Fad Diet or Game Changer?
It seems to be a daily occurance that some new diet pops into the spot light and is said to be the best one, the healthiest one or the best for weight loss. Vegan, Carnivore, Paleo, Keto; all diets have good points (except carnivore, that's just uneducated confirmation biased ridiculousness) and all have some down sides. It needs to be said that THERE IS NOT ANY ONE DIET FOR EVERYONE.
In some ways, Keto is a fad way of saying Mediterranean Diet; lots of healthy fats, fish, meats and not many processed or starchy carbohydrates. As a society we seem to get caught up in tribe mentality of a diet and this then leads to veganism, cheese wraps and bacon everything!
To keep it as simple as possible; ketones are chemicals that are produced naturally by your liver and used by the body as an alternative fuel source to glucose.
There are three ketone types that are referred to as Ketone Bodies. Acetoacetate is the first ketone body created and its role is to break down fat. This process then leads to the formation of the Beta-Hydroxybutyric Acid (BHB) and the by-product Acetone.
Ketone production is stimulated when the body doesn't have enough insulin to convert glucose into energy. Dietary fat and fat stores are then used as an alternative source of energy. This process takes place in the liver where fats are broken down, metabolised and converted into ketones. They are then sent into the bloodstream to fuel muscles and other tissues around the body.
Ketosis is essentially the metabolic state by which your body is efficiently using fat (ketones) as its primary fuel source.
Ketosis is achieved when your body doesn't have enough glucose (carbohydrates) available to use as fuel. From here, blood sugar and insulin levels decrease and the body starts to search for an alternative source of fuel. This period is sometimes referred to as the Keto Flu and essentially leaves you feeling like you have been hit by a metaphorical bus! You can become hangry, tired, foggy and cranky until your body makes that switch and starts to become, what some describe as, a fat burning machine (fat adapted).
Once the body discovers the alternative fuel source (fat), it starts to break it down. This process is called beta-oxidation and increases your levels of acetyl-CoA. This then converts to acetoacetate (first ketone body) and the state of ketosis begins. BHB enters the blood stream and then you start to feel the amazing benefits of ketosis.
In short, Keto is a low carbohydrate and high fat (LCHF). This means that if your daily food intake is in the form of a pie chart then the fat intact needs to be higher, protein needs to be moderate to high and the carb needs to be low. There are many different types of the keto diet and this is purely because EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.
So what fuels Keto? Technically the absense of glucose does but in this case, Fat does! but not all fats were created equally.
Fat is an essentail part of any diet, it is involved in the production of hormones, the signals between cells, the lining of cells, the tissue of the brain and many many other functions through the body. Many people seems to think that keto means eating as much bacon, beef and salmon as possible and as much as these foods play a vital role in a sustainable ketone producing diet, they are not at the top.
Types of fats?
Possible Health Benefits of Saturated Fats:
- Improved HDL and LDL cholesterol levels
- Improved ratio of HDL to LDL
- Maintenance of bone density
- Support in creation of important hormones like cortisol and testosterone
- Boosting of immune system health
- Raising of HDL cholesterol in the blood to prevent the buildup of LDL in arteries
- Grass Fed/Finished Butter (Ethically Rasied)
- Grass Fed/Finished Red Meat (Ethically Rasied)
- Coconut Cream
- Coconut Oil
- Free Range Eggs
- Cocao butter
- MCT Oil
Possible Health Benefits of Monounsaturated Fats (MUFAS):
- Reduced insulin resistance
- Increased HDL cholesterol
- Lowered risk for heart disease
- Lowered blood pressure
- Reduced belly fat
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Avocados and Avocado Oil
- Animal Fats
Possible Health Benefits of Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFAS - Omegas):
- Decreased risk of Heart disease
- Decreased risk of Stroke
- Suppression of autoimmune disorders and other inflammatory diseases
- Reduced Inflammation
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fatty fish and Fish Oil/Krill Oil
- Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil
- Chia Seeds and Chia Seed Oil
- Nut and Nut Oil/Butter
- Hemp Seeds and Hemp Seed Oil
Naturally Occurring Trans Fats - Vaccenic acid
Possible Health Benefits of Vaccenic Acid:
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Possible protection of cancer
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Decreaed risk of obesisty
- Grass Fed Dairy
- Grass Fed/Finished Animal Products
- Grass Fed Butter
What are the benefits of ketosis?
All up, Keto is a great base. I think it is a great way to reset the body, stabilise blood sugar, insulin and teaches you to not be controlled by hunger! Keto is freedom and gives you an alternative to a much to prevelent glucose fuel source. Once ketosis is established, then I believe a cyclic keto diet is much more sustinable. This is the process by being in ketosis for the majority of the day and then having a carbohydrate refeed in the evening. This has been shown to be exceptionally viable for endurance athletes and heavy lifters who may need that complex carbohydrate meal at the end of their day.