Tag Archives: Ketogenic Diet

Ketosis – A State of Fat Burning

KetosisSusan Brown Health and Wellness Editor

The ketogenic diet is now one of the most popular dietary lifestyle approaches to support weight loss, address neurological disorders, and manage insulin resistance and prediabetes. The ultimate goal of this high-fat, moderate protein, very low-carb diet is reaching and maintaining the natural metabolic state of ketosis. While the body normally produces energy from glucose, when glucose stores are low, it will metabolize fat stores for energy. Ketone bodies are produced by the liver as a byproduct of gluconeogenesis, the production of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources. In healthy individuals, ketones are utilized to provide energy to cells when glucose is low or absent. Ketones are generated as a result of fasting, starvation, a carbohydrate restrictive diet, prolonged exercise, or inadequately treated diabetes.

When glucose levels are high, the liver responds by absorbing excess glucose and storing it as glycogen until needed. Processing the body’s fat is a key function of the liver as well. Once the liver is full of glycogen, it will turn excess glucose into fatty acids for long-term storage as body fat. When glucose levels are low, the body releases glycogen as glucose, converts body fat back into fatty acids, and will break down amino acids, all to produce energy. As the body stores limited amounts of glycogen in the liver and muscles, glycogen is rapidly depleted. In order to feed the brain, the liver will convert amino acids and other compounds into glucose, which is released into the blood stream along with ketone bodies. Known as “glucose sparing,” the muscles and organs will switch to fatty acids for energy, conserving glucose for the brain.

Diets that focus on low carbohydrate and higher fat and protein intake effectively remove glucose from the diet, requiring the body to break down fat stores. When the body is in the fat burning metabolic state of nutritional ketosis, fewer calories are required for satiety, which leads to decreased hunger and facilitates weight loss. The ketogenic diet focuses on the reduction of simple dietary carbohydrates, such as processed grains, sugary foods, and fruit juice. Limiting the amount of dietary carbohydrates encourages the brain to derive sufficient fuel from endogenous glucose produced from protein consumption, dietary fatty acids and the limited amount of complex carbohydrates the diet permits. The ultimate goal of this diet is to reach a metabolic state where ketones become the main fuel source for both body and brain.

A ketogenic diet may benefit physical and cognitive performance in healthy individuals.

Weight loss – Studies show that those on a low-carb, high-fat diet lose more weight in a shorter time period than those on a low-fat diet, even when the low-fat dieters are actively restricting calories. Studies consistently show that consumption of  protein and healthy fats, along with a reduced carbohydrate intake, leads to a reduction in appetite, and consequently effortless caloric reduction.

Neuroprotection – With neurological diseases, deficient energy production is a major concern. During metabolic stress, ketones serve as an alternative energy source to maintain normal brain cell metabolism and may be an even more efficient fuel than glucose. Studies have shown that a ketogenic diet increases the number of mitochondria, the energy factories in brain cells, and may enhance energy metabolism in the hippocampus, the part of the brain important for learning and memory. In age-related brain disease hippocampal cells often degenerate, leading to cognitive dysfunction and memory loss. With increased energy reserve, neurons may be able to fend off disease stressors that may normally exhaust the cell.

Reduced inflammation – By increasing dietary fatty acid intake, the production of harmful oxidant molecules is reduced. This in turn curtails the progression of chronic inflammation and the downstream propensity toward chronic and painful conditions. Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a ketogenic diet could offer a non-pharmacological option for reducing both inflammation and pain. High-fat ketogenic diets have long been known to be effective against pharmaceutical-resistant seizures. Like seizures, chronic pain is believed to involve increased excitability of neurons. As compared to glucose metabolism, ketone metabolism produces fewer reactive oxygen species known to contribute inflammation.

Reduction of visceral fat – It is known that low-carb, high-fat diets lead to successful weight management. Weight reduction when needed supports overall health and decreases disease risk. Even more significant, low-carb diets are very effective at reducing harmful and stubborn abdominal visceral fat that tends to lodge around internal organs. Visceral fat contributes to increased risk of metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Reduced blood sugar and insulin levels – Limiting carbohydrate consumption is a very effective way to lower blood sugar and insulin levels. While those with diabetes should carefully monitor their dietary carbohydrate intake with their healthcare providers, the ketogenic diet has been shown to effectively treat and possibly reverse type 2 or prediabetes. In some studies, individuals with  type 2 diabetes were able to reduce or  eliminate glucose-lowering medication after 6 months on a ketogenic diet.

