Ketogenic diets are one of the most popular dietary choices people are making these days. And there are good reasons why.
If you ask someone who is one a keto diet, they’ll tell you that not only do they look better – they feel better too. The major benefit of the ketogenic diet include focusing on a high fat, low card diet that can lead to improved energy, reduced levels of free radicals (which are associated with human diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and more), and improved brain health.
What is a keto diet?
Essentially a keto diet is any kind of diet where you eat a lot of fats, a lot of protein, and very few carbs. While there are small differences depending on which type of keto diet you are prescribing to, the general consensus is that if you are eating 75% fats, 20 % proteins, and 5% carbs, you are definitely doing keto!
Eating this way helps your body go into a state that is called ketosis, that means that instead of your body burning carbs for energy, it starts to burn fats. It can help you reach your optimal weight, it can help your body relearn how to manage glucose, and it can help you feel fuller for much longer.
There’s no doubt that this kind of lifestyle sounds great, but it can only really happen to its fullest extent if you are making the most of your dietary efforts. If your gut and digestive system is able to absorb all the nutrients you are putting into it, you could risk not getting all the benefits that align with ketosis.
One fantastic way to optimize your keto diet is to make sure that your body is absorbing all the nutrients it can. It will only be able to do that if your gut is healthy.
What is a healthy gut and what does it mean?
Living inside if our bodies are trillions (yes with a T) of microbes that colonize our gut and make themselves quite at home. While it might be quite odd to think about massive colonies of microbes living inside you, rest assured that they are there for very good reasons.
A healthy gut microbiome is crucial to making the most out of a healthy diet because they help further digest the nutrients you eat so that your body spends less energy breaking food down.
On top of that, healthy and diverse gut flora can help reduce bloating and gas, reduce diarrhea, reduce allergies and skin irritations, and even have a positive impact on your mind.
So what are the names of these helpful and healthy microbes? Probiotics. Probiotics can be found in a lot of your favorite fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, and much more. They can also be found in popular probiotic supplements that definitely take the fun out of eating those delicious aforementioned foods, but also are incredibly helpful if you are on the go, have a restricted diet, or simply want to be more precise about your probiotic intake.
So now the real conversation, how can probiotics help your keto diet? The answers are multi-fold.
Your gut microbiome and the keto diet
They help your body absorb fats
Fats are one of the main sources of nutrition when you are on a keto diet and that means it is important to make sure that your body is absorbing them as best it can. Certain strains of probiotics have been studied for their ability to help aid digestion. Several strains have shown the ability to utilize enzymes that are needed to breakdown certain fats.
They support optimal nutrient absorption
Keto diets are famously quite strict, and it can be hard to get the appropriate level of nutrients your body needs. Luckily, a healthy gut microbiome protects your digestive wall so that it can squeeze as much nutrients as possible.
In fact, certain strains of probiotics can even manufacture vitamins that you might be missing out on otherwise. B vitamins and vitamin K are known to be a byproduct of a healthy gut. If that’s not making your body work for you then I don’t know what is!
They help keep you energized
One of the main reasons people tend to abandon keto diets before they are able to feel their full effects is because they start to feel tired and sense a lack of energy. That can be hard to overcome. Luckily, probiotics – and prebiotics which are essentially food for the probiotics – can reduce that lack of energy.
One issue is that most natural prebiotics come from fibrous and carb-heavy foods. Thankfully, a healthy gut microbiome combined with prebiotic supplementation can help offset that tired feeling you might experience when starting out. This will keep you energized and determined to reach ketosis and start nearing your health goals.
They help with metabolism and weight loss
If the main reason you want to use a ketogenic diet is to lose weight, then you’ll absolutely want your gut to be at its healthiest. Multiple studies show that an unbalance gut microbiome can have a massive impact on your metabolic rate.
As mentioned previously, a healthy gut also helps reduce bloat and other digestive issues that can keep you from looking and feeling your best no matter what weight you are at.
Does a ketogenic diet encourage a healthy gut?
Even if you are planning on using a keto diet for a finite period of time, a healthy gut is something you can work towards no matter what your diet is. Luckily, a keto diet encourages a healthy gut as well!
The reason why is because one of the easiest ways to hurt your gut microbiome is to eat processed and unhealthy foods that allow unhealthy microbes to prosper and crowd out probiotics. A keto diet will cut out many of those unhealthy foods that are harmful to your gut.
In that way, and the many others we discussed, matching a ketogenic diet with probiotic use is very much a win-win!