NEW YEAR, NEW YOU: YOUR COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO KETO AND HOW YOU CAN USE IT TO POWER YOUR BEST SELF IN 2019
It’s the beginning of a new year, and with that comes the opportunity to let go of old habits and make new ones. We all make lofty goals for our health and happiness, but most of us don’t end the year successfully carrying them out. This is in part because we tend to think about food and our diet in terms of polar opposites such as good vs bad; healthy/unhealthy etc. We get tired of feeling like cr** – so we eat “healthy” foods until we feel better…until our next craving hits and we return temporarily to our old ‘bad’ ways. We receive a lot of requests for help with this kind of ‘falling off the wagon’ behavior around the holidays, when social and family dynamics add extra pressure and often negatively influence our decision-making. The good news is, if this describes you – don’t panic. You can take charge of your health and happiness once and for all this year, by using strategies and methods that truly work.
In this article, I’m going to give you the scoop on the ketogenic eating strategy (the what, the why, the how), as well as a dose of hope that you can live better – with more energy, focus and a healthier body. It’s important to understand that the ketogenic diet isn’t a quick-fix or detox, but an actual reprogramming of your appetite and hormones where you will experience abounding health benefits and break the cycle of food dysfunction in your life.
In fact, some of the many benefits of keto include:
- Appetite control and weight loss
- Improved function of the immune system and brain
- Healthier cellular and metabolic processes
- Enhanced athletic performance
- Controlled insulin and hormones
- Emotional stability
Wow! Let’s dig in, shall we?!
THE WHAT // WHAT IS KETO?
The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, very high fat diet. On the keto diet, the body enters into a state of nutritional ketosis, in which it shifts its fuel entirely from glucose (carbs) to fat. In this process of shifting fuels, unique molecules called ketones are produced by your liver to help fuel your body and brain.
To understand keto, it’s necessary to understand the science behind it. First of all, we’ll look at the relationship between your body and its storage and fuel sources. All food provides us with energy in the form of calories and nutrients composed of 3 macronutrients: fat, carbohydrates, and protein.
Every time you eat these macronutrients, energy is stored for use to fuel your activity. First, glucose from carb-rich food is used for your body’s immediate needs and everything remaining sits in your glycogen reserve. Besides your glycogen reserve, your body secondarily stores energy in its adipose tissue, or body fat. The storage capacity here is huge, but in order to take advantage of it, you must first stop drawing on your fast-burning glycogen reserve.
Think of a campfire: consider fats as the big logs that burn slowly; the sticks and kindling that burn quickly are glucose. When you are burning primarily on glucose, you are constantly having to stoke the fire by regular meals and snacks that help with your roller coaster blood sugar levels. When you burn fat, your fire stays lit and keeps you warm for longer, resulting in sustained, consistent energy storage and consumption. In ketosis, when you no longer rely on your glycogen (carb) stores to provide your body with energy, your body has no choice but to burn fat. Unfortunately, many of us don’t get to experience the benefits of keto because we consume too many carbs, keeping our fat locked away in storage. The healthiest state is one in which your glycogen reserve remains low and your fat reserve is used almost exclusively.
THE WHY // WHY DO I NEED TO “GO KETO”?
So now that we know that being a fat-burner is healthier and more efficient than being a glucose-burner, let’s take a deeper look at those keto benefits we mentioned earlier and why they should matter to you.
Appetite control and weight loss. The most immediate and exciting benefit of ketogenic eating is the opportunity to quickly and efficiently reduce body fat, while giving you an easy solution for long-term maintenance. Because it prioritizes slow fat burning, your appetite hormones have time to stabilize and you stay satisfied for longer. When fully fat-adapted, you can enjoy rarely feeling hungry, as well as never having to struggle or suffer over highly restricted calories and chronic exercise patterns. The secret to reducing excess body fat is not simply in the science of thermodynamics (burn more calories than you store), but it’s in hormone optimization – being a fat burner.
Controlled insulin and hormones. A high insulin-producing diet (higher carb/glucose) shuts off fat burning and leaves you no other option but to rely on meal-to-meal energy…a slave to food. Not to mention the hormone cortisol is released if your blood sugar is low which can trigger stressors of many kinds. However, when you eat keto, you correct excessive insulin production and balance out your blood sugar levels because fat becomes your around-the-clock fuel source. Instead of your hormones crashing in between food consumption, you easily sail along burning clean fat fuels, ketones, and an optimum amount of glucose.
