A bit of history
The ketogenic diet is as old as the Ancient Romans themselves. But back then it was used as a treatment for epilepsy.
The Romans were amazed as they watched those with epilepsy heal simply by altering their diet or eating nothing for short periods of time. They found that a combination of high-fat and low-carb did the best job of preventing seizures.
And then in the 1900’s, some more modern scientific research was done. The conclusions and findings of scientists throughout the 20th century were truly revolutionary. Let’s take a look, shall we?
- 1920s: After being known only to those working in the field of health and science for centuries, the ketogenic diet finally started to gain some recognition. Doctors everywhere were subscribing the diet to epileptic patients. The only problem was that the ketogenic diet at this time had a weird structure to it. Patients found the food bland and for that reason it was hard to keep up with.
- 1930s: The first forms of epileptic medication emerge. People ditch the ketogenic diet and start popping pills instead.
- 1970s: The diet structure was changed to be a little tastier, but new medication came out at the same time. Again, doctors chose to subscribe medication before talking to their patients about going the ketogenic route.
- October 1994: The ketogenic diet makes widespread news thanks to a 2-year-old epileptic named Charlie. Charlie had tried every seizure-preventing medication on the market to no avail. Frustrated, his father took matters into his own hands and did a little bit of his own research. He stumbled across documents containing research on the ketogenic diet from the 1960’s and put Charlie on the diet right away. And it worked! Charlie’s father was in an outrage that doctors hadn’t told him about the diet sooner, and took his story to NBC-TV’S Later, he went on to create The Charlie Foundation to ensure that information on the ketogenic diet was more accessible to the public.
After the world saw Charlie’s story unfold, everyone thought to themselves “Wow. If it has the power to cure a boy with epilepsy, I wonder what it could do for me?”
And a new diet trend was born. Everyone who gave the diet a try not only lost weight but experienced a wide range of other health benefits as well. Doctors and nutritionists everywhere began to recommend the diet, and I’m one of them!
But how exactly does it work?
The ketogenic diet confuses a lot of people, and so I decided to delve into the science of it. I’m about to nerd out a bit here, but it’s for your own good!
Basically, our bodies use carbs as their main source of fuel.
Or in other words…
When we eat a piece of toast, the carbs from that toast turn into glucose. If we don’t end up burning off this glucose, our bodies store them in our liver for later use.
And if we don’t end up burning off that glucose in our liver, it will get full and overflow. Where? Into something us science nerds call adipose tissue, but everyone else knows as fat or those dreaded love handles. Sucks, I know.
But the high-fat low-carb structure of the ketogenic diet changes all that. When you begin cutting down on the amount of carbs consumed, all the glucose your body has been storing as fat burns itself off. But since you’re eating lots of fat, you won’t feel hungry while dieting.
A diet without hunger. Who would have thought?!
But it’s once all the fat is burned off that the real magic happens. With no more glucose to turn into energy, your body will look for alternatives.
And since you’ll be feeding yourself tons of fat, that’s the alternative your body will reach for. So instead of using carbs as the main source of energy, it will use fat instead. This, my friends, is what we call ketosis. And let me tell you, it’s quite magical.
How to go ketogenic
So, you know what happens to your body while on the ketogenic diet. But how exactly do you make that happen?
Here’s how it breaks down:
70-75% of your calories will come from FAT
(cream, butter, cheese, avocados, oil, bacon, etc.)
15-20% of your calories from PROTEIN
(nuts, eggs, seeds, etc.)
5-10% of your calories will come from CARBS
(fruits and vegetables)
If you’ve never really looked into how many calories a person of your build and lifestyle should be devouring every day, Calorie King is a great reference.
And if the math has got your head spinning, my Ketogenic Diet eBook does a good job of explaining it.
As you can see, the amount of carbs the ketogenic diet requires you eat is low. Honestly, the first time I ever looked into the diet I was shocked by how low it was.
But it has to be that low in order for your body to learn to use fat for energy instead of carbs. If not, you’ll actually gain weight instead of losing it. And having tried it myself before, I promise it’s not as difficult as it seems.
Not to mention, hitting that sweet state of ketosis is so worth it.
What’s in it for you?
So, you’re going to be doing something crazy. You’re going to go against everything you’ve ever been told about weight loss in order to shed the pounds faster than ever before.
The food alone can be seen as a huge benefit. I mean, eating all the cheese, butter, bacon, and cream your heart desires to lose weight sounds like a dream come true, am I right?
But there’s a lot more to gain than a diet of creamy, rich, savory food. Here’s what I’m talking about:
- Decreased chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Since you won’t be loading your body up with a ton of carbs, there will be less insulin in your bloodstream. And less insulin means lower chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
- Decreased chance of cancer. In fact, the ketogenic diet has been used as an effective treatment for cancer. Cancer cells thrive on glucose, and since the ketogenic diet deprives your body of glucose, these cells can no longer thrive.
- Slower aging.
- Decreased chance of developing Alzheimer’s. Using fat to fuel your brain is a lot healthier than using carbs. There are less toxins involved, which keeps your brain cells clean and powerful for longer.
- Decreased chance of developing Parkinson’s. Researchers are still trying to figure out exactly how the ketogenic diet prevents Parkinson’s, but the link is definitely there.
- Decreased chance of developing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Researchers are still trying to figure out exactly how the ketogenic diet prevents ALS, but the link is definitely there.
- Decreased chance of brain damage during stroke. When we have a stroke, brain damage occurs as there is a lack of blood and oxygen in the brain. This lack of blood and oxygen makes glucose toxic. Since your brain runs on fat instead of carbs while on the ketogenic diet though, you won’t have this problem.
- Treatment of mitochondrial disorder, brain trauma, depression, autism, and migraines.
- Increased quality of life and overall health.
These are the biggest and best benefits that come along with the ketogenic diet. There are many others that vary from person to person, but obviously you’ll have to try the diet for yourself to see what they are!
My personal experience
As a sports nutritionist, I recommend the ketogenic diet to any and all of my clients looking to experience rapid fat loss along with other health benefits.
For confidentiality reasons, I can’t mention the names of people I have put on the diet, but I can describe their overall results.
And here’s what they were:
- Decreased body fat percentage
- Increased energy
- Sharper understanding
- Sharper memory
- Increased happiness and overall enjoyment of life
- Lower blood sugar/pressure
I will admit that the ketogenic diet is a bit of an extreme diet. I mean, although a long list of health benefits come with it, you are messing with the natural function of your body. Not everyone will be able to switch their body from using carbs for energy to using fat for energy very easily.
For that reason, I strongly recommend you do a little more of your own research on the topic and consult your doctor before proceeding.
My Ketogenic eBooks are a great resource for beginners to the topic. If you’re looking for a general overview, tips, tricks, mistakes to avoid, and a bunch of recipes to push you in the right direction, they’ll suit your needs well.