In recent years, the ketogenic diet, or ‘Keto’ as it is more commonly known, has captivated our popular culture. However, for a dietary regime that everyone seems to be able to speak to, it’s highly misunderstood.
At the most basic level, the Keto diet essentially limits an individual’s carbohydrate intake while consuming fats, which should put the individual’s body in this “fasted state,” where the body burns ketones instead of glucose. In English, it’s healthier for you.
But this concept isn’t novel–if anything, the idea of “fasting for health” dates back to Ancient Greece where physicians advocated for restricting an individual’s diet to treat diseases like epilepsy and other health problems. To date, fasting is the only epilepsy treatment recorded by philosopher Hippocrates, which became a standard practice across the world for over two-thousand years.
If an individual follows a meal plan that’s 60-75% fat, 15-30% protein, and 5-10% carbs–the body is placed in a state called “ketosis,” running off glucose (sugar). In effect, the body, because its carbohydrate intake has been restricted, will look to a secondary energy source to compensate for that “starving” feeling. When the body hits this point, it then breaks the fat intake down into ketones, which serves as an alternative fuel source.
Processing all this information (no pun intended), it does seem like a lot of work (and energy) for managing your daily food intake, no? Definitely.
Which is why innovation has come into play, helping to bring fasting into the digital age. We spoke with Martina Slajerova, the creator of the renown KetoDiet App, which makes it easier for users to find information specific to their diet. Want to look up meal ideas or need to check out some ingredients so you don’t go “off-plan?” You can use Slajerova’s app to get that information. She has made it even easier for a user to scan barcodes to look up nutritional information.
But Slajerova is more than just a bad-ass entrepreneur. She’s also a victim of Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid. Essentially, the immune system attacks Slajerova’s thyroid, damaging it so much that it can’t produce enough thyroid hormones.
Unfortunately, the disease affects more women than men, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, affecting individuals between the ages 40 and 60.
In Slajerova’s life, the disease left her feeling tired and she found herself struggling to maintain a healthy weight. But for someone who ate her daily doses of fruits and vegetables, didn’t consume too much meat, and regularly exercised, how could this be?
This is when she decided to forgo traditional dieting and adopt keto. Noticing an immediate change, she was able to cut out her carbs and sugars, which allowed her to trim pounds while her energy surged.
However, this wasn’t enough. Sticking to the keto diet is no easy task.
“The trick is knowing what foods to avoid outright and what carb-filled ingredients can be swapped with lower carb substitutes,” Slajerova explained.
Early on, Slajerova found her diet was paying dividends, and over time, her research and experimentation allowed her to expand her “internal cookbook.”
“But why should that cookbook stay internal?, she asked. “Many people can benefit from a keto diet…yet the diet itself can be difficult to stick to, unless you know what you’re doing.”
When Slajerova came up with the KetoDiet App, she incorporated not just her personal knowledge and experience, but the collective knowledge from cookbooks, blogs, videos, and experts in a one-stop shop location.
“Countless times, she had found herself standing in the produce section, wondering how she could sub out an ingredient in a recipe, or if she could eat a particular vegetable,” as Innovation & Tech Today pointed out in a previous interview with Slajerova.
And that’s where the idea of developing a mobile app that users could look to and have their questions answered in real-time came about. Unfortunately, since COVID-19 has taken the world by storm, the health/wellness sector, like most industries, has been hit hard.
Pre-coronavirus, however, Slajerova’s focus has been to provide a complete application that can guide users through the ketogenic diet–which she described as overwhelming:
“When I started following a low-carb diet, everything felt overwhelming. Knowing which foods to eat and avoid, staying under my carb limit and hitting my daily protein intake were some of the challenges I was facing.”
Features of the app such as recipe ideas, expert articles, and food tracking/journaling, according to Slajerova, are essential for both beginners and advanced keto dieters. Since discovering how to live and manage her life with Hashimoto’s, Slajerova has spent nine-years following her ketogenic approach.
“While I still need my thyroid medication, I no longer suffer from hypothyroid symptoms,” adding that her thyroid antibodies have dropped to “almost normal levels.”
Our greatest treasure to date is knowledge, and keto-dieters need regular access to information…but not just opinions. Information that works.