Reduced risk of developing metabolic syndrome – Metabolic syndrome is a condition highly associated with the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Symptoms include abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting blood sugar levels, high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol levels. All five symptoms appear to dramatically improve on a low-carb, high-fat diet.

What Is Ketosis, and Is It Healthy? https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-ketosis
Oxidative metabolism: glucose versus ketones. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23852511
A cDNA microarray analysis of gene expression profiles in rat hippocampus following a ketogenic diet. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15469884
The fat-fueled brain: unnatural or advantageous? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15469884
Ketogenic Diets and Pain. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4124736/
10 Health Benefits of Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-low-carb-ketogenic-diets


Benefits and Drawbacks of a Ketogenic Diet

KetogenicDietJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

When it comes to nutrition there are always differences of opinion, so perhaps we should approach every new diet with a bit of skepticism. Contrary to popular belief, the ketogenic diet is not solely a trending fad. In fact, the role of fasting in disease treatment dates back thousands of years. In modern times, the use of a ketogenic diet became popular in the 1920’s, when this sugar-free, starch-free diet demonstrated success in treating children with drug resistant epilepsy. Questions remain as to whether the ketogenic diet is a healthy and effective approach for long-term weight loss and maintenance. Because the diet is so restrictive, some may find it difficult to adhere to over the long haul.

For many, quick weight loss is the primary reason to try this high-fat, adequate protein, extremely low-carb diet. The controversy lingers as to whether the ketogenic diet should be restricted to short-term use, perhaps six months or less. The ketogenic diet formed the basis of the popular Dr. Atkins low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet for weight loss that incorporated a very strict, but short, two-week ketogenic phase. Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one published study showed beneficial effects of a long-term ketogenic diet for obese individuals. The researchers concluded that the ketogenic diet successfully reduced body weight and body mass index of overweight participants without any significant side effects.

The ketogenic diet targets key underlying causes of weight gain, specifically metabolic dysfunction that develops from an overconsumption of net carbohydrates, largely sugars and grains. Many of today’s life threatening chronic diseases are rooted in hormonal imbalances, notably insulin and leptin resistance. Coupled with high blood sugar, insulin resistance triggers biochemical reactions that cause the body to retain fat, produce inflammation, and damage cellular health.

The principal goal of the high-fat/low-carb ketogenic diet is to put the body into a metabolic state of ketosis. When in ketosis most of the body’s energy is fueled by ketones in the blood stream rather than glucose, the body’s preferred energy source. In response to either starvation, which in itself is ketogenic, or high-fat/low-carb intake, the liver breaks down fats into fatty acids, or ketone bodies, essentially putting the body into starvation mode. While in ketosis, the body burns ketones, or fats, for fuel.

The goal of the ketogenic diet is to get at least 70% of your daily calories from healthy fats that include avocados, macadamia nuts, butter, cold-pressed coconut oil, and olive oil. Protein intake is restricted to no more than 25 percent of daily calories and carbohydrates contribute only 5-10 percent, or approximately 50 grams. Basically, many foods are off limits–no bread, starchy vegetables, rice, oatmeal, sugar or alcohol. This mean you can have full fat dairy, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and some lower carb veggies and fruits, such as berries, mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes, peppers and green beans.

Potential benefits:

-One major advantage of the ketogenic diet is that it allows for drastic calorie reduction without producing insatiable hunger. Restricting carbohydrate consumption naturally reduces calorie consumption with little change in diet satisfaction, hunger, or energy levels.

-On a ketogenic diet, blood sugar is lowered and stabilized, which is particularly helpful for individuals with pre-diabetes, as well as type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Under a medical professional’s supervision, ketogenic diets have been shown to have an additional benefit of reducing reliance on diabetes medications.

-A ketogenic diet has been shown to help restore insulin sensitivity, as it helps to eliminate high insulin levels, the root cause of insulin resistance.

-High blood pressure associated with metabolic syndrome has been shown to improve on a ketogenic diet, particularly in those who are overweight or have type 2 diabetes.

-A collection of symptoms known as metabolic syndrome that are highly associated with the risk of diabetes and heart disease have been shown to improve on a low carb diet. These include abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and elevated blood sugar and low HDL levels.

-Research has shown that ketogenic diets result in overall improvements in the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol.

