What is Keto?
Ketosis is a natural state for the body in which it becomes almost completely fueled by fat through eating a ketogenic diet: low carb, moderate protein, and lots of healthy fats. As babies, we are all born in a state of ketosis and remain that way until we begin eating solid foods (breast milk is almost entirely fat!) We also dip into a state of ketosis when we enter prolonged periods of not eating, or fasting, including while we are asleep. It is highly likely that you wake up in a ketogenic state!
While in ketosis, the body is producing ketones. These small molecules are used as fuel when we have depleted our glucose (a.k.a. blood sugar) supply. Ketones are produced in the liver from fat, as we eat very few carbs and a moderate amount of protein.
The entire body – including the brain – consumes ketones as fuel.
Ketones provide sustainable energy, unlike carbohydrates, which are metabolized into glucose to give the body a burst of energy, spiking your insulin levels and then crashing later. Glucose is burned up quickly, leaving the body depleted of energy while leftover glycogen stores itself in the liver, or as triglycerides in fat cells. Without carbs, the body will quickly deplete its glycogen and will begin using fat for energy. Fat comes from the foods we eat as well as the stored fat - the triglycerides - in our cells.
Those of us who follow a ketogenic lifestyle switch our fuel sources back to the way we were born: we run almost entirely on fat. Insulin hormones dip to low levels and we rapidly burn stored fat for fuel. Outside of weight loss, those in ketosis experience sustained energy, mental focus, exercise endurance, and a ton of other health benefits such as preventing, treating, and curing chronic illness and life-threatening disease
To put it simply: eat fat to burn fat....
Now let me tell you why restricting carbohydrates and eliminating grains, gluten, and sugar is a lifestyle worth keeping.
Benefits of Keto
Boost in Mood
Cerebral hypometabolism (when the brain can’t use glucose as its primary fuel) is seen in the brains of people who are manic or depressed. Giving the brain healthy fats for fuel is a must to function! Ketones also improve brain function, which boosts mood and fights depression.
Studies have shown that people following the ketogenic lifestyle have experienced positive changes in their brain-energy profile. We also know that keto is an effective therapy for those with epilepsy.
Mental Clarity and Improved Energy
Ketosis causes your brain to create more mitochondria, the powerhouses of your cells. You can literally generate more energy when you strengthen your mitochondria, leaving you with excess willpower and a sharper mental state.
Keep in mind - our brain can only run off glucose and ketones. So, if you have ever cut out carbs in your diet without replacing it with fat, you can now see why your mental fogginess was at an all-time high.
Decrease in Inflammation
Burning fat for fuel creates far less inflammation than burning sugar does, and ketones themselves turn off inflammatory pathways. Inflammation is the body’s response to an injury, stress or illness. Think about bumping your head against something and the bump that appears afterward. The bump is a form of inflammation. Chronic (persistent) inflammation occurs when cells malfunction due to toxicity of some kind and/or a lack of proper nutrition.
Studies have shown that most chronic diseases (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and cognitive disorders/decline) are all rooted in one cause: inflammation. Consuming processed carbohydrates, sugar, and toxin-laden foods cause poor gut health. This adds stress to the body, resulting in inflammation. Removing these toxic substances from your body will help reduce inflammation, which we often see as bloating and an inability to lose weight no matter how physically active we are. With the removal, we are one step closer to whole-body health.
Although our bio-individuality determines what works for and against us, almost across the board, the foods that cause inflammation are what main stream media deems "healthy" - legumes, whole grains, oatmeal, yogurt, etc. They say, “basically don't consume sugar and you are fine!”
But know this: your body converts sugars and carbs into glucose for fuel. Once converted, your body doesn't know the difference between glucose from a few pieces of candy and glucose from a slice of whole grain bread. In terms of glucose levels, a glass of coca cola for breakfast equates to a glass of orange juice. To reduce inflammation, sites will tell you to switch to carbs on the low-glycemic index and eat low fat foods but restricting diet to fatty meats, eggs, saturated fats/oils, dairy and low carb veggies is the most effective way.
Increase Fat Burning
Ketones influence ghrelin and cholecystokinin (CCK), the hormones that control your hunger. Hunger feels different when you’re in full ketosis – it fades from an obsession to a background thought. Once you are in nutritional ketosis and burning fat for fuel, it’s very easy to enter prolonged periods of not eating (fasting) and during that fast, your body is burning up your fat stores for energy.
People think that because the Ketogenic diet calls for the consumption of high amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol that your bad cholesterol levels will also rise. And that idea makes sense, right? Not to mention that this idea has been rammed down society’s throat for decades now. But we now know that dietary cholesterol, in fact, has zero impact on your bad cholesterol levels. It is the consumption of sugar and carbohydrates combined with cholesterol from animal fat that raises bad cholesterol and increases risk of heart disease – not saturated fat on its own.
There are two types of cholesterol: HDL (good) and LDL (bad). LDL is what can get trapped in your arteries and start the process of plague build up that may lead to cardiovascular disease over time and eventual heart attack.
Up until recently, LDL determined your risk of heart disease. Now recent studies have shown that there’s more to it.
LDL is made up of two different types of particles – small and large. Small particles carry a greater risk for heart disease as they can easily penetrate the artery walls and lead to build up. However, large particles are essentially benign since they can’t penetrate the artery walls.
Do you know what decreases LDL particle size? Simple carbs and sugar. They also
decrease your HDL levels (good cholesterol). It’s the carbs and sugar that are clogging your arteries – not fat. Fat does the exact opposite – boosts HDL and increases LDL particle size, helping your body balance cholesterol naturally.
Eat like a King (or Queen)
Bacon, grass-fed steak and butter, pastured eggs, olive oil, coconut cream… you can eat real, satisfying food on a ketogenic diet. SO BYE low-cal, low-fat diets!
These are just a few of the diseases keto cures:
Epilepsy, PCOS, Type-2 Diabetes, depression, certain cancers, autoimmune disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
CANCER?? Yes. If glucose is consumed as a primary diet source, cancer cells will continue to thrive and spread because cancer cells have ten times more insulin receptors on their cellular surface.
By following a ketogenic lifestyle, lowering carbohydrates will reduce levels of glucose and will assist in depleting cancer cells of their energy supply. Intermittent fasting, which happens naturally when we become keto-adapted, also increases ketone production and will starve cancer cells.
And decreasing the risk of age-related cognitive decline?? YUP. Just as we’ve learned in recent years that conditions like heart disease can be reversed through diet, there is promise for the potential to slow or reverse symptoms of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s if the risk factors are caught early enough and addressed.
The way keto fixes our bodies is the number one reason I am committed to living a ketogenic lifestyle.
Once you shift your focus from simply losing weight to actually improving and preserving your life, this lifestyle change will be simple and long-term.
When weight is no longer an issue - no longer the main thing that you are worried about - that’s when it becomes easy to burn up body fat.