Ketosis for Health: Ketogenic Diet Benefits
Ketosis for Health: We love bringing you ancient healing strategies that will cost you absolutely nothing. One approach is the therapeutic benefits of a ketogenic diet. You’ll learn what it is, what it isn’t, how it works, why it works, and why I don’t believe in an all-ketogenic approach.
Ketosis for Health, What It Is?
Nutritional ketosis is a metabolic process by which your body utilizes predominantly ketones instead of glucose for energy function. In other words, your cells can use fat (ketones) or sugar (glucose) for energy. When you go into a state of ketosis, you’re decreasing your sugar (carbohydrates) intake so much that it forces the cell to use fat for energy. The body converts fat into ketones, and the brain uses these ketones for energy instead of glucose.
The brain loves ketones because it’s a clean-burning fuel that doesn’t create a lot of oxidative stress. During these fat-burning periods, the body does a lot of repairs and cleans up of damaged and dysfunctional cells in the brain and body.
Ketosis for Health: What It Isn’t!
There is a lot of confusion in the diet world, particularly since many people are pushing a hard dogmatic (all-or-nothing) approach. It’s important to understand that ketosis is not synonymous with the Paleo diet, the Carnivore diet, or the Atkins diet. Let’s explore how they vary from and are similar to ketosis.
The Paleo Diet
- The Paleo Diet runs on the concept that you can eat anything that could be hunted or gathered in the days of our paleolithic ancestors. Meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, local veggies, and seeds are okay. However, grains, processed foods, and sugars are not.
- Paleo can be made to be keto, but by definition, paleo is not keto. The paleo diet does not account for macronutrient ratios.
The Carnivore Diet
- The Carnivore Diet (also known as the all-meat or carnivorous diet) entails eating almost nothing but meat (occasionally eggs and dairy) for every meal, every day.
- Because carnivore is essentially a zero-carb diet, it can be ketogenic. However, too much protein may throw you out of a ketogenic state
The Atkins Diet
- The Atkins Diet is low-carb, high-fat (like the ketogenic diet), but is also high in protein
- Atkins paved the way for keto diets research and advancements, but it is too high in protein to qualify for ketosis
The ratio varies from person to person, but when we consume low-carb and high-protein, the body can convert protein into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. Therefore, for a ketogenic diet to work, it has to be low-carb, low-to-moderate protein, and high-fat.
Ketosis done right is a high-fat, low- to moderate-protein, low-carb diet.
Ketosis for Health: Ketogenic Benefits:
- Increased memory, cognition, and clarity
- Cleans up your DNA (autophagy)
- Down-regulation of bad genes
- Fights certain types of cancers
- Prevents heart disease (lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides, better cholesterol profiles)
- Decreases inflammation (which improves acne, arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, IBS, pain, etc…)
- Enhances energy levels and sleep
- Keeps uric acid levels in check (helping kidney function and preventing gout)
- Assists gastrointestinal and gallbladder health (less heartburn and acid reflux, less risk for gallstones, improved digestion, less gas and bloating)
- Battles a wide variety of neurologic and metabolic diseases (ranging from seizures to migraines)
- Assists women’s health (increased fertility, stabilizing hormones)
- Promotes muscle gain and improved athletic endurance
- Curbs diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome while sparing muscle loss
Ketogenic Benefits: Disease Prevention
Ketosis has been well known for its therapeutic use in healing seizures (and other inflamed brain conditions) since the 1900s. Many people rejected the diet back in the day because drugs like Neurontin were treating their symptoms. However, as our society shifts more towards natural medicines, a new light is being shined on ketosis to reverse and prevent disease.
The Keto diet is a hot topic; it’s even entered Vogue Magazine. Like all on-trend things, people cling to it, talk about it, and swear by it until it eventually passes. The trendy nature of keto at the moment is no different, and I believe that, like all diets: the obsession will give; let me tell you why.
In the short run, ketosis generates the aforementioned incredible benefits, but the science on keto-only diets’ lifetime(s) is non-existent. The available science suggests that the long-term use of a strict ketogenic diet is not, in fact, beneficial for humans.
Ketogenic Benefits: Metabolic Flexibility
As people stay in a state of ketosis, there is an ever-minimizing return on investments. The longer you stay in ketosis, the less metabolically flexible you become. Metabolic flexibility is the capacity of an organism to adapt fuel oxidation to fuel availability—your ability to efficiently use the food you feed your body as energy. One of the key ways to achieve this is by continually keeping the body guessing and adapting.