-Mental clarity and improved focus are commonly reported benefits, largely a result of an increase in omega-3 fats shown to support improved mood and learning ability.

-A large percentage of fat lost on a ketogenic diet comes from visceral fat found in the abdominal cavity. Visceral fat drives inflammation, insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction.

Potential drawbacks:

-It can take up to two weeks for the body to go through the adaptation phase of the diet. Some experience a level of discomfort during this time that can include fatigue and brain fog.

-The diet is so restrictive, it’s hard to stick with long term. The diet restricts an entire food group. That means very little fruit, restrictions on certain starchy vegetables, and absolutely no grains, beans or flour products. Those who reach their ideal weight while on a strict ketogenic diet may begin to add more healthy complex carbs back into the daily diet, and can cut back again if weight gain occurs.

-A low carb diet may negatively affect athletic performance. The rate of energy production necessary for optimum performance may decrease when the body runs on ketones rather than glucose.

-Constipation is a common side effect, as the diet eliminates fiber-rich whole grains, most fruits and certain vegetables. A fiber supplement can help to ensure healthy digestive function.

-Due to carbohydrate restriction, those on a ketogenic diet should be sure to take a high quality multivitamin and mineral supplement to avoid micronutrient deficiencies.

For some, the ketogenic diet is a good way to lose weight, but it’s not for everyone. Extreme diets that essentially eliminate entire food groups do not address underlying behavioral or unhealthy lifestyle issues. If your standard diet resulted in an abnormal weight gain, implementing small sustainable changes may be sufficient to re-establish an eating plan for healthy weight loss and long-term weight loss maintenance.

A healthier approach might be dietary improvements that are sustainable over time. Cutting refined carbs and replacing them with fresh whole foods will help maintain long-term health. It appears that medical professionals wholeheartedly endorse a balanced, unprocessed, colorful diet, that encompasses all food groups and limits sugar and white flour. Such a dietary approach presents the best evidence for a disease-free, long and healthy lifespan.

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Benefits of ketogenic diets. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/1/238.full
Ketogenic diet: Is the ultimate low-carb diet good for you? https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/ketogenic-diet-is-the-ultimate-low-carb-diet-good-for-you-2017072712089
Some thoughts on the keto diet. http://www.mystatesman.com/lifestyles/food–cooking/some-thoughts-the-keto-diet/vbCoQUoGnLUjOKEZORyOYL/
History of the Ketogenic Diet: https://www.news-medical.net/health/History-of-the-Ketogenic-Diet.aspx
Ketogenic diet benefits. http://www.diabetes.co.uk/keto/keto-diet-benefits.html
10 Health Benefits of Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets. http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-low-carb-ketogenic-diets#section1
Long-term effect of a ketogenic diet in obese patients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/
Top 5 Pros and Cons of Ketogenic Diet. https://www.consumerhealthdigest.com/fitness/pros-and-cons-of-ketogenic-diet.html

The Ketogenic Diet

Ketogenic DietJacquieIconBy Jacquie Eubanks

The times they are a-changing.  High carb-low fat diets are out.  Low carb-high fat diets are in.  Although low carb-high fat diets have been controversial for years, studies show that a low carb-high fat diet leads to weight loss and lowers risk factors for metabolic syndrome, which is associated with chronic diseases.  A ketogenic diet involves a shifting of your body’s metabolic processes from burning carbohydrates (glucose) for fuel to burning fats instead.  This metabolic state is called nutritional ketosis, which simply means that your body cells are burning fat fragments, known as ketones, as opposed to glucose.  Not to be confused with ketoacidosis, a condition often associated with type 1 diabetes and insulin dependent type 2 diabetes, nutritional ketosis results from a controlled insulin regulated process in response to a lower carb and higher fat dietary intake. 

Some of the controversy surrounding the ketogenic diet stems from confusing diabetic ketoacidosis with nutritional ketosis.  Insulin dependent diabetics produce ketones when they don’t have enough insulin for the body cells to utilize the glucose in their blood streams.  To prevent the body from entering starvation mode, the diabetic body can overproduce ketones, which can lead to critical illness.  However, those on the low carb-high fat diet, who produce insulin normally, become keto-adapted.  Our livers naturally produce ketones from fats and certain amino acids in order to feed our brains, which can only function with glucose and ketones. 

Ketosis is the metabolic process of burning your own body fat for fuel, which is regulated by the insulin levels within the body.  What happens when your body is in the state of ketosis?

