The Ketogenic (Keto) Diet is a method that severely restricts carbohydrate intake, thereby coercing the body to primarily rely on fat for fuel. Almost all carbohydrates are converted to glucose for energy, and because glucose is metabolised for energy faster than fat, the body will opt for glucose over fat. Therefore, whatever little fat you consume on a higher carbohydrate (CHO) diet are less likely to be burnt for energy. Moreover, the amount of glucose the body can use and store is limited, so all excess glucose is converted into body fat.
By drastically eliminating CHO, the body should enter a state of ketosis. This is when the live breaks down fat cells into fatty acids which are then converted into ketones. Ketones are transported in the bloodstream for energy (instead of glucose).
It’s a very high fat (75%), severely low CHO (5%), and moderate protein (20%) approach to losing body fat and maintaining consistently good energy levels.
Wait a minute, that sounds like Paleo, Atkins, Banting ………
It sure does. They’re all different ways of promoting the same thing—eat less processed CHO and sugar!
The Keto method does however advocate moderate protein because if you eat enough protein the liver is able to manufacture glucose from protein through a process called gluconeogenesis. This will prevent you from entering ketosis. And each of the abovementioned methods do have their differences. But again, the take home message is the same:
Eat good quality protein, lots of vegetable, some fruit, healthy fats, little to no sugar, and avoid refined and processed carbohydrates (CHO). Eat an amount of food that supports your levels of activity but not body fat.
That is why I’m not going on to tell you about how to implement the Keto Diet and what it’s benefits could be. I don’t believe that you need to eliminate entire food groups to maintain a healthy body. And, the word ‘diet’ immediately gives the perception of a temporary approach. Is it something you could do forever? Sure. Is it (psychologically and physiologically) healthy in the long term. That is debatable.
You need appropriate amounts of all the macronutrients in order to build and maintain a fit and healthy body for life. So instead of eliminating entire energy sources, you will be better off by training the body to effectively use both (CHO and fat) energy sources. That’s called metabolic flexibility, and that’s a topic we’ll cover in the future!