Ketogenic diet- a popular and trending diet which people are following for better health and weight loss. It is commonly known as keto diet. It was originally formulated in the 1920s for the treatment of intractable epilepsy and today it is being used to address insulin resistance and various other chronic metabolic health conditions.
What is a ketogenic diet?
Ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat and adequate amount of protein diet. On the ketogenic diet, you typically have not more than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. The ketogenic diet is composed of about 70% fat, 20% protein, and only 10% carbs. The concept behind this is to derive calories more from proteins & fats and much less from carbohydrates. Protein and fat breakdown produces alternative body fuel for energy and this process is known as ketosis.
This diet produces quick results but beginning with a new regime of diet should be a calculated and methodological transition as it is not always an easy one.
Role of keto diet in today’s life
We are surrounded by various artificial resources everyday and throughout the day. The exposure to blue light and electromagnetic waves tends to damage more DHA and even affects our mitochondrial function.
Blue light toxicity & non native EMF damages more DHA. Technology is now an essential part of our daily life which means we are in regular exposure to non native electromagnetic fields (EMF). Omega-3 and melatonin can protect neuronal damage from EMF up to a certain limit only. Chronic exposure creates disruption in the biological metabolic process and chemical structure of tissues and is a foundation of causing inflammation in the body.
This interference in normal cyclical functioning of body results in:
Pre diabetes or Diabetes
Risk of developing depression
Decreased level of leptin
Dysfunctional mitochondria frequently results in unrestrained production of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) which serve as the main etiological causation in many chronic diseases including neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, diabetes, cancer, autism and many more. Nutritional ketosis can aid physiologically in mitohormesis induction through increased reliance on mitochondrial respiration.
Mitohormesis is a term used to define a biological response where the induction of a reduced amount of mitochondrial stress leads to an increment in health and viability within a cell, tissue, or organism.
You should know about mitochondria functions as well which is majorly damaged by EMF. Most chronic conditions today evolve from a disturbed metabolism due to a highly refined diet rich in carbohydrates and sugars. To reset the metabolism, cyclical keto is necessary.
Cyclical keto diet means to rotate and alternate it between low carb and high carb intake. It includes following a keto diet for 5-6 days in a week and it is followed by 2-3 days of high carb intake. High Carbohydrate days are termed as refeeding days in which they are meant to recharge the body’s depleted glucose preserves.
During ketosis you should consume less than 50 grams carbs and while on refeeding days consume 70 grams of carbs which should definitely be nutrient-dense as during these days body fuel is glucose instead of ketones. The goal of cyclical keto should be to reserve carbs as glycogen rather than as fat.
Post refeeding days before turning to ketosis, follow intermittent fasting for swift transition.
Benefits of Cyclical Ketogenic Diet:
Improved gut microbiome
Strategically maintain leptin hormone level
Carbohydrate intake satisfaction
More lean muscle mass
Ketogenesis becomes significant under conditions of food (carbohydrate) deprivation. Provision of peripheral tissues, such as skeletal muscle and heart, with ketone bodies as an alternative fuel for energy production results in glucose sparing for organs depending on glucose as an energy source. The brain then can use ketones as well as glucose, and the red blood cells continue to use glucose. The enhanced gluconeogenesis associated with ketogenesis further eases the glucose need, thus potentiating the glucose-sparing effect.
The liver plays a central role in switching from a carbohydrate to a fatty acid-based metabolism such as occurs physiologically in fasting. Under normal dietary conditions, hepatic production of ketone bodies, acetoacetate, and D-3-hydroxybutyrate is minimal and the concentrations of these compounds in blood is low. However, during food deprivation the synthesis of ketone bodies is greatly enhanced, and the circulating concentration of ketone bodies can reach values of approximately 5 mM. Thus, liver responds uniquely by enhancing its capacity to convert incoming fatty acids into ketone bodies, which then serve as fuel for energy production in peripheral tissues and thus conserve glucose for the central nervous system and for erythrocytes.
What happens when we are on a keto diet?
We as humans have the capability to depend on alternative fuel sources for energy as a metabolic flexibility in case of famine. To transition from glucose utilization, the biggest challenge and first step is to bring your body in ketosis which should be done naturally. It’s a metabolic state in which the body fuel is sourced by burning fats by restricting dietary carbohydrates which indicates consuming enough fats and only 20-50 grams of carbs/day. This method will accelerate ketones production and minimize insulin with stabilization of glucose levels.
During the initial few weeks many common side-effects can also be seen like headaches, drowsiness and fatigue; which is popularly known as ‘Keto-flu’ which also indicates that the body has started transitioning into ketosis. This can be confirmed by testing ketone levels through urine, blood or breath.