  • Your appetite is naturally reduced.  Many of us give up on dieting simply because we get hungry.  When we reduce our consumption of refined carbohydrates, like bagels, chips and sweet treats that raise blood sugar, and increase our consumption of healthy fats such as nuts, avocados and olive and coconut oils, it eliminates the cyclical sugar craving cycle, leaving us more satiated and with more stable blood sugar. 
  • Fats are not the enemy.  And in fact, we need more healthy fats.  Fats are necessary to absorb vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  They help build cell membranes and supply energy.  Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fats, reduce inflammation and the risks of obesity, arthritis, depression and heart disease.  Fats don’t raise blood glucose levels and since they don’t solicit an insulin response, they can’t be stored as body fat. 
  • Your body goes into a fat burning state as opposed to a sugar burning state.  With a high carb diet, which creates and burns glucose, a steady supply of carbohydrates is needed to keep energy levels up.  When more carbs are eaten to satisfy hunger, excess glucose is converted and stored as fat, leaving your body little chance to access and burn stored fat.  To effectively lose weight, our bodies must burn stored fat. 
  • A large percentage of body fat that is lost on low carb-high fat diets is visceral fat, dangerous belly fat that accumulates around body organs.  Belly fat drives inflammation and creates insulin resistance, which can lead to metabolic syndrome, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 
  • Low calorie-low fat diets essentially starve your body.  The ketogenic diet is not calorie controlled, so you don’t have to go hungry.  Higher fat diets satisfy hunger so you tend to eat less.  A refined carb-low fat diet keeps you in sugar burning mode, while a low carb-high fat diet puts you in fat burning mode. 
  • Eliminating excess sugar and refined carbs reawakens the body’s ability to use ketones as fuel.  As your body becomes more efficient at burning fats for energy, blood sugar is stabilized.  With a diet of refined carbs, insulin levels are increased along with the body’s resistance to insulin.  The high carb-low fat diet encourages fat storage, not fat utilization. 

Where does protein fit into the ketogenic diet?  The ketogenic diet includes moderate amounts of protein, as excess protein is converted to glucose.  Excess glucose increases insulin release and inhibits the body’s ability to burn fatty acids and go into a state of ketosis.  With a ketogenic diet, it is not necessary to buy special foods.  Whole foods prepared at home are the basis of the diet.  Add more healthy omega-3 fats by eating wild caught fish or taking a fish oil supplement, and include saturated and monounsaturated fats such as full fat dairy, butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, macadamia nuts and eggs.  When possible, choose clean proteins such as organic or grass fed animal foods, which have a higher fatty acid profile.  Choose non-starchy vegetables and greens and limit sweeter vegetables and fruits. 

Most would agree that the American diet needs to change in order to reduce obesity and related illnesses.  The goal of nutrition should be to create health and discourage disease.  With a ketogenic diet, in addition to weight loss and increased energy, you may have lowered blood pressure, better balanced cholesterol levels, a drop in fasting blood sugar levels, clearer thinking and more stable moods.  A diet that contains less added sugar, refined and processed foods and oils, and more heart-healthy, brain-healthy fats may not only add years to your life but can increase the quality of life during those years.

Helpful supplements for the start of a ketogenic eating plan include:

Alpha Lipoic Acid 400 mg
Alpha Lipoic Acid 400 mg by Pure Encapsulations This multifunctional nutrient plays a key role in metabolic processes and provides potent antioxidants.  ALA supports glucose metabolism, nerve health and cardiovascular function. 
Biotin-8 (8,000mcg) (B118)
Biotin-8 (8,000mcg) (B118) by Thorne ResearchBiotin supports glucose metabolism and helps maintain already normal blood sugar levels.  Biotin enhances muscle insulin sensitivity by increasing uptake of glucose by the muscle cells. 
Coconut Oil Organic Extra Virgin
Coconut Oil Organic Extra Virgin by Nutiva – This certified organic, non-GMO pure coconut oil is comprised of 50%  lauric acid, an essential fatty acid found in mother’s milk, which has been  shown to have health protecting properties.  Cholesterol and trans-fat free.  Made from cold pressed fresh coconuts. 
Enzyme Nutrition Two Daily Multi-Vitamin
Enzyme Nutrition Two Daily Multi-Vitamin by Enzymedica – This amazing whole food supplement contains high potency enzymes, antioxidants, probiotics and daily botanicals in support of energy, immune function and overall health.