Cu­ri­ous about the ke­to­genic diet? Then you’ll want to get on board with these fla­vor­ful high-fat, low-carb recipes.

Clean Eating - - CONTENTS - By Maria Em­merich

This high-fat, low-carb diet has been around for nearly a cen­tury but is only now find­ing its way into the main­stream as a means to lose weight and help im­prove over­all health. (SPOILER ALERT: The re­sults are out­stand­ing!) Read on to find out what the keto craze is all about, and why you might want to con­sider try­ing it for your­self. Plus, a sneak peek at our ex­cit­ing new keto weight-loss course.

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 high­car­bo­hy­drate 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.

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