We spent this past weekend at KetoCon, a conference here in Austin that brings together researchers, educators, and vendors that support the ketogenic diet. We got to meet people from around the world who use a ketogenic diet for a variety of reasons—from treating debilitating conditions to fueling extreme athletic feats. One of the speakers I got some time with, Jade Nelson, found that the ketogenic diet was the only thing that finally allowed her to control her seizures and reduce medication after 28 years of struggling with epilepsy. Countless others found it helped with stubborn obesity, inflammation, mental clarity, and athletic performance. Some people at the conference had even gone so far to adopt a carnivore diet, where they only eat meat.
What is ketosis?
In a standard diet, the body primarily uses glucose from ingested carbohydrates for fuel. Ketosis is a metabolic state (achieved by fasting or carbohydrate restriction) in which the body breaks down fat to produce ketones for its main source of fuel.
How do you get into ketosis?
To transition from burning glucose to burning ketones, fast for around 48 hours or eat a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein diet (i.e., ketogenic diet) for two to three weeks. The classic ketogenic diet recommends about 75% of calories from fat, 5% from carbs, and 20% from protein. If it’s your first time on a ketogenic diet, transitioning can be uncomfortable as your body adjusts to the new fuel source (a.k.a. “keto flu”).
Several of us here in the EPIC wolf pack have found a strict ketogenic diet extremely powerful. Our natural sales lead, Tim, has used a ketogenic diet for over a year to treat type 1 diabetes. Since then, he has required 65% less supplemental insulin, meanwhile seeing increases in his strength, lean muscle mass, and mental clarity. His wife, though not diabetic, jumped on board after seeing his results and found she also had improved energy and body composition when following a ketogenic diet. A lack of wholesome keto treats led her to start a keto ice cream company called Mammoth Creameries. Once you try this ice cream, you might go keto just to justify eating this stuff every day.
Our office manager, Ashley, who is a health and wellness guru, decided to transition from a paleo to a ketogenic diet a couple of years ago in order to heal some persistent sleep and hormonal issues. Six months into Ashley’s diet change, her teenage daughter suddenly developed epilepsy. Ashley was so grateful that she had already discovered the ketogenic diet, which proved to be very helpful in controlling her daughter’s seizures. Ashley herself no longer experiences insomnia, which she had struggled with her entire life. Her energy is steady, and afternoon crashes are a thing of the past. After starting the ketogenic diet, along with strategic supplementation, her hormones have regulated, and she lost the weight gained from a thyroid issue. She truly feels the ketogenic diet restored her quality of life.
Personally, when I tried a ketogenic diet a few years ago, I initially experienced an increase in mood and energy as well as mental and physical performance. After six months of almost no carbs and intense exercise, some gut issues and thyroid issues emerged. While basing by diet on healthy fats was key to stabilizing my blood sugar and mood, I do think that keeping some carbs in my diet could have prevented the severity of the health issues. When I did add back in carbs to support my sleep and thyroid, I continued to fast intermittently and eat most of my carbs at night. When I tested my ketones at the conference, my breath still measured therapeutic levels of ketones, which confirmed that—even when eating carbs almost every day—I am still able to switch back and forth from burning glucose to ketones pretty effectively.
While low-carb diets do provide some unique benefits due to the lack of glucose and therefore insulin response, the ketogenic diet is not a panacea. The metabolic benefits experienced by the ketogenic diet are thought to mimic fasting, which can increase mitochondrial health. However, while many report benefits, the underlying mechanism is not known. Therefore, more studies need to be done to determine long-term effectiveness and safety. Also, it’s important to note that the lack of carbs can actually be a stressor for some people’s metabolism and endocrine system. Many women report a surge in hormonal imbalance when they reduce carbs too much.
For most of us, cutting out processed and refined foods (especially sugar) is the first step to improved health, energy, and body composition. From there, your body will guide the way as to how many carbs (coming from whole food sources) to include for your personal makeup. In fact, once processed foods are cut out, people lose weight on both low-fat and low-carb diets.
Whether or not we respond well to a ketogenic diet likely has to do with our gender, ancestry, metabolism, stress and activity levels, and personal preferences. If you are not interested in a classic ketogenic diet (or find it doesn’t work well for you), there are many alternatives that may provide similar mitochondrial benefits including:- Exercise in a fasted state each morning
- Hot/cold exposure
- Only eat carbs later in the day
- Fast intermittently
Given the benefits and powerful personal success stories, EPIC is thrilled to offer a variety of products to support a ketogenic lifestyle. If you are interested in a high-fat, low-carb diet, here are the products that we recommend:
- Beef liver bites (we like to pair them with roasted macadamia nuts)
- Chicken sriracha bar (pairs well with an avocado for a high-fat meal)
- Pork rinds (great solo or with dip like cream cheese and guac)
We are excited for the research currently being done on the ketogenic diet—especially when it comes to treating chronic conditions such as obesity, epilepsy, diabetes, and even cancer. Once more is known about the specific mechanisms involved, it seems that this diet has potential to change and even save many more lives.
Have you tried the ketogenic diet? Let us know in the comments below.
Gardner, Christopher D., et al. “Weight Loss on Low-Fat vs. Low-Carbohydrate Diets by Insulin Resistance Status among Overweight Adults and Adults with Obesity: A Randomized Pilot Trial.” Obesity, vol. 24, no. 1, 2015, pp. 79–86.