What is Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a popular ultra-low carbohydrate diet designed to put the body into an extremely efficient state of fat burning known as Ketosis. By removing almost all carbohydrates from the diet and substituting those calories with fat, the metabolism is triggered into ketosis or a ‘ketogenic state’ whereby it uses ketones for its main energy source rather than glucose as it normally would.
Glycogen to Ketones Transition
Glucose is produced by the liver whenever carbohydrates are consumed. The amount of sugar needed to satisfy the immediate energy demand is burned up, the rest is then stored in fat cells, muscle cells and liver as glycogen for use later. A properly operating body produces insulin concurrently with glucose because without insulin as its catalyst, glucose cannot be synthesized by the body. When this occurs, the body must adapt by exploiting ketones as its primary power supply.
How Ketones are produced?
Ketones are created as a byproduct when glucose stores are exhausted and the fat cells are called upon as a secondary fuel source, allowing the body to keep running normally. The body will always attempt to retain a bit of glucose, as for some organs it is absolutely vital to their functioning properly. Important items like the brain and red blood cells cannot operate on fatty acids if they run out of sugar, so the body must break them down into ketones which can then be processed effectively.
State of Ketosis
Glucose and ketones are not only produced by the liver but stored there as well. When the body is restricted from high doses of carbs it responds by raising its level of ketones to bolster energy supplies, making up for the absence of glucose. It does this by switching from using available sugars for its energy to consuming fat stores which are transferred into usable fatty acids, or ketones, by the liver. This ultimately results in ketosis, which is the target metabolic state of this diet.
A consistent supply of low-carb, high-fat foods will keep the body from having to store excess fat as it will remain in ready supply. It may seem like a paradox, but when fat is in healthy abundance in the diet, there is no need for auxiliary stores, and when in ketosis the body is constantly burning off fat. This means no matter how much energy is expended by way of ketones, there will always be more in store as long as the diet is consistent and substantial in healthy fats.
Fat is your new Friend!
Foods like salmon, olive oil, and avocado are more fiber and nutrient-dense than foods higher in protein or carbs and give the feeling of fullness more effectively, causing less food intake over the course of a day, but much higher quality meals.
Some more reasons to keep plenty of dietary fats on the menu is that they are essential for proper hormone production and protecting the vital organs. Keto has also been shown to improve overall brain function and has been used clinically to treat things like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, migraines, and epilepsy with good results.
A properly executed ketogenic diet providing mostly healthy fats may enable sustained ketosis and promote healthy brain activity, retained muscle mass, and accelerated fat loss.