Many people think of ketogenic diets as just a low-carb diet and don’t fully understand the difference between a high fat and ketogenic diet. In a ketogenic diet, in general, 70% calories are coming from fat, carbohydrates are low, and protein, which can also cause an insulin response, is moderate. Ketogenic diets are all about putting the body into a state of ketosis, where the body then burns ketones and fatty acids for fuel (however this means oxidizing fat for energy- not burning more body fat). In contrast, a high fat, low carb diet does not require ketosis or state of fat oxidation, and does not require a lower protein intake. The high fat, high protein diet that many individuals think is keto, is actually more of a modified Atkins diet approach, and individuals who follow this approach are likely not in ketosis! Why? Because protein is gluconeogenic- and excess protein can kick you out of ketosis.
Let’s chat the benefits of fats.
Fat can be very satiating, and are very important for various bodily functions such as hormone synthesis, cell growth, micronutrient storage, and brain function. As with everything, there is a potential to overdo it, and quality of fat intake matters. Ketogenic diets, or otherwise high-fat diets can very easily lead to weight gain if you’re not carefully monitoring your overall caloric intake. It can be very easy to overeat fats, as they are more calorically dense (9 calories per gram), when compared to carbohydrates and protein (4 calories per gram). They are also highly palatable, and we are all more likely to eat more of something that tastes good! Fats also differ in their fatty acid composition and micronutrient intake, which can greatly affect inflammation within the body. Too much inflammation is what leads to chronic disease and autoimmune disease flares.
Higher fat and lower carbohydrate diets can certainly be beneficial for some individuals, especially if they just enjoy eating higher fat and lower carb foods, but it’s important to remember that diet is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and that it’s not just the type of diet you follow that matters, but the quality of your diet.