“Keto” or the Ketogenic Diet is #trending. More than half of the bestsellers in the diet book category are pro-Keto for its benefits with weight loss, brain health and even cancer prevention. Keto has become mainstream. So, you may be wondering…will it work for you?
First, let’s start with some background: Keto isn’t new. The high fat, moderate protein, low carb approach to eating has been around for well over a century. It was used in Diabetes management and for the treatment of epilepsy, but it was left behind in favor of more profitable medications.
The fear of dietary fat that occurred with skewed science in the 70s, 80s and 90s, made no-fat and low fat diets, “healthy” and high fat diets “definitely NOT healthy,” so Keto/high fat approaches were sidelined even further. Attempts to re-introduce Keto principles occurred over the decades as its fringe application expanded for use in weight loss (with the popular Atkins Diet) and to support conditions such as Diabetes, Parkinson’s, ADD, autism, dementia and cancer, but high fat/low carb diets were met with criticism and concern over clogged arteries and all the other stigma that the low-fat craze caused.
Until now, with the evolution of the Paleo diet and emerging evidence demonstrating that healthy fats in the diet is not only healthy, but that “healthy fats” are essential for optimal health. Coupled with the realization that too many carbohydrates in the diet are contributing to the rise in obesity and Diabetes, the Keto approach has floated back up to the top as a healthy option for many people.
As a functional nutritionist, I believe that a well-formulated, nutrient dense Ketogenic approach makes sense. Most modern disease – including weight imbalances – are rooted in blood sugar dysregulation. A high carbohydrate diet (which the S.A.D.- Standard American Diet most certainly is) has the propensity to raise blood sugar, which creates a hormonal cascade that favors fat storage, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.
For many, just switching from refined carbohydrates (sugary drinks, juices, breads, pasta, cookies, crackers, chips, etc.) to whole foods carbohydrates (fruit, veggies, beans, grains) with a balance of proteins and fats will turn things around beautifully. For others, more carbohydrate adjustments are needed, and that’s where a nutrient dense Keto approach can be an amazing tool.
A Keto diet creates a shift in your body by switching fuel sources from being a sugar burner (glucose) to a fat burner (ketones). When in “ketosis” we use stored fat along with dietary fat to fuel energy requirements. Using ketones as fuel is a nice slow burn without the blood sugar swings many experience with a high carb diet.
A real food Keto approach is vastly different from the bacon, cheese and diet soda of the early Atkins era. Functional Nutrition has an appreciation for ant-inflammatory, nutrient dense foods – particularly fibrous vegetables – which support the gut microbiome and provide micronutrients to fuel cellular activity.
Our approach to Keto also takes out all the tedious tracking and the strict focus on “macros” – the percentages of fats, carbohydrates and protein consumed on a daily basis. We simply start with building our plates with a variety of non-starchy vegetables, moderate protein and several servings of healthy fats (3-5 per meal is usually a good amount to support ketosis).
What might this look like in a day?
Breakfast: Coffee/tea with coconut oil, 2 eggs with sausage, sautéed onions & mushrooms w/ baby kale cooked in ghee served with raw sauerkraut.
Lunch: Large salad with salmon topped with avocado, pumpkin seeds and olive oil with lemon juice, salt and pepper and a sprinkle of goat cheese.
Dinner: Roasted chicken with Brussels sprouts roasted with pastured bacon, olive oil and walnuts, mashed cauliflower with pastured butter.
Modern Keto pairs really well with Intermittent fasting too because eating a high fat diet is very satiating. Fat, protein and fiber recalibrate ghrelin and leptin – our hunger and satiety hormones – so most people find that they feel great with 1-2 meals a day instead of three – and snacking becomes a thing of the past.
So back to the original question: Can you lose weight with Keto? The answer is: Yes, for most people. However, there may be cases where other factors such as genetics, stress, physiology and hormone imbalances play a part in blocking the body’s ability to lose weight. In this case, the Keto approach may need to be modified for the individual. I’ll often cycle in whole food carbohydrates in cases where there’s more demand – such as fueling athletic performance or supporting thyroid function and hormonal balance – particularly with women. To find your ideal approach to Keto, reach out to an experienced functional nutritionist to customize the right eating plan for you.
Evelyn DeDominicis, MS is a functional/clinical nutritionist at Collaborative Natural Health Partners in Manchester, CT. She has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport along with various nutrition, culinary, yoga and energy healing certifications. Evelyn is available for classes and one on one sessions. Visit: ctnaturalhealth.com/events for a full schedule of her lectures. To schedule your appointments directly, visit: www.evelynd.com or by calling 860-916-0330.