If you haven’t heard of the keto diet or don’t know someone who is on the keto diet, you must be living on another planet! It has become the number one diet for many Americans–mostly for weight loss. But, is it sustainable? Is it healthy? I think the answer is yes and no!
First let’s discuss what keto means or ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state characterized by raised levels of ketone bodies in the body tissues, which is typically pathological in conditions such as diabetes, or may be the consequence of a diet that is very low in carbohydrates. Ketones are an organic compound containing a carbonyl group =C=O bonded to two hydrocarbon groups, made by oxidizing secondary alcohols. The simplest such compound is acetone. Well what does all that mean? Ketosis is a normal metabolic process, something your body does to keep working. When it doesn’t have enough carbohydrates from food for your cells to burn for energy, it burns fat instead. As part of this process, it makes ketones.
Under these circumstances, fat is converted in the liver to ketones, that then enter the blood stream. They are then used as fuel by cells in the body, just like glucose. They can even be used by the brain. This is extra important, as the brain can be directly fueled by fat, and it’s a very hungry organ.
Health Benefits of Burning Fat for Fuel-Ketosis
- Your brain will also work better when operating on a more efficient fuel (i.e. fat or ketones). Many times, improved cognition will be one of the first things people notice when starting a ketogenic diett. People also report elimination of hunger pangs and food cravings.
- A ketogenic diet can reduce inflammation. Since inflammation is the root cause of most diseases, it is can be very effective for someone who is battling high inflammation in their body. Eliminating sugar, grains, and dairy can also be very effective in reducing inflammation.
- Weight loss is almost eminent, especially in the beginning.
- You are probably going to eat much more greens than you were previously eating!
- A ketogenic diet can help you kick the sugar habit. Many Americans in particular consume way to much sugar and are addicted to it. This diet will eliminate those cravings which can be life-changing for many!
- May people just feel better and have more energy while on this diet. It does reduce brain fog!
After reading all the benefits, why wouldn’t you want all this? Here is my problem with keto.
Keto for Life?
A ketogenic diet cannot be sustained by most. Not eating fruit, except for a few berries, doesn’t make sense for a long period of time. You will be missing out on all the great benefits of the many nutrients and fiber in fruit. Secondly, and what really bothers me the most, is “keto” has become a marketing term. It’s everywhere. Just look in your grocery store and you will find products marked “keto friendly”, “great for keto diet, ” and more. If there is money to be made using these terms, believe me there will be those who will want to exploit it that do not care about your health, just your wallet. There are products marked keto that are processed and just not good for you, but people will buy them because they are “keto friendly.” One such product is BBQ pork rinds! Really? What is that?
Another problem I have with this diet is the quality of food. If you are going to try this way of eating, please buy only 100% grass-fed meats and organic pastured poultry and eggs. Many people eat way to much cheese on this diet too. My opinion is that cheese in general is not good for most people. Some can tolerate cheese, but it should be raw or organic or perhaps from goats or sheep. The high fat you consume on this diet needs to be quality fat, unrefined coconut oil, avocados, wild salmon (in moderation), real “olive oil,” pasture-raised eggs, sardines, anchovies.
If you decide to do this diet, it is not recommended to stay on this forever. It might be best to cycle in and out of it. For example, after a couple of weeks, introduce more healthy carbs, like sweet potatoes, a couple days a week. Also intermittent fasting can be of benefit–fasting for 12-16 hours in between meals.
I am not a believer in diets in general. The keto diet may be of benefit for some who need to reduce inflammation, get off of sugar, reduce brain fog or lose weight. The problem is if you go back to your previous way of eating, guess what? You will gain your weight back and the inflammation will probably return.
I believe it is more important to find a personal diet–just for you. This is a way of eating that makes you feel good, look good, have lots of energy and great health. It does take some experimentation but there are tools you can use to know what is right for you. I recommend that you do a food sensitivity test and know your markers. There are a lot of good tests out there, like Viome which will include your inflammatory markers and Every Well for food sensitivity. I have no affiliation with any of these tests so do your research and find one that makes sense to you. Once you find a diet that works for you, your body, mind and emotions will let you know when something is not working. Did I mention that you must eat organic!! So many people are toxic and have forgotten how to feel. Once you reduce those toxins, you can actually feel how food reacts in your body.
Recipes for Health
I have put together a few suggestions that I feel will assist you in becoming healthier and creating more joy in your life:
- First step is to eliminate problem foods and replace with food that works for you. Eat real food, nothing processed! Eat organic! Let me say that again, eat organic!
- Second step it to take high quality supplements that are organic, non-GMO, gluten free and know your source. I like these as I know the companies and they have integrity. Unfortunately the quality of our food these days does not provide us with all the vitamins and minerals we need. Find companies you trust to buy your supplements from.
- Third step is to drink plenty of clean water that is free of glyphosate, fluoride, pharmaceuticals, chlorine and other toxic chemicals. I like these two companies that offer tools for cleaning your water in your home and also when you travel. Reverse osmosis and distilled water is good too but you have to add trace minerals back into your water using both of these methods.
- Fourth step is to resolve your toxic emotions. Even if you are eating the perfect foods for you, that food can become toxic if you are holding on to toxic emotions. Work with someone you trust or a professional coach who can assist you in resolving issues like anger, resentment, jealousy, or other negative emotions.
- Fifth step is to do what you love! Just how much stress do you create in doing a job you do not like? I think it is a lot! Many are doing jobs just to make money and do not enjoy what they do. Ask yourself this question “What am I passionate about, what brings me joy?” Start there, and if you desire a change, start focusing on that change, take steps to create that change and do it. Be gentle with yourself and love the process!
- Sixth step is to laugh! Laugh more, worry less. You might ask, how can I do this? It is just a choice! Watch a funny movie, laugh at your issues and start seeing the humor in things. Laughing more can make a huge difference in how you feel!
- Seventh step is to create balance in whatever you do. You are not perfect. Make mistakes but learn from them. Quit trying to do everything perfectly! Are your joints achy? Are you too rigid? Those two issues go hand in hand!
- Eighth step is the most important one? Learn to love every part of yourself–the parts of you that you keep hidden in the closet that you don’t want anyone else to know about. Bring those parts of out of the closet and start nurturing them. Maybe those part of you need your love in order to heal. What if you are the one you have been waiting for? You cannot create a joyful life by hating a part of yourself. Love those parts of yourself because they are you. Make a commitment today to love every part of yourself, no matter what! Journal about this daily and stay committed. Commitment means no matter what. And, then watch how your reality and life changes! Be well, Carol