keto diet

How Ketogenic Diets Differ From One Another

Types of Ketogenic Diets

By now pretty much every health and fitness enthusiast and yo-yo dieter has heard about the ketogenic diet.  Originally researched and developed  under medical supervision in children with epilepsy and other neurological disorders, the ketogenic diet has taken the world by storm, but not without a whole lot of confusion and controversy.

keto diet

The human body prefers the following sources of energy in order: carbohydrates, fats, and then finally proteins.  Why someone starts on a ketogenic diet usually tells us a lot about how many carbs, fats, and protein are needed in a Keto diet.

The first and most important concept in the ketogenic diet is limiting the number of carbs one consumes daily to 25g or less. That forces the body into a state of “ketosis”.

Understanding Ketosis

Let’s dig a little deeper into ketosis and its benefitsBy limiting carbohydrates, which is the body’s fuel of choice, the body responds by using fat as the next available energy source.  Fatty acids get released from the cells and transferred to the liver.

The liver converts the fatty acids into ketones.  Ketones are spectacular molecules that cross the blood-brain barrier to provide a power source to the brain in the absence of glucose.

A carb-loaded diet on the other hand, is a disaster waiting to happen.  Carbohydrates turn into blood sugar (glucose).  Glucose is a fantastic fuel on a cellular level when it’s at normal levels.  Too much glucose causes the production of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.

Over time, too much insulin production can lead to insulin resistance and problems with diabetes and metabolic syndrome. 

Recap:

1) Ketosis forces the body to burn fat for fuel

2) Ketosis aids in glucose regulation.

These are the key components to how every ketogenic diet functions and why someone would choose one over another.

Ketogenic Diet Types

The word “diet” can be used in different ways.  It can either mean the kinds of foods a person habitually eats or a special course of foods/food restrictions either for weight loss or medical reasons.  In the keto-world, the word means both.

The ketogenic diet can be either a permanent way of eating or a temporary weight loss program.  The needs and goals of the person starting the ketogenic diet should be considered.

·       Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)

In this version, the ratio is typically 5% carbs, 75% fat and 20% protein.  The numbers for fat and protein may shift a little, but for the most part, fat is a huge part of the diet and caloric intake.  This extremely popular version utilizes a super simple concept; stay at or below carb limit to remain in ketosis

·       High-Protein Ketogenic Diet

Ketosis is achieved the same in the high-protein version of the diet as in the standard ketogenic diet however, in this model there is a bit more protein.  A normal macronutrient ratio might look like 55-60% fat, 35-40% protein and still 5% carbs.  As with the SKD, one must remain at or below the carb limit for ketosis to work its magic.

  • Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD) 

Ever heard of carb-loading before a workout?  This is the main idea with the targeted ketogenic diet.  About 30-60 minutes prior to exercise the participant should consume anywhere from 25-50g of easily digestible carbs (the actual number depends on the individual’s needs and type of workout).

Glucose-based foods are processed by our bodies more efficiently than fructose-based foods and are usually burned completely without throwing the body out of ketosis.  Post-workout meals should include plenty of protein and be less fatty.  Normally fat is encouraged, however for muscle recovery and nutrient absorption, protein is a better choice here.

  • Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) 

This one sounds a bit strange considering what we’ve just learned.  CKD is geared toward bodybuilders and athletes who wish to build lean muscle mass and still maximize fat loss.

In this regimen the SKD is followed for five days before cycling into the two-day phase of carb-loading.  On the first day one might have a limit of 50g of carbs.  On the second day the carb count could be anywhere from 400-600g.  The premise is to load up on carbs so the body is properly fueled for the next five days of grueling workouts.

The CKD should not be used as a “cheat day” for those using the standard ketogenic diet protocol.  This approach is suitable only for extremely active individuals.

  • Restricted Ketogenic Diet 

In this last version, both carbs and calories are limited and is typically supervised by medical professionals.  Based on studies, cancer cells can’t use ketones for energy and quite literally can starve to death.

As with any diet regimen or lifestyle change, one should seek the advice of their primary care provider before beginning.  Medical history and current state of health should be considered, as well as the person’s individual needs and goals.

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