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THE BASICS OF THE KETOGENIC DIET
- The ketogenic diet has risen to the forefront of nutritional health due to its benefits that extend far beyond weight loss. You have most likely heard of the term “ketones,” “ketosis,” or ketogenic diet, when speaking about low-carbohydrate diets.
- The low-fat, no-fat era that was the norm for decades is on its way out as data emerges supporting the multiple health benefits of low-carbohydrate diets even for those with normal body composition.
Let’s start with the basics:
WHAT ARE KETONES AND WHAT IS KETOSIS?
- When we think of the body’s primary fuel source, we think of glucose, or sugar, with most individuals and athletes engaging in “carb loading,” and weekend-warriors using sugar-laden fruits or drinks to fuel their workouts. We know that our bodies can use sugar as a fuel, but what many don’t realize is that fats can be an equal, and even superior, fuel source.
- The process of ketosis refers to the body’s ability to use fats as its primary source of energy, over glucose. In the absence of glucose, the body will turn to fat stores in order to create energy. When the body burns fat, it produces three bi-products, ?-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), acetoacetate (ACA) and acetone. These bi-products are called Ketones or ketone bodies. This is a naturally occurring process and is what allows our bodies to survive during times of food restriction or starvation.
- When an individual begins to follow a low carbohydrate diet, the body has to look for alternate fuel, and it turns to fatty acids and fat stores. The liver breaks down the fat, and releases ketones into the blood to be used by the brain and other organs to produce energy.
- The ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate, high-fat, moderate protein diet with a strict macronutrient breakdown. When we restrict carbohydrates to approximately 20g daily, we turn to fat-burning. This is called nutritional ketosis.
- Each individual will move into nutritional ketosis at varying rates, depending on their metabolic state and their degree of metabolic damage. This process can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months and is called Delo-adaption. Keto-adaption refers to the body’s adaptation to using ketones as its preferred fuel source, over glucose.
- Studies are suggesting that BHB, one of our primary ketone bodies, may be a more efficient source of fuel for the brain than glucose, and because ketones are water-soluble substances, any excesses are eliminated through the urine (BHB and ACA), or the breathe (acetone), instead of being stored as fat.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
The ketogenic diet was first introduced in 1921 as a therapeutic tool to treat seizures in children with epilepsy, and the neuro-protective benefits of ketones came to light at that time. As research into the process of ketosis expands, the list of benefits continues to grow. Many individuals turn to this low carb diet for weight loss, but its benefits extend far beyond changes in body composition.
For more information, please contact P3 Health