That makes a lot of sense. Keeping up insulin pathways when you aren’t eating carbs would be like keeping the lights on when it’s daytime outside — it’s a waste of energy. You aren’t using insulin on keto, so your body probably downregulates your insulin pathways. As a refresher, insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas that tells your cells to absorb glucose to use as fuel. When you eat carbs, insulin production begins. In the absence of carbs, there’s less need for insulin.
The ketogenic diet seems straightforward. Unlike a typical low-calorie diet, however, a high-fat diet requires careful monitoring. In fact, you may start the diet in a hospital. Your doctor needs to monitor both blood glucose and ketone levels to make sure that the diet isn’t causing any adverse effects. Once your body adjusts to the diet, you may still need to see your doctor once or twice a month for testing and medication adjustments.
“This is a great way of eating that I highly recommend to many clients, and I even model in my own life,” says Elizabeth Shaw, RDN, who is in private practice in San Diego and is the co-author of Fertility Foods Cookbook. “Since the premise of the diet is designed to help people who have high blood pressure, low-sodium foods are recommended. But considering that most Americans exceed their daily sodium levels anyway, it’s not surprising that dietitians recommend this style of eating for treating many different conditions, such as heart disease and obesity.”
What the expert says: ‘There have been a number of cases where GPs have said, “You’ve got IBS, go on the low-FODMAP diet”,’ says Dr Megan Rossi (@theguthealthdoctor). ‘The only support they give you is a printout with a limited explanation of the diet from the internet. I’ve had clients come into my practice who’ve been given a list of 10 “friendly” foods to survive on, which is nutritionally dangerous.’
Other down sides: There’s an initial period where your body is adjusting to its new carb-free existence, and many people experience symptoms like fatigue, brain fog and nausea for a few weeks. You also end up deficient in important micronutrients, like folate, calcium and potassium, which is why most ketogenic devotees recommend taking multivitamins. Personally, I recommend my clients follow a diet that in its ideal state provides all of the nutrients you need through real, whole foods.
From intermittent fasting to the keto diet to teatoxes, there's a plethora of diet advice out there. Maybe the keto diet worked wonders for your co-worker, but it’s just not conducive to your nutritional needs. Or not eating after 7 p.m. helped your sister lose 20 pounds, but you like doing evening workouts. The truth is losing weight is hard—and it takes patience—so if it's too good to be true, then it probably is. “Adopting healthy habits is not easy, but most things in life that are worthwhile take work,” explains Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN and author of Read it Before You Eat It - Taking You from Label to Table. But losing weight doesn't need to be complicated. Following these simple nutritionist-backed tips will help point you in the right direction and reach your goals.
“It came to another frustration point that medication really isn’t helping,” Lofton says. “I had tried many other things, like a weight loss program. I tried looking into bariatric surgery, and was very frustrated that all these things — like watching my food intake and my servings, 60 grams (of carbs) per meal — all of that wasn’t really making a difference.”
Your body uses the carbohydrates you eat for energy, so if we restrict how many carbohydrates we eat, the body has to get its fuel source from fat. A byproduct of this fat burning state are ketones which are produced; this is called nutritional ketosis. You can determine if you are in this fat burning state by purchasing urine ketone testing strips from your local pharmacy.
When you’re eating the foods that get you there (more on that in a minute), your body can enter a state of ketosis in one to three days, she adds. During the diet, the majority of calories you consume come from fat, with a little protein and very little carbohydrates. Ketosis also happens if you eat a very low-calorie diet — think doctor-supervised, only when medically recommended diets of 600 to 800 total calories.