The very low-carb, very high-fat ketogenic diet has been used by doctors to treat certain patients since the 1920s—and it’s currently receiving more attention than ever before. Giving up carbs to improve one’s weight and health is nothing new, but why are people clamoring to go keto and fill their plates full of fat?
The ketogenic diet is unique and super effective because it actually alters the fuel source that your body uses to stay energized. Rather than using glucose for energy (typically from foods containing sugar and carbs), the keto diet causes your body to burn fat for fuel through the creation of energizing molecules called ketone bodies. In order to produce those ketone bodies, you need to get about 75-80 percent or more of your daily calories from fat sources. Hence the emphasis on high-fat, keto-friendly foods, like coconut or olive oil, grass-fed butter, eggs and fattier cuts of meat or fish.
Studies conducted over the past several decades have shown that the keto diet can help fight high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides; thus, promoting steady weight loss, an increase in energy, cognitive health and hormonal balance and a reduction in the risk for chronic diseases.
But that’s not all.
The Top Benefits of the Keto Diet
Weight loss—Not only does keto cause your body to burn its own fat stores, but ketone bodies have an appetite-reducing effect. Reduced hunger on keto also makes intermittent fasting easier, which further boosts weight loss and other anti-aging benefits.
Disease protection—If you stick to healthy fats and whole foods on the keto diet, you’ll be cutting out empty calories and inflammatory foods like sugar and processed grains. Studies have shown that keto helps control inflammation and offers protection against neurological/neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, traumatic brain injury and stroke), diabetes, metabolic syndrome and more.
Enhanced energy and mental performance—Ketone bodies supply the brain with a steady supply of energy. And because blood sugar is more balanced, it’s easier to stay focused when following the keto diet. Keto can also be very beneficial for reversing spikes and dips in your mood and energy, because it cuts out nearly all sources of sugar and processed grains – which cause blood sugar levels to rise and fall rapidly.
Though the keto diet sounds pretty straightforward (eat more butter and cheese!), without proper planning, it’s easy to make mistakes on the keto diet and not benefit from its full potential. With that in mind, here are my top three tips…
3 Tips for Success on the Keto Diet
1. Don’t forget the veggies—While fats make up the bulk of your keto diet essentials, non-starchy veggies should still be included in just about every meal. Veggies add volume to your meals, provide dietary fiber and will be your best source of antioxidants, plus many vitamins and minerals. Veggies are also alkalizing, meaning they help balance your body’s pH levels, support digestion and reduce inflammation. Some of the best non-starchy veggies include broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, asparagus, peppers, mushrooms and artichokes.
2. Seek out high-quality animal products—Not all protein sources (meat, fish, dairy and eggs) are created equal. Always try to purchase grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild-caught, free-range and organic products. If possible, buy raw dairy to boost the nutrient content and avoid chemical toxins. And be sure to avoid or minimize foods like processed meats (bacon or salami), poor-quality meats from factory farm-raised animals, processed cheeses, farm-raised fish and other packaged foods with lots of synthetic additives and refined vegetable oils (canola, sunflower, safflower, etc.).
3. Consume enough electrolytes—It’s important to drink plenty of water and other hydrating liquids throughout the day, including herbal tea, fresh-squeezed vegetable juice, organic coffee, green tea and bone broth. Adding some real sea salt to your meals is another way to obtain minerals, while also boosting the flavor profile of the dish. I recommend drinking bone broth daily if possible (or using protein powder made from bone broth) to get more electrolytes, including potassium and magnesium. You can increase your intake of magnesium by eating leafy greens and other veggies, but you might also consider taking a magnesium supplement before bed to support the contraction and relaxation of muscles.†
Ready to get started on the ketogenic diet?
Your 7-Day Keto Meal Plan
Note that because benefits of the ketogenic diet are further boosted by intermittent fasting, this meal plan includes two meals and one snack per day. This allows for a shorter eating window and longer duration of time to practice fasting. Before getting started, ask yourself is fasting safe for you and talk to your doctor should you have any questions.
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