The Ketogenic diet follows a hunter gatherer approach to a strict low carb diet. By doing this it turns your body into an absolute fat burning machine.
There are many proven health benefits from going on a keto diet, including weight loss, better long term health and performance, sustained energy levels and much more. You can find many scientific studies done to support this here:
Ok, let’s jump straight into everything you will ever want to know about keto, in this guide we will be covering the origins, scientific theory, health benefits as well as practical tips and guides on how to get started on the keto diet.
how does keto work?
The Ketogenic diet encourages you to eat very few carbs and sugars to allow your body to enter a state of “ketosis” This is a state where the body starts to produce small molecules called “ketones”. These ketone molecules are an excellent fuel source when your body no longer has adequate access to blood sugar (glucose).
It is also important to limit protein intake, as too much protein is also converted to glucose by the liver through the process of gluconeogenesis when protein intake is too high.
Ketones is a much more sustainable energy source thanks to it’s constant supply in the body in the form of fat. The liver takes this fat from around the body and converts the fat into ketones, which can be used as an energy source around the body.
When you enter a state of ketosis, your entire body switches it’s “fuel supply” to run entirely on fat instead of sugar and carbs. Due to this switch in energy supply your insulin levels will become very low, and your body will start to burn fat on a much higher level.
Once you have started the keto diet, it normally takes about 3-5 days to reach a state of ketosis. It is important to mind that in order to remain in a state of ketosis, the diet must be followed strictly.
Origins of the keto diet
The Keto Diet finds its roots in our own ancient eating habits as hunter gatherers, where a diet of unprocessed, natural fatty meats and vegetables was the staple food of the day.
It has only been since the industrial era where we have seen a massive shift towards a grain and sugar based diet that makes up most of our diets. If you go to your grocery store, you will notice that almost all of your processed foods contain a shocking amount of sugar, items such as yogurt, cereals, frozen foods, breads, even condiments such as tomato and BBQ sauce!
You may think something as seemingly innocent such as fruit juice may be a safe bet, but in fact it contains the fructose (fruit sugar) equivalent of a soft drink, thus spiking your blood sugar levels and wreaking havoc on general health in the long term.
Many studies have directly correlated high sugar intake with many of the world’s health epidemics, including obesity, heart attack, dementia, diabetes, cancer and many more diseases that stem from an unhealthy lifestyle.
The truth is our bodies simply were never made to run on processed grains and sugars! By going back to basics, and following the hunter gatherer-based Keto diet, you will unlock a huge range of health benefits as your body starts to run on the fuel it was meant to run on.
STUDIES ON THE HUNTER GATHERER DIET
Western lifestyles differ markedly from those of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and these differences in diet and activity level are often implicated in the global obesity pandemic. This peer reviewed study further explores the topic.
This study lists the most obese nations in the world by percentage, what is interesting about this study is that the nations with the highest levels of obesity are all post-hunter gatherer nations that have only recently (since the 18-900’s ) been exposed to a western diet and lifestyle.
This article gives great insight into the history of sugar, as well as the strong correlation between sugar intake and public health issues.
This beautiful visual illustration tells the story of sugar, and the impact it has had throughout history.
Do you want to further your studies and gain a holistic perspective on the hunter gatherer lifestyle, check out this handbook by Oxford University:
Benefits of Keto
There are so many benefits that come with changing to a Ketogenic diet, if you think about it, the benefits are your body’s way of thanking you for changing to the fuel it was always meant to run on 😉
There are many credible studies that we will list in this article that back the thesis that a Ketogenic diet can be beneficial for mental focus, increased energy, weight loss, blood sugar control, epilepsy, hunger control, Insulin resistance, acne and much more!
We will cover each benefit of the keto diet in this section, and explain how the keto diet achieves these benefits.
When your body is in a state of ketosis, it relies on ketones as an energy source. Ketones, unlike carbohydrates and sugar, releases a steady stream of energy – meaning no more blood sugar swings that result in headaches, brain fog and a lack of concentration.
When your body is burning fat as it’s energy source, it means a constant 24/7 supply of energy. Not only is fat always available in your body, but research has shown that it is one of the most effective molecules to burn for energy. This means no more energy swings!
One of the obvious benefits of the Ketogenic diet is weight loss. Because your body is now burning fat as it’s main energy source, it means your natural fat reserves will more easily be depleted. Fat storing hormones have been proven to drop dramatically on keto.
CHOLESTROL & BLOOD PRESSURE
The keto diet helps improve one’s cholesterol by increasing HDL particle concentration and decreasing LDL particle concentration. This improvement in triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels help prevent arterial buildup.
Medical professionals have been prescribing the Ketogenic diet for children suffering from epilepsy since the early 1900’s. Many studies have shown overwhelming evidence for the Ketogenic diet as being an effective therapy for epileps, allowing fewer medications to be used.
