Most of us know how challenging it can be to lose weight, even with the best preparation and motivation. You may be one of the many who eats a well-rounded diet and exercises regularly, yet you still can’t seem to shift those stubborn pounds. Well, you might have just stumbled upon the secret you’ve been searching for!
You’ve almost certainly heard the term “keto” being tossed around by your friends and family and on your social media feeds. The keto diet is high in popularity right now, and for good reason! On a ketogenic diet, you can pretty much be guaranteed to lose weight, and along the way, you will receive countless additional benefits to your mind and body.
In this post, I will break down the mechanism by which ketosis works to ruthlessly melt fat and point you in the right direction for trustworthy resources on the keto diet so that you can try it in a way that is best for your unique body, mind, and constitution.
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body, rather than burning glucose (sugars) to create energy, instead burns fat. In addition, when in ketosis, the liver will produce ketones, which is another source of energy that the brain and body can use as fuel. The body will always use glucose as its first choice for fuel.
Why is this?
Because glucose is easy to break down and gives us energy fast. We get glucose not only from foods with artificial sugars but from all carb-rich natural foods like fruit, grains, and legumes.
When it comes to burning carbs, your body doesn’t care whether you eat a piece of chocolate cake or a bowl of rice; it will happily burn the sugars from either food as fuel before it burns fat. While glucose energy hits the body quickly, it also burns off quickly (hence the term “sugar crash”). That’s why it’s so hard to get out of the cycle of eating carb and sugar-rich foods.
Initially, that chocolate croissant at lunch gives you a jolt of energy that feels pretty great. Still, an hour later, you are slumped down in your chair, fiendishly thinking about the next thing you can consume to help you climb out of your lethargic hole and back up to a functioning energy level!
Proteins and fats from natural foods like meat, dairy, eggs, and high-fat plant foods like nuts, avocado, coconut/olive oil, etc, provide your body with energy as well. Still, their energy is more challenging for your body to access and manifests in the body at more of a slow burn.
Simply put, this energy won’t immediately hit you upside the head and have you bouncing like the energizer bunny, but instead will come on slowly, leaving you level-headed, and last much longer, probably until your next meal.
The story's moral is that giving your body more proteins and fats and fewer carbs will help keep your energy levels stable and avoid the energetic roller coaster that so many people unconsciously ride while on a standard North American diet. This is the blood sugar dance, and we should all be familiar with it. Diabetics and hypoglycemics know this dance intimately, as their lives revolve around how much sugar is in their bloodstream.
You may not know this, but your body enters ketosis every night while sleeping. Going to sleep at night is a natural period of fasting. When we aren’t consuming any food, our body turns to our fat stores and ketone production to make the energy needed to continue our bodily functions.
During the day, however, we have to (and want to!) consume food. Ketosis occurs during the day when you deprive your body of glucose so that it will do its work on fats instead.
Once it burns through any fat and proteins you have consumed, which it will do with relative speed as it takes more of these foods to create the same amount of energy as its carby counterparts, it will start eating away at the fat being stored in your tissues. Less carbs=weight loss. A very simple equation, really.
This idea really rivals the traditional idea that low-fat foods = weight loss. In fact, it simply doesn’t make sense from a biological standpoint whatsoever. If you’re still stuck in that model, I suggest you do your best to leave it behind.
The truth is, while the keto diet is not easy, mainly if your body is accustomed to burning glucose for energy, it can still be pleasant! Good-quality meat and high-fat foods may not light up the reward centres in your brain as cookies and cereal do, but when prepared flavourful, they can still be highly satiating.
And you don’t have to restrict yourself to toonie-sized portions! Sometimes, a keto diet may not even be required long term. For some bodies, using keto intermittently can act as a “metabolic reset” of sorts that can do wonders. It’s important to remember that there are many ways to approach a keto diet and that everybody is different.
This blog post covers only the basics of ketosis, and a deeper understanding is recommended before embarking on this particular road to healing. Below, I’ve linked some of the best and most trustworthy sources for information on the keto diet so that you can be confident that you are taking the right approach for your unique body.
The keto diet has an incredible effect on the brain and mental health as well! Read this blog post next week.
Mark Sisson’s Keto Beginners Guide
Robb Wolf’s Weight Loss Archive
Peter Attia’s Ketosis Archive
*Disclaimer*: The following post is intended as a rough guide to the ketogenic diet. This information was not written by a medical professional and is not intended as medical advice. There is, however, plenty of information on the keto diet by medical professionals widely available on the internet. As with any significant lifestyle change, please consult a medical practitioner before starting a ketogenic diet.