On December 3rd 2014 I started my journey into the exploration of Ketosis. Fact is, I wanted a solution to help stem inflammation in my body and drop some body fat which had been stubbornly hanging on as I shifted into a new hormonal phase of life.
Incredibly, that very weekend, the experts in the field of ketosis, including pioneering scientist Prof. Stephen Phinney, author of the Keto Clarity book Jimmy Moore, Australian Cricket Team GP Peter Bruckner, I quit sugar founder Sarah Wilson and others were presenting a 2-day workshop on ketosis for health at Sydney Uni. I quickly booked my spot and spent the entire weekend listening, questioning and hearing a multitude of positive and some uncertain comments from GPs, the general public, Nutritionists, Health Care Workers (I think I was the only Naturopath!) and was so amazed at the openness, honesty and presentation of presentation and robust audience engagement that I had to trial it for myself.
So what is Ketosis?
In a nutshell, it’s a way of eating which shifts our bodies from predominantly burning glucose to burning fat.
A ketogenic diet is based around consumption of minimal carbohydrate, moderate protein and high fat. (Yep, high fat!)
It’s hard to get your head around.
It’s very hard to get your head around the concept that eating fat doesn’t necessarily equate to weight gain. Nor does it increase risk of atherosclerosis, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. In fact, it may be the very thing that prevents it. If like me, most of your life has been based around dieting, disordered eating and a very unhealthy fat-phobia, it can take some serious mindset shifting.
Let me state quite clearly I am NOT an advocate of crazy dieting so I also embarked on this eating plan with some scepticism and caution.
It does have its sceptics and to be fair, I’m not 100% done with my appraisal just yet.
A keto diet does require you to drop your carbohydrate content quite significantly. That means the immediate departure of pasta and bread for a start. Not such a departure if you’ve been working with me as you’ll know I’m not a fan of wheat products, and here’s why.
The difference here from other low-carb diets (such as its cousin, Paleo) is you are replacing your carb energy source, which converts to glucose, with a significant amount of healthy fats. Burning fat creates ketones and ketones are a preferred source of fuel for your brain, liver and heart. You switch from burning glucose from carbs to ketones from fat.
Three of the reasons I love this way of eating so much
- Increasing your fat intake is LIBERATING. It showed me just how ingrained this fat-guilt is in our psyche when you are suddenly required (for your health) to ADD IN FAT; from butter (grass-fed), ghee, grass-fed meats, organ meats, nuts and seeds, olive and coconut oil, nut butters, cheeses and pate. First mental challenge.
- But by ditching processed carbs and upping the fat, YOUR SUGAR CRAVINGS DISAPPEAR. This was THE most incredible find for me personally. For years now we’ve been told to cut out sugar. Great. Easier said than done. There are entire programs to help you to do that. But food choices are often not made from a rational and logical standpoint. In fact, the main reason we often find it difficult to stick to a healthy eating plan is because of our emotional state. Food is not just physical nourishment. Often it’s a substitute for comfort and love we’re not receiving in other areas of life. Additionally, the serotonin boost from a carb hit can be the quickest method of self-soothing we have.
- You are simply NEVER HUNGRY. Not only does this shift in metabolic process stop your sugary, chocolatey, cakey, carby cravings, it stops your incessant hunger in general. Again, feeling like you are back in control of cravings and misguided appetite cues is freeing. I found my mood, my mental clarity and stamina increased (NB: it can dip in the first few weeks though as your blood sugar levels drop in the shift to fat burning.) I also lost 3 kg, with increased hydration levels, increased muscle mass and decreased body fat.
What are the benefits of Keto?
Well, for most of us, a key driver is fat loss. Bonus.
But even more importantly, we lower our blood glucose levels and improve our insulin sensitivity.
And this equates to massive health benefits. Benefits like: decreased blood pressure; reversal of insulin resistance, diabetes and metabolic syndrome; reduced homocysteine (a cardiovascular disease marker); lowered cholesterol; improvements in hormonal profiles and PCOS, reduced inflammatory markers, increased energy, decreased brain fog … the list goes on.
Now, having said all this, I don’t believe it’s for everyone. As always, it’s a treatment plan I feel has enough backing to be of enormous benefit to many, but as always, every individual is different and needs to be addressed and monitored on a case-by-case situation. There are also some adjustments you will have to deal with in your first month of shifting your eating habits as you move through the shift from glucose to fat burning, especially keeping an eye on your electrolyte levels.
But along with intermittent fasting, I believe a ketogenic plan can be beneficial to a number of people, especially those who struggle with weight gain, insulin resistance and inflammatory health issues.
Kate is a qualified naturopath who is passionate about helping women heal from hormonal havoc and inspiring women to know their own power, worth and wisdom.
Kate offers one-on-one Skype consults for irregular cycles, PMS and period pain, endometriosis, PCOS, peri-menopause, mood swings, fatigue and mental and emotional stress.
Simply drop me an email to see how I can help you!