A Ketogenic Diet: Put simply, this diet is characterized by macronutrient (Fat, Carbs, and Protein) breakdown. By definition, a ketogenic diet is low in carbs, adequate in protein, and high in fat. Adaptation to this way of eating allows most of your body to burn fat for fuel instead of burning glucose. The byproducts of the fat burned while in ketosis are called ketones. You can measure these using ketone urine strips or a blood ketone meter. Nutritional Ketosis is classified with ketones levels between 0.5mmol to about 3.0mmol.
- If you are concerned because this sounds similar to ketoacidosis (a very unsafe condition), don’t be worried they are two very separate things. Check out this link for further explanation. Peter Attia, MD does a wonderful job of explaining this. http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/is-ketosis-dangerous
- Dr. Bernstein, Dr. Volek, Dr. Phinny and Jimmy More also cover this in detail in their books (links included in references).
It’s important to keep in mind that food quality is important on any diet or way of eating regardless of macronutrient choice.
A Whole Foods Approach: There are lots of takes on diet that include a whole foods approach. The one that I find makes the most sense, works the best for my personal blood glucose levels, and is based on some pretty hard-core science is the paleo diet. Essentially the paleo diet is based on how humans ate in the Paleolithic era, when most of us were hunter-gatherers, before we began to process foods in ways that decreased micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) density. The paleo diet means a lot of different things to different people. There are numerous debates on “Which starches are safe”, “dairy vs. no dairy”, and “Whether or not intermittent fasting is optimal.” These are things that you can decide for yourself. The key points from this that I use in my approach are food choice and food quality. For more information check out these links to get a better understanding:
- Rob Wolf is the go-to-guy for those new to paleo. http://robbwolf.com/what-is-the-paleo-diet/
- Diane Sanfilippo had created some awesome guides to make food choice and quality a little easier to grasp. http://balancedbites.com/useful-guides
I like the term paleo because it provides a solid framework for people who are looking to learn more about which types of foods hold high micronutrient content and low inflammatory impact. It’s a great way to get started learning about what whole food choices are best and to find recipes combining them. In the end, my experience has taught me that it’s most important to just eat real food.