Chewing the fat on the ketogenic diet
A diet should be a way of life, but for many people a diet is something they “go on” – therefore also something they will “go off”. For all the weight that comes off during a diet, it often piles back on twofold because of bad guidance or principles that aren’t sustainable in daily life: Diet must be a way of life.
The ketogenic diet isn’t a new approach to weight loss, but it has recently received renewed attention. So let’s break it down a little.
The ketogenic diet is not dissimilar to the Atkins diet, which in essence is a very low carbohydrate, very high fat and protein based diet. By removing glucose as a primary source of fuel our bodies are forced to use fats for energy and enter a metabolic state called ketosis.
Put simply, it’s easy for the body to use carbohydrates for fuel – the glucose derived from carbohydrates is a quick solution for energy. But when we deprive our bodies of carbohydrate we are left with fatty acids, from meals or stored fat (enter fat loss), to use for energy.
Naturally, when you hear “eat more fat” it either feels good or it feels really odd. For decades we shied away from consuming fat in fear of it making us fat, yet we have discovered that healthy (repeat, “healthy”) consumption of fat is far preferable to sugar for fuel. But large amounts of fat, as per the ketogenic diet, definitely spark a few questions about the type and quantity of fat you’re eating.
Firstly, the type of fat. Not all fat is created equal and, while the ketogenic diet may allow for bacon with eggs cooked in butter, it’s worth being careful about the frequency with which you’re consuming this type of meal.
While fat forms the basis of the keto diet, the focus should be on high-quality fats supportive of cardiovascular, skin and endocrine system health too. Aim to incorporate quality fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, fatty fish, organic butter/ghee, coconut oil, and saturated fats (on occasion) with the protein allowance throughout the day rather than amping up the saturated fats from cheeses and fatty meats.
Second, be careful about how restrictive you are. If that is how you understand eating – either eating too much and gaining weight, or restricting food for weight loss – then maybe it’s time for a reality check. It may be time to establish better foundations for the emotional relationship you have with food and to help you eat with balance.
Any diet that eliminates whole food groups (carbohydrates in ketogenics, grains and dairy in paleo, and so on) is not nutritionally created to build longevity in health. And longevity is surely what we’re after, isn’t it? Enough of the quick-fix solutions to make us “bikini body ready”, eating to fuel and maximise our health is what diet should be about. With this approach you’re more likely to reach and – most importantly – maintain your health and therefore your physique year round.
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