The ketogenic style of eating ranges in its application and use for many people. There is clinical evidence in its utility for managing seizure-related disorders and beginning evidence in its usefulness for cancer growth and size management. Many people without these considerations use the ketogenic, otherwise known as “keto” style of eating, however!
A main reason a ketogenic style of eating can feel useful is its ability to help us regain insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels. This diet does this by its primary action of reducing the grams of carbohydrates a person eats to (typically) under 25-30 net grams of carbohydrates per day (net carbohydrate means that any grams of fiber from foods have been subtracted from the total carbohydrate count, leaving the “net” carbohydrate amount). This lack of carbohydrates triggers the body to begin to use ketone bodies (produced from fatty acids) in place of the carbohydrates for energy. At the same time, by the process of reducing carbohydrate levels to such a low level, the body is signaled to stop sending out insulin into the bloodstream to manage those historically very frequent influxes of carbohydrates. When insulin is no longer coming into our bloodstream 24/7 (which may sound like hyperbole, but if you think of the standard North American style of eating, it’s a fairly apt description!), the body is given the ability to regain its sensitivity to insulin by the cells no longer always being flooded by that insulin.
There are many circles these days that utilize the term “keto”. For people not using ketosis to manage diagnosed conditions such as epilepsy (if someone is adhering to this style of eating longer-term), a generally lowish carbohydrate style of eating can fall under the more relaxed header of “keto”. This can look like around 100-150 grams of total carbohydrates or less–a much wider range than the more clinical and classical 25-30 grams of net carbohydrates.
One large consideration to keep in mind when adhering to this style of eating is ensuring one is getting plenty of electrolytes, as our body’s ability to store and “hold on” to electrolytes (such as sodium, magnesium and potassium) is lessened while eating low amounts of carbohydrates. This can be one of the main reasons why someone feels dizziness, fatigue and a lack of strength when transitioning into and sustaining a state of ketosis .