates. When these diets tell you to limit carbs, th Continue reading >>
Ketosis Breath: Causes & Solutions For Bad Breath
Ultra-low carb diets have grown in popularity over recent years. These so-called “keto diets” aim to facilitate rapid weight loss, through the consumption of minimal carbohydrates. Keto diets have become understandably popular on account of their rapid results, together with the practical benefits of consuming healthy volumes of the right foods, making hunger less of a problem than on more typical calorie-controlled diets. However keto diets are not without their issues, and one of the most common complaints comes in the form of “ketosis breath”. Quite simply many individuals making use of very low carb diets suffer from pungent and unpleasant breath. The question is what can be done to counteract such a problem? The Cause of Ketosis Breath In order to learn how to get rid of keto breath, we first need to understand why breath can smell under such a regime. As it turns out there are two potential reasons(1), both of which can operate independently, or in conjunction. Ketone Release The most typical source of energy used by the body is glucose. This is typically derived from carbohydrates, where the digestive system breaks down complex sugars into simple glucose molecules. On very low carb diets, however, the body is unable to utilize such a fuel. Instead, the liver utilizes the fat present in the body as an energy source, producing “ketones” in the process(2). This is known as “ketosis” – and is the process from where keto diets get their unusual name. These ketone bodies come in three common forms; acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetone(3). In large quantities they are removed from the body in the urine or through exhalation. Ketones can have quite a characteristic smell; they often make the dieter’s breath smell quite sweet and fruity, quit Continue reading >>
How To Burn Stored Body Fat — A Ketosis Primer
“So, how do you tell your body to start burning stored body fat?” my friend and fellow mother asked. “Cut the carbs,” answered another mom. “I go into ketosis just about every afternoon.” “Ketosis? Isn’t that bad for you?” The short answer? No. I talk to a lot of people who want to lose weight. They try all sorts of things — exercise, calorie restriction, you name it. Sometimes, they lose the weight. Inevitably, they gain it back. That’s because what they’re doing is going on a diet — a temporary fix at best. What they need is a lifestyle change, a perspective shift, a new paradigm. Of course, you all know the paradigm I espouse — a conversion to eating real, traditional foods. Yet even a conversion to eating real food won’t necessarily help the pounds melt away. If you’re still eating 200 grams of carbohydrates a day — even if they’re “traditional” carbohydrates like sprouted or soaked grains, unrefined sweeteners, etc, you’re not going to lose weight without making some serious changes. If your body is regularly storing body fat (you gain a little bit of weight each year), then something is wrong with how your body metabolizes food. Let me introduce you to a new concept: the body fat setpoint. The body fat setpoint is the mass of body fat that your body attempts to defend against changes in either direction. It’s your body’s attempt to maintain homeostasis. This is why if you exercise more, you eat more. It’s also why if you restrict calories, your metabolism slows down to compensate. Why should you care about the body fat setpoint? From Stephan at Whole Health Source: We care because this has some very important implications for human obesity. With such a powerful system in place to keep body fat mass in a narrow range, Continue reading >>
Diabetes & Ketogenic Diet: Can You Manage Your Diabetes On A Ketogenic Diet?
In this article we will cover what a Ketogenic diet is and if you can manage your diabetes while on this diet. Ketogenic diet for diabetics is a highly controversial topic, but we will break down everything here for you! As a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), I have to tell you from the start I will have a biased view here. Sorry, but I feel that I need to be completely honest right up front! I will however, present all the evidence that is available currently on the subject. As a CDE, I have been taught to follow the American Diabetes Association Dietary Guidelines for Americans which is low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, with fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains. The Ketogenic Diet this article will be discussing is much lower in carbohydrates, in order to promote the state of nutritional ketosis, or the fat burning state for weight loss. What is a Ketogenic Diet? The Ketogenic Diet is a low carbohydrate diet, consisting initially of less than 20 carbohydrates per day. Not per meal, yes, you heard me correctly, per day. It is not for the faint of heart and yes I am writing from experience. Of course I have tried it! Hasn’t everybody in America at some point who has wanted to lose weight? Does it work you ask? Of course it does! The problem is how long can you keep it up? Your body uses the carbohydrates you eat for energy, so if we restrict how many carbohydrates we eat, the body has to get its fuel source from fat. A byproduct of this fat burning state are ketones which are produced; this is called nutritional ketosis. You can determine if you are in this fat burning state by purchasing urine ketone testing strips from your local pharmacy. The Ketogenic Diet with Diabetes Some precautions must be made clear; this diet is not appropriate for people with any Continue reading >>
