This week saw the launch of CSIRO’s (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) new (insert air quotes) groundbreaking low-carb diet, great for weight management and type 2 diabetes.
As an advocate of the LCHF way of eating it kind of cracks me up when the news and current affairs jump on this stuff likes its the biggest thing that’s only just been discovered.
Legions of Pete Evans fans and paleo and keto advocates all over the country are feigning disbelief… “really, who’d have thought????”
Okay, thinly veiled sarcasm aside it’s good to see that mainstream science is starting to catch up.
But despite the local news touting CSIRO’s work as a groundbreaking new discovery , these type of diets have been aroudn for a while and I thought now is a good a time as any to have a closer look.
I’m starting today with the keto diet..mainly as it is one I have had plenty of personal experience with and it has always got results. Having said that, it can be a big change to the standard way of eating and I’ve always done keto under the supervision of a nutritionist and personal trainer. Always talk to your doctor and or nutritionist before making drastic changes to your diet.
So what exactly is the Keto Diet and how does it work?
Referred to as a low-carb diet, low-carb high-fat (LCHF) diet and the keto diet, this approach to nutrition has to do with the process it triggers in your body.
When you restrict your carbohydrates, up your healthy fat intake and get plenty of protein, your body reaches a state of ketosis. It begins to produce ketones in your liver which are used as energy, instead of carbohydrates.
When you eat a lot of carbohydrates your body produces insulin and glucose. Glucose is the easiest energy source for your body to convert. When you have plenty of glucose, from carbohydrates, your body chooses this over any other source of energy.
Insulin helps your body process the glucose in your bloodstream. Since you are using glucose as your main energy source, your fats are not burned, and are stored instead. In a high carbohydrate diet, this is how your body becomes overweight, obese and unhealthy.
By lowering your carb intake, your metabolism increases. You still eat plenty of calories, just not very many carbohydrates, and this allows your ketogenic approach to nutrition to deliver quick weight loss and a healthy body weight regulation.
On a ketogenic diet you can fuel your body almost entirely on fat, burning off those pesky stores most of us are always trying to get rid of. IT has the added beneift of a steady release of energy, rather than the traditional spikes and crashes when we fuel with glucose
When your body reaches ketosis, you stop getting unhealthy sugar cravings. You don’t feel hungry all the time, as with some other diet plans. Your cholesterol, triglyceride and blood sugar levels return to normal. Your mind actually becomes sharper, and you regulate a healthy blood pressure. You also sleep better, and lower your risk of developing chronic disease.
Ketogenic Diet Pros and Cons
Aside from healthy weight loss and body weight regulation, the ketogenic diet can lead you to experience a number of diverse health benefits.
In an effort to be totally transparent, we should tell you that there are some minor negatives to a ketogenic diet as well.
Typical ‘Cons’ of the keto diet that affect some people include …
- Your breath might smell something like nail polish remover.
- Your urine has an unattractive smell as well.
- This is a restrictive way of eating. This might be difficult for you in certain social settings.
- You may experience flu-like symptoms for a few weeks.
The reason your breath and urine may begin to smell like nail polish remover is because of how your body starts to process acetoacetate. Acetate is the main ingredient in nail polish remover.
If you brush your teeth regularly and keep breath mints on hand, bad breath usually is not a problem.
Flu-like symptoms come from carbohydrate withdrawals. You may feel a little weak and “foggy” headed for 2 to 5 weeks when you first begin this healthy diet plan. However, a feeling of endless energy, laser-sharp mental focus and overall health immediately follows the symptoms.
What are the pros of the keto diet? Just the following …
- Quick and healthy weight loss
- Fewer unhealthy food cravings
- A satisfied feeling of being full throughout the day
- Healthy blood pressure
- Healthy cholesterol level
- Improved mental focus and ability
- Better sleep patterns
- Less inflammation and stiff joints
- Lowered risk of contracting chronic disease
What Do You Eat On The Ketogenic Diet?
You may have heard of the many health benefits of a ketogenic diet, but you’re probably wondering at this point what you can eat (and what you can’t). Basically …
You want to eat REAL, NATURAL, UNPROCESSED foods.
You want to avoid PROCESSED FOODS.
That may sound pretty simplistic, but that is really the basis of this miraculously healthy diet approach. You probably understand that your body and your health are largely the results of the things you eat and drink. This is how simply changing from a processed to a ketogenic diet delivers so many health rewards.
You eat grass-fed beaf and meats, eggs, vegetables, yogurt and nuts. You enjoy wild caught fish and seafood, pasture-raised pork and poultry. You eat plenty of healthy fats like gelatin, ghee, animal fats, avocado and olive oil, and butter. You occasionally eat fruit, keeping an eye on how much you consume because fruit is full of natural sugar.
