You may have heard of low-carb diets, the Banting diet or eating like a cave dweller. All these eating plans promote a change from eating over-processed foods and carbohydrates, instead focusing more on getting our calories from protein and fat. Carbohydrates and sugar are too easy to consume in vast quantities in modern life.
There are hidden sugars in many foods, such as tomato sauce and even baked beans. A Keto diet goes one step further by altering your digestive system and how you process fats and proteins. When the ratio of fat, protein, and carbohydrates that you consume changes dramatically, we no longer have carbohydrates that are readily available in our bloodstream.
This nutritional ketosis switch, which is triggered by following a Keto health plan, completely changes the way our bodies function. We produce “ketones” in our liver and use this energy source to function. Fat becomes the main source of fuel for our bodies. It can only work when the carbohydrate intake is below 10% of our daily calorie intake.
Before you start dreaming of creamy sauces, steak and vegetables dripping with butter, you need to realize that while your main source of energy will be fat, it is not a free-for-all when it comes to eating high-calorie meals.
What about carbohydrates?
By reducing carbohydrates to such a low level, our bodies need a source of energy. Protein does not count. Vegetables do not provide energy. Fruit is limited. Only some berries and fruit are allowed in a very limited amount. Nutritional ketosis promotes weight loss and was originally designed to help people with seizures and those who had health issues related to their diet.
Is there a catch? Yes. When you eat carbohydrates on a Banting-style diet, you are not at the tipping point of an energy process. Carb-free and low-carb, high-fat are not quite the same process. With that said, both diet plans require you to go through a period of withdrawal from carbs. It is sometimes referred to as Keto flu — you can expect headaches, nausea and an upset stomach. It takes a while for our bodies to learn and adapt to the new ratio of fat and protein.
The benefits of the Keto diet
There are many benefits to following a Keto diet. People report having increased mental clarity. Our brain and nervous system need healthy fats to function well. Our nervous system and neurons are covered in fatty tissue called a myelin sheath.
A low-fat diet, for example, deprives us of the healthy fats our bodies need to function optimally. By decreasing sugars and carbs, we also carry less water in our cells. It is very common for people to lose a lot of water weight when they first switch to a Keto diet.
There are many recipes online for smoothies (Keto mocha coffee), Keto meals (rainbow chicken, anyone?) and how to switch out recipes and make them Keto-friendly. Yes, you can have a caramel coffee shake or sweet strawberry shake. You will see that there are many sugar substitutes you can use while still enjoying delicious and nutritious delights.