The Ketogenic Diet 101
A little something you may not know about our founder, Mark Sisson, is that he has been doing a deep immersion into ketogenic eating with great success since the beginning of 2017. Most of our Primal Kitchen products are the perfect accompaniment to a nutrient-dense keto diet. In celebration of Mark’s upcoming book, The Keto Reset Diet, we’ve created our very own Keto Kit, incorporating a full suite of products full of natural fats, superfoods, and antioxidant-rich, high-ORAC scoring spices and herbs.
Start your keto lifestyle out right with the Primal Kitchen Keto Kit!
What Is the Keto Diet?
A ketogenic diet is high in natural fats, moderate in protein, and extremely low in carbohydrates. Eating “keto” prompts the body to burn fat as its primary source of energy and stimulates the production of ketone bodies in the liver. The brain, heart, and skeletal muscles use ketones in the same manner as glucose. However, in comparison to glucose, ketones are extremely clean burning and anti-inflammatory.
Experts suggest that active folks consume 50 grams or less of carbohydrates per day to promote a state of nutritional ketosis. Higher levels of carbohydrate intake shut off ketone production because the body has sufficient glucose to burn. Glucose burns quickly and easily–you can compare it to kindling and newspapers on a campfire. In contrast, fat and ketones burn cleaner and longer–you can compare them to the glowing big logs on a well-built campfire. A high carbohydrate, high insulin producing diet necessitates frequent meals and snacks to keep your energy–the campfire flame–burning throughout your body day. Going keto and diligently restricting carbs frees you from dependency on regular meals for energy, and turbo-charges fat burning.
Our ability to manufacture and efficiently burn ketones is an evolutionary adaptation that allowed prehistoric humans to maintain physical and mental performance when food was scarce. Today, keto enthusiasts can use this dietary strategy as a tool to promote efficient reduction of excess body fat, reduce inflammation, improve cognitive function, minimize disease risk factors, and achieve breakthroughs in performance and recovery for both endurance and strength endeavors. It’s widely reported among keto enthusiasts–and validated by mounting scientific study–that you are simply full of energy and never hungry when adhering to a ketogenic eating pattern.
Benefits of the Keto Diet
- Fat Loss: Going keto helps to regulate your appetite and optimize fat metabolism. By burning fat, you’re hardly ever hungry on keto, and you have constant access to internal energy sources so you feel alert and energized—even when you skip meals!
- Brain Health: Ketones deliver more oxygen and fewer free radicals to the brain in comparison to glucose. Going keto improves cognitive function and protects against cognitive decline.
- Athletic Performance: Keto endurance athletes are more efficient at burning fat, making them virtually bonk-proof. In fact, going keto is arguably the greatest dietary-related performance innovation in the history of endurance training. Strength athletes enjoy the protein-sparing, anti-inflammatory, enhanced neuron firing benefits of keto as well. Eating a low-carb, high-fat diet with lots of vegetables can speed recovery, reduce perceived exertion, and deliver comprehensive anabolic benefits.
- Disease Protection: Keto has been the gold standard for drug resistant seizures for nearly a century. New scientific studies also suggest that because tumors rely on glucose to fuel their rapid growth, going keto can arrest the growth of cancerous tumors.
5 Tips on Going Keto
- Eat more veggies.
High fiber, above-ground veggies (leafy greens, cruciferous family, etc.) are extremely low glycemic and nutrient dense (full of vitamins and minerals). Even abundant consumption of the right veggies will not disturb your keto efforts, thanks to the high fiber and water content muting the insulin response. Minimize or avoid intake of starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, yams, squash, and other in-ground veggies) when going keto.
- Totally eliminate sugar and processed foods.
Eating even a modest amount of carbs–such as a muffin and juice in the morning–will immediately suppress ketone production for hours or days afterward. A pattern of high carbohydrate meals and processed foods (sugars, sweetened beverages, and refined grains–bread, pasta, rice, cereal, corn, etc.) will create a downward spiral of carbohydrate dependency–the opposite of the keto goal of being fat- and keto-adapted. Allowing a little bit of sweets and treats here and there will make it harder for you to make progress and easier to backslide. The 21-Day Metabolism Reset detailed in The Keto Reset Diet
Emphasise the importance of total elimination of refined carbs to allow the magic of keto to take hold.
- Emphasize healthy, natural fats
Abundant consumption of natural fats is critical to your success with keto. Fat becomes your primary energy source–either from meals or stored body fat. Emphasize meals of meat, fish, fowl and eggs; high fat plants such as avocado, olive, coconut and their oils, nuts/seeds and their derivative butters; high fat dairy products; and dark chocolate (85% cacao or higher). The Primal Kitchen Keto Kit of delicious avocado oil-based dressings and mayos help increase the satisfaction and satiety of any meal.
- Hold off on fruit.
While fruits are full of important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, we commonly overconsume them to the extent that compromise keto goals and promote fat storage. When you first attempt keto, avoid fruit until you build momentum over many months. Over the long-term, emphasize fresh, local, high antioxidant fruits, especially berries. Be sure that you maintain a high activity level so that your fruit consumption helps replenish glycogen. Less active people are more likely to have see fruit converted into fat.
- Stay active.
Increase all forms of general everyday movement to ensure efficient fat metabolism and stable appetite and energy levels. Prolonged stillness leads to sugar cravings and fat storage. Follow a Primal Blueprint-style fitness pattern blending frequent aerobic workouts with brief intense strength and sprint sessions. Be absolutely sure to avoid anything that resembles chronic exercise/overtraining as this will push you strongly in the direction of carbohydrate dependency. A life of movement and sensible exercise will not only get you fit, but also stabilize your mood and promote the production of feel-good hormones, making it easier to adjust to a dietary transformation.