Do you want to learn more about the ketogenic diet? Register now to join best-selling author Maria Emmerich, the foremost authority on the keto diet and a wellness expert in nutrition and exercise physiology, for our newest 8-week clean online course Clean Keto for Weight Loss: The Ultimate Guide to a High-Fat Diet.
The ketogenic diet, or keto diet, may sound like the newest fad diet on the block — so you might be surprised to learn that it’s not actually a new idea at all. Used to help children with epilepsy for nearly a century and more recently leveraged to help with weight loss, the keto diet is gaining momentum.
A low-carb, high-fat regimen, the keto diet limits carbohydrates to as low as 20 grams per day or even less, depending on your goals. Meats, fish, eggs, most vegetables, nuts and seeds are all on the menu on a keto diet, but high-carbohydrate foods like grains and white potatoes are off-limits.
There’s a reason behind the stringency of the keto plan: Typically, the body uses glucose from carbohydrates for energy, however, when carbohydrate intake is reduced drastically, the body switches to breaking down fat. In turn, the body produces more water-soluble compounds known as ketone bodies, or ketones, as by-products of this fat metabolism, which are then themselves used as fuel (a process known as ketosis).
High-fat diets have been shown to help control hunger and aid in weight loss in a number of studies. One study in the Annals of Internal Medicine compared a low-fat diet to a low-carbohydrate diet. The low-carbohydrate diet yielded not only greater weight loss in study participants but also a reduction in serum triglyceride levels and an increase of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), both factors in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Keto diets have also been touted for improving cognitive function in adults with memory disorders. A study in Neurobiology of Aging showed that increasing ketone levels through medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs (fatty acids derived from sources such as coconut oil), was correlated with cognitive improvements in participants with Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment. In fact, some experts including integrative neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, author of Brain Maker (Little, Brown and Company, 2015) advocate for a low-carb, high-fat diet for many neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. (Perlmutter has publicly said that he tries to stay in ketosis as much as possible as ketones make wonderful brain fuel!)
The keto diet is also being studied as a possible adjunct therapy for cancer according to research published in several journals including Nutrition & Metabolism. Although more research is needed, researchers theorize that tumors feed on glucose, and since the keto diet is inherently low in sugar, it may be potentially helpful by starving cancer cells of their fuel.
So you’re probably thinking, What’s the catch? Well, for one, keto can be quite limiting and takes discipline to stick with. It’s also more of a long-term lifestyle rather than a short-term fix. To help us get a handle on what it means to go keto, we reached out to Maria Emmerich, one of the foremost keto experts and author of several cookbooks and three nutritional guidebooks including The Ketogenic Cookbook (Victory Belt Publishing, 2015) and Quick and Easy Ketogenic Cooking (Victory Belt Publishing, 2016).
Emmerich explains why the keto diet is so effective for weight loss – and shares five incredibly easy recipes to try at home. Read the interview here.
The Keto diet at a glance.
Here is more information on the class.