Ketogenic diets are getting a lot of attention these days and along with that attention comes a great amount of debate as to whether or not this metabolic state is ideal for individuals to purposely put themselves in. The information available is constantly growing and can be extremely confusing to a newcomer.
What does it mean to be in ketosis?
How do you get into a state of ketosis?
What are the benefits of Keto diets?
What are the concerns with keto diets?
So whats the verdict?
I think ketogenic diets are a fantastic option for individuals trying to tame insatiable appetites, manage chronic disease and lose some weight. I also believe that they are not for everybody. The biggest reason I feel they are not for everybody is due to operator error and the fact that not everybody knows how to properly follow them. Do your homework. I cannot stress it enough about something like this. As natural of an occurrence that a ketogenic state may be, shifting from a lifetime of primarily burning glucose to burning fat is no easy task when you do so unguided. I just finished reading the latest book by Jimmy Moore, called Keto Clarity. I cannot recommend it enough. Being someone who thought they knew quite a bit about this subject and who had already read several books on it, I still learned a lot from this book.
The biggest argument I hear advising against ketogenic diets is that they cause hypothyroid symptoms such as intolerance to cold, hair loss, menstrual disruptions, brain fog and fatigue. My guess is that one of two things are happening. One, the person isn't eating enough fat. If you aren't ready to purchase stock in Kerrygold butter, you probably aren't eating enough of it! But seriously, eat the fat. And lots of it. Your body needs fat to produce several hormones in your body and keep them well regulated. If you come into this thinking low carb is a good add on to a low fat diet then you're going to put unnecessary stress on your body. Two, calories are way too low. Yes, I know calories don't matter as much as quality of food, but the body still needs fuel to keep all the systems running in tip top shape. So don't short change them. This happens when people make the mistake of thinking low carb and low cal are a good idea. I don't even want to think about those who do low fat, low carb and low cal. What a hot mess that more than likely results in. It also often happens by mistake because getting into a ketogenic state has a very powerful appetite suppressing mechanism to it. This makes it easy to go hours without even thinking about food. Pair that with an increase in energy or desire to hit the gym and you've got a pretty hefty caloric deficit. Is it any coincidence that the signs and symptoms of thyroid disfunction due to very low calorie diets are menstrual disruptions, irritability, intolerance to cold, brain fog and hair loss??? Read more on this topic in this article, here.
All in all I believe ketogenic diets to be a friend and an excellent tool to use to aid in fat loss, as well as an ideal lifestyle to manage chronic disease. While I don't personally intend to follow a ketogenic lifestyle and maintain a state of ketosis forever, I don't miss the low fat/high carb days of unstable blood sugar levels and insatiable hunger. I believe an ideal metabolic state for myself will consist of my body cycling in and out of ketosis, playing with the durations as I go along. I'll learn more about what works for my body during my keto experiment this month and I encourage you to do your own to figure out what amount of fat, protein and carbs is right for yours. Last but not least, listen to your body. It's your body, and yours only, that gets the indisputable last word.
Now I would love to hear from you! Have you ever tried to get into a ketogenic state? What was your experience? Good or bad, lets chat about it in the comments below.