When your body is in a state of ketosis it means that it has a constant supply of energy for weeks. This means a dramatic reduction in feelings of hunger and cravings. This makes intermittent fasting easier, and helps you to eat only when you are genuinely hungry.
If one leaves insulin resistance unchecked, it can lead to type II diabetes. There is a whole plethora of research out there that show that a low carb, ketogenic diet can help people lower their insulin levels to healthy ranges.
There have been recent studies that show that through ketone supplementation there may be improved memory function of Alzheimer’s patients – and may even help to reverse the disease.
In one recent clinical study researchers tested the effects of the ketogenic diet on symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The results showed a 43% reduction in Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale scores after a 28-days on the diet.
A keto diet may help to improve skin condition and conditions such as acne. If you are starting keto for better skin it may be helpful to also limit dairy intake to further improve your skin.
People often argue that performance is affected when on a keto diet, but that’s not true. Well, not in the long run. In the short-term, you may notice some small physical performance drops, but this will subside as you continue replenishing fluids, electrolytes, and adapt to the fat intake.
Because ketogenic diets are usually high in saturated fats, many people suspect that they are unhealthy. Research shows that very-low carbohydrate diets are actually beneficial for overweight and obese people who suffer from type II diabetes
What Can I Eat On Keto?
It is a myth that that you cannot enjoy a wide range of yummy meals while on keto. Armed with the right information and our handy kero-friendly recipe blog, you are sure to find something that tickles your tastebuds.
The most important thing for reaching ketosis is to avoid eating too many carbs. You’ll probably need to keep carb intake under 50 grams per day of net carbs, ideally below 20 grams. The fewer carbs, the more effective.
The following is a list of typical foods that you can enjoy while on a keto diet: Here are typical foods to enjoy on a ketogenic diet.
The main goal of the ketogenic diet is to absolutely minimise one’s carbohydrate intake, and maximise calorie intake from healthy fats. This means you will want to try and stick to foods with less than 5% carbohydrate composition.
This includes food such as eggs, meats, seafood, vegetables that grow above the ground and natural fats such as avocados, olive oil and butter.
All of the food above sticks to the strict 5% carbohydrate allowance that we use on keto. Here are some further tips for each of the above mentioned food groups:
- Fats & Oils. You can get most of your fat intake from natural sources such as avocado, different meats and nuts. You can also further supplement with saturated and monounsaturated fats like coconut oil, butter, and olive oil. Be aware to always read the label to ensure there is no added sugar in the products that you are buying!
- Protein. Avoid meat that has been marinated or dipped in sauces or crumbed (Unless the packaging confirms that the sauce will put you over your carb limit.) In order to make sure your meat has adequate nutritional value, we recommend organic, pasture-raised and grass-fed meat where possible. Most meats don’t have added sugar in them, so they can be consumed in moderate quantity. Remember that too much protein on a ketogenic diet is not a good thing as your liver will start to convert this additional protein into sugar.
- Vegetables. Fresh vegetables are preferable, however frozen is okay as well. Choose vegetables that grow above the ground, the greener and leafier the better!
- Dairy. Try to minimise milk as it has a relatively high sugar content in the form of lactose. Try full fat dairy cheeses and creams, the harder the cheese the less carbs it has.
- Nuts and Seeds. Eat nuts in smaller quantities – choose high fat nuts such as almonds and macadamias.
- Beverages. Water is your friend, try adding lemon for zest. You can also have diet drinks, however many of these contain artificial sweeteners that can be detrimental to your health in the long term. (And some can even have an effect on your ketgenic state!) If you are really craving a delicious drink, consider substituting a meal with one of our High Fat, Low Carb Smoothie Shakes – We even have a whole range of recipes so that you can get creative with the way you have your Keto shakes.
Different Types of Keto Diets
There are three main variations of the Ketogenic diet – each one can be practiced to achieve different goals.
- Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): The Standard Ketogenic Diet is the most common variation, followed for weight loss and health benefits.
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): This variation is often followed by athletes that choose to utilise a small amount of fast-digesting carbs before a work out for an energy boost.
- Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): Used by bodybuilders and strength athletes, this variation of the Keto Diet allows one day a week to take in a large amount of carbs to resupply glycogen stores.
While carbs are not necessarily needed to build muscle, a filled glycogen storage in the body is. You can still fill your glycogen levels on a ketogenic diet, protein intake is absolutely crucial for this. If you are looking to gain mass it is suggested that your protein intake should be 1g-1.2g per for every 454g of lean body mass
Your glycogen stores can still be refilled while on a ketogenic diet. A keto diet is an excellent way to build muscle, but protein intake is crucial here. It’s suggested that if you are looking to gain mass, you should be taking in about 2.1g to 2.4g protein per kg of lean body mass. Putting muscle on may be slower on a ketogenic diet, but that’s because your total body fat is not increasing as much.