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What is the Ketogenic Diet?

by Marissa on June 9, 2017

What is the Ketogenic Diet? | Marissa Vicario

Because I often get questions like “What is the Ketogenic Diet?”, I’ll be spending some time posting here more often about different diets, or ways of eating. I believe that no one diet works for everyone because we all have different biochemical make-ups. That said, the more you’re informed, the better you can piece together a way of eating that works best for you. The only way to know what works for your body is to experiment and listen to what it says to you. 

The Ketogenic Diet, also called the Keto Diet, was first developed in the 1920s by doctors at the Mayo Clinic as a treatment for epileptic seizures in patients who didn’t respond to medication. Once advances in medicine made it possible to control seizures more effectively with medication, the diet fell out of favor but has recently gained popularity for its ability to improve how the body responds to insulin. 

The unique feature of the diet is ketosis, a process by which the body burns fat for fuel instead of glucose from carbohydrates. Ketogenic diets are low in carbohydrates. The main macronutrient is fat which comprises about 70-80 percent of the total caloric intake. The remainder of calories come from low-carbohydrate vegetables and protein. 

The focus of the keto diet is on healthy fats from foods like high-quality oils like coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds and grass-fed dairy products. High-carb fruit and vegetables, grains, beans, sugar, trans fats and processed foods are all avoided. 

Transitioning your metabolism from burning carbs to burning fat can result in quick weight loss and increased energy, but whether or not you should try it yourself is controversial.

While it has seen positive results for weight loss, cancer and athletic performance, the diet isn’t only challening to maintain and monitor, it can also be unsafe for extended periods of time. Long term, there is a risk of harmful metabolic and hormonal changes and potential kidney damage. Also, those who are highly active or engage in intense exercise may need more carbohydrates than the ketogenic diet provides. 

It’s recommended that this diet be followed for short periods of time and closely supervised by a trained medical practioner. 

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