Last week, the U.S. News & World Report published their 2018 list of best diets, placing the high-fat low carb ketogenic diet last. How could this be? I lost four pounds that same week on ‘keto’, and it’s wildly popular with the likes of Kim Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow and LeBron James.
The judge’s stance: ketogenic diets are highly restrictive, which they are. Could you live off 5% carbohydrates, 10% protein and 85% fat? Turns out, you may not need to. Mark Sisson, author of The Keto Reset Diet says it’s possible to have your cake and be keto too.
What is a ketogenic diet?
Let’s start here. A ketogenic diet is one that converts fatty foods into energy molecules called ketones. Eating this way puts you in a state of ‘ketosis’, resulting in a leaner body. Athletes and bodybuilders have long used ketogenic dieting for this reason.
The rest of us prefer to fuel off carbohydrates – they’re quick and tasty compared to their high fat counterparts (eggs, avocados, fish and walnuts). But high-carb diets trick your metabolism into storing fat.
Foods like bread, rice and fruit are absorbed by your liver and converted into glycogen (energy). From there, glycogen is distributed to your muscles and bloodstream to keep you alive. However, your liver and muscles can only store so much glycogen; which means any excess is stored as body fat.
Eating fat, on the other hand, yields the opposite effect. Your metabolism becomes very efficient at burning rather than storing fat. This should come as no surprise given our paleolithic ancestors, who were lean individuals, survived for days on animal fat. It was the agricultural revolution (10,000 BC) that exposed mankind to carbohydrates. Humans stopped hunting their food and farmed it instead. Fatty cuts of meat were replaced by wheat and rice. The carbohydrate revolution began.
Fat & carbs for ketosis: the sweet spot
Now you understand the ketogenic diet and why carbs lead to weight gain, how do you achieve the benefits of a ketogenic diet, while still enjoying some carbs? Step 1: reboot your metabolism.
In his book, The Keto Reset Diet, Mark Sisson outlines a 21-day protocol for cutting carbs to 100g per day (this still buys you a sweet potato, two slices of bread, and a piece of fruit – not bad!), and obtaining your remaining calories from fats and protein. This ‘low-carb’ approach is not keto, but prepares your body for the fact it’s energy is coming from not only carbs but fats too.
The next stage looks at where you can cut an extra 40-50g of carbs from your diet, so that you are now truly in ketosis, and fat becomes your body’s preferred fuel source. This period lasts six weeks, the required timeframe Sisson believes is necessary to recalibrate your body’s metabolism into a fat burning machine. After six weeks, you can bring carbs back, provided you stay in what Sisson calls the keto zone: anywhere between 50-150g daily. Enjoying carbs AND being in a state of ketosis, till now, was unheard of.
Sisson’s book is available on Amazon.com. I highly recommend it if you want a lean body AND cheesecake at the same time.
As always, pushing for health.
DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN IN THE FIRST INSTANCE.