During the last few years, the keto diet has become a mainstream eating method for weight loss and other health benefits. Some may be surprised to learn that a keto-style diet mimics the metabolism of fasting and has actually been in existence since antiquity. Evidence of treating epilepsy through fasting is found in the Hippocratic Corpus, a body of about 60 surviving Ancient Greek medical treatises. Although these medical papers bear the name of Hippocrates, they are attributed to later generations of physicians. From the early 1920’s through the 1940’s, fasting was widely utilized to treat epilepsy in children, particularly those who didn’t respond to traditional anticonvulsant medications and needed an alternative remedy to control seizures.
More than a century has passed since the keto diet was initially used for therapy. While the diet remains one of the most effective treatments for hard to treat childhood epilepsy, today the high-fat, adequate-protein, very low-carb eating plan is largely utilized to promote rapid weight loss. Increased calories from healthy fats, much less protein than Americans typically consume, as well as a strict limit on all carbohydrates make this diet very effective, but also highly restrictive. During extreme carbohydrate restriction, the body and brain are deprived of a steady stream of glucose, the main source of cellular energy. The highly demanding brain, which does not store glucose, requires a steady supply of approximately 120 grams daily.
In the absence of a continuous supply of glucose, the body pulls stored glucose from the liver and muscles. When glycogen stores are fully depleted, generally within a few days of restrictive dieting, the body is forced into a state of ketosis. As insulin levels decrease, the body begins to use ketone bodies, an alternative fuel source produced from stored fats. Ketones are always present in the blood in fluctuating levels, dependent upon diet, activity level and medical conditions, such as diabetes. Healthy individuals naturally experience mild ketosis during periods of overnight fasting or very strenuous exercise.
While eating fats to lose weight may sound counterintuitive, the keto diet is effective for burning both dietary and stored fats for energy. During a strict ketogenic diet 80 – 90 percent of daily calories are consumed from fats; protein is limited to one gram per kilogram of body weight; and only 10 – 15 grams of carbohydrates a day are allowed, about the amount in a single small apple. In the typical American diet about half of daily calories come from carbs, so this represents a huge change. The shift to a diet that’s almost entirely fat forces the body into starvation mode. The idea behind the keto diet is to maintain a mild form of starvation, so that the body is in a constant state of fat burning.
Maintaining extreme carbohydrate limitation is difficult. Unless one consumes a lot of leafy greens, fiber sources are limited since vegetable and fruit consumption is restricted. Disallowing foods like whole grains and a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables means the diet also lacks essential nutrients. Typically, healthy dieting takes a lot of planning and this diet is no exception. As fats play a starring role in this diet, it’s vital to choose wisely. Good keto fats include meats, fatty fish, full fat dairy, avocados, olives, nuts, seeds and nut butters, as well as oils, such as coconut, MCT, fish oil, flaxseed, sunflower and olive. Green leafy veggies, eggs, peppers, cauliflower, cucumbers and berries are all keto-friendly. To stick with the plan and get creative with the food choices you have, look for recipes online or purchase a keto diet cookbook. Above all, avoid sugar, refined carbs and processed foods. On the plus side, the diet is satiating, weight loss happens quickly and energy levels remain stable. A keto diet is meant to put one in an optimal metabolic state, aid hormone balance and provide a variety of cognitive benefits.
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Keto-Nootropic™ by Designs for Health®: This fast-acting, readily available, carbohydrate-free blend of exogenous ketones provides support for healthy muscle and cognitive function. Specific ingredients help to control hunger, support healthy cognition and stimulate a metabolic shift away from glucose dependence. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.
Keto Electrolyte Drops by Trace® Minerals Research: This ideal liquid formula provides full-spectrum electrolytes to help avoid imbalances, dehydration and muscle cramps that could otherwise result from a keto diet. Gluten free, certified vegan formulation.
Ketone Energy MCT Oi by Dr. Mercola®: MCT oil is a high quality fat that is particularly valuable for creating ketones and maintaining nutritional ketosis. Odorless and tasteless, this product helps boost satiety and satisfaction while on a keto diet.
History of the ketogenic diet. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01821.x
Intermittent fasting: A “new” historical strategy for controlling seizures? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3740951/
A Detailed Guide to the Potential Health Benefits and Risks of the Keto Diet. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/ketogenic-diet/what-are-benefits-risks-keto-diet/
Can eating mostly fat help you lose weight? https://www.popsci.com/keto-fat-weight-loss-healthy