So, what does a Primal/paleo/ancestral health coach know about keto? As it turns out, quite a bit.
The best goal of ketogenic nutrition is to enhance your ability to burn fat as fuel for your body. Once you become keto-adapted you are by necessity fat-adapted. Your body and brain quickly figures out that there is no longer an unlimited supply of carbs and sugars. During the transition period your body relies on ketones for energy (hence the name “keto”). Before too long, your metabolism then switches to burning free fatty acids in conjunction with ketones. It is at that point that you are in “ketosis”.
Your glucose-deprived and carb-deprived brain and body will then routinely burn fatty acids and ketones, as well as some occasional carbs, for its daily fuel. Some carbs and glucose is needed for optimal brain function (somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 grams per day) but as much as 100 grams can come from ketone burning and the remainder can come from metabolizing fat or from gluconeogenesis (the conversion of proteins to glucose).
Now, keto is not a complete lifestyle switch for most people for “the rest of your life”. Keto was developed in the 1930’s as a treatment for epilepsy. For those with epilepsy, keto may be a permanent dietary and lifestyle change. But for the majority, keto works best as a short-term project, perhaps around 2 months or so. Once you have your brain and body under keto control, you are said to be in the “keto zone”. That’s where you can shift into and out of ketosis almost at will while taking advantage of a seasonal dietary program that allows you to control what your body uses as fuel.
When you put in the work to become fully fat-adapted, your body machinery stays good at burning fat and you continue with the ability to burn glucose or carbs when needed (and in moderation). The best end result from “going keto” is increased metabolic flexibility and the opportunity to maintain your gains through a paleo nutrition and lifestyle approach.