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Why is the Ketogenic Diet Your Secret Weapon?

We are sure you have heard about a trendy diet which backs way to the 1920s. Ketogenic diet started at Johns Hopkins Medical Center as being one of the diets used in epilepsy treatment research. While getting much-needed results in reduced seizures in patients, scientists discovered other benefits of this diet. It all started with the fasting experiment, where patients have reported positive results, but this long-term diet of avoiding consummation of all foods wasn’t sustainable, for an obvious reason. Therefore, the researchers found a way to mimic the state of fasting. Ketogenic diet showed the same beneficial effects as for those patients that were in fasting. With the elimination of the glucose, the body starts using fat and changes its metabolism.  Since then, ketogenic diet got several divisions in which we have a few types:

  • Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) – This is the original strict regimen where it includes very low-carb levels, a moderate protein with high fat. This ratio is 5% carbs, 20% protein and 75% fat.
  • High-Protein Ketogenic Diet - This is similar to the standard ketogenic diet, but it includes more protein. The ratio is 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs.
  • Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD) – This is the ketogenic diet used while training. This means that you ingest 25-50g of carbs 30-60 minutes before exercise. The carbs you want to use are the ones with high Glycemic Index to avoid upsetting the stomach.
  • Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) – This is a more convenient diet which most people are practicing. The 5 high-fat ketogenic days are followed by 2 day high-carb days.

Most studies are conducted on standard and cyclical ketogenic diet while other ketogenic diets are widely used among athletes and bodybuilders.

So, What Is Ketosis and What It Does to My Body?

“Keto” comes from the word “ketones” which are being created in the ketosis. Ketogenic diet produces small molecules which are the alternative fuel for the body when the glucose supply runs out. Ketones are the only molecules other than glucose that can go through brain membranes and serve as a brain fuel.

When your body is on a carbohydrate fuel supply, it gets lazy using the fat storage in the body in which your body gets used to the frequent sugar intake and starts to store the excess sugar as the glycogen in the liver and into the fat. When in ketosis, the body starts utilizing fat as a fuel because your body thinks it’s out of glucose. That way, your insulin level gets low and the fat gets burn more easily. So, the more you cut the carbs and ingest the high-fat, your body gets used to the fat fuel supply and uses the body’s fat storage for the energy resources. In the end, you start to lose fat even when most of your percentage of food type is fat, up to 75%! Sounds crazy, right?

The Benefits of Ketogenic Diet

Weight Loss

Weight loss is just one reason why many of you started reading about ketogenic diet. A cardiologist Robert C. Atkins started a revolution in the 1970s with its modified Atkins diet. The diet promises quick weight loss to those of who stick with the low carb, moderate protein, high-fat regimen. It induces a state with uses the body fat which is stored and easily accessible. The ketogenic diet got amazing results in many studies (1, 2, 3) in which the patients had reduced hunger and significantly lost body fat percentage.

Neuroprotective Properties

As we stated earlier, ketogenic diet started with its use among epilepsy patients in the early 20th century. The scientists found that the ketones production had to do with the protection of the brain cells. With the effect, ketogenic diet became the leading diet among the patients with the Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, brain injuries and strokes.

Diabetes type 2

Researchers also found ketogenic benefits of the patients with the diabetes type 2 since it reduces the blood sugar levels. This also has an impact on high levels of insulin which have a negative impact on the body. A study at Duke University compared the ketogenic diet versus calorie restricted diet among obese male patients with diabetes type 2. After 24 weeks of research, the patient on a ketogenic diet showed greater improvement in glycemic control which led to oral medication reduction as well. This was published in “Nutrition & Metabolism” in 2008.

Improved Mental Focus

While switching to ketogenic regimen has some bumps along the way, going keto brings many benefits. When on ketones, your brain has constant fuel delivery and the mood swings are significantly reduced. Ketogenic diet showed great improvement in patients with a bipolar disorder where their mood swings got more stable. Researchers in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Louisville’s School of Medicine showed that ketogenic diet had similar effects as some of the mood stabilizers which is decreased sodium intracellular concentration. When on a ketogenic diet, your brain is fat adapted and your body can run on ketones easily without the headaches, problems with concentration and focus.

Increased Physical Endurance

The ketogenic diet is known as a high-fat diet with sparing effect on proteins. Once the body gets keto-adapted, it uses fat storage from the body with no need to oxidize the protein through gluconeogenesis. While glucose storage is too low with only a few hours to spare on glycogen, fat storage can take up to weeks or even months of energy source. So, when you use carbs, you must constantly fill up your sugar levels before and after long exercise session since it runs out so fast. Once you’re on keto, you won’t have those sugar crashes and cravings, you can easily run with your fat energy without any irritation symptoms and hunger. This is not used only among long runners or athletes, but widely among all active people. What you need to know when you start keto-adaptation is to keep your levels of salt on point, drink lots of fluid and give your body the time for adaptation, it doesn’t happen overnight, usually it takes about 2 weeks in which you might feel “keto flu” which we will discuss in our next blog. Stay tuned.