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You have been living under a rock or are not into the current fitness culture if you have not heard the term, keto. It is short for ketogenic which refers to a type of diet that is beginning to be used as a weight loss diet plan.

The ketogenic diet was originally designed, and in some cases is still used, to treat children with epilepsy. However, it did not take long to begin to see the positive impacts it could have in other areas.

What is Ketogenic diet?

The basis of the ketogenic diet is very low carbohydrate and high fat intake. This method of eating eventually puts the body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is what happens when you deprive your body of glycogen stores, the body’s primary source of energy. It begins to rely on other sources for energy, in this case fat. Fat is then converted to ketones in the body. When ketones are present in your blood or urine through tests you know that your body has entered ketosis. Optimal ketone level for ketosis is between 1.5 and 3 mmol/L.

Ketogenic Diet and Obesity

While the Ketogenic Diet has many potential benefits, the most popular reason as of late to turn to this method of eating is to lose weight. Whereas there are various reasons for the efficiency of the Ketogenic Diet in weight loss one study explains four primary reasons that it is as effective as it is in weight loss.

  • Appetite is reduced due to satiety from increased fat and protein intake. Carbohydrates are generally burned quickly leading to a quick returning hunger.
  • Ketone bodies may also play a role in appetite suppression as they may be natural appetite suppressants.
  • Lipogenesis is replaced with lipolysis. Lipogenesis is fat storage whereas lipolysis is fat breakdown. Since your glycogen stores are depleted the body is relying on stored fat for fuel, therefore you are not storing fat as quickly and are burning it more efficiently.
  • When it comes to metabolism there is a portion referred to as thermic effect of food (TEF). This is the energy that is used in the process of simply digesting foods. When proteins are ingested at a higher rate this TEF is increased. Gluconeogenesis, the creation of glucose from non-glucose sources, will also increase metabolic expense to a degree. Both of these lead to a higher rate of metabolism and eventually increased weight loss.

Mood and Mental Clarity

Many individuals on the Ketogenic Diet find that their mood and mental focus is sharper and less foggy. It is thought that this is due to the fact that carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, the normal source of energy for the body and mind, is associated with spikes and drops, while ketones are more consistent. Ketones do not result in rises and falls like carbs and therefore the brain should not experience a rapid drop or spike which can lead to a foggy mind and moodiness.

The Ketogenic Diet is showing promise in the areas of schizophrenia, bi-polar, depression, anxiety, and autism spectrum disorder. One 90-day study in 2009 looked at 152 Alzheimer’s patients and tested the effectiveness of MCT oil showed significant improvement in symptoms. This is an encouraging finding for the Ketogenic Diet as the higher rate of fat intake and reduction in carbohydrates may lead to this result.

Cancer

For years it has been thought that cancer cells will feed off sugar, which is a form of carbohydrate. Cancer cells are unable to feed off ketones in the body for growth and multiplication. The Ketogenic Diet makes not claim in curing cancer, but it can aid in preventing or reducing its occurrence.

Inflammation

Chronic illness and diseases are strongly associated with chronic inflammation in the body. This inflammation has many causes, but a diet rich in refined carbohydrates is a primary cause. Processed and refined foods are hard on the body and digestive system and result in putting the body in an inflammatory state. When good quality fats are substituted for these poor-quality carbohydrates inflammation is reduced.

This reduction in inflammation can lead to a reduction in chronic disease. There are three ketone bodies, and all are present to some degree when the body enters ketosis. However, beta-hydroxybutyrate has an anti-inflammatory effect. It blocks NLRP3 inflammasome, which is an immune receptor that is linked to inflammation. While it is important for this receptor to respond to threats it is often overstimulated by the presence of too much glucose. Therefore, the Ketogenic Diet not only reduces glucose, but also blocks this receptor, two mechanisms that efficiently reduce inflammation.

Conclusion

Whether you are seeking to drop weight, reduce inflammation, or get some mental clarity the Ketogenic Diet could be the right method for you. If you are considering the Ketogenic Diet speak to your healthcare provider to discuss if it is a safe approach for you.