All these diets fail to stay popular because the use of any single type of eating in the long term fails. Metabolic flexibility, healthy hormones, and a growing body require diet variation to sustainably benefit the body in the long run.
Ketosis for Health: Incessant feasting is a precise mechanism.
If we continuously overeat, the body will continuously store body fat in preparation for times of famine. But the problem with calorie restriction as a solution is that a long-term sustained low-calorie diet doesn’t result in weight loss or health. In the short term, you will shed pounds on a low-calorie diet, but as it continues, the body eventually goes into starvation mode. Starvation mode causes hormonal damage and prevents starving to death.
The body will hold onto every last bit of body fat. The calories are reduced so low that you can no longer function properly, creating metabolic damage. Long-term ketosis can also trigger this same “lack” mindset within the body and cause hormonal distress. The key is diet variation (i.e., feast/ famine cycles) rooted in an otherwise clean, ketogenic diet.
Ketosis for Health: Vary the Diet
Diet variation is the art of varying your diet to contain some days of feasting, fasting, and regular keto days. By including refeed days (that could be high carb or high protein), you always remind the body that it is not starving and allow the development of metabolic flexibility. The ratio of feast-to-fast-to-keto days will depend on your metabolic and overall health going into it. Someone who is hormonally damaged might consider 3 refeed (high carb/ protein/ caloric) days, one fasting day, and three keto days. As the body becomes more hormonally sensitive and healthy, you can decrease the feast days in favor of keto or fasting days. However, never drop the feast days below one time per week.
Ketosis for Health: How to Eat Keto
Besides hormonal damage and toxicity, getting into ketosis is easy and requires calculating your macronutrient intake ratio. Macronutrients include fat, carbs, and protein. Although you may have to calculate these ratios initially, it won’t be long before you intuitively know your macros.
For the average person, carbohydrates should remain under 50 grams of net carbs daily. Net carbs are simply the number of sugars minus the fiber content. Protein should hover around your body weight in pounds divided by two, so a 150-pound person would consume around 75 grams of protein. These numbers vary slightly depending on your metabolic flexibility and how much exercise/ movement you do in a day. Active and metabolically flexible can take in more protein and remain in ketosis.
Ketosis for Health: How to Properly Measure Nutritional Ketosis
Testing to confirm ketosis is based on the ketones levels in the body (measured in mmol/L). Nutritional ketosis ranges between 0.5-1.5 mmol/L on the lighter side, and around 1.5 – 3 mmol/L is more optimal.
Although ketone urine tests are available, they are not reliable measures of ketones in the body. Ketone presence in the urine does not mean the ketones are appropriately utilized in the blood. Measuring ketones directly in the blood is easy with a unit like KetoMojo.
Using a testing device when you start is critical because some people can consume 80 net carbs daily and still be in ketosis. Others might have to drop down as low as 20. Knowing your body’s response to carbs and protein will ensure you achieve your goals as fast as possible.
When is the best time to test ketone levels?
The ideal time to test your ketone levels is first thing in the morning before any food or activity. As you start, you should also check intermittently throughout the day. Checking more frequently will help you understand how specific things impact your levels. Notably, how much protein and carbs you can tolerate and the impact of caffeine.
You may be seeing levels of ketones in the blood relatively fast, but you may not feel 100% clear-minded straight away. There is a period of adaptation for your body to switch from carbs to fat for energy. This adjustment period applies to all people, regardless of their health. You should expect 2-4 weeks for the average person; however, upwards of 3 months for someone more metabolically damaged. The more you incorporate diet variation into your life, the more sensitive your hormones will become. Someone who has been practicing keto and diet variation regularly can jump in and out of ketosis in a matter of days.
Ketosis for Health: Is it Safe?
Yes, a ketogenic diet is fundamentally safe for all people.
It’s important to note that we are not talking about diabetic ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a severe complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of ketones due to insufficient insulin. The keto we’re referring to is nutritional ketosis, induced willingly through diet.
Beyond being safe, ketosis is a natural process for the body to undergo cyclically. Our ancestors would find themselves in periods of ketosis due to their natural tendencies to fast intermittently.
Ketosis for Health: When to Seek Guidance
If you are on medication or suffering from more severe toxicity, you should seek the guidance of a trained professional. Working with a trained professional will help to ensure the success of your keto/ diet variation journey. No matter how sick you are, you can still benefit safely from the therapeutic nature of cycling a ketogenic diet. If you already feel good, you’ll feel even better, and you will turn back your biological clock.
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