LCHF / Ketogenic Diet
A low carb/high fat (LCHF) diet is also known as a ketogenic (or keto) diet. It is very similar to the Atkins diet. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. Within a week or two, the reduction in carbs puts your body into a healthy metabolic state called ketosis. In ketosis the body becomes very efficient at burning fat for energy. It turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.
There are three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Every food falls into one or more of these categories. Protein and fat are the only essential macronutrients — the daily carbohydrate requirement for humans is zero. We don’t need it, but many vegetables contain small amounts of carbs and are good to include in the diet for their nutrient content. Protein and fatty acids are essential for survival.
One of the biggest advantages to ketosis is that the body switches from using carbohydrates for fuel to using fat. Instead of glucose (from carbohydrates) we use ketones (from fat), and the body becomes a fat-burning machine. So in ketosis there is usually significant weight loss because body fat is used for energy, and the excess pounds tend to drop away as the fat is metabolized.
A ketogenic diet reduces blood sugar and insulin levels. Type 2 diabetes is a blood sugar problem, but elevated blood sugar is a symptom — the underlying cause is insulin resistance. For some people a ketogenic diet will correct the insulin resistance and reverse T2 diabetes.
Another known benefit of keto is improvement in cholesterol profiles, specifically the lowering of triglycerides and the raising of HDL (the “good” cholesterol).
Low carb diets have been shown to help with metabolic syndrome — a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke. The five conditions described below are metabolic risk factors:
- Abdominal obesity
- High triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood)
- Low HDL (the “good” cholesterol)
- High blood pressure
- High fasting blood sugar