You may know about the appetite-suppressing effect healthy fats provide, but it’s wonderful to note that eating a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet is also a fantastic way to lower blood sugar, regulate insulin, and prevent metabolic disorders like insulin resistance, all while accelerating weight loss.
A ketogenic diet advises drastically limiting the intake of fast-acting carbohydrates and simple sugars to release the body’s glucose stores––eliminating its sugar-based fuel, forcing the body to seek an alternative source of energy, that being ketone bodies and fat.
Once operating on fat and ketones for fuel, the body makes some additional significant metabolic adjustments, as well. Most notice a drastic reduction in appetite, a recognizable boost of sustainable energy, and anecdotal reports suggest a state of enhanced concentration in many following the plan.
Plus, removing sugar and overt carbs from the diet prevents the blood sugar spikes and subsequent drops they cause, which supports more stable and regulated glucose levels, as well as more efficient insulin production and use.
Ditching sugar is the most obvious change to make to lower blood sugar levels, but there are other nutritional steps to take to optimize blood sugar levels and support pristine metabolic health.
Here are some tips to keep mindful of as you approach your low-carb, high-fat ketogenic journey:
- Eliminate all sugar, high-glycemic and starchy veggies like potatoes, and consider forgoing all fruit for the first week on keto to help rapidly deplete your glucose stores and encourage nutritional ketosis.
- Limit sugar alternatives to help break the psychophysical tie to eating and drinking significant amounts of sweet fare; you’ll be shocked by how quickly your taste buds adapt to consuming less sugar.
- Focus on consuming loads of antioxidant-rich dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, mustard, and collards, they’re filled with fiber and will help you feel full––dashing any nagging need to nosh on sugar and carbs.
- Make sure to eat lots of omega-3-rich fish like salmon, mackerel, or sardines, and include energy-rich MCT oil to your meal plan to stand in as the satiating factor once filled by carbs and sugar.
- Get moving and burn some calories to keep your glucose levels limited to encourage your body to torc excess body fat during short, intense bursts of activity like in CrossFit, HIIT, or powerlifting.
- Stay hydrated to keep all systems of the body supple, especially since our bodies tend to release more fluids and electrolytes when running on fat for fuel.
- When you indulge in sweet treats, stick to using keto-friendly sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, allulose, and erythritol. But be advised that consuming large amounts of certain sugar alcohols, like maltitol or sorbitol which may cause digestive upset.
Keto and Type 2 Diabetes
Transitioning from running on glucose to sourcing energy from fat and ketone bodies changes the way the body stores and burns energy—forcing the system into a highly thermogenic state that helps accelerate fat burning, even during periods of rest.
Although the diet was initially crafted and studied for its efficacy in treating children with epileptic seizures, the low-carb protocol, rich in healthy fats, has also been studied for its benefits to those seeking to stabilize blood sugar and regulate insulin.
Furthermore, limiting carbs and sugar may reduce the need for insulin in those previously dependent; hopeful news to those with challenges regulating levels naturally.
However, it’s wise to note the common medical comorbidities of type 2 diabetes, like increased risk of high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure as you compose your keto meal plan––to ensure you’re including foods that further reinforce optimal health.
Along with lowering carb intake, it’s vital to concentrate on the quality and quantity of the micronutrients in your diet to ensure a well-rounded program.
Monitoring your food intake beyond net carbs is an important part of living a vibrant sugar-free life. Focus on adding an abundance of living, fresh, or peak-fresh-frozen fruits and veggies, along with quality sources of plant-based proteins to support heart health and encourage healthy triglyceride levels.
Add the following ingredients to your meal plan to promote heart health and ideal cholesterol levels:
- Eggs: The healthy fat and protein found in eggs, coupled with their accessibility and affordability make them a stellar staple food option to incorporate into your diet to curb the carbs.
- Fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, sardines, etc.): The satiating fat found in fish with loads of omega-3 fatty acids help to quell cravings by offering scrumptious meals that won’t spike blood sugar while providing ample flavor.
- Cottage cheese: Thoughts of 80s diet sodas in bright pink cans and loud spandex attire may come to mind when you think of cottage cheese, but it’s still en vogue to the calorie-conscious among us seeking to gain protein while limiting calorie intake or sugar grams.
- Avocado: Dine on this fatty fruit for a satisfying side or guacamole base that will help you feel full faster while tamping out food cravings for the sweet stuff.
- Olives and olive oil: Consuming high-quality oils with polyunsaturated fats, like olive oil, or eating whole olives is a fantastic way to load up on healthy fat and a high-fiber, carb-free food, respectively.
- Nuts and nut butters: Enjoy a variety of low-glycemic nuts, like the uber keto-friendly pili nut, macadamia nuts, walnut, pecans and almonds. All are a protein-packed fatty option that land low on the glycemic scale.
- Seeds: Add nutrient-rich seeds like flax, chia, and hemp to your meals to increase fiber, vitamins, and minerals to super-charge your day. Plus, the seeds mentioned are complete proteins and excellent options to incorporate into your diet, especially if you prefer a plant-centered approach to keto.
Insulin Resistance and the Keto Diet
A low-carb, high-fat diet is known to aid in balancing glucose levels and is linked to enhancements in insulin sensitivity along with higher rates of weight loss––two elements that benefit those with type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
Depending on the level of dependency to sugar and carbs before coming to the sugar-free lifestyle, the time it takes to recalibrate insulin sensitivity may vary––with longer adaptation times associated with those used to eating a standard American diet (SAD), loaded with processed food. However, it’s worth remaining encouraged as your insulin health can greatly improve as a result of following a ketogenic diet.
