In honor of National Nutrition Month, I gathered your keto questions across all social media platforms. I’m excited to announce we got over 20 questions!!!!
One by one, I am going to tackle each question so that we can clear up the confusion about Keto Living 🙂
Let’s dive right into our first 6 questions (might I add I was very impressed by the quality of questions).
1. WHAT IS THE KETO (or Ketogenic) DIET?
The classic Ketogenic diet is a very low-carb diet plan that was originally designed for patients with epilepsy. Research found that fasting helped reduce the amount of seizures patients suffered from. Meanwhile, having positive effects on their body fat, blood sugar regulation, cholesterol and hunger levels.
Since we can not fast for super long periods of time they decided to see if there was a way of eating that would have the same benefits without needing to forever fast. That’s when they came up with the keto diet.
Essentially, the keto diet works by “tricking” the body into acting as if its fasting (while reaping intermittent fasting benefits), through a strict elimination of glucose that is found in carbohydrate foods.
At the core of the classic keto diet is severely restricting intake of all or most foods with sugar and starch (carbohydrates). These foods are broken down into sugar (insulin and glucose) in our blood once we eat them, and if these levels become too high, extra calories are much more easily stored as body fat and results in unwanted weight gain.
However, when glucose levels are cut off due to low-carb intake, the body starts to burn fat instead and produces ketones that can be measured in the blood (using urine strips, for example).
Keto diets, like most low carb diets, work through the elimination of glucose. Because most people live on a high carb diet, our bodies normally run on glucose (or sugar) for energy.
We cannot make glucose and only have about 24 hours’ worth stored in our muscle tissue and liver. Once glucose is no longer available from food sources, we begin to burn stored fat instead, or fat from our food.
Therefore, when you’re following a ketogenic diet plan, your body is burning fat for energy rather than carbohydrates, so in the process most people lose weight and excess body fat, even when consuming lots of fat and adequate calories through their daily food intake.
2. IS THERE A RIGHT AND WRONG WAY TO DO KETO?
ABSOLUTELY! I don’t even really know where to start with this question because there are so many ways that you can do keto the wrong way but first I think the question would have to be,
“Why are you even doing keto?”
Keto has gotten really popular over the last few years. In my opinion, it’s gotten popular due to the “faster” fat loss and the satiated properties. So with that being said, we will address this question coming from the fat loss standpoint.
If you do keto the “right” way (I say “right” way because it depends on your goals with using keto as a tool for your goals) then it can have extraordinary benefits. However, in the same breath it can have the opposite impact as well.
Instead of being a lifestyle that improves brain fog, inflammation, increases energy and torches fat it can cause brain fog, inflammation, plummet energy and put on the pounds. YEP! I said it! You can’t just rely on pork rinds and ranch. Sorry mom… ;p
Or smashing peanuts, bacon, cheese and diet soda like it’s your job. That’s not a great way of eating for any human. Why is keto the exception?
What we must accept is that there are NO QUICK FIXES in LIFE that are Healthy and Long Lasting! Once we accept that we can see keto for what keto was meant to be used for. It’s a tool to aid in fat loss, a way to to improve brain fog, help with hunger, cravings and insulin sensitivity.
The “right way” to do keto is first asking yourself why you are doing keto, then picking which of the 9 ways to do keto works best for you and sticking to foods that are whole, natural and do not cause inflammation (less processed and proinflammatory foods).
3. SHOULD MEN AND WOMEN DO KETO DIFFERENTLY?
First and foremost!!! Strict Keto should be used as a tool to fat loss rather than a lifestyle. Second, There are very few reliable research studies done on women and keto.
There are some good research studies with men and women but overall there aren’t any on just women. WE ARE DIFFERENT!!!!!
Matter of fact, I believe that there’s not a lot of research on women in general when it comes to performance and fat loss because we are complicated with our hormones.
It’s a lot harder to research us with accuracy but that does not mean that people should continue to apply what works for men and apply it to women.
