FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Debunking the Myths
WHAT IS THE KETOGENIC DIET?
It's a way of eating that shifts your metabolic pathway from being glucose-driven (from carbs) to being ketone-driven (from fatty acids). Generally, the diet is 75-80% fat, 15-20% protein, and 5% carbohydrate, but everybody and BODY is different, so I adjust these ratios based on your individual needs. When you remove most carbohydrates from your diet, thus reducing blood glucose levels, you force your body to burn an alternate fuel source: ketone bodies that it generates either from dietary fats or from body fat stores.
BUT I THOUGHT FAT WAS BAD FOR ME?
This is probably the most common misconception and it comes from years and years of marketing support for low-fat products. The research shows this is simply not true. It’s processed high-carb and sugar-laden foods that cause weight gain and the health complications associated with obesity. Once you eliminate the processed carbs and sugars, and switch to high-quality fats in foods like avocados, salmon, and full-fat dairy, your body stops storing all the excess glucose (coming from a higher-carb diet) as body fat. Moreover, eating fat keeps you satiated, curbs cravings, and naturally suppresses your appetite, so you’re likely to consume fewer calories overall. And as you continue, your body eventually transitions into ketosis, where begins to use fat to produce ketones for fuel, providing improved energy and mental clarity.
HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM THE ATKINS DIET OR OTHER LOW-CARB DIETS?
This isn’t a low-carb, high-protein way of eating. FAT needs to be your primary fuel source and that means finding pure-fat sources that don’t include protein. Your body will convert excess protein into glucose for fuel and this will spike insulin, preventing ketosis, and perpetuating hunger.
WILL I LOSE WEIGHT?
Most people experience initial weight loss in the first few weeks on this diet due to a large amount of water weight loss from depletion of glycogen stores and inflammation in the body from excessive carbohydrate intake. Depending on the individual, this can be up to 10 to 15 pounds. Keep in mind that if calories remain high, you may be in ketosis and may not gain weight, but weight loss will be hard. If weight loss is not your goal, I can adjust your individualized meal plan to be weight neutral.
WHAT ABOUT NO-CALORIE SWEETENERS?
I will be the first to tell you to get rid of all natural and added sugar in your diet; it’s toxic, causes systemic inflammation, and is very, very addictive. When asking anyone to eliminate sugar from their diet, I am constantly asked about sugar substitutes. Sure, they are a better alternative to the hard stuff because they won’t cause blood sugar or insulin spikes, but they are like a putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound. Here’s why: Non-nutritive sweeteners (Splenda, Truvia, Equal, etc) are 200-700 times sweeter than their “natural” counterpart. When we replace natural sugars (table sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, and the like) with these substitutes, we don’t train our taste buds to adapt to a less-sweet product, but rather tell them to crave even sweeter foods, making breaking the sugar addiction that much more difficult. While we may be decreasing the physiological addiction to the sweet substance (sucrose which breaks down to glucose), we aren’t addressing the psychological component of the sweet craving.
What about sugar alcohols? These guys aren’t as super-sweet as non-nutritive sweeteners, but they do still produce a small effect on blood sugar levels and insulin response, which we want to avoid on a ketogenic diet. Another downside to sugar alcohols is that they can cause bloating and diarrhea when consumed in excess, especially in individuals predisposed to food sensitivities and gut imbalance.
Bottom line: sugar substitutes are ok to use in dessert recipes when you have a hankering for something sweet, but these foods should still be thought of as “treats” and not staples in your day-to-day diet. Moderation is the name of the game! Try experimenting (food science!) but reducing quantities and adding in spices such as ground cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of a sugar-free sweetener, try ½ Tbsp or omit entirely and add in an appropriate spice. As you become fully keto-adapted, your body naturally reduces cravings for carbohydrates and sugars, so help your taste buds adapt with the rest of the new you.