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What´s a ketogenic diet?

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Have you heard about the keto diet? If you´ve heard about it but you´re new to it then this post will be helpful.

We´ve been told our entire lives that carbohydrates are the best source of energy for our body. But this is not completely true, ketones are another source of energy that our bodies can use efficiently.

A ketogenic diet reduces carbohydrates but you´ll find different macronutrient ratios because there´s not a rule to set a proper ratio, we´re all different and our lifestyles play a big role also. The goal of a ketogenic diet is to get into ketosis, this is possible by reducing carbohydrates, increasing fats and keeping protein moderate. Some people recommend 20% to 30% of carbohydrates, other people want to go lower in carbohydrates and recommend 5% to 10% of carbohydrates, 15% protein and 80% fat. If you go higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates it is possible to get into ketosis faster.

When glucose is available in the blood, the body will use that to make energy instead of using stored body fat.  When glucose is not available the body starts breaking down fat, and ketones become its primary fuel source.

When we lower carbohydrates blood glucose levels lower and the body´s glycogen stores are depleted. When blood glucose is low and glycogen stores are depleted it forces our body to use another fuel rather than glucose. The body naturally utilizes glucose whenever it is available in the bloodstream or from the breakdown of stored glycogen. By lowering the amount of glucose from food which are mostly carbohydrates and the amount of glucose stored as glycogen the body is able to start burning fat/ketones as its primary source.

In the presence of a low-carbohydrate diet, all healthy fats are easily metabolized and broken down, including saturated fats (trans fats and unhealthy vegetable and seed oils are not part of this, they are unhealthy fats and have negative effects for our health).

Ketogenic diets shifts the body from relying on glucose to relying on fat as its primary fuel, where we are in a state of ketosis, the body easily taps into fat stores when it needs energy. Before our body starts using fats efficiently it needs to adapt, this adaptation and switching from utilizing carbohydrates as its main source of energy to utilizing fat take some time. The period of adaptation varies from person to person, consider 4 to 6 weeks to give enough time for our body to adapt, it may adapt sooner, or it may take longer. The first days and weeks we may feel tired, unfocused, we may have headaches and other symptoms all related to this diet, this phase is known as the “keto flu”, most people give up during this period thinking that the diet is not for them.

The anabolic diet may be a good nutrition program for some people, but others may find it difficult to sustain, on the anabolic diet by Mauro Di Pasquale we follow a ketogenic diet for 2 weeks very high in fats and very low in carbohydrates to help our body adapts faster, on the second or third week on weekends (Saturday and Sunday) we change our macro ratios from high fat/low carbohydrates to high carbohydrates/low fat, making this two days or for some people just one day like a cheat meal or cheat day, I´ll explain more about this diet which I consider to be a modified ketogenic diet in other post.

If you want to try a ketogenic diet I do not recommend counting calories or trying to lose weight and reduce calories during the adaptation period, if you are training continue with your cardio and resistance workouts but you may need to lower the volume and intensity. Once your body is adapted you´ll shred fat faster and your strength and energy increase so you´ll be able to continue with your workouts and make consistent progress.

This diet has so many amazing benefits for health and we´ll be talking about it consistently but this does not means that you need to go keto. You can use it as a tool to lose fat and get lean, you can cycle it with a more balanced diet or you can stick to your actual diet if you feel great. Remember that it doesn´t matter which diet or nutrition program you are following you need to make sure you´re doing it the right way to avoid any problem.

As always before making any change in your diet and exercise program you need to talk with you doctor or health practitioner first, especially if you have any health issue.

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Pam

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