Ketogenic Diet Faq
With all the new people finding, switching, and transitioning into a low carb diet, I figured it was about time I put together an FAQ on all the common questions that are asked when someone is starting out. I don’t go too in depth in the answers, but I tried to give a direct answer and then link to a more in depth article on the topic to help you fully understand it. If you have any other questions you’d like to be added, changed, or are unsure about – please feel free to leave a comment below so I can fully explain, or make changes to the answers on this page. Best wishes, and to all the new people out there – good luck and happy dieting! Frequently Asked Questions Click any of the questions below and it will take you to the answer. How Long Does It Take To Get Into Ketosis? A ketogenic diet is not a diet that you can whimfully choose to go on and off of at any point. It takes time for your body to adjust and go into a state known as ketosis. This process? Anywhere from 2 – 7 days, depending on your body type, activity levels, and what you’re eating. The fastest way to get into ketosis is to exercise on an empty stomach, restrict your carbohydrate intake to 20g or less per day, and be vigilant with your water intake. To improve the rate at which you enter ketosis, there is a method called Fat Fasting. I’ve written an article on Fat Fasting on a Ketogenic Diet and everything involved with it. Make sure that if you use this method, it is only for a few days, otherwise it can bring harm to you. Where Can I Find Low Carb Recipes? Everywhere on the internet! There’s recipes on almost every health website nowadays, and a quick Google of what you want will definitely help you out. You can even convert high carb recipes that use sugar or fruits in them to low c Continue reading >>
How To Prevent Weight Loss (or Gain Muscle) On A Therapeutic Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet is becoming increasingly popular as we learn more about the potential benefits in terms of both performance and chronic disease management. However, the diet also has to be tailored to your personal goals, and we’ve previously written about some of the pitfalls for athletes using a ketogenic diet. For instance, satiety may be one of the most notable benefits of a ketogenic diet , which seems to provide an advantage during weight loss. But if you’re already lean and your ketogenic diet is causing you to undereat, losing lean mass can be a concern. This is important for athletes, but also for patients using a therapeutic ketogenic diet to control a chronic neurodegenerative disease, because muscle mass and strength are two of the best predictors of long-term health and mortality. Thus, the question that naturally arises is: how can I implement a ketogenic diet without losing weight? The topic of gaining or maintaining weight (specifically lean mass) on a ketogenic diet is often left out of the discussion. In fact, the following question was recently sent to the team at Nourish Balance Thrive: I just finished listening to your latest podcast. Very informative! At the end, you were asking for suggestions for possible topics. I have one: the combination of ketosis and an ectomorphic body type: issues for people like myself who don't want to lose weight or outright cannot afford to but want to apply ketosis for other reasons. In my particular case, it is a neurodegenerative disease I'm dealing with (Parkinson's). There is quite a bit of literature indicating that a keto diet could be helpful, but my BMI varies between 19 and 20 and ketosis tends to lower that considerably. Are there things one can tweak to do keto without the weight loss, or do you t Continue reading >>
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Does Alcohol Stop Ketosis?
Does alcohol stop ketosis? What happens if you eat more fat than your body needs? And will a slightly higher carb intake kick you out of ketosis? Get the answers in this week’s Q&A with Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt: Alcohol stopping ketosis? We are trying to get into ketosis and measuring blood ketones which seem to be sitting around 1.0 mmol/L. We have adjusted and readjusted our protein and carb amounts to be within the limits you suggest. Last night I had three vodkas – being no-carb alcohol, can this still affect ketosis levels or would we be doing something else wrong? Thank you, Meg Alcohol should not have any major effect on ketosis, as long as it’s no-carb alcohol like vodka (without sweet ingredients in a drink of course). If anything, pure alcohol tends to somewhat increase ketosis. For best results choose low-carb alcoholic drinks like wine or other low-carb drinks, see the guide below. Also note that many people get more sensitive to alcohol on a ketogenic diet. Be careful and never drink and drive, this is especially true on keto. Best, Andreas Eenfeldt If I eat more fat than my body needs for fuel, what happens to the excess? I understand that if one eats more carbs (glucose) and/or protein than one’s body can immediately use, the excess can be stored as fat. What happens to dietary fat if one eats more of it than can be used? Is it, too, stored, or does the body excrete it? Kathleen It’s mostly stored, though there may be a slight increase in calories burned on low carb. Don’t eat when you’re not hungry, and this should not really be an issue on a low-carb diet, as fat is very satiating. Best, Andreas Eenfeldt Will going moderate low carb >50 carbs turn brain back to using carbs for fuel instead of ketones? I think I need to up carbs for energy. I e Continue reading >>
