Is The Keto Diet For You?
The keto diet is much more than just an avenue to losing weight. It’s a means by which you can totally transform your life. That’s because when you’re in ketosis, the state in which you’re primary source of energy is ketones, it literally feels different to be alive. Not only that, but you end up with a whole host of health benefits and even potentially prophylactic properties against conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and brain tumors. If the question is, “Is the keto diet for me?” then the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
While the initial transition may be challenging for some, the rewards are immediate. And every facet of the keto diet builds on itself, improving your life for the better in a profound way. That’s because not only do you feel better and become healthier, but you’re also abstaining from the things that would make you sick. And if you want to have some indulgences, go right ahead. That’s because the keto diet is customizable to fit everybody’s needs.
Whether you want to lose weight, lighten your mood, or get more control over your health, then the keto diet is for you. It’s simple to understand but has been field tested enough to verify its efficacy. In fact, a search for “celebrities who do keto,” or browsing social media network will reveal plenty of people who’ve used the diet to change their lives for the better. So, if you’re still wondering if keto is for you, here’s a whole slew of situations where the diet is appropriate.
You Want to Lose Weight
Obviously, since the ketogenic diet is a great way to lose weight a lot of people do it for that exact reason. Why does it work so well? Because when you adopt a low carb diet where your daily carb intake is 5%, which is 30 grams for most people, your body begins to use its own fat as the primary source of energy. Fat turns into ketones in the liver and those ketones then enter your bloodstream to feed your cells.
The alternative is a diet rich in carbs, which entails the body turning carbs into a sugar called glucose, which also enters the bloodstream and is absorbed by cells with the help of a hormone called insulin. The problem is that when you’re living off glucose you open yourself up to sugar crashes, food comas, and those dreaded blood sugar spikes where you become tired, unfocused, and hungry again soon after eating.
Being in ketosis, meanwhile, helps you lose weight. That's because, as one study by the National Institute for Health (NIH) showed, ketones suppress a hormone called ghrelin. It's one of the hormones responsible for hunger control. Ketones also raise your cholecystokinin (CCK), which also helps keep you full longer. Already losing weight is getting easier! That’s on top of the encouragement you recieve from losing water weight right when you get into ketosis. Why? Because in addition to burning up all the glucose in your body, you also burn through emergency sugars that your body stores called glycogen. And glycogen retains water.
Then come the other benefits of the keto diet: improved mood, focus, and energy. That’s all the result of ketones being a more consistent fuel than glucose. When you’re mood, focus, and energy are relying on something that fluctuates as often as glucose then it makes sense that throughout the day you’ll have difficulty concentrating, experience fatigue, and feel sad, irritable, or even angry (hangry as many of us know it). Not so when you’re in ketosis! Just make sure you’re not skipping meals, though, because hanger is real. And you also wouldn’t want to consume so few calories that your metabolism slows and your body begins to store fat.
So what do you have to do to get all of these excellent benefits aside from reducing your carb intake? You may have to go through a brief phase known as keto flu. It only lasts a few days, so don’t worry. Symptoms may include fatigue, depression, stomach cramps, and difficulty sleeping. Your mineral balance may be off as well, but that can be easily remedied by adding 3,000–4,000 mg of sodium, 1,000 mg of potassium, and 300 mg of magnesium to your daily diet. Or just drinking water with some salt in it.
You’ll also have to do a little bit of math. Nothing major. Just simple subtraction when you’re dealing with total carbs vs net carbs. Total carbs are how many carbs a food has altogether, whereas net carbs is the number of carbs that a food has that your body actually turns into sugar. Why is there a difference? Because fiber and some sugar alcohols don’t turned into glucose. So you subtract the grams of fiber or sugar alcohols from the total carbs and you have your net carbs. (Just be careful when it comes to sugar alcohol because Maltitol, xylitol, aspartame, are 67, 60, and 85 net carbs per 100 grams respectively, while erythritol is five net carbs for every 100 grams. It’s a big difference!)
