• Erika

Low Carb or Keto - Does it Even Matter?

I have never considered myself to be in one camp or the other, because I regard them as two sides of the same coin. You may say "well why is the word 'keto' in your name?" I started using the name when I realised how much hostility there was around that word. The 'keto' diet was criticised in the media. Type 1 diabetics were being told to fear ketosis and that being low carb was ok, just don't do that 'keto' thing. People wanting to share the excitement of their own health transformation with friends were being met with eyerolls and "ugh, if I hear 'keto' one more time..."

So I thought it was important to point out that 'keto' isn't something to be feared or derided or a dirty word that shouldn't be uttered.

Ketosis is a common metabolic state that most people experience without even realising it. If you ate dinner at 8pm with no snacking before bed, skipped breakfast before heading to work the next day and didn't get a chance to eat until lunchtime, there's a good chance you'll end up in a state of ketosis to some degree.

It's something our bodies are designed to do. When we run low on glucose we have the ability to switch over and begin using fat (and ketones) as an alternative fuel source.

Yes! We are the original hybrid engines! The fat we have stored on our bodies acts like a back-up battery to keep us going. And if we have accumulated a lot of fat, we can keep going for a long, long time...

Low carb diets are for the most part ketogenic by default. If you keep your carb intake low (anywhere from 20 to 100 grams depending on the person) you will be in varying states of ketosis during the day. The important thing is to maintain (or reclaim) that dual fuel flexibility.

Glucose turns into energy quickly, but if you don't use it, your body can only store so much. The process of turning fat into fuel takes a little longer, but once your body becomes

'fat adapted' it can easily switch over to burning that excess energy you have sitting on your stomach or love handles. If you aren't an efficient fat burner, it won't be long before you hit the wall and feel the need to re-fuel with more glucose from carbohydrates.

BUT, we can only store so much energy as fat on our bodies before things start to go wrong. Fat starts to store in and around our organs causing all kinds of dysfunction. One theory, often termed as the Personal Fat Threshold, suggests that how much fat storage is available varies greatly from person to person. Explaining why some people of normal weight develop type 2 diabetes whereas some overweight people are metabolically healthy.

This infographic from Dr. Ted Naiman gives a little insight into how this threshold works in practice. Once those fat stores are full the excess energy has nowhere to go. Fasting glucose also starts to rise as the body becomes unable to move it from your bloodstream into the cells. Type 2 diabetes comes next.

How do we stop this from happening?

Let your engine run out of fuel occasionally - Fasting. Make sure some of that stored power gets used - Exercise. Take in a little less fuel - Low Energy Diet (aka Calorie Deficit). Increase the quality of the fuel you do put in - High Nutrient Diet

A nutrient dense low carb ketogenic diet makes it much easier to maintain a lower calorie intake. The hallmark of low calorie diets has always been constant hunger. A low carb diet can offset this in a few different ways;

- enhances your ability to access the fat on your body to use as energy

- protein and fat are more satiating than carbs

- eating protein and fat to satiety can often lead to a spontaneously lower calorie diet

So I don't care what you want to call it. Just give it a try!



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