Is the ketogenic diet a natural or unnatural diet?
The ketogenic diet can seem to be an extreme diet. However, a high fat, low carb diet or a ketogenic diet quite closely mimics what our hunter gatherer ancestors would have eaten in the northern hemisphere and in the winter months.
This diet would consist of animal fats and animal protein, foraged seasonal wild leafy greens and vegetables, as well as foraged wild berries. Note that all of these natural foods are low sugar and very similar to what is prescribed on a well formulated ketogenic diet – have a look at our ketogenic meal plan for paleo keto ideas.
Additionally, consuming seasonal foods means that you will add variation to your more nutrient dense diet. Eating seasonally benefits the environment too as tropical fruits will not have be flown thousands of miles to get to you.
Intermittent fasting has been a part of our lives for millennia
It is very likely that our Palaeolithic ancestors would have eaten once or maximum twice a day, often skipping days in times of scarcity. Intermittent fasting was very much the norm—similar to how most carnivorous animals eat in the wild. Lions will hunt, feast on their kill and then fast for three to five days. This is a very effective way of getting into ketosis, which suggests that ketosis is the default metabolic state for wild carnivorous animals and our palaeolithic ancestors.
Grains, Sugar & Inflammation
The idea of three carbohydrate heavy meals a day is an invention of the agricultural revolution and the promotion of farming grains. As you may have experienced, when you start eating a carbohydrate dense diet, the sugar causes your insulin levels to spike, which makes you hungrier and can often lead to weight gain.
The beauty of a high fat, low carb diet is that you are no longer ruled by hunger as your blood sugar and insulin levels are stabilised.
How do you know if a high fat, low carb diet will suit you?
In general, the further away your ancestors lived from the equator the more suited your body will be to a high fat diet. And the closer your ancestors lived to the equator, the more likely you can tolerate fructose (fruit sugars). You can easily have your DNA tested if you are unsure.
But one thing is for certain, processed sugars that are predominant in the standard western diet are not suitable for the modern human. A great indicator of this premise is the state of people’s health, the prevalence of chronic diseases (inflammation linked to sugar) and the rise of obesity. Fast foods, sugar laden fizzy drinks and inflammatory grains are very likely the trigger for many people’s illnesses.
The best way to figure out what works for you is to experiment, try a healthy ketogenic diet full of grassfed meats, organic fats and leafy greens. Try it for a couple of weeks and let us know how you feel.
Further reading: Sapiens, Fat for Fuel