In the Keto diet body’s energy fuel is switched to ketones instead of glucose. It’s important to do the Keto diet the right way else it can do more harm than good.
Ketones are produced as by-products when fatty acids are broken down for energy in the liver and kidney. They inhibit the release of insulin and stress hormones.
Optimal levels of Ketosis which means Nutritional Ketosis (KD): 0.5-3.0mM
Dangerous level of Ketoacidosis > 10mM
How to get into Ketosis Faster?
Track carbohydrate intake: 20-50 grams per day
Be careful of hidden carbs: it can be present in various sauces and dressings
Increase intake of high-quality fats: keep an aim of getting 70% of calories from fats everyday
Adapt Intermittent fasting: it helps in maintaining energy levels in transition phase
Include exercise routine: supports liver in ketone production and it also decreases glycogen stores.
Use a medium chain triglycerides (MCT) supplement: rapid absorbed fats
Test ketone levels regularly
Benefits of Nutritional Ketosis:
Blood sugar becomes stable
Hunger is calmed
Increases mitochondrial biogenesis which improves mitochondrial efficiency and also improves ATP production
Increases insulin and leptin sensitivity
Increases B-hydroxybutyrate (“superfuel”) thereby producing ATP energy more efficiently than glucose.
Improves PCOS concerns
Keto diet friendly foods
High-quality meats and fish (organic, pastured, wild-caught, and/or grass-fed)
Free-range, organic eggs
Organic low GI fruit and nut oils, like coconut, olive, and avocado oil
Full fat dairy products (only if tolerated)
Pastured animal fats
High amounts of fresh, low-carb vegetables
Risk of Nutritional Ketosis over time:
Excessive weight loss
Potential decreased bone density
Body receives insufficient nutrition for reproduction
The biggest problem with extreme diets like keto diets is their sustainability. People are initially thrilled with the weight loss and the excellent control over blood sugar that they achieve, but slowly boredom seeps in. they get, after using keto diets. Slowly, however, they get bored with the diet. Many may feel weak and frustrated and start increasing the carbohydrate intake, and soon they are back to their original weight and diabetes control.
Hence it's important to have a balance and interplay of nutrients, and there should be a representation of all food groups on the plate.
Precautions to be taken while on a keto diet
The keto diet is largely based on animal sources of fat & protein. It is important to ensure that the animal source is organic & grass fed.
Often the keto diet is mistaken for a diet high in protein. Make sure you are eating right during a keto diet.
Make an informed list of food items to be consumed. As many food options can be good sources but they can also be very high in carbohydrates.
Slowly increase your intake of good fats
Research well about side effect like Keto Flu and take informed steps
Consume adequate amount of electrolytes
Consider trying Keto diet under an expert to know if and when is this diet right for you
Keto, if done the right way, is effective. Here are some foods that you want to focus on:
1. Include good amounts of fresh, low-carb veggies: This is where you will get so many of your important micronutrients.
Eat vegetables that grow above the ground, such as broccoli, spinach, kale, cauliflower, zucchini, cabbage, mushrooms, all green leafy veggies.
Root vegetables tend to have more carbs, especially white potatoes and sweet potatoes.
2. Include high quality meats, which are pastured, wild-caught and/or grass-fed:
Wild-caught fish and pastured, wild-caught and/or grass-fed have higher amounts of omega 3s, lower amounts of omega 6s and antioxidants.
Avoid processed meats.
3.Eat small amounts of low-carb fruits, like strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries:
Avoid high-carb ones, like bananas and grapes and include low-carb berries, in moderation. They will give you the antioxidants and micronutrients that your body needs.
4. Eat natural, healthy fats:
These include delicious fruit and nut oils, pastured butters and ghee, coconut oil, and avocado.
It is important to choose organic, pastured, and grass-fed meat only.
A highly effective way of benefitting from a keto diet is to do cyclical keto. So, you do a ketogenic diet while also indulging in healthy nutrient dense carbs, improving gut bacteria, and improving athletic performance.
For Indians, its wise to have a diet with 30-35% complex carbohydrate, about 20-25% protein (preferably from vegetable proteins such as legumes and pulses) and the remaining 25-30 per cent from healthy fats along with plenty of green leafy vegetables. Such a diet will be sustainable in the long term, certainly more healthy and also help prevent non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
Practicing Intermittent fasting and Keto diet help to induce Nutritional Ketosis. It is important to do it the right way under the guidance of an expert for optimal health benefits.
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