Ketogenic & Paleo diets are all the rage - but do they work, and are they beneficial beyond just weight loss?
First of all, ketogenic & paleo are different in meaning, but have cross-over. Read more about paleo diet here on wikipedia.
Here we'll focus on ketogenic, and our meaning of "diet" is food choices... not a calorie-restrictive diet...
I've previously written about the Zone diet, which helped me a LOT in my 20s. The Zone Diet was great for educating people about:
a) What are the 3 dietary macro-nutrients that humans use for energy?: Carbs, protein & fats.
b) Carbohydrate rich diets aren't all they cracked up to be! And some people really suffer from eating this way
c) Quantity of each macro-nutrient vs calorie-richness, and suggested proportions of each on your plate. (Fats have the most energy per gram, followed by carbs then protein.)
Things have moved along a bit since the Zone diet was written. More ground-breaking research has been done in the past 20 years on low carbohydrate diets.
While I always suggest moderation and balance in all things, trying out a ketogenic approach (at least some of the time) has really helped me.
You may be surprised to learn that your body has evolved, and is therefore designed to run more efficiently on fat than on non-fibrous, refined carbs or sugars.
When you were a child, your body was probably able to use either carbs or fat for fuel, and switch back and forth, but as you age, this can change. As an adult, we can lose the metabolic "flexibility" and simply gain weight from eating carbs. However, a ketogenic diet can help your body retrain itself to burn the fuel it naturally prefers (from an evolutionary perspective) for a healthy body – fat.
A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb, moderate protein diet. Unlike the typical modern diet that’s loaded with refined grains, sugars, excessive protein and low-quality fats, a ketogenic diet is both satisfying and energising.
While I don't suggest that packaged ketogenic foods are always found "in nature" - we also aren't hunter gatherers anymore. This doesn't mean we should ignore what fuel our bodies are evolved to use. Specialist keto products are the modern answer to our busy lifestyles and emotional requirements.
These products are designed for use together with a whole-foods, mainly plant-based diet.
Once you make the switch to burning fat for fuel, you can leave behind the unwelcome feelings of 'yukky' or urgent hunger and sugar lows along with constant cravings and the feeling of deprivation.
Best of all, unlike many other diets, a ketogenic diet can turn on your body’s innate ability to resist common maladies and help you make significant changes in your health.
How a Ketogenic Diet Helps You Transform Your Health
Your cellular mitochondria can make or break your health. Those tiny energy factories within your cells convert the food you eat and the air you breathe into energy.
When your mitochondria are plentiful and healthy, you feel energetic and on top of the world. However, if large numbers of mitochondria in your body stop functioning properly from things like poor diet, pollution or aging, your health can be challenged. It’s impossible to stay healthy with too many mitochondria that aren’t working as they should.
The good news is, you can potentially turn that dysfunction around simply by following the ketogenic diet – changing what and how you eat.
Byeating healthy fats and low-starch vegetables, and limiting your carbs (especially refined) and excessive amounts of protein, you can nourish your mitochondria and actually improve their functioning. Certain nutrients found in whole foods can even help increase the number of mitochondria in your cells.
Because fats are a cleaner burning form of fuel, Ketogenic diet can potentially help protect your fragile cellular DNA from potential damage that can lead to serious health concerns.
I know I've found I have stronger muscles and less muscle soreness when I stick to it. But I'm not strict about anything, and I still include loads of treats and beer! I alternate between a keto and a "standard" diet - either spending part of the day in ketosis using intermittent fasting and a small amount of high fat foods, or spending a few days this way. But I still enjoy a bit of sourdough bread and the odd croissant!
I get into ketosis by brewing my morning coffee with Nutra Organics Collagen and Dr Mercola MCT Oil, and Good Health Coconut Oil. If I'm having hot coffee, I add these to my rice or almond milk as I heat it using the steamer. It makes the milk rich & fluffy. Otherwise, I have cold-brew, and mix them in the blender. This keeps me going all morning!
You can also still enjoy traditional recipes like pancakes, by switching out the types of flours you use to be higher in protein and fats (e.g. by using coconut oil and chia seeds, for example.) I made these pancakes with coconut & a small amount of tapioca flour, banana, eggs and cooked in ample coconut oil. The blueberries are warmed in their own juices without adding sugar.