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What Is the Ketogenic Diet? Learn the Surprising Facts About This New Weight Loss Trend

There's a lot of buzz going around about the ketogenic diet right now. But do you know what it is, exactly? Believe it or not, there's a lot of confusion out there. We are here to set the record straight. Below, you will learn exactly what the ketogenic diet is. You'll also learn about the misconceptions surrounding the ketogenic diet which simply aren't true. Get ready to sort fact from fiction!

What the Ketogenic Diet Is

The ketogenic diet is actually very simple. It involves tracking your macronutrient intake instead of just counting calories. The macronutrients you need to pay attention to (in order of importance) are: dietary fat, protein, and carbohydrates. You want the majority of your calories to come from fat (anywhere from 60% to 90% depending on your reason for putting yourself into ketosis). Beyond that, you should consume a moderate amount of protein (15% to 30% of total caloric intake) in order to maintain lean body mass, as well as healthy skin, hair, and nails. Lastly, the fewest of your calories should come from carbohydrates. If you're going to eat carbs, get as many of them from high fiber vegetables and fruits as you can. A minimal amount of grains may be okay if they're minimally processed and ranked low on the glycemic index. Processed carbs like sugar, white bread, pasta, and processed juices should be avoided at all costs.

Keto Diet

So why is this diet so popular, especially since we've been told for the past 30 years or so to minimize our dietary fat intake? Well, it turns out that everything we know about dietary fat is wrong. It isn't the boogeyman responsible for heart disease and obesity. It's only when you consume dietary fat with the exorbitantly high levels of carbohydrates which are recommended in the Standard American Diet that you develop health problems. Cutting out those unhealthy carbs and focusing on the macronutrients that matter - like protein for lean mass and healthy, natural fats for enhanced cellular development - helps people lose fat, increase mental clarity, and live an overall healthier and happier life. That's why people are so excited about the benefits of keto!

What the Ketogenic Diet Is NOT

Lots of people are confused about what the ketogenic diet actually is. So we're going to take the time to clean up that confusion right now. The most important thing you need to know when discussing the ketogenic diet is this: the ketogenic is not the Atkins diet! are you listening, Jillian Michaels? Let's repeat that again for the people in the back of the room: keto and Atkins are not the same diet. There is one simple yet very important distinction between the two: keto emphasizes high-fat, moderate protein. Atkins emphasizes low carb and usually replaces those calories with high protein - oftentimes while discouraging dietary intake of fat, even if it's healthy fat from natural sources. This makes a big difference when it comes to your overall health and longevity.

The purpose of the ketogenic diet is to switch your body from burning glucose (from carbohydrates) for fuel and instead burn fat for fuel to produce ketone bodies. Unfortunately, you can't do that on the atkins diet. When you replace most of your carbs with protein, you're effectively shooting yourself in the foot - or, rather, the kidneys. If you eat a low-carb, high-protein diet, your body will produce glucose from the protein through a process called gluconeogenesis. But making glucose from protein is extremely strenuous on the body. The kidneys have to filter a lot of harmful waste products out of your blood in order to do so. If you aren't careful, this can lead to serious health problems down the road.

Another thing people may not know about keto is that it's actually not that new. Certain people have been eating a ketogenic diet in one form or another for over a hundred years. but get this: when people first started using this dietary protocol, it had nothing to do with losing weight. Medical doctors were recommending it to their patients to treat things like seizures and other neurological disorders. So the ketogenic diet has a long and well-documented history of being good for your health, even outside the realms of fast weight loss and fitness.

The "calories in, calories out" crowd isn't too keen on keto, either. People who believe that you can only lose weight if you count calories (or points) strongly denounce the keto diet. They believe all calories to be equal and that focusing on macronutrients (especially calorically dense ones like fat) will lead to a calorie surplus and weight gain. But the thing about fat calories is that they're very satiating. This helps curb your appetite so you eat less. As long as you get accurate macronutrient intake from healthy, whole foods, you can easily achieve a calorie deficit without experiencing the headache of counting calories.

Here's the last myth we want to dispel about the ketogenic diet: eating keto will not "kill your gains" in the gym. If anything, a ketogenic diet is ideal for building larger, stronger muscles via low weight/high rep endurance weight training. Endurance athletes get a boost in the gym because after most people burn through their stored glycogen, they get tired and want to stop working out. But if you are fat adapted, you have more fuel on hand at the ready to keep going and finish your extended gym session strong.

Contrary to what all the BroScience brofessors out there would have you believe, carbs aren't actually responsible for muscle gains. protein and fat are, especially BCAAs like leucine. Carbs may speed up the process by spiking insulin, but they are not a necessary part of the process. Scientists know that even diabetics, whose insulin functioning is debilitated by their disease, can build muscle. At the end of the day, carbs may help you build muscle faster - but at the cost of massive insulin spikes which could lead to insulin resistance and metabolic disease over time.

Who Can Benefit Most from Keto

In short: just about everyone. The keto diet has been used for decades as a therapeutic treatment for seizures. It's great for helping curb your appetite and burning belly fat in people who have struggled with weight loss for years. It's even ideal for anyone trying to build a muscular, lean physique. And if you experience any difficulty transitioning into keto on your own, there are plenty of high-quality supplements out there that can help. Once you sort fact from fiction, there's a lot to love about the keto diet!

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