Diet trends are always a topic of debate. With so many diets to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which one is right for you. People choose diets for different reasons. Some want to lose weight; others strive for better overall health; many seek improved metabolism. Two of the most popular diets in America are the ketogenic and paleo diets. Paleo gained prominence several years ago, while keto has been steadily on the rise of late. Some may confuse the two and use them interchangeably, but many are unaware of each diet’s specific intricacies. Although keto and paleo have some overlapping characteristics, each one is unique in its own way. Let’s take a look at both diets and see which one is right for you.
The Ketogenic Diet
The keto diet has one main goal above all else: make the body produce ketones. To understand the importance of ketones and ketone production, you must first understand the basic physiological nature of energy sources in the human body.
The human body is programmed to run off a mix of glucose and fat. The balance of glucose is obtained mostly through the consumption of carbohydrates (however, through gluconeogenesis, glucose can also be created through non-carbohydrate substances). The process of digestion converts the macronutrient from the diet (carbs) into an energy source for our cells (glucose). Drastically decreasing carbohydrate intake will create a metabolic shift in the body, away from glucose-dependent energy. After eliminating carbs, the body can increasingly tap into stored body fat for energy, of which we have a large amount. By increasing our fat-intake, the body can become metabolically flexible, burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.
Let’s take a closer look at getting into ketosis.
How to Get into Ketosis
Getting into ketosis is a variable process from person to person time-wise, but everyone undergoes the same physiological transformation should they choose to achieve ketosis through endogenous means (meaning, enabling the body to produce its own ketones).
Eating carbohydrates causes insulin release, which in turn prevents the production of ketones from fat; this is because insulin stops the release of fat from fat stores and thus shuts off the substrate for ketone production. To prevent insulin release, you must eliminate carbohydrate intake. As carb reduction occurs, the body will become depleted of glucose stores.
After a certain period of time the body will enter a state of ketosis, breaking down more and more fat, leading to ketone production.
Ketones are produced in the liver through a multistep conversion of fats. Evolutionarily, ketone production occurred as a result of starvation, when the body didn’t have any carbohydrates from which to make energy. Ketosis indicates the presence of ketones in the blood above 0.5mM. Triggering a state of ketosis is usually done one of two ways. The first is endogenously, meaning ketones are produced naturally in the body, usually through diet or fasting. The second is exogenously, in which blood ketone levels are increased by consuming a ketone supplement, like HVMN Ketone.
Keto Health Benefits
The benefits of keto go beyond simply slimming your waistline. Studies have shown that a ketogenic diet may help individuals with type 2 diabetes by effectively lowering blood glucose.1 There’s also been a noted improvement in glycemic control and weight loss. But it’s not all metabolic benefits.1
The keto diet may improve cardiovascular health markers, including lowering blood pressure readings.2 Keto can also help treat neurological disorders. Since the early 1900s, children who suffered from epilepsy benefited from the diet as a form of alternative therapy.3 Many have also noted subjective feelings of mental clarity while on the keto diet.
Keto might even help improve health conditions characterized by inflammation through the signaling actions of ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (or BHB), which blocks NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated inflammatory disease.4 Animal studies have shown the ketogenic diet may improve longevity, memory, and health span.5
Keto Diet Basics
A balanced caloric intake on keto is essential for meeting dietary and weight loss goals. Every calorie you consume is made up of one of three types of macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, or proteins.
The ketogenic diet consists of a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate macronutrient ratio.
- High fat: 60% – 80% of total calories from fat
- Moderate protein: 15% – 35% of total calories from protein
- Low carbohydrate: 5% or less of total calories from carbohydrates
Your macronutrients can be calculated on your own, but there are macro calculators online to simplify the process. Just set each macronutrient within the suggested ranges for the keto diet.
To illustrate this, let’s take a look at a hypothetical person. A 200 pound male with 17% body fat will have a basal metabolic rate (BMR) of approximately 2,000 calories. Let’s say they want to maintain their current weight. Using a macronutrient ratio of 25% protein, 5% carbohydrates, and 70% fat, this person will consume 179g of fat, 28g of carbs, and 144g of protein. The ratio is not only keto-friendly, but also provides adequate protein for retaining lean body mass (at least 0.8g protein per pound of LBM).
The keto diet is based around healthy fat sources and low-carb food choices. Some of the best keto friendly foods include:
- Meats, including fatty fish and beef
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Many varieties of cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Nuts and seeds
A day of eating on the keto diet may look something like this:
- Breakfast: four whole eggs, two pieces of bacon
- Snack: one serving of almonds, one serving of blackberries
- Lunch: 8oz of chicken breast, 100g of asparagus, one serving of Greek yogurt
- Snack: one serving of cottage cheese, one serving of blackberries
- Dinner: 6oz of salmon, 100g of Brussels sprouts
Your meal plan should be goal specific, but this is just one way of incorporating the keto meal plan into your everyday life. It’s not as hard and many people think!
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