Supporting Your Ketogenic Journey
Keto in Brief
The ketogenic diet consists of drastically reducing the proportion of carbohydrates in your diet, in favour of healthy fats (lipids), which should comprise 70% of your caloric intake. The body is forced into a state of ketosis, where it utilizes fats as its primary source of energy; i.e. the burning of stored fat. Once carbohydrates and glycogen (a form of energy storage in the liver) are depleted, metabolism occurs mainly through ketones produced by the liver with lipids.
These ketones play an important role in gene expression, in nervous and immune systems, in reducing inflammation, and as antioxidants. For close to a century, the ketogenic diet has been used to treat epilepsy. Today, it is also among the recommendations for concussions and various inflammatory conditions. Its popularity is due to the fact that it clearly contributes to weight loss in people who follow it properly (although its long-term effectiveness remains to be evaluated).
May be beneficial for:
- Weight management and body composition
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Metabolic disorders (diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure)
- Neurodegenerative disease (dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.)
- Concussion recovery
- Seizure disorders
Precautions and Contraindications
The ketogenic diet is not recommended for individuals with a history of hepatitis, difficulty digesting fat, or gallbladder disorders or removal. This precaution also applies to women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. In such cases, or if you have other concerns, be sure to consult a health-care practitioner before implementing changes to your diet or overall lifestyle.
A keto diet is more than just healthy fats. It’s important to consider nutritional fundamentals that can help you optimize your efforts and reduce associated risks. Let’s make your journey pleasant and successful!
Any radical change in diet affects the intestinal flora and can cause symptoms such as constipation, which is sometimes an issue during a
ketogenic diet. To avoid this, stay well-hydrated and choose foods rich in fibre. Probiotics will help replenish intestinal flora, and magnesium will assist in maintaining proper electrolyte balance. Digesting a larger-than-usual amount of fat may require additional enzymatic capacity as well as the need to optimize production and circulation of bile. An enzyme formula, either rich in lipase and/or reinforced with ox bile, will help with this digestive challenge. This can also be accomplished with plant-sourced “bitters” that increase the production and circulation of bile.
The new metabolic paradigm into which the ketogenic diet plunges the body may require added support to optimize the new biochemical mechanics that are set in motion. The liver is central to fat metabolism, and B-complex vitamins are essential to these metabolic pathways. At the cellular level, acetyl-ʟ-carnitine is crucial, because its derivatives guarantee the transport of fatty acids into the mitochondria, where they are used for energy production. Garcinia cambogia, standardized to 60% hydroxycitric acid, helps you feel satisfied longer following a meal. It may just be the extra help needed to avoid those sugary desserts!
Bring on the Good Fats
A successful ketogenic diet involves consuming sufficient quantities of good fats and healthy proteins. Oily fish, avocados, and nuts are a good source—and they taste great! However, ensuring daily intake of these healthy fats can be challenging. Supplements help solve this challenge and have multiple health benefits.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), from coconut or palm, travel from the intestines directly to the liver via the portal vein, providing the body with ketones, a simple yet extremely effective source of energy production. Add it to your morning coffee for an energizing start to your day.
Omega-3s, with an ideal EPA-to-DHA ratio of 2:1, help support cognitive health and reduce cholesterol, among other benefits. Phytosterol-reinforced oils strengthen cardiovascular status with their beneficial effects on cholesterol.
Choosing Your Proteins
Nearly every function or structure of the body requires amino acids as basic building blocks. These are fundamental nutrients of the ketogenic diet and should be supplemented with if you feel you may lack adequate protein in your new diet. Lupine seed is a good source of iron and is one of the natural options for improving metabolic disorders. Pumpkin seeds are rich in amino acids, the most abundant of which is ʟ-tryptophan. ʟ-Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, an important neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of mood, sleep, motivation, appetite, and more. Beef bone broth powder is an excellent source of animal protein. The bioavailability of its proteins is optimal, and its collagen content has many additional benefits (joints, skin, hair, nails). If protein powders are not your thing, amino acids can also be found in convenient tablet form. The choice is yours!
Covering Your Bases
The use of glycogen (the body’s sugar reserves) at the beginning of the ketogenic diet is accompanied by a loss of water (3–4 g per gram of glycogen). It is therefore essential to ensure adequate hydration and electrolyte balance. To do this, choose a full-spectrum, buffered electrolyte as this is an easily absorbed form of electrolytes and minerals. Supplementing with a diverse flavonoid formula is also advised for antioxidant action during transition.
With any considerable reduction in food diversity comes a risk of deficiencies of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Choose a comprehensive multivitamin, berry-extract antioxidants, or green superfood blends in powder form. Vitamin D is critical to good health. Select foods associated with the keto diet will naturally increase one’s vitamin D intake. But even so, most Canadians are not likely to absorb sufficient amounts of the “sunshine vitamin,” due to our northern climate. Adding a vitamin D3 supplement will ensure you get the recommended daily dose.
Sweeten without Calories, and Brighten up Your Recipes
For many, giving up the pleasant sensations of sugar remains a considerable obstacle. But every problem has a solution: Stevia, a great alternative sweetener, will satisfy your sweet tooth without disrupting your metabolism.
We encourage you to brighten up your keto recipes with fermented functional foods. Fermentation increases nutritional value tenfold and is fully compatible with the ketogenic diet. Choose from ginger, turmeric, beet root, and maca, according to taste and preference.
More and more people worldwide are adopting the ketogenic lifestyle, and although it’s gaining popularity, it does go against many firmly held nutritional beliefs. It should not be embarked upon without a solid understanding of one’s own health and potential implications involved. This brief overview is meant to assist you in identifying which natural health products are appropriate when choosing a ketogenic lifestyle, to ensure a healthy and successful experience.
Managing Social Etiquette
Following a ketogenic lifestyle requires a strong commitment and willpower, in part to resist social and cultural pressures. Will you be able to say no to the muffin offered by your coworker, knowing that it would break ketosis? Or refusing homemade pasta when dining at your Italian neighbour’s home? Feelings can easily be hurt. Dining at restaurants or a friend’s home can derail your diet if one is not vigilant. Living a ketogenic lifestyle takes time and planning, and it often involves additional meal preparation. It also requires the support of family, friends, and entourage. Their willingness to accept your new choice may require a humble explanation of the motivations and objectives behind your decision. Honesty and openness will serve as your pledge to success. Once free of hurdles and frustrations, you can enjoy your social life and the benefits of your new lifestyle.
This article is intended solely for general information and should not be relied upon for diagnosis, treatment, or cure. It is therefore strongly recommended that individuals consult with their health-care practitioner prior to beginning lifestyle or diet changes.
Keto support guide available for download at newrootsherbal.com/keto