Have you heard the news? A ketogenic diet is being used to reverse type two diabetes, treat epilepsy and Alzheimers, cure cancer, autoimmune conditions, and achieve dramatic weight-loss just to mention a few. Say what? A diet that can cure disease?
So what is ketosis? Put simply Ketosis is a metabolic state in which some of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood, in contrast to a state of glycolysis in which blood glucose provides most of the energy. To simplify further, the body has two fuel sources, glucose or fat. When fat is used ketones are the by product.
Here’s my beef. There are many different ways you can get to said end goal – ketosis. If your body is starved of its fuel source glucose then it will switch to burning fat and producing ketones. So:
Not eating – equals ketosis
Eating only cheese – equals ketosis
Drinking only coffee – equals ketosis
Eating only meat – equals ketosis
Not to mention if your body is effectively using ketones then there wouldn’t be much in your blood so are you still in ‘Ketosis’?
So whats wrong with the Ketogenic Diet? It is too vague. There are too many unhealthy ways to get to ketosis which might still be classed as a ketogenic diet and steer people astray. Plus you can go on a ‘ketogenic’ diet and still your body will stuggle to use fat or ketones for fuel if you don’t address other lifestyle factors such as stress, sleep and exercise.
So we know the body has two fuel sources and they both have metabolic advantages. Glucose can be used in the absence of oxygen and is readily available. It is your go to source of fuel for quick energy. Burning fat, well that just sounds attractive doesn’t it! Glucose is sugar in the blood, it spikes insulin your fat storing hormone, it feeds cancer cells, burning fat does not. Ketones the by product is your brain’s preferred source of fuel and is known to improve cognitive function, focus and memory.
So how do you burn fat and is a ketogenic diet required?
In any moment your body is choosing to either burn glucose or fat and there are a multitude of ways accessing fat for fuel. These may or may not involve a ketogenic diet. You may chose to follow your current diet and teach your body to use fat more by tapping into your parasympathetic nervous system, sleeping at more productive times, exercising within a fat burning range. You may chose to use ketosis on a part time basis, detoxing or fasting to rest your digestive system and allow for the anti-inflammatory benefits of ketones to serve your body. There are many ways to use fat burning to your advantage and it really comes down to your goals.
As mentioned above a properly formulated ketogenic diet has been used to do some amazing things and is absolutely an option I would like to see mainstream. I highlight the words ‘properly formulated’ as its important to understand that diverse whole foods and supplementation is required to maximise results. My preferred approach is low carb 3-7% of calories (all from non starch vegetables) usually 25-50g total, moderate protein 15-25% and 70-80% fat. If your goal is weight loss then you want the body to burn more body fat than dietary fat so the dietary fat can drop more around 55% of your calories which means protein is about 40% of calories. Given that there are 9 calories in a gram of fat and only 4 calories in a gram of protein this mean your plate will look like it has more protein than fat. When the body switches to predominantly burning fat, dietary and body fat, it gets increasingly more effective over time. Depending on your goals, your blood type, what you have tried so far, your history, environment, mindset and emotions we can tweak from there. I absolutely recommend seeking a health professional in switching to fat as your primary full source so you can benefit from ketosis. It is a completely different metabolic state and a lot of the rules of glucose metabolism do not apply.
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