The science of the keto diet

Keto is a short name for Ketosis, or the Ketogenic Diet.

Whenever there is not enough glucose (or sugar or carbs) in the body to feed the brain, your body will break down the stored form of glucose called glycogen from the liver and muscle sites. This is called gluconeogenesis. When glucose is fully depleted, blood levels of insulin decrease, and the body begins to use that fat as primary fuel. The liver produces ketones from the fat which can then be used in the absence of glucose.

Steady Energy

Ketones are a more efficient fuel source than glucose. When eating carbohydrates, there is always a more dramatic rise and fall of blood sugar levels. This produces a lot more insulin than just eating protein and fats. Insulin's role is to send the glucose out of the blood and into the cells to be utilized.

With ketones as fuel, you will not be dramatically raising that insulin. Your blood sugar will be less volatile which means the crashes and hunger you normally experience will go away. You will begin to burn your own fat in between meals (assuming a caloric deficit is achieved).

This also means your energy throughout the day will be much more stable, and less dependent on your meal timing with carbohydrates to catch the rise and fall of your blood sugar.

Reduction of Hunger

One of the elements of Keto that many people enjoy is the reduction of hunger. To understand this, let's use the example of a red potato, piece of bread (albeit 'healthy' like whole grain), or a muffin. When you eat those carbs, they break down to a lot of sugar. Blood sugar levels rise dramatically, which then must come down dramatically. This is known as a blood sugar crash, or drop.

If your body experiences a blood sugar drop, the mechanism to help balance it back out is to turn on more sugar cravings, or hunger. It is a brilliant system your body employs as it works to preserve your life, and your brain function.

One of the reasons many people cannot seem to lose weight is because they feel hungry. Sure, you need to eat less than you burn (caloric deficit), and this can make you feel you are staaaarving if not done with strategy. Over time, your resolve and willpower will fade, and you will be back eating maintenance calories (or more!) to soothe the mechanisms that felt you were pushing your body too much. Thus, you will not lose weight in spite of every desire to do so. With Keto, that becomes very easy because your blood sugar levels stay more stable.

When you are following the Ketogenic approach, you are going to experience incredibly reduced inflammation in your body. Perhaps you're someone who deals with nerve pain, joint pain, or even muscle pain. Maybe you experience headaches, migraines, skin conditions, a poor memory, brain fog, or associated symptoms. Many of these symptoms have been found to improve with a healthy Keto approach.

When you're feeling better and seeing the symptoms reduce in your life, you will feel excited! You're going to stick to your diet, rather than let it be short-lived effort which builds your confidence and enthusiasm. And, if you're working for that caloric deficit, the scale is going to move!

You Can Eat A Bit Higher Calories

Your body has some different metabolic effects when it has to convert fat and protein to glucose. It has to work harder, meaning it's thermogenic in nature.

Your body will burn a slightly higher amount of calories, which is why you can eat a little bit higher calories in a Keto approach than the calories you might consume in a carb-based approach. That's a simple breakdown process (assuming you don't have a ton of insulin resistance). While I wouldn't recommend downing an entirely additional meal, perhaps this will give you some relief in not needing to measure out every single portion on days that are very busy. You can slightly over-estimate your portions and still come out okay.

There is a huge benefit! Your body will burn more calories when you're eating extremely low-carb.

Insulin Resistance

Imagine the cells of your body have a door on them. These doors allow entrance to the cells of your body for sugar (your body's #1 preferred energy). When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks those carbs down into sugars. Insulin is secreted which tells the body to store. This opens up the doors to the cells and pulls the glucose or sugar into the cells to be utilized for the brain, active energy, or storage in the liver and muscle sites.

What happens if those doors cannot open and allow the insulin into the cell?

Where else can that glucose go?

There is nowhere else for it to go except to be shuttled and stored as body fat. This is usually in the abdomen, hips, inner thighs, and buttocks regions.

PFL Keto vs. Atikins (High Protein)

In the PFL Keto strategy, we want to decrease carbohydrates and replace them with fats for energy. Protein is simply a stabilizer nutrient. It breaks down to amino acids necessary to help fuel the tissue and rebuild all the cells in your body. We don't want to overdo protein, which is one big theme that separates Healthy Keto from High Protein Keto approaches like the Atkins diet.

Healthy PFL Keto will land you from anywhere from 15-25% of your daily calories coming from protein. This is lower than a typical PFL moderated carbs approach.

Why should you be careful to keep protein a bit lower? Why can't you just go pound a bunch of steaks and chicken and call it Keto?

Because it's NOT Keto. At least, it's not Keto done well in my opinion. What's it worth to diet if you aren't gaining important habits along the way, as well as avoiding the loss of muscle tissue?

In the absence of carbs, your body will then seek to find glucose in other macronutrients. It will try to break down dietary protein, or stored protein (your muscle) that is a very harsh process for your body. It is best to help your body side-step the protein as the next source for glucose and instead, get the liver cranking out ketones, which is why keeping protein to a moderately low amount is beneficial.

Healthy PFL Keto Incorporates Vegetables

Some people who do Keto eliminate most vegetables. I prefer to stick with a lifestyle training of keeping a vegetable source at each meal we eat. That's Power Foods Lifestyle 101!

I usually start clients on at least one vegetable source from each of our 4 Power Foods Lifestyle categories per day. In PFL Keto, you will count net carbs, where in other strategies of the PFL, we do not count net carbs--we count total carbs.

Over time, we can see how the body reacts. While there are times I will need to cut out vegetables that are in the FODMAP or Nightshade families to reduce any histamines causing inflammation, eating vegetables in the amounts I recommend in my Keto Plans rarely keeps an individual out of Ketosis.

Keto is NOT for Everyone

Last but not least, remember that Keto is amazing for the right person, for the right reason, and applied in the right way. Keto is not something to push on everyone in the family, nor is it the end-all-beat-all diet. It's simply ONE of the 4 effective strategies here at the Power Foods Lifestyle.

Unless health conditions mandate otherwise, Keto is a tool in the toolbelt I recommend following for no more than 6 months at any given time. Each person's need will be different. In some cases, one month 'reset' will be enough.

I hope you learn, see, and experience enough that you can decide what is best for you after your initial 4 weeks. Complete Phase 1 (4 weeks) of my PFL Keto plans, then see if you're ready to dive into another month of Phase 2. The meals are delicious, the results are dramatic, and the only thing standing between you and giving this a shot is you! Let's do it!

  • Phase 1 (4 weeks): Keto

  • Phase 2 (4 weeks): Keto OR learn Carb Cycling

  • Phase 3 (4 weeks): Learn how to slowly build back to Balanced Macros

~Coach Kristy Jo

p.s. I have many recorded episodes about Keto on the podcast. Use the search bar at the top of to search for other topics of Ketosis you may be interested in.

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