We recommend a low-carb ketogenic diet both as a short-term intervention for weight loss and long-term treatment for patients struggling with a range of conditions from neurological conditions and cancer to hormonal imbalances. In this post, we’re sharing our pro tips on the benefits of the keto diet.
While we’ve seen great success in our patients who follow this approach, we also know that limiting carbohydrates can seem a little intimidating. Most of us LOVE our carbs!
We’re exploring the benefits of a ketogenic diet and showing you how a balanced day of ketogenic eating might look.
The ketogenic diet’s recent popularity can probably be attributed to its powerful benefits for weight loss and insulin management. But the ketogenic diet isn’t new. Known clinically as a very low-carb ketogenic diet (VLCKD), it’s been used therapeutically to treat childhood epilepsy since the 1920s.¹
Since then, researchers have explored the benefits of very low carb diets for cancer², obesity³, Type 2 Diabetes⁴, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)⁵ and neurological diseases⁶ like multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injury (TBI). This type of dietary intervention shows promising results for all these conditions, and we’ve certainly seen its broad therapeutic benefits within our practice.
When patients are following a ketogenic (‘keto’) diet, foods high in carbohydrates are generally restricted in an effort to keep overall carbs to less than 30-50 grams per day. Normally, our bodies burn glucose (which comes from carbohydrates) for fuel whenever it’s available, but when we keep dietary carbohydrates low, our bodies turn to fat for energy. The byproducts of this process are called ketone bodies. When a person is effectively burning this alternate energy source and producing excess ketone bodies, we say they are in ketosis.
Given the ketogenic diet’s healing potential for a wide range of conditions, we think it’s certainly worth exploring.
To learn more about ketosis, watch this simple yet informative video.
Research indicates a ketogenic diet helps induce weight loss in obese patients and does so at a faster rate than other dietary interventions.⁷ Researchers have also linked ketogenic diets with lower levels of fasting glucose and the reversal of insulin resistance.⁸ We’ve certainly seen this in our practice! It’s one of the reasons we recommend a short ketogenic intervention to clients with any sort of metabolic dysfunction, blood sugar regulation problems, or weight loss resistance.
Therapeutic ketogenic diets have been used to treat neurological conditions for nearly a century, though researchers still don’t understand how these positive results are achieved. Some scientists believe ketosis improves mitochondrial function and regulates the synapses in our brains, resulting in positive improvements for cases of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and more.⁹
Since ketogenic diets are both well-researched and significantly less invasive than the pharmaceutical interventions often prescribed for these diseases, they’re one of our first lines of defense for patients struggling with neurological conditions and hoping to become Fully Functional®.
Cancer patients may also benefit from a ketogenic diet. A collection of studies in mice demonstrated positive results ranging from longer life and slowed tumor growth to an actual reduction in tumor size.¹⁰ The metabolic theory of cancer holds that cancer is not just the result of genetic factors, but of an inability to process glucose (are you seeing a pattern here?).¹¹ While the body can burn fat for fuel, cancer cells can’t. A keto approach can greatly improve the quality of life for cancer patients when combined with other conventional or non-conventional therapies.
Finally, a collection of additional research indicates a ketogenic approach is often a helpful intervention for those struggling with acne, PCOS, and other conditions of hormonal dysregulation since glucose metabolism is intricately tied to our hormonal balance.¹² We always recommend you consider reducing your carbohydrate intake if you’re struggling with one of these conditions.
Limiting our intake of carbohydrates to less than 50 g per day might sound simple, but when we consider that the Standard American Diet might soar to more than 300 g per day, we can see that it represents a pretty significant departure from our previous “normal.”
A well-built ketogenic diet plan is usually described as high in fat, low in carbs, and moderate in protein. It does NOT have to mean eating only bacon, high-fat cheeses, and butter. In fact, we still recommend that you focus on the principles of a Paleo or grain-free Mediterranean diet, i.e., eliminating dairy and focusing on high-quality meats, fats, and vegetables.
A few other key recommendations:
A typical day of meals on a ketogenic diet might look like this:
We often recommend a ketogenic approach to our clients because it’s minimally invasive and powerful, whether they’re struggling with weight management, blood sugar imbalance, Type 2 Diabetes, neurological disorders, hormonal imbalance, or a cancer diagnosis. We’ve seen impressive results even when this approach is only used as a brief intervention.
With our supervision, the ketogenic diet can be powerfully healing. We offer an easy, five-week ketogenic diet plan that involves everything you need to be successful and to get started. It includes weekly Health Coaching appointments, weigh-ins and measurements, body composition analysis (BIA) before and after completion of the program, and a personalized supplement regimen.
While we know it represents a departure from your Standard American Diet, our healthier-happier, Fully Functional® patients who’ve discovered relief with this way of eating would say it’s well worth it!
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The Center for Fully Functional Health® is led by a team of award-winning, internationally recognized physicians, committed to providing personalized, life-changing care.