The only other thing you need to do is actually regularly test whether or not you’re in ketosis. Sure, you can do blood tests to see if the amount of ketone bodies in your bloodstreams is between 0.5–3.0 mmol/L, but you're better off using keto strips. All you do is dip the keto strip into your urine stream or a sample of urine that you've collected. Then you let the strip change colors and compare the color to the guide printed on the keto strip packaging. The diet is that simple!
It may be a struggle to give up foods with added sugar, but you can learn how to eat sweets on the keto diet. And, luckily, sugar-free candy and dark chocolate are actually encouraged on the diet because they’re so high in fat that they’ll keep you in ketosis longer! And since added sugar is associated, as reported by the Mayo Clinic, puts you in greater risk for conditions that range from heart disease to tooth decay, you’re better off giving it up in the first place. Once you’ve gone long enough eating unprocessed foods, then foods with added sugar may not taste as good to you as they once did.
If you’re really craving sweets, you can make a low carb alternative with almond flour. Derived from finely ground and sifted almonds that are blanched in boiling water to remove the skins, almond flour has 4 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, and 6 net carbs. You can use it to make everything from bagels and biscuits to breaded fish and cake. There are loads of recipes for keto friendly desserts online
You can practice cyclical ketosis as well, which is where you go out of ketosis for one or two days a week, typically the weekend. Or targeted ketosis, which is when you have 10 to 20 grams of carbs before or after a workout to push your workout harder. The latter is an excuse to sneak a fun size candy bar or some gummy bears, but the former will entail putting your water weight back on and potentially having to go through keto flu again. Sometimes it’s worth it; sometimes it’s not.
You Don’t Want to Take Supplements
One of the best parts about the ketogenic diet is that it doesn’t require that you take supplements. If you do feel like you need a little extra help with the diet, all you really need is MCT oil and exogenous ketones. Neither of which is jam packed with chemicals or added sugars.
MCT, which stands for medium chain triglycerides, is a type of fat that, due to its shortened length, is treated differently by the body. It’s converted into energy faster, which makes it ideal for a pre-workout. And, as reported by the NIH, MCT oil can help you lose weight by helping increase production of the hormones peptide YY and leptin, which promote feelings of fullness. And, don’t worry, MCT comes from all natural sources like coconut and palm oil. The only reason people choose MCT over their homegrown alternatives is because both coconut and palm oil have significant amounts of other, less useful types of fats.
Exogenous ketones are ketones that are produced outside of the body, particularly beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), a ketone body that the humans naturally produce. Exogenous ketones are great if you need some energy before a workout or to up your focus before doing some intellectually rigorous work. It’s also a great alternative to caffeine for those who are sensitive to stimulants.
You Want to Improve Your Health
Cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes are both associated with excess fat, so it behooves you to take any measure that decreases the liklihood of contracting these two conditions. Cardiovascular disease, for example, is the leading cause of death amongst Americans. According to the CDC, 610,000 people a year die because of heart disease. That's one out of every four deaths. And the NIH showed that a ketogenic diet may help lower your chances of developing cardiovascular illness.
Type 2 diabetes, or adult onset diabetes, meanwhile, affects over 400 million people worldwide. Symptoms include fatigue, blurred vision, increased thirst and hunger, and weight loss caused by the body's inability to properly process glucose. The condition is caused by an inability to naturally regulate insulin levels. Numerous studies have shown, however, that a ketogenic diet may alleviate symptoms and lower the need for medication. One such study by the NIH ended with 75% of participants with improved insulin sensitivity.
The ketogenic diet can decrease the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but some studies have also shown that the diet can also help ward off Alzheimer’s disease and brain tumors. One hypothesis put forth by the NIH is that neurons would be more resilient because ketones give them more energy. As a result, they'd withstand degenerative diseases. And, as posited by the NIH, glucose may fuel brain tumor growth more effectively than ketones, which means that switching to a ketogenic diet may also make your brain more resilient.