The Effects of Keto on Metabolic Health
Functioning on fat and ketones rather than glucose offers a wide range of benefits to metabolic health. From appetite suppression and glucose regulation, to aiding in accelerated weight loss and increased energy levels, the plan provides perks that make the sacrifice of sugar seem small.
Plus, experiencing a new-found level of energy and mental sharpness is a huge self-esteem boost that often dominos into the ability to get even more things done with precision and improved focus.
Maintain a focus on eating organic whole foods whenever possible and incorporate gut-boosting, fermented foods like sauerkraut and pickles to your diet to further decrease sugar cravings while supporting healthy digestion.
Furthermore, studies have shown a lessened need for medications and improved A1c levels in participants following a low-carb, high-fat diet to regulate blood sugar––more assurance for anyone considering adhering to a low-carb, high-fat diet.
Hidden Sugar Names to Avoid on a Keto Diet
Sugar by any other name is still sugar. The confusing part is that sugar goes by so many aliases that it can become challenging to keep track. Avoid the following sweeteners when sourcing products, as regardless of the monikar, these ingredients will all spike your blood sugar:
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Invert sugar
- Granulated brown sugar
- Malt syrup
- Maple syrup
- Table sugar or regular sugar
- Corn syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Vegetable glycerin
- Yacon syrup
Plus, there are additional foods to choose wisely as they often harbor loads of unwanted hidden sugars that can easily derail your macro goals and lead to increased sugar cravings. Remain especially vigilant about ingredients when selecting the following:
- Sugar-free beverages: Sipping on a soda occasionally is a component of most any diet, and you can indulge as well on keto, but it’s best to stick to brands like Zeiva, sweetened with stevia to avoid the added carb count sugar alcohols provide––potentially padding your daily carb count quickly and in ways that may stall weight loss if consumed in excess.
- Protein Bars: They may seem like a great option to grab, especially when on the go, but keep a close eye on the brand’s ingredients as these meal bars often contain ingredients we want to avoid on a low-carb, high-fat diet, like rice syrup, honey, and molasses, which have a high-glycemic index since they’re loaded with sugar!
- Green Smoothies: There are homemade green smoothies that allow you to control the sweeteners and other ingredients, and then there are chain varieties loaded with sugars and flavored syrups to create their coveted, but less-than-healthy green beverages. It’s best to make your smoothies at home and maintain complete control of everything it contains to keep a tight rein on your daily macros.
- Low-glycemic Fruits: It’s wonderful to have the bandwidth in a keto protocol to include antioxidant rich berries, but it’s essential to monitor portions, as the carbs and sugars can add up quickly if you’re enjoying delicious handfuls of seasonal berries with reckless abandon.
- Low-carb Veggies: Eating colorful bell peppers and controlled portions of sweet potatoes can add variety and a richer nutrient profile to your meal plan, but too much of a good thing can compromise ketosis and potentially delay weight-loss progress, so monitor your macros closely to avoid unintentional surpluses when selecting produce.
- Sauces: Triple check sauce labels to make sure your selection is free of sugar by any of its many, many names. Sauces are often a landmine for many forms of hidden sugars.
- Nut Butters: Both nuts and nut butters provide a delightful blend of healthy fats and muscle-building protein, but it’s vital to keep a close watch on your portions as the carb content can add up quickly when eating what feel like small portions.
- Dairy: Indulging in dairy is part of the charm of choosing to go keto, but it’s important to monitor the amount consumed as it is a notable source of sugar, in the form of lactose that can interrupt ketosis and trigger food cravings if consumed in large amounts.
- Non-dairy Milks: Whether you opt for dairy-free milk because of lactose intolerance or dietary preference, it’s important to stick to the unsweetened varieties of plant-based options like coconut, almond and even hemp milk, to avoid added syrups and sweeteners that can quickly kick you out of ketosis.
- Salad Dressings: Topping a huge salad loaded with dark leafy greens and other low-glycemic veggies is the perfect meal to break the fast midday, but watch out for your salad dressing selection which can derail your efforts to curb the carbs quite quickly.
- Sweetened Probiotic Drinks: Gut-healthy, probiotic beverages like water kefir and kombucha are amazing digestive aids, but store-bought options may contain tons of added sugars––so beware and consider whipping up a batch of your own––a crafty workaround and the opportunity to acquire a new and useful life skill.
- Tonic or Flavored Carbonated Beverages: Stick to brands like Zevia, sweetened with stevia, or opt for flavored, sugar-free options like bubly or Waterloo, to which you can add citrus and your desired keto-friendly sweetener for a perfectly low-carb soda selection.
The TakeawayA ketogenic diet is a powerful approach to regaining control of your appetite and recalibrating your hunger signals as well as helping to establish a healthy relationship with food. Entering ketosis and a fat-adapted state makes it effortless to eat intuitively: in other words eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied. Load up on dark leafy greens, healthy fats, and premium proteins as the bulk of your meal plan and sprinkle in the packaged options for convenience as needed, and you should have no problem lowering and balancing your glucose levels while optimizing your body’s insulin sensitivity by simply following a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet.
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