Remember as kids when your friends discovered a major find and just had to tell you? They would be excited to tell you and everyone who would listen. You, of course, would get excited too and want it just as bad as your friend.
You’d run home and ask your mom to take you to the store to buy you one that very second. Then as moms tend to do, they start asking you the dreaded “kill my excitement” questions. You know what I’m talking about. Then as you skillfully negotiated with your mom, she would throw out the “when your dad gets home I’ll ask him.”
Then as you explained to your dad how important this is to you he gives you the eye; “I’m not going to buy that for you” look.
Unmoved by his ax to your dream, you’d say, “But dad, Jessica has one. Her mom and dad said yes.”
“Honey, if Jessica jumped off her roof, that doesn’t mean you should.” Dream killed.
The ketogenic diet has been around for a very long time. I’m sure if Jessica had tried it, you’d be the first to know!
What is Purpose of a Well Formulated Ketogenic Diet?
The diet’s purpose is to move you into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is where the word “ketogenic” originates.
According to The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living we learn:
Ketosis “is a fundamental shift in your body’s fuel homeostasis (i.e., energy regulation) away from glucose [blood sugar] as a primary fuel. This shift is the adaptation of the body’s hormonal set and inter-organ fuel exchange to allow most of your daily energy needs to be met by fat, either directly as fatty acids or indirectly by ketone bodies made from fat.
This process…begins for most adults when total carbohydrate is restricted to less than 60 grams per day along with a moderate intake of protein. After a few weeks at this level, the primary serum ‘ketone’ (beta-hydroxybutyrate, or B-OHB), rises above 0.5 millimolar (mM). At this ketone level, which is 10-fold higher than that in someone with a daily intake of 300 grams of carbohydrate, the brain begins to derive a substantial portion of its energy needs from B-OHB, resulting in a commensurate reduced need for glucose. With [the] further restriction of carbohydrate below 50 grams per day, the serum B-OHB rises in response to reduced insulin secretion. However, because dietary protein prompts some insulin release, and serum B-OHB itself stimulates insulin release by the pancreas (albeit subtly), adults eating 20 grams of carbohydrate and 75-150 grams per day of protein rarely run serum B -OHB levels above 3 mM. This is in contrast to the response to total starvation (i.e., no dietary carbs or protein) where the serum BOHB levels run as high as 5 mM.”
Ketosis is the state of your body where its major fuel source is your own fat and the production of ketones. Your brain can only use two fuel sources; glucose (blood sugar) or ketones. The brain needs 600 calories, an enormous level calories for an organ that only weighs 3 lbs. This is why there is a major amount of blood supply to the brain to keep it constantly fueled and oxygenated.
What are the benefits of Ketogenic Diet?
Most people use a ketogenic diet as a short term way to lose weight. Weight loss and sustained body composition are the major benefits most use a ketogenic diet for. However, there are several others benefits.
- Weight loss and management
- Sustained healthy body composition
- Improved brain cognition (your brain loves ketones!)
- End food and sugar cravings
- An extremely satiable diet (fat tastes great!)
- Remove the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes and lowering the effects of Type 1 diabetes
- Reverse insulin resistance and become more insulin sensitive
- A better way to fuel as an endurance athlete
- Treatment of seizures
Is it Dangerous?
According to two experts, Jeff Volek, PhD and Stephen Phinney, MD, state:
“Nutritional ketosis is by definition a benign metabolic state that gives human metabolism the flexibility to deal with famine or major shifts in available dietary fuels. By contrast, ‘diabetic ketoacidosis’ is an unstable and dangerous condition that occurs when there is inadequate pancreatic insulin response to regulate serum B-OHB (ketones). This occurs only in type-1 diabetics or in late stage type-2 diabetes with advanced pancreatic burnout. In this setting of deficient insulin, when exogenous insulin is withheld, serum B-OHB levels reach the 15-25 mM range – 5-to-10-fold higher than the levels characteristic of nutritional ketosis. Unfortunately, among the general public and even many health care professionals as well, these two distinct metabolic states tend to be confused one for another. Understanding how different they are is key to being able to capture the many benefits of nutritional ketosis while avoiding the risks in that very small minority of the population subject to developing diabetic ketoacidosis.”
Is it Sustainable?
Up until 150 years ago, the vast majority of those living on the planet consumed a ketogenic diet consisting of higher fats and lower carbohydrates because that is what their environment produced. With the advent of agriculture the ability to obtain carbohydrates vastly improved.
In the 1920’s ketogenic diets were used to manage diabetic patients because insulin had yet to be invented. Patients with diabetes survived for lifetimes on the diet. Volek and Phinney said, “With the advent of insulin for diabetes and anti-seizure drugs like diphenyl-hydantoin (Dilantin), these dietary interventions began to fall out of favor.”
Volek and Phinney state in their book, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable,
“One of the perceived limitations of modern low carbohydrate diets is that they have become stigmatized as extreme and thus necessarily limited to temporary use. Adding to this sense of transience, most popular diet books promoting carbohydrate restriction have effectively only described an initial energy restricted phase to promote weight loss. So what does the reader do after 3 months eating 1400 kcal/day with a 30 lb weight loss? No healthy adult over 5 feet tall achieves energy balance on 1400 kcal per day, so the transition from weight loss to long-term weight maintenance necessarily means adding back food. But how much, and from what foods? Carbohydrates? Protein? Fat?”
When agriculture improved and companies began to market their products, the carbohydrate companies went on an all-out marketing blitz victimizing fat as bad and carbohydrates as good. Perhaps you always thought fat was bad too. What happened to the American waistline and the prevalence of cancer and heart disease because of this marketing campaign? Since the 1960s, when TV overtook radio, and food companies started to alter the food buying habits of Americans is obesity rates have tripled and cancer and heart disease are neck and neck as the top killers of people today.
A ketogenic is sustainable. Once you adopt new habits and don’t succumb to cultural pressures, the benefits listed above are highly sustainable for life times.
More About Ketogenic Diets
I’ve written many articles about the ketogenic diet. Click here to review a list of all of them.
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