“Are you a fat burner or a sugar burner?” Ketogenic diets are all the rage right now. What is all the hype about?
What exactly is the Ketogenic diet?
Before we get into it, for those of you who are not familiar with the ketogenic diet it is basically a high fat, low carb, moderate protein diet. On a ketogenic diet you typically eat 70-75% of your calories from fat, 20% from meat and 5-10% from carbohydrates.
How does the diet work?
When you limit carbohydrates your body produces ketones to be used for energy. Ketones are produced from the breakdown of fat in the liver. When the body is deficient in carbohydrates it will use ketones as fuel. The argument that ketones are superior is due to carbohydrates and their role in glucose and insulin production. A high carbohydrate diet uses glucose as the main form of energy which can lead to the storage of fat. When the body runs out of glucose for fuel, it tells your brain you need more which can lead to snacking and overeating.
What are the potential benefits of the Ketogenic diet?
Proposed benefits of the ketogenic diet include weight loss, increased mental performance and clarity, increased energy, decreased appetite, and the ability to go long periods of time without eating.
The US News and World Report ranked the Ketogenic diet last on their Best Diet Overall list. The main reasons for this ranking include it not being healthy for the long-term and is not sustainable. The Vegan diet ranked third for best diet for Diabetes. Click here for the full article.
When you look back on our ancestors, there is no evidence of any population staying in chronic ketosis. Many of these Keto experts will use the Inuit people as an argument as they consumed a high fat diet. But what they won’t tell you is that the Inuit people had a genetic mutation preventing them from going into long-term ketosis.
What do I eat on a Ketogenic diet?
Atypical ketogenic diet consists of about 30-50 grams of carbohydrate per day. To put this into perspective a small apple contains about 25 grams. A slice of bread 15 grams. You are basically eating meats, leafy greens, some vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower), high fat dairy, nuts and seeds (some), avocados, berries and fats (coconut oil, olive oil, butter). You cannot eat grains, most fruits, legumes, potatoes, and need to limit portions of vegetables, nuts and seeds.
What is my opinion on the Ketogenic diet?
Before I get into my thoughts and opinion on the ketogenic diet I want to talk about what happened to me when I tried this diet. It was about a year and a half ago. I was not yet vegan (obviously) and was running long distance endurance events (marathons and 50 mile trail runs). I started hearing about the ketogenic diet on some podcasts and was curious if it would help my endurance and ability to go long periods of time without having to rely on carbohydrates. I gradually cut back my carbohydrate intake to about 50 grams per day. I was in the off-season but still running shorter distances (3-10 miles) 5-6 times per week. I followed the diet for about 4-5 months. Breakfast usually was a fatty coffee (coffee with cream and coconut oil). Mid morning I would snack on some macadamia nuts. Lunch and dinner were a protein with some leafy greens or other “low carb” vegetable and with some sore of fat. I would snack on string cheese, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, or low carb “keto friendly” bars. I also drank a lot of water.
Overall, I found the ketogenic diet easy to follow. I noticed I could go out for a run without eating but otherwise did not see many of the benefits that everyone raves about. Some negative side effects I experienced included bad breath (from burning ketones), weight gain, and constipation.
I stopped the diet for many reasons but basically did not agree with the rules. No fruits, legumes, whole grains, and most vegetables seemed counter-intuitive. These foods provide fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. What the hell is meat and dairy giving me? O yeah, hormones, fat, and protein. Not much else. Looking back, I feel kind of stupid for trying it, but I did learn a lot. About a month after stopping this diet, I lost weight and started having regular bowel movements (sorry of that is TMI). I feel better eating plants and know that a vegan diet is healthier for me. I also feel good knowing that I am saving animals and the supporting the planet.
I am not saying the ketogenic diet is bad. It was just not right for me. I find that I perform and feel better eating plant foods. The ketogenic diet has been shown to benefit many people including children with epilepsy and other neurological diseases. There is not a whole lot of research out there on the long-term side effects of this diet which concerns me. Many people are using the diet to reset metabolic dysfunction which I find interesting. I have not researched this issue but it would be interesting to learn more about this.
It is my opinion that the ketogenic diet is pure bullshit and hype. It is just another version of the Atkin’s diet. It is not sustainable. Plus it focuses on animal products. This is inhumane to animals and disrespectful to our planet. We as humans are in such a state of denial about where our food comes from and how it gets onto our plates. Maybe instead of counting your carbs and urinating on a keto stick you should research where all the eggs, cheese and meat you’re eating are coming from. I am sure that you will be enlightened just like I was.
I hope my critique of this diet was not too harsh. If you are following the ketogenic diet and it is helping you reach your goals, great. My only advice is to look long-term and big picture to really see if this is the best solution.
Have any of you tried the Ketogenic diet? Any thoughts?
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