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  • Lindsey Callahan

Keto basics:

Updated: Mar 20, 2019


Welcome! If you're here, it probably means you're curious about the keto lifestyle and looking for some direction on what it is, how it works, and how to apply it to your life. As a biology major and science teacher, I have studied it, I can explain it, and I am living it. My blog is your one stop shop for all things keto, and since I am not a large company, you can easily reach me for Q&A along with more personalized coaching!


In order to understand how the ketogenic lifestyle works, I first need to take you through a mini biology lesson. I will summarize and simplify the concepts to give you what you really need to know without all the extra jargon.


In a nutshell, the body is capable of burning three categories of molecules for energy. These categories are Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins. When you hear someone talking about "counting their macros", this is what they mean. Your body will always choose to burn carbs for energy first (if they are available). This is because they are the easiest access molecule, which is why it usually causes a blood sugar spike, followed by a crash later. If you consume too many carbohydrates and do not counter it with exercise, your body burns what it needs, and any left over carbohydrates go into energy storage - these are converted to fat in your body. You continue eating carbs, burning whatever is immediately available, and building up stored fat with any carbs that are left over. Sound familiar? This is the Standard American Diet (SAD) <- perfect acronym.


Fats have gotten a bad reputation, mostly because a bunch of scientists were paid off in 1967 to downplay the link between the sugar industry and heart disease and they blamed fat instead. The body actually gets more energy per molecule of fat (so it is more efficient for energy production), but processing fats is a slow-burn.


When marathon runners hit "the wall", this is when their body has used up their store of carbohydrates and there is a slight energy gap as the body is switching over to burning fat as fuel. In the keto diet world, this is referred to as experiencing "the keto flu". I can tell you first hand that I never experienced any symptoms of the famous keto flu when switching over to keto, but there have been people who report flu-like symptoms when their bodies are learning how to burn fat. As your organs start processing fat as fuel, they essentially have memory and getting back into ketosis will be easier in the future. It is best for your body to be "bi-lingual" in terms of being able to burn carbohydrates and fats for energy, and many people walk the line between going in and out of ketosis. This will slow down weight loss, but is a good practice for overall health and maintenance once you are at your goal weight! While you are burning fat, your body produces ketone molecules which can be measured in your urine, blood, and breath. This is how people can test whether or not they are in ketosis and burning fat for energy.


The last type of molecule that your body will burn is proteins. This is evolution at work, because your body's mass and organs are all made of protein. Your body will burn every other source of energy first before it turns to protein as a way to preserve your body if you were starving.


By following a diet that is low in carbs, high in fat, and a moderate amount of protein, you are forcing your body to process fat as it's main source of fuel. This includes your own stored body fat, especially if you incorporate intermittent fasting (eating within an 8 hour window, and fasting for the other 16 hours).


People who are living the keto lifestyle experience more stable energy (no episodes of getting "hangry"), less brain fog, better skin, and better mood / mental health. I personally have experienced all of these as a side effect to finally treating my body right. You will be having some of the best food and flavors of your life! Imagine where you will be in 6 months from now, or a year from now? The time will pass anyway. You decide the rest, but I can help! Please reach out for recipes, tips, and tricks!

Sources:


https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/13/493739074/50-years-ago-sugar-industry-quietly-paid-scientists-to-point-blame-at-fat


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/


https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a20854502/understanding-why-you-hit-the-wall/





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