You Want to Unlock Your Body’s Full Potential
There are many reasons why you should do cardio on the keto diet, chief among them that cardio and keto go so well together so well. Keto already improves your mood, makes you less susceptible to cardiovascular illness and type 2 diabetes, and may also act as a prophylactic against degenerative brain disease. But when you add cardio you take it to a whole new level.
Moods are often thrown off balance by stress, but when you choose to subject yourself to stress by doing cardio you end up becoming even more resilient. Cardio releases chemicals that elevate your mood. Additionally, when you do cardio for 45 minutes or more two times a week, you end up raising the amount of human growth hormone (HGH) that your body produces, which is great news because HGH improves muscle growth and recovery and also has anti-aging properties. You also end up raising your metabolism every time you do cardio; and the longer your session the longer your metabolism stays raised.
No diet is complete, however, without a good night’s rest. Sleep is an indispensable part of any successful diet. You need it for muscle recovery and skipping Zzzzs will increase the levels of cortisone, a stress hormone, in your body. That may also lead to poor decision making, decreased mood, your metabolism going down, and your body gaining weight. And why not? The stress of sleeplessness is quite significant!
Lastly, keto alone is good, but keto with others is great! We’re social animals, which means that we do everything with others. Even without-others, to paraphrase the German philosopher Heidegger, is just another mode of being-with-others. This claim was backed up by an NIH study that wherein 95% of people who did a diet with a group ended up finishing and 66% ended up keeping the weight off for four to ten months, which is a significant improvement over the 76% of people doing a diet alone who finished with only 24% keeping the weight off.
You Want to Be More Mindful
An improved diet, sleep schedule, and cardio are all great ways of improving your mood as well, which can go a long way if you’re prone to anxiety, depression, or other mental illness. The sense of accomplishment you receive and the boost to your confidence help as well. Additionally, there are a lot of foods that you consume when you’re doing the ketogenic diet that can reduce your anxiety.
Eggs, and turkey, are high in tryptophan , an amino acid that plays a role in serotonin production, which positively affects mood, sleep, and behaviour. Then there's omega 3, which is found in fatty fish, which has been shown to improve mental health. Avocados, which are high in magnesium. And even dark chocolate, which is high in plant based nutrients (polyphenols) and plant pigments (flavonoids), have been shown by the NIH to potentially reduce neuroinflammation and cell death.
Since the ketogenic diet helps regulate your appetite, you can finally learn to eat when you’re hungry and not because you’re bored, stressed, or just out of habit. You can develop an appreciation for your own bodily sensations as well as the experience of eating. These skills, then, can translate to other arenas of your life that require being present, ranging from intelectual to artistic pursuits. Even just spending time with family and friends benefits from being present with them. Your improved mood, focus, and energy levels will help in this way as well.
Since the ketogenic diet is a diet, you’ll also have to pay more attention to how you eat. Sure, there’s keto friendly fast food, like burgers without buns or salad versions of your favorite sandwich or burrito, but you’re better off making meal plans and bringing lunch from home, which will also let you do the keto diet on a budget. And while such planning may seem daunting, it’s more than doable, just like everything else is, when you’re benefiting from the improved mood, focus, and energy you get from ketosis.
You Want to Take Control of Your Life
There’s so much that feels out of control these days that people will do all sorts of things to feel in control. Some people act out destructively. That’s not the path for us. Instead, we recommend going keto. You’ll have greater control of how you feel, what you put in your body, how you look, and how much money you spend on food.
The rewards you reap from the ketogenic diet are enough to make the world seem more manageable, and not just because you’ve got improved mood, energy, and focus. That’s because once you’ve got the hang of the ketogenic diet you’ll be doing something that most people choose not to do even though they can: taking control of your life. And once you feel in control of your life and like you have less things to worry about, then of course life will feel more manageable. That’s because you’ve put in the effort to manage more of your life. The difference is stark; and once you go keto you’re not going to want to go back.