By: Kelley Herring, Healing Gourmet
Are you following a “paleo” diet… and yet still find that you haven’t lost all the weight you’d like to? If so, you're not alone.
While following an ancestral diet is a powerful way to provide your body with more disease-fighting nutrients and eliminate many of the inflammatory compounds in common foods, many people find the Paleo diet alone can’t provide the metabolic shift required to melt excess fat.
The reason? Many Paleo diets include high carbohydrate foods like sweet potatoes, rutabagas, tapioca, arrowroot, fruits and many more. And while these foods are fine in moderation, especially for those who are active, they can keep blood sugar and insulin levels high… and fat cells pleasantly plump.
Enter the Paleo Ketogenic Diet.
By maintaining the beneficial framework of the Paleo diet, while strictly limiting dietary carbohydrates, your body can enter a state of nutritional ketosis, where fat burning dramatically accelerates.
So how does it work?
The Effects of Ketosis on the Body
As you reduce daily carbohydrates to less than 50 grams, the body has very little glucose available for use as an energy source. As a matter of survival, your metabolism shifts to utilize fat as your primary source of energy.
It is this shift – from sugar burner to fat burner – that makes the ketogenic diet so powerfully effective.
As the availability of glucose dwindles, the body begins turning dietary and body fat into compounds called ketones. Ketones a very clean source of fuel. Their transformation into energy does not produce damaging metabolic byproducts. They also act as cellular detoxifiers, actually helping to remove toxins and damaged proteins that impair cellular function.
Eating More Fat and Losing Weight
It may seem counterintuitive that a diet predicated on consuming high amounts of dietary fat can actually increase your body’s ability to burn fat.
How does this happen?
Contrary to conventional wisdom, all calories aren’t created equal. The source of calories provides information about how they should be used by the body. For example, when your blood sugar levels rise (as a result of consuming carbohydrate-rich foods), the body secretes insulin to reduce glucose in the bloodstream. Without insulin, we would die from an overload of blood sugar – even from a relatively small intake of dietary carbohydrate. But insulin also has a dark side. High insulin levels promote the storage and accumulation of body fat, primarily in the most dangerous place: The belly.
Belly fat – technically known as visceral fat – doesn’t just look ugly. It has been associated with nearly every chronic disease including diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, PCOS, and many more.
By strictly limiting carbohydrates with a ketogenic diet, we greatly reduce insulin levels. Our body shifts from burning carbohydrates and storing the excess as fat… to primarily burning fat for fuel – even without exercise.
A ketogenic diet has also been found to reduce hunger, boost energy levels, increase antioxidant capacity of the blood and reduce the risk of chronic disease!
The Evidence: Reprogramming Your Metabolism to Torch Fat, Reduce Heart Disease and Stop Diabetes
A meta-analysis recently published in the British Journal of Nutrition evaluated thirteen studies for the effects of a ketogenic diet for long term weight loss. This very low carbohydrate diet was compared to the results of a low fat diet. In addition achieving significantly greater and more sustainable weight loss, the researchers found that those on the ketogenic diet experienced improvements in three of the most important risk factors related to heart disease:
- Decreased triglycerides
- Reduced blood pressure
- Increased HDL cholesterol
Another study, published in the journal Nutrition, evaluated 363 overweight and obese participants over 24 weeks. More than a hundred of these subjects were also diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The participants followed either a low-calorie diet (LCD) or a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (LCKD). The researchers evaluated the subjects’ weight, BMI, waist circumference, blood sugar levels, A1C, cholesterol, triglycerides, as well as uric acid, urea and creatinine secretion.
The low-calorie diet (LCD) and the low-carb ketogenic diet (LCKD) both benefited all of the parameters evaluated. However, those on the ketogenic diet enjoyed greater improvements. In fact, the LCKD was so effective at reducing blood sugar that the diabetic participants were able to reduce or eliminate their diabetic medication early in the trial!
In another study published in Nutrition, researchers state:
“Dietary carbohydrate restriction reliably reduces high blood glucose, does not require weight loss (although is still best for weight loss), and leads to the reduction or elimination of medication. It has never shown side effects comparable with those seen in many drugs.”
Similarly, the Journal of Nutrition recently found that a low carbohydrate diet reduced both visceral fat (belly fat) and intramuscular fat while boosting insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes.
Is the Ketogenic Diet Dangerous?
Some of the arguments against a ketogenic diet are focused on potentially negative health effects that may occur as a result of ketosis.
But the truth is, most people following a ketogenic diet are more likely to experience improved overall health without any short term or long term negative effects from this dietary plan.
According to Dr. Michael S Duchowny, MD who evaluated the ketogenic diet:
“Most complications of the ketogenic diet are transient and can be managed easily with various conservative treatments.”
As always, major dietary modifications should be discussed with your health care provider – especially for those with diabetes or other chronic disease, and those on medications.
The Ketogenic Diet: The Ancestral Plan for Effortless Weight Loss and Disease Prevention
Following a ketogenic diet has been shown to be an effective way to reduce body fat, improve waist-to- hip ratio, as well as improve insulin sensitivity, control blood sugar, reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol ratios – all key factors associated with diabetes and heart disease.
And while the ketogenic diet has gained considerable press lately, it is not a “new” diet. In fact, our ancestors were naturally in and of out of ketosis as they hunted and gathered, fasted intermittently, and typically had limited access to carbohydrate-rich foods.
By following this truly ancestral way of eating, we can not only sculpt a leaner, healthier physique, but also help to reduce chronic illnesses and improve quality of life.
Have you tried a ketogenic diet? If so, what did you experience?
Do you want to follow a ketogenic diet? But are you worried that won’t be able to completely cut out those tasty treats that you enjoy? Over on the Healing Gourmet website, Kelley has a recipe for Keto Paleo Dinner Rolls that are grain free, low in carbohydrates, and just perfect for sopping up the last few bites of your evening meal.
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