What Is A Ketogenic Diet?
The short answer is that starving your body of carbohydrates induces a state of ketosis, where your body primarily burns fat as its fuel source. That means that’s when you run out of calories, your body will immediately dig into its stores of fat, instead of just getting tired. Despite some old school ways of thinking that it might not be healthy long term, there are cultures that thrive in that state (like the Inuit – can read about that here & here) for their entire lives. Aside from rapid weight loss, the energy derived from fat is smoother / longer lived, so there is almost a sense of mild euphoria, and you no longer get tired after meals and in the afternoons.
The health benefits are staggering, considering that sugar is arguably the most dangerous substance to consume on a regular basis.. It’s nearly impossible to get diabetes without it, the incidence of heart disease and cancer drops drastically without the inflammation produced by it, tooth decay becomes a thing of the past (your teeth feel smooth all the time like just after a dental cleaning), and the fats even seem to make the skin softer. The improved/longer lasting energy make it easier to exercise, further increasing the potential for weight loss. High protein diet also make it easier to build muscle mass, for those who have that as a goal. I doubt there is an honest physician out there that will say that if they had to choose the lesser of two evils, fats would easily be the choice over sugars.
Having said that, with a high fat diet, it’s important to make sure to ingest good quality fats to prevent raising cholesterol. For those who are interested in starting a ketogenic diet, the first week or two is challenging, since your body will feel tired from lack of carbs until it switches over. The better you are about having no carbs, the faster you’ll break through. You can get ketosis test sticks from the pharmacy (or here), that change colors when you pee on them, and let you know if and how far into ketosis you are.
What Does Zero NET Carbs Mean?
Zero carbs is self explanatory, so what doe the “net” refer to? Zero net carb refers to foods that do have carbohydrates, but they come exclusively from dietary fiber or sugar alcohols (like Xylitol, Mannitol and Erythritol), which are not absorbed by the body the way normal carbohydrates are, and so will not bump you out of your state of ketosis.
So for example, if you look at the nutritional facts for inulin (a prebiotic and great sweetener/thickener for zero carb recipes), you will see that it says that it has 5 grams of carbohydrate.. but if you see the label on the right, those 5 grams come from fiber, so they are subtracted from the total, leaving zero net carbs.