It seems like ketogenic nutrition is all the rage these days. In all honesty, the concept has actually been around forever (think way back to our hunter and gatherer ancestors), but has become more prevalent with the recent explosion of popularity, making it seem like it's a "new" thing.
You're probably familiar with the fact that carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy, right? But did you know that the body's secondary source of energy comes from fats? When you can train your body to run on fat efficiently, it can be a "cleaner burning fuel." Why? Many of us consume too many of the carbohydrates that spike our blood sugar levels, which also spikes insulin production in the pancreas (bread, pasta, potatoes, and sugar, etc.). Continuously spiking our blood sugar levels puts a heavy load on our system. If we're not careful, our body can develop insulin resistance, a condition where our insulin levels remain consistently higher than normal because our cells get worn out and can no longer effectively do their job processing the insulin hormone. One way to avoid this spike is to eat more low glycemic carbyhydrates and less high glycemic carbohydrates. Another way is to train our bodies to run fat as fuel (ketosis), because fat does not spike blood sugar like carbs do. Most people have a LOT more fat available for fuel throughout their bodies than they do carbohydrates (in the form of glucose) which is stored in the muscle.
A keto diet has a LOT of benefits for the body including:
stem cell production
improved brain function and health on SO many levels
improved gene expression
reduced oxidative stress (yay youthful aging!)
higher energy levels (without the crashes)
The struggle, however, can be consistently training your body to run on fats. A keto diet typically consists of a low carb, moderate protein, and high fat diet, specifically the macronutrient ratio 70/20/10. This is 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbohydrates respectively. It's not always doable, can feel sacrificial to some, and isn't always necessary.
To get around this, did you know there are a couple hacks you can implement help induce ketosis in the body and reap many of the benefits without having to follow a super strict 70/20/10 keto nutrition plan?
The first one is intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting simply means you eat all your meals within a specific window each day and fast the remainder of the day. The awesome thing about this is that you're sleeping for [hopefully] 8 of those hours, so it's not as difficult as it might seem. An example fasting schedule might look something like this: eating from 8:00am-6:00pm and fasting from 6:00pm-8:00am. You can adjust these times to fit your schedule and needs. Just make sure you are as consistent as possible.
The second hack is that you can combine 1 tbsp MCT oil and 1 tbsp coconut oil and take it 3 times/day. One of the best ways to implement this is with your coffee! Add your 1:1 MCT and coconut oil mixture to your coffee first thing in the morning. You can also add a serving to your daily superfood shake/smoothie! This combo of oils is great because MCT helps produce ketones quickly while coconut oil stretches out ketone production over a longer period of time.
You can follow just one hack or incorporate both into your daily nutrition. You'll receive many of the same benefits and have a low level storage of ketones all day even if you're not following a super strict keto nutrition plan.
But before you get too excited, this doesn't mean you can eat anything you want. Select fats that are healthy (avocados, nuts, ghee, hemp seeds, olive oil, coconut oil), organic/cage-free/grass-fed/sustainable farm proteins, and select quality organic carbohydrates in lots of colors (carrots, beets, fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes, high antioxidant fruits, and lots of veggies). And, of course, limit your intake of fast foods, over-processed foods, and sugary sweets...'cause that stuff ain't good for no body.
Happy fat burnin', y'all!