How To Stop Carb And Sugar Cravings With Keto
For most people carb addiction has become a lifestyle that has them craving for more sugar and just more carbs in general. Sadly, the effects of a high-carb diet are almost similar to those of a Class A drug addict; you get stuck in a cycle of eating a high sugar/carb meal which makes you feel happy, blood sugar rises, your body is essentially on a high for a very short period of time. Than followed by a “carb crash” a little while later, cravings come back, you feel tired, lethargic and need more carbs to get energy again, this goes on until your body can’t take this vicious cycle anymore. Health problems like diabetes, heart problems and obesity set in. For years; science has invented plenty of different ways to deal with carb and sugar cravings. How to Stop Carb Cravings The ketogenic diet is a popular and proven solution to beat and manage carb and sugar cravings. Though it started off as a method of controlling epilepsy in kids, the diet was embraced as an effective weight loss strategy and a way to deal with high-carb cravings due to its ability to control blood sugar, while giving you sustained amounts of energy throughout the day. A proper ketogenic diet plan can help get rid or control sweet cravings entirely but mainly helps individuals to resist satisfying their urges with high-carb foods; rather find low-carb, high fat foods to satisfy the cravings. How it works Also known as LCHF, Low Carb High Fat diet, a keto plan helps improves health by altering the metabolism to burn fat rather than glucose a process called ketosis (which is our natural state actually – you are born in a state of ketosis which means burning ketones for energy). A ketogenic diet plan works by forcing the body to change its fuel source by depleting glucose intake, thus making it Continue reading >>
Keep Yourself In Ketosis
When talking about a Grain Brain lifestyle, and the very similar ketogenic diet, it’s frequently mentioned that we are aiming to keep our bodies in ketosis. However, if you’re new to my work, it may be that you’re not exactly sure what ketosis is, or why we should be worrying about getting our body into this state. Allow me to explain. Ketones are a special type of fat that can stimulate the pathways that enhance the growth of new neural networks in the brain. A ketogenic diet is one that is high in fats, and this diet has been a tool of researchers for years, used notably in a 2005 study on Parkinson’s patients finding an improvement in symptoms after just 28 days. The improvements were on par with those made possible via medication and brain surgery. Other research has shown the ketogenic diet to be remarkably effective in treating some forms of epilepsy, and even brain tumors. Ketones do more than just that though. They increase glutathione, a powerful, brain-protective antioxidant. Ketones facilitate the production of mitochondria, one of the most important actors in the coordinated production that is the human body. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our bodies are said to enter ketosis at the point when blood sugar levels are low and liver glycogen are no longer available to produce glucose as a fuel for cellular energy production. At this point, not only is the body doing the natural thing, and burning off fat, it’s also powering up the brain with a super efficient fuel. We can jump start ourselves into ketosis with a brief fast, allowing our body to quickly burn through the carbs that are in our system, and turn to fat for fuel. A ketogenic diet is one that derives around 80% or more of of its calories from fat, and the rest from carbs and prote Continue reading >>
Stop Stalling! Aka, Why Am I Stalling On Keto And How Do I Stop It?
Volume One: Operator Error Stalling on keto? First of all, let’s be realistic: failure to lose half your body weight overnight is not a stall. All right, you probably didn’t expect results that dramatic, but let me continue: It’s not a stall if you “only” lose one pound in a week, even if you know someone else who has lost ten. It’s not a stall if you plateau for a week. It’s not a stall if your weight fluctuates up and down over the course of a few weeks, either. In fact, it’s not a stall if the scale stays put for a few weeks but your pants are mysteriously growing larger. (Unless you have pants-gremlins that truly are replacing your trousers with a larger size, in which case, I can’t help you.) In short, if it’s been less than six to eight weeks, and/or your measurements are going down, it’s not a stall, and you’ve got to stop worrying. Now, if you haven’t seen any changes on the scale or tape measure for several weeks, you’re stalled, and, unfortunately, it’s probably because you’re doing something wrong. There are two primary suspects for stalls: carbs and calories. Huge Mistake #1: Not keeping track of carbs and calories. Now, I can already hear you insist that you’re tracking EVERYTHING and you’re DEFINITELY under 20 grams of net carbs. To that I say: “Are you sure?” Babes who play chicken with carbs often lose, and here’s why: carbs are sneaky. If you think you can game the system by buying the brand of HWC that lists 0 carbs instead of the one that lists 1 carb, you are shooting yourself in the foot. You see, heavy cream is heavy cream, and unless you see something added to it (such as a mysterious-sounding gum), it’s going to have the same carb count no matter what the brand is. The only difference is that some brand Continue reading >>