You don’t eat processed foods, wheat, grains, salt, baked goods, refined sugar and most foods which come in a wrapper or package. You avoid factory-farmed fish, pork and meats, artificial sweeteners and refined fats like cottonseed, sunflower and corn oil. If a food contains preservatives, steroids, hormones, antibiotics and other man-made ingredients, skip it.
The result is you, as a product of nature, eat natural foods. Your body naturally and automatically begins to return you to a healthier state than when you were eating mostly processed foods.
How Exercise Improves The Keto Diet For Better Weight Loss
The keto diet burns fat. It does this extremely well.
Exercise builds muscle. A muscular body burns fat much more effectively than a non-muscular body.
Add the keto diet (efficient fat burning) to a consistent exercise plan (efficient fat burning) and you improve your weight loss efforts. This is not a “maybe” or “possibly” scenario.
It is based on the way the human body works.
The ketogenic diet puts you in a state of ketosis, where you burn fat rather than carbohydrates. You limit the number of carbs you take in, and this leads to weight loss. Exercise creates strong muscles, and those muscles spend 24 to 72 hours after your workout repairing themselves and coming back stronger than before.
This process continually burns calories and fat, and your muscle mass improves. Muscle burns fat better than a non-muscular body, so the exercise joins the ketogenic process to literally shred fat and weight from your body, while adding a lean, strong, toned, muscular look.
Just remember that muscle weighs more than fat. What this means is if you were to burn 10 cm³ of fat from your body and replace it with 10 cm³ of muscle, you may actually gain a little weight.
However, the result is a strong and muscular, toned and slim physique, rather than a flabby, fat, unhealthy and unattractive reflection in your mirror.
Give the keto diet a try today. In as few as 10 to 14 days you can see significant and noticeable weight loss results. Add exercise, and you replace your fat and flab with toned, strong muscle.
My Experience on a Keto Diet
My first introduction to ketosis was a few years ago via my personal trainer. I’d been working out and eating a moderately healthy diet for close to two years and got to a point where I’d plateaued. That last 5kgs and one more dress size were eluding me and this was frustrating. So my trainer suggested a six week challenge that he ran with a number of clients. With the guidance of a nutritionist we developed an eating and exercise plan to help me achieve my goals.
Essentially I started with a fitness test which we repeated weekly and a VLA (Vitality Longevity and Health Ageing) test which uses biometirc impedance analysis to measure the key aging markers such as:
- your ideal weight for your height and frame size
- your total fat mass
- your ideal fat mass
- what percentage of you is fat
- your total muscle mass
- your ideal muscle mass
- what percentage of you is muscle
- the quality of your muscle
- your fat to muscle ratio
- your biological age or the age of your cells
- the amount of energy produced in your cells
- the quality of the energy produced in your cells
- how toxins or poisons are affecting your cells
- how inflammation is affecting your cells
- your metabolic rate
- how well hydrated you are
- your total body water
- the total fluid inside your cells
- the total fluid outside your cells (fluid retention)
- the ideal amount of fluid outside your cells
- your fitness level
- your risk for metabolic syndrome or syndrome X
My eating plan was pretty strict, no dairy, coffee, alcohol, grains or sugar – hidden or otherwise. Just whole foods – lean protein and good fats such as nuts and avocado.
My exercise consisted of cardio and weights workouts 6 days a week with 1 rest day.
For the first couple of weeks I didn’t really see any difference and in fact felt I was over eating and had no idea how this was going to help me lose weight. I was actually pretty lucky as I had no discernible side affects such as headaches, skin breakouts or mood swings.
At about week 4 it was as though everything just kicked into gear all at the same time. I felt fitter, had more energy, was sleeping better, performing better and my size just dropped.
At the end of 6 weeks I’d lost over 10cm from my chest, stomach and hips, and 5cm from my thighs. Body fat had dropped 10%. In terms of my goals I actually did not lose any weight but dropped two dress sizes… This can be attributed to the weights programs and building lean muscle. My VLA test put my cellular age 5 years lower than my actual age..
Oh and best of all… I had abs!
So the results came in pretty well…and dramatic for me. I would struggle to keep up such a strict diet full time, and in fact there is some debate around the long term use of a keto diet and the affect on ones liver.
As a kick-starter to a weight-loss program or that extra push to get you over a plateau.. I’d definitely recommend investigating. But like I mentioned at the beginning, make sure you speak with a doctor or nutritionist if this is something you are considering.