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By now, you might have heard of the ketogenic diet. You probably know someone who has tried it, or you might’ve already tried it yourself. It’s a hot topic everywhere, but it seems that not everyone fully understands what it is.
The ketogenic diet, or keto diet for short, involves altering food intake so that your body goes into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is when your metabolism burns stores of fat for energy. We typically burn carbohydrate for energy since we eat large amounts of grains, vegetables, and fruits. With the ketogenic diet, you shift your intake to consume a high amount of fat, a moderate amount of protein, and a low amount of carbohydrate. When carbohydrate intake is low, your liver begins the process of breaking down fat for energy by converting it into fatty acids and ketones.
While the Keto diet may be a fairly new craze, it’s been around for a very long time. There have been multiple variations of this diet such as the South Beach Diet, the Atkins diet, and the Paleo Diet. All of these diet fads contain the similar premise of limiting calorie intake, restricting carbohydrates, and increasing fat and protein intake. The overall purpose is to lose weight. And most people do, in fact, lose weight.
Calorie intake is low, but diet gurus claim that you’ll still feel full because you’re eating foods that are higher in fats and protein. This is controversial because many people who eat a more plant-based diet, where they consume more fruits, vegetables, and grains, claim they feel full due to the high amount of fiber in their foods. Ketones are also known to be an appetite suppressant, which may also factor into this claim.
A recent study of the ketogenic diet in mice found significant and successful weight loss, but it also found hepatic insulin resistance and impaired glycogen metabolism. Considering that many health professionals are now recommending the Keto diet to manage and treat the ever-increasing obesity epidemic, we also have to wait for more studies, specifically human studies and long-term studies, on the side effects of this diet.
Like with many fad diets, there are pros and cons to consider. Ultimately, we should focus on our own health goals and dietary needs before making significant changes to our food intake. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider to see if the keto diet is right for you, as what works for some may not work for everyone.
Jenn Giles, R.D., C.S.S.D. is all about health and wellness. She has over 15 years’ experience, including a dual master’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University. She is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). She supplements all of this with her spin instructor certification and USATriathlon Level I Coach Certification.
Jennifer is passionate about (actually, obsessed with) the sport of triathlon. She has been personally participating in triathlons since 2000 and running road races since 1992. She is a two-time Ironman finisher and has completed countless numerous marathons. She has been a member of Power Bar Team Elite since 2006 and competed as a member of the 2006 Aquaphor/Active.com Sponsored Athlete Team. She was ranked as USAT All American Honorable mention in 2006 and 2011. Jennifer does all of this along side of her husband, Patrick, who is an equally accomplished triathlete and runner. They try as hard as they can to do all of their training and racing together.
She will tell you, however, that her most important, most rewarding and most challenging job is as a mother of four. She knows first hand the challenges of maintaining optimal fitness, overall good health and achieving goals while raising a family - of which good nutrition is the cornerstone.
Most importantly, she knows how to motivate, inspire and challenge athletes based on their own abilities, strengths and everyday lifestyles. She believes there is an athlete in everyone - no matter what their abilities are – and if those abilities are manifold, then there is an even better athlete in there!