Today, many people are beginning to explore a ketogenic diet (often abbreviated as a keto diet). In simple terms, a keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet. Today, most individuals are drawn to explore a keto diet due to the supportive (well-researched) impact is has on balancing weight loss, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and neurological conditions (and much more).
When we eat a high-fat, low-carb keto diet for several weeks to several months, our body shifts from burning glucose as fuel to burning fats and ketones as fuel.
When someone is burning ketones and fats as fuel, they are considered to be "keto adapted" or in a state of nutritional ketosis. This is a very advantageous state to be in as our species is biologically programmed to operate from a place of nutritional ketosis.
Nutritional Ketosis NOT To Be Confused With Ketoacidosis
From time-to-time, individuals report a detox effect when starting a keto diet. The symptoms can range anywhere from acne breakouts and fatigue to flu-like symptoms, migraine headaches and body aches. Many falsely believe these symptoms are related to a potentially dangerous condition called ketoacidosis. Many even confront their doctor with this self-diagnosis. The doctors agree and falsely tell patients they are in ketoacidosis - scaring them right out of their keto diet.
However, it is not metabolically possible for one to be in ketoacidosis unless they are a type I diabetic and unable to produce any insulin (most type I diabetics can produce some insulin. Ketoacidosis can also occur in very advanced stages of type II diabetics). This condition is called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and those who can produce even the smallest amount of insulin cannot metabolically achieve DKA. It's just not possible.
Being in nutritional ketosis is physiologically nowhere near what a diabetic patient in DKA is experiencing. This is a very important myth to debunk in the keto world as the mis-information around ketoacidosis tends to keep people from experiencing the metabolic and wellness benefits of a keto diet. This is yet another example of how misinformed many people, including the medical profession, can be around diet and nutrition.
Keones: The House Cleaning Champ
The detox symptoms that one may experience when starting a keto diet is due to the increase in saturated animal fats in the diet. When you increase your saturated animal fat intake, your body will attempt to clear away years of built-up toxins and poisons that occur from eating a conventional diet.
Our modern diet, rich in carbs, sugar, processed and packaged foods, grains, fruit, low-fat, low-cholesterol - these foods all leave a toxic imprint on your body - particularly your detox organs such as the liver. The liver tubes get very "gunked-up" after years of eating a poor-quality diet and once you begin to change the type of fuel that goes into your tank - from glucose to saturated animal fats - your liver, kidneys and other detox organs begin to clean house.
Saturated animal fats, from animals raised on pasture, naturally help cleanse and detox the liver. When one is just beginning a keto diet, they may experience detox symptoms for this reason. This is because saturated animal fats promote and support liver detoxification.
If one jumps into a keto diet cold-turkey, they may experience detox-like effects for this very reason. This is why I advise people to ease their way into Primal Foods or other keto based ways of eating. And, I always provide my nutrition clients with supplemental remedies with the intent to bring ease to their liver, kidneys and detox organs to help decrease the impact of detox related side-effects one may experience.
Not All Keto Is Created Equal
Most keto diets focus only on the concept of increasing fats and drastically reducing carbs. In my experience, this is a very narrow approach that creates huge nutritional gaps that are vital to one's well-being and longevity. We need to take a more holistic approach; instead of narrowly focusing on one goal, i.e. weight loss, we need to take into account the entire body - our biology, how our body reacts to different foods (the digestive tract stops absorbing nutrients in the presence of sugar alcohol's commonly recommend on keto diets), our hormonal needs - particularly for women, our digestive well-being, our toxin levels, our past health history, etc.
This is where Primal Foods differs from other keto based diets.
Here are 5 ways that conventional keto diets miss the wellness boat and where Primal Foods fills in the nutritional gaps
1. Quality of Food. Primal Foods have a re-occurring theme: saturated fats from animals raised on pasture. Sure, you can do a keto diet and eat commercial chicken wings, fast-food burgers and Oscar Meyer deli meats. However, this will have significant effects on one's well-being. These foods have been shown to increase rates of degenerative disease, blood pressure, hormone related disorders and they also increase one's toxic load. Primal Foods focuses on clean, close-to-the-earth eating - the way our ancient ancestors once did so we can burn the cleanest, highest-quality fuel possible and lead a life of wellness and longevity. This all begins with eating the highest quality fats - saturated animal fats from animals raised on pasture.
2. Digestive Support. Many people report constipation or sluggish digestion on a keto-based diet. This is where the conventional keto bus misses a very key aspect of our well-being - our digestion. If our digestion is sluggish, our cells, tissues and organs are also going to be sluggish and backed-up. A primary focus of Primal Foods eating is centered around improving one's digestion and the functioning of one's elimination organs. When the body can't take-out cellular garbage, the entire body becomes toxic.
3. Organic Produce. Most of our food today, if it's not organic, is sprayed with several herbicides, pesticides and/or fungicides. These are poison to our body. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round-Up Ready, the #1 used herbicide today, has shown to literally wipe-out beneficial gut microbes and replace them with pathogenic microbes. Glyphosate has also been linked to renal disease, cancer, vitamin D deficiency, manganese deficiency, Alzheimer's, autism, obesity, MS and superbug infections such as MRSA.
Not only are GMO crops sprayed with glyphosate, but more and more conventional, non-GMO crops are being sprayed with this herbicide everyday, 3-days before harvest. This is one major reason why Primal Foods eating encourages a 100% organic diet. Organic foods contain higher amounts of nutrients, minerals and vitamins compared to conventional foods.
4. Minerals. Many people start a keto diet and report side effects such as muscle cramping, muscle twitching, fatigue, headache and poor sleep. This is typically related to a deficiency of several minerals that are not present in conventional keto diets. Primal Foods teaches you what foods are rich in minerals and trace minerals to help prevent these nutritional-deficiency-related-side-effects and how you can increase your body's ability to absorb nutrients, vitamins and minerals to help prevent and even rectify nutritional deficiencies.
5. Detox. When we begin a keto diet, one will start to release more toxins from their body. This can be a beneficial thing however, if we do not implement effective, easeful strategies to help the toxins and poisons exit our body, we will experience a detox event. If the toxins are not provided with an exit strategy, they will continue to roam the body until they can settle elsewhere in the body. Our fat cells are one of the most common areas where our body stores toxins and poisons. It stores them here as a protective mechanism - to keep the organs safe - and when we begin to engage in a keto diet, fat stores diminish releasing these toxins from our fat cells into our blood stream.
Primal Foods does not take this lightly. It is not desirable to have toxins and poisons roaming our bloodstream as this will affect and touch other cells, tissues and organs - when this happens, we feel a detox effect. If we feel detox symptoms, our body is NOT releasing the toxins - they are simply roaming the bloodstream, recking havoc on other areas - causing damage to those areas. This is what makes us feel like we have the flu and it is not a good thing. Instead, we need to implement safe, effective and gentle detox strategies to help suck-up these poisons and that show them how to exit the body. This is a key aspect to the Primal Foods lifestyle.
You can learn more about Primal Foods and the scientific benefits of eating a Primal Foods, ketogenic based diet in my Primal Foods Recipe eBook.
Heathar is a primal foods enthusiast and expert. She has studied food and nutrition for over 15 years and continues to do so to this day. When Heathar isn't in the kitchen, she's either writing, hiking or doing her primal energetics thing. If you are interested in discovering how Heathar's nutrition work may benefit you, contact her to schedule a free 45-minute phone consultation. Until then, Eat, Live and Be Primal!