Improved function of the immune system and brain. Burning fat and ketones ups the production of internal antioxidant enzymes which boost immunity, keep your skin looking healthy, and delay aging and degenerative diseases. Immune function is enhanced because your body doesn’t have to fight to produce emergency glucose when your store runs out. Ketones also cross the blood brain barrier and become an efficient energy source for the brain, allowing your brain’s capacity to fire neurons to increase and cognitive decline to decrease. Mental clarity and less brain fatigue for the win!
Healthier cellular and metabolic processes. On a cellular level, burning clean energy like fat and ketones, can help regulate process throughout the body by generating better cellular oxygenation. If you suffer from seizures, a condition triggered from insufficient oxygen to the brain, you might consider a ketogenic lifestyle.
Enhanced athletic performance. If you are a strength and power athlete, the anti-inflammatory and protein sparing properties of keto allow you to work harder and recover faster without the stress and inflammation of muscle breakdown. If you are an endurance athlete, the ability to efficiently burn fat as your intensity increases is ideal for performance. A highly oxygenated brain burning on fat and ketones activates more motor skills to perform explosive exercises. Better oxygen = better performance.
Anti-inflammatory. Inflammation can be characterized in several conditions, such as chronic diseases, autoimmune disorders, colon cancer, and even on a cognitive level, Alzheimer’s, ADHD and autism. While some inflammation is desirable (muscles pumping to lift weights), much of it is a signal that your body is battling something; this could be poor nutrition, exercise that’s too stressful or insufficient sleep. In a keto diet, one of the ketones produced, beta-hydroxybutyrate, disrupts the inflammation processes inside your cells basically eradicating inflammation before it has a chance to affect your body and brain.
Emotional stability. We often don’t realize how connected the foods we eat are to our emotional health, but when your body is constantly searching for energy through quick-burning carbs, it forms an addiction to them. If you don’t have a meal or snack at a certain time, you physically feel the low and have a hard time focusing. This also manifests in your emotions. Shown to reduce anxiety symptoms by 30 percent, ketogenic eating is powerful in stabilizing mood, concentration and energy levels because it breaks your dependency on fast-burning carbs.
Obviously the benefits are pretty remarkable. And outside of the realm of these things, virtually everything you do with your brain or body can become easier when you are burning fat and ketones as your preferred fuel instead of glucose. Why not give it a try?
THE HOW // HOW DO I GET STARTED?
So now that you know what keto really is and the amazing benefits that can change your health for the better, it’s time to get started! We would love for you to download our <<< free Keto 101 ebook >>> for a comprehensive guide on how to take steps toward a keto eating strategy. This process of becoming “fat-adapted” takes time and a big-picture approach to changing your diet. You can do it!
In preparation for getting started with your keto journey, there are a few things that you can do to make your experience a successful one:
Purge your pantry. Get rid of carbs and bad fats – sugars, grains, refined vegetable oils and everything processed.
- Stock your pantry with foods that are rich in nutrient-dense fats and low in carbs like eggs, meat and oily fish, butter, leafy greens and colorful veggies, cheese, EVOO & coconut oil, avocado, nuts & nut butters, and seeds. Having a plan will ensure you stay on track and meet your goals, so we’ve made meal planning easy with our <<< 21-Day Keto Kickstart Program.>>>
- Calculate your daily macros. The ideal keto macro mix looks like: 70% fat, 20% protein, 10% carbs. Plan your meals in advance and keep it simple!
- Make sure to stay hydrated! Replenish your electrolytes regularly (ie. coconut water and bone broth). Get plenty of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium to help bind these electrolytes to your body. This will help you feel more energy and ease cravings as your body makes the transition from glycogen-burner to fat-burner.
- Exercise. Start off with comfortably paced cardio workouts and slowly introduce brief, high intensity strength training and sprinting. These activities will help you accelerate your progress toward fat-adaption.
- Manage stress. Meditate, practice yoga, take your “me time,” nurture healthy social connection (not just digitally), and consider keeping a gratitude journal. Health is not just about your body, but your mind and spirit too. If you’re going to make positive changes to your eating habits, why not improve your overall lifestyle too?
Sleep. Get your 8 hours, people! Turn off the lights, turn off Netflix and screens, and close your eyes. Sleep is when your body systems and processes get a refresh and the natural flow of hormonal events takes place. Getting too few hours or binging on shows and social media in front of a screen release extra cortisol into your bloodstream adversely affecting your natural sleep cycle.
We hope you’ll give the ketogenic lifestyle a chance this new year! You don’t have to live in the cycle of carb addiction that leaves you feeling foggy, bloated and emotionally bankrupt. Break the cycle and grab hold of the tools to power your best self in 2019!
Cheers to a new way of eating!
P.S. As always, if you have questions, you can reach out to us or to your health care provider!