If you’ve been paying any attention to diet trends, you have probably heard of the keto diet. This low carb diet is based on a natural process called ketosis. Put simply, humans go into ketosis if they consistently eat no or very limited carbohydrates.
Normally, your body cells use glycogen from the blood as fuel. When you do not provide your body with enough carbs to replenish your blood glycogen, your body cells start burning ketones instead. Your body makes ketones from fat in your food as well as from body fat. When your body is in ketosis, your appetite is suppressed and you can lose weight more easily. Your brain also gets a constant supply of fuel, reducing brain fogs and increasing mental clarity.
That said, your body does not have to be in ketosis to burn fat. So let’s take a closer look at the keto diet. You may find something that appeals to you.
The Keto Diet
The most obvious way modern dieters use ketosis is by following the keto diet. The principle behind keto is simple. Eat very few carbohydrates, and replace the missing calories with fat. This will keep your body in a permanent state of ketosis, with a constant energy level and efficient fat burning as your reward. The challenge is that, to keep your body in ketosis, you should eat less than 50 grams of net carbs per day. To illustrate, one apple contains 18 grams of net carbs, while even a portion of broccoli contains about 8 grams of net carbs. One banana contains a whopping 27 grams of net carbs. To stay in ketosis, you need to be constantly vigilant not to accidentally eat too many carbs. You also need to carefully watch your micronutrient intake, especially those vitamins that you would usually get from fruits and vegetables.
At this point the jury is still out about whether a permanent state of ketosis is healthy. It certainly isn’t natural. Our ancestors clearly evolved to eat fruits and starchy vegetables, and if they found a tree with some nice juicy apples, they would eat them. That said, in cold winters people would have to survive on a diet that was mainly based on fatty meats, so occasionally doing keto for a few weeks could be a natural part of a healthy life. There is increasing evidence that doing stints of keto and limiting your calories can help your body regenerate and become better at burning fat.
If you are interested in challenging your body with a stretch of low calories and low carbs, look into our Winter Reset level. It is not strictly keto, but you can easily make it so by not eating fruit, honey, potatoes and nuts (note that even if you’re not going 100% keto, you will still get many of the benefits touted by the keto diet). We advise you to plan at least 6 weeks of Winter.
Fasting also uses ketosis, but in a very different way. Every day, as you sleep, your body slips into the early stages of ketosis. During an intermittent fast, you seek to prolong this stage by not eating for a number of hours after you wake. As you fast, you will burn fat reserves as well as parts of your own body cells to provide your brain with the glycogen it is asking for. This process is known as autophagy, and it’s not as horrible as it sounds. You see, as a consequence of aging, the proteins in your cells get damaged. Autophagy burns the damaged proteins first, allowing them to be replaced. As a consequence, autophagy is associated with both reversal of aging effects and maintaining a strong muscle mass.
Fasting for half a day has a cleansing effect on your body, allowing you to emerge stronger and healthier. Unlike keto, intermittent fasting was also a common reality for our ancestors. In nature, having to skip a meal was common. As was skipping two or three meals.
Should you do keto or an intermittent fast?
We do not include keto in our program, and we believe the keto diet is too extreme for most people. However, if you need to lose a lot of weight or are just curious, there is nothing against trying keto for a few weeks as long as you’re not in one of the risk groups below.
Intermittent fasts are a fixed part of our system, although we do recommend you check with your doctor before doing them. Keep eating your normal three meals a day if one of the following applies to you:
- When you are (trying to get) pregnant or are breastfeeding.
- Just before and during your period.
- If you suffer from migraines.
- If you have a medical condition or are on medication that could be affected if you go without food (diabetes, heart conditions).