INTRODUCTION TO THE KETOGENIC DIET
We are all aware of that feeling of lethargy and overwhelming fatigue that hits us after a huge, carbs-heavy meal. In theory the intake of carbs is supposed to boost our energy. Invariably however, we are left feeling heavy and sluggish afterwards. A great example is Christmas when everyone revels in gluttony, only to retire and asleep In front of the TV!
From day one we are raised to believe that carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our bodies. Proteins and healthy fats are only used to build muscle mass. Food studies from the 1960s, funded by the sugar industry, came up with unsubstantiated data that said that fat was bad for our health. These were compounded by a scientist named Ancel Keys. His research was incomplete but he managed to convince the public that fats are bad. The whole world then entered the era of low fat. Low-fat diet products flooded the food markets and became the preferred method for weight loss. Yet, people kept gaining weight.
It is only now, 30 years later that the truth about fat is coming to light. Saturated fats are actually good for you! As long as carbohydrates are avoided the body functions at an optimal level using fats on a ketogenic diet!
IT IS WHAT OUR ANCESTORS ATE!
The truth is that for thousands of years our hunter and gatherer ancestors survived on an extremely low carb diet where they often went for long periods of time with little or no food. In spite of this they still mustered up the energy to head out and hunt! The tribe would starve without food! Their bodies were readily adapted to tap into their fat stores to provide the stamina necessary for such robust exertion. In today’s modern society where carbohydrates are king, most peoples bodies have forgotten how to tap into their fat stores.
The Ketogenic diet is close to the diet enjoyed by our ancestors. It reminds the body how to tap into fat stores for energy. Chemicals called ketones are made when the body uses fat for energy (this is called ‘ketosis’). The body uses ketones instead of glucose (created when we consume carbohydrates) for its energy source. The most important factor is removal of sugar from the diet as well as simple carbohydrates.
Examples of the most common simple carbohydrates are; sugar, pasta, rice, bread and starchy vegetables. These are replaced with a diet that includes much higher percentage of fat. This causes the body to produce ketone bodies to compensate for the lack of glucose that it makes from simple carbs and sugar. This process takes place in the liver. The goal is to mimic a starvation state within the body. This is achieved without depriving the body of necessary calories to sustain growth and development.
HOW DOES THE KETO DIET WORK?
Short for “ketogenic diet,” this diet is focused on minimizing your carb intake and increasing your fats to get your body to use your stored body fat to supply energy. The concept is that you get more calories from protein and fat and less from carbohydrates. You cut back most on the carbs that are easy to digest such as the simple carbs discussed earlier; sugar, pasta, rice, bread and starchy vegetables. This usually means eating no more than 50 grams of carbs a day. Some strict Keto people limit their carb intake to 20 grams per day.
After about two to seven days of following the keto diet, your body goes into what is called ketosis. This is the state your body enters when there are not enough carbs available to supply your cells with energy. This is when you start making ketones, or organic compounds made in your liver that metabolize your fat to use as energy.
Each person has to experiment to see how low their carb intake must be in order to stay in ‘ketosis”. This is usually done using keto sticks when first starting the Keto diet. They are inexpensive and you pee on a stick to see whether you are in ketosis. When you lower your carb intake, glucose levels, along with blood sugar levels, drop which in turn lowers insulin levels. This enables the fat cells to release the water they are storing. This explains why water weight loss often happens first. After this fat cells are enter the bloodstream and are then metabolized by the liver.
By starving your body of carbohydrates your body stops producing insulin and consequently uses up the stores of fat on your body.
KETOGENIC MEDICINE WAS FIRST USED IN ANCIENT GREECE!
The Ketogenic diet was originally introduced into practice in the 1920s primarily for the use of epileptics. However, the origins of Ketogenic medicine have been traced back to ancient Greece. The ketone bodies enter the bloodstream and are taken up by organs including the brain where they are further metabolized in mitochondria to generate energy for cells within the nervous system. By restricting carbohydrates, we also inhibit the production of insulin. This increases fat burning, and reduces inflammation. The combination of these three changes addresses the primary drivers of many chronic diseases — insulin resistance, inflammation, and fat accumulation.
SCIENTIFIC DATA ON DISEASES HELPED BY A KETO DIET
The latest scientific data has revealed it to be an almost miraculous panacea in the treatment of a wide variety of diseases. These include, Epilepsy, Type 2 Diabetes, Type 1 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Chronic Inflammation, Obesity, Heart Disease, Fatty Liver Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Cancer and Migraines, strokes and ALS among many others.