Cautions for Ketogenic Diets
It would appear that the “Ketogenic” Diet approach is trending recently. I do not follow the trends enough to understand WHY this is occurring. Of course, there are usually many different diets that are trending. This post is designed not to steer people away from these approaches; but to help in understanding the principles behind them.
Just a quick overview of the Ketogenic Approach and theories. I do not claim to be an expert on this field but these are the basics as I understand them. Ketogenic diets are based around promoting the intake of FAT as the primary fuel source. They are limiting on sugars, fruits, and carbohydrates. This often cuts down on grains and beans as well. The theories behind this are very similar to the “PALEO” style of eating. Humans evolved subsisting primarily from Proteins and Fats. The major differences between Paleo and Ketogenic styles seem to be that Paleo’s are not as leery of fruits and some root vegetables. Basically, they allow a small amount more carbohydrates.
So, to be fair, there is a lot of wisdom in removing “modernized grains, processed foods, etc” and focusing more on whole foods. This is shared with many dietary theories. There are many HEALTHY FATS that people can eat.
The PROBLEMS come when people do not understand well what HEALTHY FATS are VS UNHEALTHY FATS. Problems also can come if people’s genetics and BODY CHEMISTRY need fruits, grains, or beans to function optimally. You can literally be starving yourself of vital nutrition if you are fixated on eliminating carbohydrates. So, I’m sure many people lose weight, feel better, etc on these plans; but I would wager that most haven’t been eating that way for very long.
Here is the reasoning for these cautions. In reality based nature, Humans have not actually had access to FATTY foods as much as some claim for that long. Most WILD MEATS are very high in PROTEIN and actually have much less FAT than modern meats. Add to this that we have been FATTENING our herds with processed, GMO laced, modern feeds. The DAIRY is also different than it was even 100 years ago. NATURAL FOODS that are high in FAT would include Raw nuts, olives (and cold-pressed olive oil), Coconuts (and cold-pressed Coconut oil), Avocados, etc. There are SOME wild meats that contain fat; such as Buffalo, and some Ocean Fish.
What I am getting at is that you have to be careful. Eating loads of pasteurized butter, cheese, foods fried in oils, and fatty modern farm animals is going to eventually be harmful for most people. There are many health problems and conditions that can be created if you eat too much of these types of foods. We know that these foods may taste great sometimes, but that does not make them healthful. I will also add that Coconut oil, which is sometimes a large component of Ketogenic approaches is a NEW FOOD for many people. Coconut oil is imported usually from Southeast Asian countries and is newly adopted.
So what do we do?
Always start with a natural, whole-foods based approach. What were your ancestors eating? What region do you Reside in?
Personally, I do not ascribe to the Ketogenic Theories. I usually recommend a more balanced approach similar to the Paleo systems. IF HOWEVER, you feel drawn to the Ketogenic approach; here would be some tips.
HEALTHY FATS may include Raw nuts, Cold-pressed oils, Avocados, Eggs, Grass-Fed animals (Wild is preferable). Small amounts of RAW DAIRY may be acceptable. Fatty wild fish such as salmon.
UNHEALTHY FATS may include PASTEURIZED butters and cheeses, Foods fried in oils, non grass-fed animals, overly cooked eggs, too much pork or bacon, or just overeating heavily cooked meats in general.
Your body will help guide you as to which foods are best, but you cannot just use TASTE as a guide! Of course fatty, fried meats with lots of salt are going to taste great. Look for signs of Feeling sluggish, low energy, cravings for sugar or carbs, etc. Cravings doesn’t just mean you are in withdrawal from carbs or have bugs craving sugar. Your body may literally want the carbs.
Overall, YOU are the best guide. Let us remember that there are MANY DIETARY SYSTEMS and lots of them CLAIM to be the BEST! Most have their own “SCIENCE” to back up the theories but it’s not true science much of the time. There are all kinds of eaters in nature. Some love fruit, others veggies, and still others meat. Just remember to keep an open mind when choosing to follow any dietary theory and be ready to change things if your systems stop working or you start feeling worse. This post is not meant to discourage anyone to not follow a Ketogenic approach, but to advise a few cautions if that is the system you choose to follow!