The benefits of a ketogenic diet are becoming more clear and vast with each passing day of research by the scientific community. This diet can be used by the average joe, weekend warrior, elite endurance athlete and could profoundly benefit an individual who has a serious illness. There is growing evidence that the brain prefers using ketones over glucose (from carb intake). Many folks report less brain fog on a ketogenic diet and clearer thinking. Being in ketosis gives the body a chance to do some housekeeping. When one is in ketosis, mitochondria (the cell’s powerhouse) increase in number. This leads to more and cleaner burning energy by the body.
Glucose is used by over 90% of the population to fuel the body for its various daily tasks. The cycle of events looks like this: the body needs glucose, so it sends a signal to our brains via a hormone to ingest carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which fuels activity. Insulin levels increase to shuttle glucose into our cells. Then insulin levels fall when the glucose is used up, and the cycle repeats itself starting with a signal to the brain to ingest more carbs.
The above is a simplification of the orchestra that happens to ensure we continue to have enough energy to make it through the day. In many ways this makes us a slave to carb intake, requiring frequent meals and massive carb cravings. But the takeaway point is, when we ingest carbs and especially too many and/or the wrong type of carbs, a hormonal cycle will repeat itself unless a change is made.
That change is ketosis. In ketosis, our bodies switch from burning the available glucose from carb intake to burning fat and ketone bodies. Fat is removed from our bodies storage (body fat), transported to the liver, and then converted into ketone bodies. These little guys can fuel all the major organs of the body, including the brain and most exercise. As a result, the body does not NEED dietary carbohydrates for fuel. The body is able to tap into our fat stores while giving the body a break from the hormone-insulin-glucose cycle mentioned earlier.
Getting into ketosis requires patience, precision and a strict plan. Fat intake must be around 70% of dietary macros for most people to have a chance at reaching ketosis. Carb selection must be strict, as even a small amount of rice or a beer can kick you out of ketosis. Cheating on a ketogenic diet (at least at first) can set one back 2-5 days. This means it would take a few days to get back into a fat burning mode just by eating a small amount of flour. As a side-note, the longer one spends in ketosis, the harder it is to get “kicked out” of ketosis.
In Part 2 I will go dive into my 30-day experience on the ketogenic diet (KD). I am not advocating a ketogenic diet for everyone. I am simply giving out some information and a blueprint for how to effectively use a KD and how I used it.
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