On A Ketogenic Diet, How Do We Get Carbohydrates Into Our Bodies?
…If you’ve been asking yourself this question as you’re trying to figure out this “ketosis thing”, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s a very common among those looking into ketogenic diets for the first time. After all, we’ve always been taught by society, food companies, and the government that we need a high daily intake of “wholesome, heart healthy, whole grains.”
So it is totally understandable that many people, perhaps yourself, have a difficult time getting past that first point: that our bodies are designed to operate best by primarily burning fats, not carbohydrates.
In short, you don’t have to intake very many carbohydrates for your body to function properly. On a ketogenic diet, you want to keep your carbohydrates under 50 grams per day in weight maintenance mode, and more like less than 30 grams per day in weight loss mode (these numbers vary from person to person, you’ll find out your threshold through testing and tracking what you eat).
Carbohydrates are like the bully that cuts in line ahead of fat. If you consume more than the amount of your personal carb threshold for staying in ketosis, your body will take the path of least resistance and burn the carbohydrates for energy instead of fat.
Note: On the ketogenic diet, you’ll actually have to work pretty diligently to keep your carb intake down, with “hidden carbs” being in so many foods, even the foods that are good for us, like bell peppers for instance (about 9 grams of carbs in one green pepper).
The Truth Is, You Don’t Need Carbohydrates:
So, the truth is that you don’t actually need very many carbohydrates for optimum function and performance – if you’re consuming health fats – despite what you may have been told all these years. Our brains actually perform better, and we have clearer thoughts when being fueled by ketones (instead of glucose).
Check out this video from TED-Ed, where he explains how carbohydrates are managed by your body, how they effect your health, and how over-consumption of carbohydrates leads to health issues like insulin resistance, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome:
Re-Thinking Carbohydrates & Diet
Health & nutrition experts have been mislead in their education for years, of what a healthy diet consists of, and that has led to our society’s current struggles with massively growing rates of obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. But many are beginning to realize something is off with the traditional nutritional advice, and they’re seeing the light (as you are now!) being shone on what’s truly healthy. Increasingly more studies are proving that a ultra-low-carb, moderate-protein, high-healthy-fat diet is best not only for weight loss, but also for overall health and wellness.
There is an exception to the “you don’t need carbs” statement. After combing through an extensive amount of research and studies, nutrition aficionado John Keifer, discovered that the longer one remains on an ultra-low-carb diet (aka Ketogenic diet), their body begins producing less key fat-burning hormones. This process actually makes it harder for you to maintain or lose weight, as you’re fighting against your own body, which is wanting to burn less and less energy/fat.
Keifer’s solution to this problem is a once-per-week (or every other week for those who take longer to get back into ketosis) “Carb Nite“, where one consumes a high amount of carbs for a 6 to 8 hour period. Doing so spikes blood sugar levels only temporarily, so the carbs consumed won’t immediately be stored as fat, since the body was just in ketosis (fat burning mode). But after the blood sugar levels recede, the residual effect is that for the next 3 to 4 days the body increases production of those fat burning hormones.
It’s a fascinating concept, backed up with research, that I’ve only touched the surface of here. To learn more about Keifer’s Carb Nite, check out his site here.