The keto diet is extremely popular right now. And for those of you still grinding out that “New Year/New You” resolution you made (Congrats!!!), this one is for you.
Before we talk about herbs that can help support you on a keto diet, let’s just take a quick moment and define this diet for those that don’t know.
The ketogenic diet (henceforth referred to as the “keto diet”) is a high-fat, low-carb diet that is purported to have many health benefits. Multiple studies have shown that this diet can help you lose weight and is also good for improving your overall health (1)!
The Keto Diet is very similar to the Atkins Diet (dating myself now) and other low-carb diets. Raise your hand if you did the Atkins Diet back in the day . Just like with the Atkins Diet, the whole idea is to lower carbohydrates in your diet and replace it with fats. Doing this after a set time period puts your body in “ketosis”. When you are in ketosis your body becomes very efficient at burning fat for energy. In this state your body also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which becomes your energy supply for the brain (2, 3).
You also get major reductions in both insulin and blood sugar levels, respectively. This combined with the increased ketones are why the keto diet has multiple health benefits!
Bottom line: The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb, diet that shifts the body’s metabolism away from carbohydrates, towards fat and ketones instead. It is also very good for lowering both insulin and blood sugar levels, respectively.
Know that there are four main types of keto diets, and it is recommended that you read about each one to find the variation that best aligns with your health goals and lifestyle. The four main types of keto diets are:
- The standard ketogenic diet
- High protein ketogenic diet
- Cyclical ketogenic diet
- Targeted ketogenic diet
It is beyond the scope of this blog to discuss each of these versions in detail. For more information, you can find good reading here.
Now that we have discussed the keto diet basics, let me give my thoughts on supplements, of any kind. I look at supplements as just what they are, supplements to a bigger picture. Let me use my weight lifting example. If you lift weights, you are already going to the gym, doing the heavy lifting (literally), sweating, fighting through injury from time to time, getting up early, or working out late etc. In other words, you are doing the “hard part”. Taking supplements is the easy part. In weight lifting, drinking that protein shake before/after lifting, or taking amino acids during your workout is easy. Supplements exist to help you maximize your effort! Put another way, if you don’t lift weights and only drink protein shakes, you won’t be adding any muscle to your body. The lifting is the hard part. The part that takes dedication, effort, time, etc. Drinking the protein shake when you are done takes 30 seconds and helps you maximize the hour lift you just put in. Dieting and supplements for your diet work the EXACT same way. No matter what diet you chose (keto, Atkins, weight watchers, south beach, Paleo, etc.) the hard part is the diet itself. Changing your eating habits. Denying yourself of the things you love. If you are already doing that, why not do the easy part and add some supplements. Taking the supplements without the diet won’t help you lose weight, any more than drinking protein powder without the Wight lifting will help you add muscle. Diet supplements are meant to do just what they say, supplement your diet! Capiche? Good!
Here are the five best herbs to take to help you supplement your keto diet:
- Cinnamon: regulates blood sugar, aids digestion, relieves muscle stiffness and joint pain, reduces inflammation, improves blood circulation (4)
- Turmeric: Enhances insulin sensitivity, reduces inflammation, improves liver function (5,6)
- Apple Cider Vinegar: high in acetic acid so it reduces glycemic response to carbohydrate meals, contains enzymes that enhance metabolism of protein and fat (7)
- Green Tea: Antioxidant
- Ginsing: Adaptogen that increase metabolism, gives higher energy levels, and enhanced immunity (8)
Other supplements to consider:
- Chromium and Vanadium: Help with blood sugar regulation (9,10)
- Fresh Lemon/Lime juice: contain citric acid, which helps regulate blood sugar levels, are antioxidant, trace minerals such as Potassium help improve insulin signaling and stabilize blood sugar levels (8)
- L-Carnitine: critical for fat metabolism and energy production (8)
- Fish Oil: High in Omega-3 Fats (8)
There you have it, my friends. I wish you the best in your “New Year/New You” goal and remember, the best wealth, is your health!