Dr. Kassam Ketogenic Diet Tips From a Naturopathic Doctor
Ketogenic Diet Tips From a Naturopathic Doctor
Originally the Ketogenic diet was best suited and researched for individuals with epilepsy, other idiopathic seizure-related conditions and traumatic brain injuries. It has now transitioned into a tool among the general population for various other health conditions, primarily weight loss. The Keto diet focuses on low carbohydrate (10%), adequate protein (20%) and high fat intake (70%). As a result of the very low carbohydrate and high fat intake, Keto changes the body’s primary fuel source from glucose (sugar) to ketones. When we restrict carbohydrates in the diet, glucose reserves become exhausted and our body eventually is forced into using fat as its main energy source. When this happens, the liver breaks down fat into fatty acids and ketones. Ketones are able to pass into the brain and replace glucose (sugar) as the energy source. The breakdown of fatty acids actually yields more energy than glucose metabolism, which is one of the reasons people feel way more energetic on the Keto diet.
What are the benefits of using ketones as the primary energy source vs. glucose? Ketones have been shown to lower inflammation, enhance brain function, stabilize blood sugar levels, enhance weight loss, increase energy, support mood and decrease food/alcohol cravings. The Ketogenic diet forces your body to use different energy sources and eliminates many healthy food options that make you susceptible to the keto flu, low energy and various nutrient deficiencies. Here are some tips to help you succeed on the Ketogenic diet, minimize the side effects and avoid nutrient deficiencies:
HAVE A PLAN
Take your time to get started. Look up recipes and get an idea of what your groceries and meals will look like. Taking the time to mentally prepare can help with long-term sustainability and success. Always make sure to plan your meals ahead of time so as to eliminate all temptation with eating restricted foods. It is also helpful to keep some keto snacks around like, almond butter, flax crackers, pistachios and cashews. Fat bombs are a great way to hit your daily fat requirements for the first couple of weeks!
Carbohydrates retain water in the body, so when they are reduced, extra water is excreted through urine. When you first transition into Keto, your body loses a lot of water weight and electrolytes. Make sure to drink more water and stay hydrated!
MCT oil is a special type of fatty acid that is easy for your body to break down into fuel. It provides you with a boost of energy while promoting fullness. Adding some MCT oil to the diet can help to reach and maintain a state of ketosis by keeping fat stores high. Coconut oil is a great source of MCT. Try adding a spoonful to your smoothie, tea or coffee.
The kidneys excrete more Sodium during ketosis. This creates an imbalance of electrolytes and can make you feel ill, also known as the “keto flu”. So aim to add more sea salt (Celtic or Himalayan sea salt) into your daily routine. Potassium is also lost as a result of sodium loss. Potassium deficiency can cause low energy, heavy legs, salt cravings and dizziness. Aim to increase foods that are high in potassium like, animal proteins and avocados. There is also a deficiency in Magnesium due to increased water excretion and decreased water retention. Magnesium is needed for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Did you know that the body uses about 50 mg of magnesium to process 1 gram of sugar or starch? No wonder Magnesium deficiency is so common! Keeping your Magnesium and sodium levels up will help keep potassium normal. Try this natural electrolyte supplement: 1 cup of coconut water + Half a squeezed lime + pinch of Himalayan salt + Touch of honey!
Keto friendly foods like meat and dairy acidify the body. In this state, the body loses important minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium, most often from our bones. A great way to counter the acidic effects of the Keto diet is to include alkalinizing foods like a greens powder!
Reducing starchy vegetables and fruits can put the gut environment at risk of dysbiosis. Adding a probiotic supplement can help to feed the good bacteria and help the gut microbiome thrive.
Please speak to your Naturopathic Doctor before starting such an extreme diet, as it is not right for everyone. For example, the Ketogenic diet is not recommended in pregnancy or post removal of the Gall Bladder. Only use this diet for short periods of time or under the supervision of your Healthcare practitioner.
**Take a read my previous article if you would like some more insight into what the Ketogenic diet is!
The advice in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the care of a Naturopathic physician.
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