The Ketogenic Diet & Lifestyle

What is the Ketogenic DIet

The Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet developed in the ’20s by Dr Wilder at the Mayo Clinic to treat epileptic seizures. It is gaining renewed popularity as scientific research is uncovering new health benefits. Most people initially try the ketogenic diet for weight loss.

A team member who tried it out and reported amazing results. In her own words:  ‘Being on ketosis is surprisingly empowering after the first few weeks of transition. I was pleasantly surprised by how incorporating healthy fats into your diet actually fuelled weight loss.  It seems counter-intuitive. There was no strict calorie-counting and all the ‘naughty’ foods that I once thought were forbidden on a ‘healthy diet’ were now back on the table. I probably should have exercised a lot more than I did, but I experienced effortless weight loss irrespective, had incredible energy throughout the day and great cognitive clarity. My skin totally cleared up and I would have to say the best part of all this has been the new relationship I have with food and the connection I have with my body. I love it’.

The Benefits of the Ketogenic Lifestyle

 

Beyond weight loss, the other benefits of the Ketogenic diet and lifestyle include:

  1. Improved brain health (anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective qualities), increased mitochondria, increased Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA expression) and reduced glucose oxidation; improved focus, mood, cognitive performance, energy and endurance levels and reduced lethargy, depression and migraines;
  2. The non-glycating and anti-ageing effects. Coupled with intermittent fasting (IF), promotes human growth hormone (HGH) and reduced mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signalling which has been linked to ageing. Ketosis also improves certain skin conditions, such as acne, psoriasis and rosacea
  3. Improved sinus issue integrity and asthma
  4. Reduced risk of coronary artery disease
  5. Reduced acid reflux
  6. Reduced chronic pain and inflammation and suppresses appetite. Coupled with intermittent fasting (IF) promotes detoxification, autophagy and cell renewal. Boosts your basal metabolic rate (BMR).
  7. The anti-carcinogenic and its ability to starves cancer cells
  8. Improved insulin sensitivity, balances blood sugars, hormones and improves fertility
  9. Elimination of candida and small intestinal bacteria overgrowth

All foods are broken down into one of three macronutrients: fatty acids (fat), amino acids (proteins) and sugar molecules (carbohydrates). Ketosis relies on your ability to manipulate the ratio of these nutrients in order to deplete glycogen stores and enable the body to ‘burn’ ketone bodies for fuel. Glycogen stores are normally depleted within 2-3 days in normal healthy adults.

Variations of the ketogenic diet include the moderate (MKD), standard (SKD), cyclical (CKD) and targeted (TKD). Typically however, macronutrients values range between:

  • 60-80% of calories from fat
  • 15-30% of calories from protein
  • 5-10% of calories from carbs
Ketogenic Diet as a Lifestyle: Raw, Vegetarian Vegan and Paleo

Ketosis is about manipulating the macronutrient (macros) ratios of food in order to produce and utilise ketone for fuel. This makes it flexible and compatible with other styles of eating, including paleo, raw, vegetarians and vegans.

Is Ketosis safe?

The short answer is Yes. There is a lot of misinformation about the safety of ketosis. The most common mistake people make is confusing ketosis with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is a life-threatening condition that affects people with severe pancreatic issues, such as Type 1 (T1) diabetics who cannot create sufficient insulin to regulate blood insulin levels. The risk of DKA for Type 2 diabetics (T2) is small and pretty much non-existent for healthy adults. This is because even trace amounts of insulin are able to keep blood ketone levels within threshold ( below 10mM). Other groups advised to work with qualified medical professionals include pregnant mothers and people with pre-existing kidney conditions.

The therapeutic power of ketones

The therapeutic power of ketones has been recognised and is the subject of much research. In response to this interest, a growing number of exogenous ketones have emerged on the market that can put people into ketosis within minutes, without the depleted glycogen and have similar benefits to being in ketosis naturally. In 2016, Oxford University developed a ketone drink aimed at boosting the endurance and performance of professional athletes. Exogenous ketones are used to:

  • Boost serum ketone levels
  • As an alternative to medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oils, which can cause GI distress
  • Synthesise phospholipids, which drives growth and myelination
  • Minimise the cognitive decline associated with ageing in conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s because of their anti-inflammatory and neuro-protective properties
  • Regulate gene expression

Future applications suggest the use of exogenous ketones for the prevention of cancer and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and epileptic seizures.

‘Realising that there is a backup fuel source was an absolute revelation. I am now keto-adapted and enjoying the therapeutic benefits of a non-inflammatory lifestyle’.

Key Takeaways
  • Dietary fat does not make you fat
  • Ketosis is safe and sustainable over a long period of time
  • Ketones promote healing at a cellular level
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