A ketogenic diet, focuses on eating real, whole foods that are low in carbohydrates and generally high in fat. This low carb high fat diet keeps sugary and starchy foods to a minimum while providing your body with the nutrition it needs. By eating this way, you will quite literally change your metabolism (the way your body processes food). Instead of burning primarily sugars for fuel, your body will start burning fat as the preferred fuel source.
Ketosis is the state of using fat and protein as a fuel instead of carbohydrates. To better understand, let’s look at the three main types of carbohydrates found in food:
- STARCHES (complex carbs)
- SUGARS (simple carbs)
Sugars are simple carbs. They are quickly digested and instantly spike your blood glucose. This leads to the notorious sugar rush, followed by the inevitable sugar crash, all while taxing your pancreas and elevating insulin levels. Most of us have been advised to stay away from simple sugars. Generally, everyone agrees that sugar is not good for your health and should be avoided.
Starches take a little longer to digest because they are broken down into simple sugar first, leading to a slower rise in blood glucose levels. This delayed rise in blood sugar has led to the belief that starches are “good carbs” in many nutrition circles. However, the body actually treats sugars and starches very similar, so both must be avoided on a low carb ketogenic diet.
Fiber is the only carbohydrate that does not impact the blood sugar. A low carb ketogenic diet encourages more fiber intake for this reason. When consumed, dietary fiber is mostly passed through the digestive system instead of being broken down, contributing more to digestive health rather than nutrition. Fiber keeps you regular and does not contribute to your total carb count. You can eat fiber on a low carb ketogenic diet.
In the absence of carbs, the body switches over to nutritional ketosis and uses fat as fuel instead.
Nutritional ketosis is simply a shift in your body’s metabolism from burning glucose as the primary fuel source.