In the 1960’s a scientist named Ancel Keys published a highly flawed study (and since fully discredited) whereby he cherry picked global dietary habits and disease statistics to prove his hypothesis that saturated fats, not excessive sugars, cause heart disease. Despite scientists being highly divided on the issue, it was adopted by several associations, including the American Heart Association and within several years the governments around the world were recommending low fat high carbohydrate diets and replacing all traditional oils and fats (butter, ghee, coconut oil etc) with processed polyunsaturated vegetable oils.
This led to the creation of the modern food pyramid and a new industry of low fat high carbohydrate processed foods that dominate the supermarket shelves to this day.
This global experiment was the major contributing factor that has seen global obesity triple since 1975. Of course the statistics show that blood lipid profiles have not improved and metabolic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease have increased in tandem with obesity rates. Many countries in Asia are now on par with the West when it comes to obesity and diabetic statistics and this is especially apparent in childhood cases.
So is the Ketogenic just a new fad or the solution to our genetic legacy?
The term “Ketogenic Diet” has been the most popular dietary google search words this past 12 months in evidence of its popularity. It is based on the principle that while we have evolved to burn both carbohydrates (sugars) and fat for energy, the constant overload of carbohydrate rich foods has switched off our ability to burn fat for fuel and hence lifelong weight gains and metabolic disease have become the norm. Burning fat for bodily fuel (being in a ketogenic state) is considered a cleaner fuel for the body and brain and provides additional health benefits from the ketones produced. Understanding the foods and lifestyle factors that support or sabotage this, are what defines the keto diet. The aim is to regain our metabolic flexibility to easily switch to burning fat for fuel.
Controlling food cravings
Anyone who has gone on a diet to lose weight has experienced that the initial weight loss cannot be maintained as the initial enthusiasm soon decreases and the occasional slip up with comfort foods soon becomes the norm and before we know it any weight we lost is put back on. Any diet that is maintained by will power alone is doomed to failure. When our food cravings are triggered by low blood sugar then we are in a stressful state of “fight or flight” and our survival mechanism overwhelms our thinking process and we will go straight for the very foods we are trying to avoid.
Ketogenic Diet Basics
The ketogenic diet popularity is that is shows how by avoiding foods that trigger blood sugar peaks and falls we can control appetite and make much healthier dietary choices:
- After consuming carbohydrates we produce insulin to remove excess sugars from the blood, as high levels of blood sugar are dangerous and potentially fatal.
- As we cannot store sugar in the body, excess carbohydrates are quickly converted to body fat to be safely stored.
- Due to the often overproduction / dysregulation of insulin, high blood sugar is soon followed by low blood sugar and food craving or frequent snacking ensues again.
- Foods that create a blood sugar roller-coaster includes all sugars, sweet foods, starchy vegetables and grains such as rice and wheat and even wholegrains and brown rice are in the same category.
- Dietary fat has no effect on insulin and creates satiation and prevents cravings and snacking.
- The dietary combination of high carbohydrates, high proteins and high fats, such as in most modern junk foods are the least desirable.
A ketogenic diet favours fresh, unprocessed nutrient dense high fats foods, like avocados, eggs and natural fats like coconut oil, butter and olive oil with ample high fibre above ground vegetables, such as green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, broccoli etc and an optimum but not excessive amount of protein sufficient to sustain bodily requirements. Excess proteins will also trigger blood sugar peaks and lows and is best avoided in order to promote a ketogenic lifestyle.
For some great info on adopting a low carbohydrate / high fat lifestyle check out www.dietdoctor.com