The Ke­to­genic Diet

Yoga Journal - - TEACHER’S TABLE -

OR­GANIC, HEALTHY FATS, PRO­TEINS,

and full-fat dairy—plus high-nu­tri­ent, low-carb leafy green veg­gies—are the bread and but­ter of the ke­to­genic diet. In fact, there’s a for­mula to this style of eat­ing: 70 per­cent healthy fats (think olive oil, av­o­cado, and ghee), 25 per­cent pro­tein (fatty fish, lean meats, nuts, seeds, and eggs), and 5 per­cent car­bo­hy­drates (mostly from fruits and vegeta­bles). Be­cause of the strict car­bo­hy­drate al­lowance, which gen­er­ally equates to about 20–30 grams per day, sug­ary fruits and starchy veg­gies (berries, root vegeta­bles) are re­stricted. Cheese, but­ter, heavy cream, and full-fat yo­gurts can be en­joyed freely, but milk, which is high in lac­tose (a sugar that spikes blood sugar) is lim­ited. Un­like pa­leo, which is more about whole­food choices, the keto diet fo­cuses on ma­nip­u­lat­ing the macronu­tri­ents fat, carbs, and pro­tein to change the body’s me­tab­o­lism.

THE BEN­E­FITS

Orig­i­nally in­tro­duced to treat epilepsy in the 1920s, this way of eat­ing has ex­ploded in pop­u­lar­ity in the past 15 years—thanks in part to its suc­cess treat­ing ill­ness and in­flam­ma­tion by re­strict­ing in­sulin pro­duc­tion. In­sulin is a hor­mone our bod­ies pro­duce to me­tab­o­lize carbs—it car­ries glu­cose (carbs and sugar) through the blood­stream to be used as fuel. When glu­cose isn’t read­ily avail­able, our bod­ies nat­u­rally me­tab­o­lize fat for en­ergy in­stead. When we me­tab­o­lize fat, our liv­ers pro­duce com­pounds called ke­tones, which act as a pow­er­ful and steady en­ergy source. Peo­ple in ke­to­sis—when ke­tones in the blood are at least .5 mmol/L—re­port de­creased ap­petites (fat keeps us fuller longer than carbs can) plus in­creased en­ergy, men­tal clar­ity, and fo­cus.

Re­search has found that high in­sulin lev­els are an un­der­ly­ing cause of chronic dis­eases, in­clud­ing Alzheimer’s, de­men­tia, fatty liver dis­ease, ges­ta­tional and type 2 di­a­betes, obe­sity, and cer­tain types of can­cers—and ke­to­sis can be a pow­er­ful an­ti­dote. “We’re ac­tu­ally see­ing a re­ver­sal of chronic dis­eases in peo­ple eat­ing keto,” says ke­to­genic-diet im­ple­men­ta­tion ex­pert Ca­role Free­man. And pre­lim­i­nary re­search on mice, pub­lished on­line in May for the jour­nal Ex­per­i­men­tal Neu­rol­ogy, found that a ke­to­genic diet re­duced pain sen­si­tiv­ity and pro­moted pe­riph­eral nerve growth (the nerves that help trans­mit sig­nals from the brain).

SUP­PLE­MEN­TAL KNOWL­EDGE

Dur­ing the tran­si­tion to ke­to­sis, which takes about three to five days, the body rids it­self of its car­bo­hy­drate-based en­ergy stores and starts the process of turn­ing fats into ke­tone bod­ies. Once you start shed­ding carbs, you’ll be flush­ing wa­ter and min­er­als too, be­cause we store wa­ter along­side the carbs we don’t burn off (i.e. wa­ter weight). “That’ll be the most mis­er­able time of the tran­si­tion,” says Free­man. “This elec­trolyte im­bal­ance can lead to feel­ings of light­head­ed­ness, dizzi­ness, fa­tigue, weak­ness, headaches, and body aches. Plus, re­fined carbs act on the same part of the brain as opi­ates, and when we wean off these sub­stances, brain detox can feel very sim­i­lar to a drug with­drawal.”

Gen­tle yin or restora­tive yoga will help you ease into ke­to­sis, Free­man says. And an elec­trolyte sup­ple­ment will off­set neg­a­tive side ef­fects. Just make sure it’s low in carbs and sugar.

TRY Nuun Elec­trolytes Ef­fer­ves­cent Hy­dra­tion Tabs as you start the diet. Once in a con­tin­u­ous state of ke­to­sis, you’ll want to con­tinue sup­ple­ment­ing with sodium (2–6 grams), potas­sium (200–800 mg), and mag­ne­sium (140+ mg). A great op­tion is Coun­try Life Mag­ne­sium-Potas­sium-As­par­tate tablets, which de­liver 600 mg mag­ne­sium and 198 mg potas­sium per serv­ing.

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