What is Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic diet is known for being a high-fat low-carb diet, where ketone bodies are produced in the liver and used as a fuel source. It shares many similarities with the Atkins and low-carb diets. It has many different names such as the keto diet, ketogenic diet, ketone diet, ketosis diet, low carb high fat (LCHF), etc.
It involves drastically reducing the consumption of carbohydrates and replacing it with fat. The reduction in carbs puts the body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, the body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which supplies energy for the brain. Glucose is replaced by ketone bodies for energy which was previously the role of carbohydrates in the diet. Applying all these weight loss methods simultaneously leads to rapid fat loss and a general reduction of fat stored in the body.
Ketones are produced in the liver, from fat. They are then used as fuel throughout the body, including the brain. The brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day, and it can’t run on fat directly. It can only run on glucose… or ketones.
In this diet, foods eaten are gotten straight from nature (organic) for example, eggs, beef, heavy cream, butter, coconut etc. it is a proven way to lose weight in a short time even without exercises. Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This along with the increased ketones has numerous health benefits.
Why and How it Works.
It’s hardly a coincidence that avoiding carbohydrates – like sugar and bread – has a special effect, beyond just focusing on calories. Carbohydrates, more than other foods, stimulate the release of the hormone insulin. And, insulin is the body’s main fat-storing hormone.
This means that to lose excess body fat your number one goal should be reducing insulin levels. And to do this, the first and most important thing is to eat fewer carbs – a low-carb diet.
In a nutshell, ketosis is a state the body enters when we don’t eat carbohydrates. It is a way for the body to use fats (body fats included) as the primary energy we need. It is not only healthy for us; it is actually more efficient for our brains to use. How do we get that energy from the fats? Well, that “ketosis” state we are in allows our liver to break down fats into molecules called ketones. Those ketones provide the energy we need. And how does that fall into weight loss? This is achieved through calorie deficit; we aren’t actually eating enough energy for our body to live, so we have to dig into our own fat stores to get the energy we need.
The main three fat groups we eat are saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats. The general consensus used to be that saturated fats were terrible for us and there was a clear link between saturated fats and heart diseases. In recent years though, research has shown that saturated fats do NOT cause heart diseases, but also improves cholesterol levels. You can consume them without worries. Polyunsaturated fats on the other hand, are a bit trickier. Processed polyunsaturated fats like margarine spreads and vegetable oils are terrible for the body and usually include Trans fats. They do have a causation effect with heart disease and should be avoided at all times. However, there are naturally occurring polyunsaturated fats in foods like fish, which are great for us and would improve cholesterol.
Lastly, there are monounsaturated fats. These are known to be “healthy” and are generally accepted as so. Olive oil is a primary example of something that is more proportionately a monounsaturated fat as it is healthy for the body and helps in lowering our cholesterol.
Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet.
Blood Sugar: Many studies show the decrease of LDL cholesterol overtime and have shown to eliminate ailments such as type 2 diabetes. . It’s very unsurprising that Low carb is very effective for reversing type 2 diabetes. The main problem in diabetes is too high of blood sugar levels – and the sugar in the blood comes from the carbohydrates that we eat. So, if you eat fewer carbohydrates, it’s very logical that it becomes easier for the body to control its blood sugar levels. Lots of people have tried low-carb diets and reversed their type 2 diabetes (or controlled their type 1 diabetes). And many doctors have experience in treating their patients with unbelievably good results.
Energy and Improved Mental Focus: By giving the body a better and more reliable energy source, you will feel more energized during the day. Fats are proven to be the most effective molecule to burn as fuel. Ketosis results in a steady flow of fuel (ketones) to the brain. On a ketogenic diet, you avoid big swings in blood sugar. This often results in the experience of increased focus and improved concentration. A lot of people use keto diets specifically for increased mental performance. Interestingly, there’s a common misperception that eating lots of carbs is needed for proper brain function. But, this is only true when ketones are not available. After a few days (up to a week) of keto adaptation – during which people may experience some difficulty concentrating, have headaches and become easily irritated – the body and brain can run effortlessly on ketones. In this state, many people experience more energy and improved mental focus.
Increased Physical Endurance and Less Hunger: Fat is naturally more satisfying and ends up leaving the body in a satiated (full) state for longer. Ketogenic diets can vastly increase your physical endurance, by giving you constant access to all the energy of your fat stores. The body’s supply of stored carbohydrates (glycogen) only lasts for a couple of hours of intense exercise, or less. But, your fat stores carry enough energy to easily last for weeks or even months. When you’re adapted to burning primarily carbohydrates – like most people are today – your fat stores are not easily available, and they can’t fuel your brain. This result in constantly having to fill up by eating before, during and after longer exercise sessions. Or even just to fuel your daily activities and avoid “hanger” (hungry and irritable). On a ketogenic diet this problem is solved. As the body and brain can easily be fueled 24/7 by your powerful fat stores, you can keep going forever like the Energizer Bunny. Whether you are competing in a physical endurance event, or just trying to stay focused on reaching some other goal, your body has the fuel it needs to keep you going and going.
Controls Epilepsy: The ketogenic diet is a proven medical therapy for epilepsy that has been used since the 1920s. Traditionally it has mainly been used in children with uncontrolled epilepsy despite medication. More recently it has also been tested successfully by adults with epilepsy, with similar good results. There are many randomized controlled trials that demonstrate the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet in decreasing seizures in patients with epilepsy. Using a ketogenic diet in epilepsy is that it usually allows people to take less anti-epileptic drugs, while remaining seizure-free. It’s not unusual to even be able to completely stop taking these drugs while staying seizure-free. As all anti-seizure medications have side effects – like drowsiness, reduced concentration, personality changes or even reduced IQ – being able to take less or no drugs can be hugely beneficial.
Cancer and Intermittent Fasting: Intermittent fasting is a common practice within the keto community. There are many benefits that can be attributed to intermittent fasting and one of them is the effects it has on cancer. While fasting, our normal cells simply flip a metabolic switch and go into “survival mode” where everything is slowed down, energy use is minimized, and the cell simply waits for another meal. On the other hand, cancer cells don’t have this switch (this could possibly be because of their broken metabolism). So, they continue to try to grow & reproduce – consuming resources heavily. Only, the fasting state does not give them the resources they need to grow & reproduce. This, essentially, starves these cancer cells (albeit slowly since intermittent fasting is not a constant fasting state – but, with the “always on” state of a cancer cell, even short, intermittent fasts, will slow & starve it).
This is where the ketogenic diet comes in, along with a few other (somewhat relevant) nutritional therapies. Because one of the main features of a ketogenic diet with its high fat, low carb (with a focus on carbs from vegetable and/or dairy sources), and low to moderate protein basis is that it forces the cells in our body to use ketones (a by-product of the body breaking down fat) rather than glucose (a by-product of our body breaking down carbohydrates and excess protein) as its main energy source.
Acne: Recent studies have shown a drop-in acne lesions and skin inflammation in over 12 weeks of a continuous keto diet.
Cholesterol: A keto diet has shown to improve triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels most associated with arterial buildup.