What to Know Before Going Keto - Understand the Basics
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what to know before going keto

keto diet

what to know before going keto

Whenever I meet someone new and I mention that I am in the field of nutrition, I usually get asked lots of questions. For the last year, the question I get the most often while at a social event is about the Keto Diet. What is it? How does it work? Why is everyone trying it? And, do I recommend the diet? So this month, I’m sharing my answers!

what is keto?

First, let’s start with the basics. There are 3 macronutrients, which are essential, that our body uses to create energy: Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats. When eating a typical, balanced diet, your body converts carbs & protein into glucose to use as energy. However, we have a back-up energy pathway called ketosis, that we use “in case of emergency.” When the body does not have access to food, either due to fasting, famine, or periods of starvation, our bodies use fat as fuel. Fat is converted into ketones, and is used by the body as fuel until you have your next meal.

A Ketogenic Diet is a way of eating that tricks your body into thinking it’s fasting. Since you are restricting foods that your body would traditionally turn into glucose (carbs & protein), your body is forced to use fat as fuel. This diet that has traditionally been used by epileptics to control seizures, but is now becoming popular as a weight loss solution.

It is a rigid diet that requires diligent adherence to remain in a constant state of ketosis (using fat/ketones as energy). To be on a true keto diet, ~75-80% of calories should come from healthy fats, 15-20% from protein, and 5% from carbohydrates. A modified approach, which is sometimes used for weight loss is 40-60% of calories from healthy fats, 20-30% from protein, and 15-25% from carbohydrates. The modified approach is very similar to the Atkins Diet.

know the facts.

This trend requires pre-planning. Before you embark down the keto path – Consult an expert. Be sure you know the facts first. For a majority of my clients, this would not be my first recommendation for achieving weight loss. Although it may work for some, this diet isn’t for everyone. Understanding first what your body needs to function optimally is and important piece!

importance of balancing your blood sugar

A big reason why the ketogenic diet & intermittent fasting are popular approaches is because they contribute to balancing blood sugar. Fat doesn’t spike blood sugar levels, and with keto that is the majority of the diet. Stabilizing blood sugar will influence weight. When insulin spikes too much too fast due to the foods & drinks we consume, our body signals to convert all this extra energy into fat cells. So, common foods like pastas, breads, cereals, and carmel macchiatos will result in an insulin spike. This will throw your blood sugar levels out of whack.

Keep in mind, there are additional ways of eating (modifying frequency, the type of foods you eat, timing, etc) while eating an overall balanced diet that can also result in balanced blood sugar, besides keto. Therefore, focusing on a diet that balances  blood sugar naturally, you can experience some of the benefits of a ketogenic approach, plus still get to eat fruit 🙂 For more details on how to naturally balance blood sugar, be sure to download my healthy living guide.

why it works

In addition to above, here are a few others reasons why keto diets can work:

  1. Through this diet, you are cutting out foods that typically encourage weight gain {foods that cause insulin spikes!} such as processed and refined carbohydrates like breads, crackers, pastas, etc. This is something you can do, whether you are on the Keto diet or not.
  2. It requires more energy for the body to use fat & ketones as fuel. This sounds good from a weight loss standpoint, however you essentially making your body work harder to get energy from the food you eat. On a short term basis that may be ok, but not ideal for the long term. 
  3. Fat does keep you full. Again, this is something you can adopt regardless if you’re on the keto diet or not! Adding healthy fats to snacks and meals to maintain healthy blood sugar levels & keep you full works. Add avocado, coconut oil, nut butters, or seeds to amp up soups, salads, snacks, or even smoothies.

 

is it worth it?

I’m gonna say it again. Know what you are getting into first. Here are a few potential side effects you should consider before you go keto: 

  1. It’s tough on your liver. Processing incredibly high amounts of fat makes it a lot harder for your liver to do it’s job. Our livers are amazing and protect us from everything. Environmental toxins, healthy removal of hormones, and supporting our immune system to name just a few. Trust me, you want your liver in good working order. And it needs glucose to do it’s best work for you.
  2. Digestion & your microbiome will likely change due to a significant decrease in fiber in your diet. As Americans, we need more fiber in our diets, not less, as a general rule. To understand more about the important role that plays in your health, read my prior blog.
  3. Women {especially} have a tendency to become more acidic while eating Keto. Most standard diets in the U.S. already lead to an acidic pH, and this can add fuel to the fire. 
  4. Our brains & hearts {and liver} all prefer glucose as fuel! 

 

listen to your body!

Combine your goals and the advice you are getting from a professional with what is happening within your own system. Listen to your body cues, such as constipation, changes in energy & digestion, increased bloating, and others. Trying to force your body into what you want doesn’t usually work. Listen & work with your body for the best results.

A variety of real, whole food and plant-based sources are proven to have many benefits for your body, energy, and overall health. To significantly limit these foods it not an ideal option for a majority of people. Therefore, I would highly recommend considering other options first. To download my free copy of 5 Steps to Healthy Weight Loss, click here

 

an image that says "with love, Jen" for nutritionbliss.com

Jen Martinsen, IFNCP, CIHC is a Functional Nutritionist, Holistic Health Coach, mom of two adventurous boys, and the owner of Nutrition Bliss. She is also the creator of The Intuitive Method ™️, a holistic diet & lifestyle approach designed specifically for women. This method combines science-based functional nutrition principles (addressing symptoms at the root cause) with practices for listening to the body’s cues. This method incorporates several modalities including gut health, detoxification, sleep patterns, hormone cycles, stress reduction practices, and more. 

Jen
jen@nutritionbliss.com