I am going to speak from my personal experience, my clients and the research that is out there about how women respond to stress in general.
We are a lot more stress sensitive than men and for that simple fact it’s important that we take that into consideration. That is why women should not do strict keto for long periods of time. It’s to be used as a tool and can later evolve into part of their nutrition lifestyle.
Hormones dictate EVERYTHING! How we feel, look, perform and whether or not we lose or gain fat.
So if we want to get the most out of our keto experience then we are going to want to do it in a way that is least stressful.
For women, I would consider taking 2 weeks to ease into doing keto.
I would also encourage those who follow their cycle to start easing into keto when the start their menstrual cycle, then after 14 days start to go into full blown keto.
This would be the ultimate way to do it but again if you just take a few weeks to ease into keto you increase your chances of having a positive experience (this is my personal opinion).
Also, it’s very important for both men and women to get in enough water but it’s extremely important that women get in enough electrolytes and water throughout their keto experience.
Men! You’ve got it easy! Typically you can walk right into keto and rock it! The only thing I’ve noticed with men is that they tend to be able to get in a bit more protein (close to the 25% range and sometimes more).
4. DO ATHLETES AND NON-ATHLETES NEED TO DO KETO DIFFERENTLY?
In my opinion and from my experience, yes! The main difference that I notice is that it’s even more important that athletes get their water in each day (a gallon for women and 1.5 gallons for men) while making sure they get in enough electrolytes since they tend to sweat more than non athletes.
Also, every single athlete that I have coached while doing some form of keto have been able to stay in ketosis while eating their goal bodyweight in protein (regardless of the percentage of calories).
The third thing is that I’ve found that most athletes I’ve worked with tend to be able to have slightly more carbs than those who do not train hard consistently (50 grams of carbs or less for men and 35-40 grams of carbs or less for women).
5. WHAT ARE MY THOUGHTS ON INTERMITTENT FASTING WHILE DOING KETO?
The keto diet and intermittent fasting are two of the hottest current health trends.
Many health-conscious people use these methods to drop weight and control certain health conditions. While both have solid research backing their benefits, many people wonder if it’s safe and effective to combine the two.
Combining the ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting is likely safe for most people. However, pregnant or breastfeeding women and those with a history of disordered eating should be careful with intermittent fasting.
Also women who are stress sensitive may want to be careful with intermittent fasting while starting keto program. I suggest women wait at least 4-6 weeks until their bodies are comfortable with doing keto.
Then, using intermittent fasting as a tool for health, fat loss and insulin sensitivity. Women tend to apply the same rules that work for men to them and really should listen to their bodies. If they are hungry, low energy or are about to train I encourage women to eat something (WITHOUT GUILT!)
Use intermittent fasting when it works for your lifestyle and not the end all, be all.
Now for men, go for it! In most cases men can rock both keto and intermittent fasting at the same time.
Though some people may find merging the practices helpful, it’s important to note that it may not work for everyone.
Some people may find that fasting on the keto diet is too difficult, or they may experience adverse reactions, such as overeating on non-fasting days, irritability and fatigue.
Keep in mind that intermittent fasting is not necessary to reach ketosis, even though it can be used as a tool to do so quickly.
Simply following a healthy, well-rounded keto diet is enough for anyone looking to improve health by cutting down on carbs.
The Bottom Line
Combining the keto diet with intermittent fasting may help you reach ketosis faster than a keto diet alone. It may also result in greater fat loss.
However, while this method may work wonders for some, it’s not necessary to mix both, and some people should avoid this combination.
You’re welcome to experiment and see whether a combination — or one practice on its own — works best for you. But as with any major lifestyle change, it’s advisable to speak to your healthcare provider first.
