KETO, THE NEW PALEO
Ketosis is a metabolic state. It is where the body switches from using glucose to using ketones as a primary energy source. LORAINE THOMSON talks with keto food entrepreneur Ben Pryor about eating fat to burn fat.
The goal of the keto Diet is to induce the body into ketosis. This is done by eating around 20g of carbs a day while consuming a high level of fat and a medium level of protein.
“At first it seems rather contradictory – eating fat to burn fat. But really you are teaching your body how to burn fat as fuel,” says 27-year-old Ben Pryor, who is the brains behind KetoPasta, a new product on the market and distributed by Norse Fitness in Auckland. “The more your body is forced to burn fat for energy the more efficient it becomes at doing this.”
Ben believes ketosis, from an evolutionary perspective, is an absolute necessity. A prehistoric human running low on carbohydrates would find it very difficult to catch their next meal without an alternative energy source. Humanity would likely have been wiped out long ago if we did not have the ability to be physically active and think clearly on an empty stomach.
In the modern age, ketosis serves a similar purpose. Most people will fall into ketosis after eating little to no carbs over a 12-hour period, for example eating chicken and vegetables for dinner and then having eggs for breakfast. Instead of suffering from starvation the body makes the most of the fat you have consumed or stored by turning it into energy so you can survive long enough to make it to lunch time!
In order to be in ketosis in the context of the keto diet you need to eat an ultra low carb diet for three to seven days – the actual time it takes to transition into ketosis varies between individuals.
One of the great things about the keto diet is that you can’t cheat.
“One sweet treat or even a couple of slices of bread will stop you from getting to ketosis and it will ruin all your hard work!
Once you have been in ketosis for around four to six weeks you become “ketoadapted”. This means your body is now tuned to using fat as an energy source.
“The interesting thing I have found is that when you don’t eat carbs you no longer crave carbs, so remaining in ketosis gets easier and easier. Another commonly cited side effect of the keto diet is a lack of hunger. I actually have to tell myself to eat as opposed to just listening to my stomach!”
The momentum behind the Keto Diet is now building overseas.
“I think 2016 is likely to be the year where we really see this catching on as people are further educated about the remarkably positive effects it can have on your health.”
There has been a lot of work in the United States recently in the area of neuroscience and the ability of ketones to actively protect the brain. “Personally I notice my focus and productivity is dramatically increased when in ketosis – plus you don’t get that tired feeling after a carb heavy lunch,” says Ben.
“The development of KetoPasta came about as a result of the frustration I faced trying to find low carb food. One of the hardest things when trying to attain ketosis is avoiding high carb foods that are considered the norm in our society. We have toast with our breakfast in the morning, bread in our sandwiches and potatoes with dinner! All of these high carb foods will almost immediately kick you out of ketosis.
KetoPasta basically substitutes wheat flour for flour made from konjac root. Konjac is an ancient vegetable, the root of which has been a dietary staple in Japan for over 1500 years!
“We have also added organic oat fibre to the pasta which gives our pasta the look, taste and texture of regular pasta. Even though konjac root is technically a carbohydrate, it is a carbohydrate our bodies cannot break down and use for energy. Therefore konjac root flour is mainly fibre that acts as roughage in our system aiding in digestion and helping to make you feel full with just six calories per serving.”
Ben has a few new products in the pipeline – different variations of pasta, including a rice version, plus a low carb / high protein bread mix.
Ben’s background before getting into the keto space, has been a mix of science and law.
“I graduated from Otago University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Laws. My career path seemed to be predetermined by my decision to study law – something I was never comfortable with. It seemed the office lifestyle wasn’t for me, so I began looking for a way out. I started a very basic business importing electronics and built that to the point where I no longer had to turn up to the office and stare at my computer screen!
Ben learnt a lot from this business and started looking at creating another business and something he was passionate about.
“I have always had an interest in fitness so this seemed a good place to start. After a bit of research I stumbled across the keto diet and the more I read, the more interested in this diet I became. This diet really stood out, as the basis was actually backed by legitimate studies.
“You look at the last big fad – paleo. This diet is supposedly what we use to eat as cavemen, but when you look back in time our guts have developed through eating many and various different things. The paleo diet just takes dietary tips from an arbitrary time in our evolution! The keto diet, on the other hand, actually changes the core energy source our body uses to operate – this really intrigued me. The idea that you can train your body to burn fat reserves is a pretty solid basis for a diet in my opinion!
“So that is what led me to realise there are no decent carb alternatives readily available in New Zealand – hence the birth of Norse Fitness.
Ben hopes to build a range of products that can help people to obtain their fitness goals. He hopes to grow Norse Fitness from the very humble company it is today to a resource for detailed information on ketosis and the keto diet and a onestop-shop for a range of keto-friendly products and supplements.
Ben Pryor is the brains behind KetoPasta, a new product on the market, distributed by Norse Fitness.