6. HOW CAN YOU USE KETO TO HELP REGULATE YOUR BLOOD SUGARS (especially with insulin resistance)?
Insulin resistance is bad news, but the ketogenic diet may be helpful. KEEP IN MIND, keto is not the only way to help regulate blood sugars (example: using a Glucose Disposal Agent, eating low glycemic carbs and balancing your meals out with more fats, protein and fiber).
Let’s shine some light on insulin resistance and then we can talk about how to use keto as one way to improve your insulin sensitivity.
Every time you eat carbs, you trigger an insulin response. It doesn’t matter which type of carbs you eat — simple carbs in processed foods or complex carbs like starchy vegetables– they all get converted into blood sugar for your cells to use in the end.
The more carbs and sugar you eat, the more glucose gets released into your bloodstream (and therefore more insulin too). So when you’re insulin resistant (your receptors are taxed out from chronic carb consumption and/or chronic stress), carbs are your worst enemy.
It’s kind of like when you consume caffeine for a long time. Over time, your body no longer has the same response to caffeine as it did when you first started using it.
So what do you do, most people will increase the dose. Then what???
Well, they will continue to increase until they get to a point where it no longer works or they start to feel worse from the caffeine overload.
Same applies to people with insulin resistance. You have either eaten too many carbs for too long, you are stressed out all the time or you have a genetic predisposition to insulin resistance. With that being said, the same thing applies.
How do you get your body sensitive to using carbs again???
You take them away so that your body can get back to where it was prior to you having insulin resistance.
WHY KETO IS EFFECTIVE for Insulin Resistance??? Keto Removes the Biggest Cause of Insulin Resistance
Studies have shown that restricting your daily carbs improves all the features of metabolic syndrome, such as[*]:
- Abnormal cholesterol levels
- Elevated blood sugar ***
- Excess body fat around your waist
In one of the first trials ever designed to see what kind of effect a ketogenic diet has on insulin resistance, researchers monitored the regular diets of 10 obese participants with type 2 diabetes (aka People with MAJOR Insulin Resistance)( for one full week. Then the participants followed high-fat ketogenic diets for two weeks.
Researchers noticed participants on keto[*]:
- Naturally ate 30% fewer calories (from an average 3,111 kcal/day to 2,164 kcal/day)
- Lost an average of almost four pounds in just 14 days
- Improved their insulin sensitivity by 75%
- Decreased their hemoglobin A1c levels from 7.3% to 6.8%
- Lowered their mean triglycerides by 35% and their overall cholesterol by 10%
The combination of low-carb eating and natural weight loss balanced out these participants’ insulin levels and made their bodies more capable of using insulin the right way again — WITHOUT MEDICATION!
In another study, 83 overweight or obese participants with high cholesterol were randomly assigned to one of three diets of equal calories for eight weeks[*]:
- A very low-fat, high carb diet (70% carbs, 20% protein, 10% fat)
- A diet high in unsaturated fat but lower in carbs (50% carbs, 30% fat, 20% protein)
- A very low-carbohydrate diet like keto (61% fats, 35% protein, 4% carbs)
The bottom line is that you CAN use Keto to help reverse your insulin resistance but you have to stick to it long enough for your body to get sensitive to carbs again.
Everyone is different but I encourage you to track your morning fasted blood sugars and watch how YOU Reverse your Insulin Resistance without the use of medications!
The good news is that simple lifestyle changes and adopting a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet can help you manage your blood sugar levels and lower your insulin levels so you can become insulin sensitive again — and ditch those expensive prescriptions too.
I hope you found this helpful and hope you will follow along as we celebrate National Nutrition Month, Keto Style.
Answering all of your questions this month!!!! That means you can email me with additional questions to be featured throughout our blogs, emails and Facebook Lives (my Facebook Page)
OR To CHECK OUT OUR FIRST LIVE KETO CLARITY SERIES CLICK HERE!!!!
Join my email list for more Keto Clarity ALL MONTH LONG! Next week, we tackle if calories really matter while being on keto, electrolytes and all about measuring ketones.