When carbohydrate consumption is limited, your body has to use an alternate fuel source to keep your brain going. This is the general premise behind the ketogenic diet. “The ketogenic diet is a high fat diet with low carbohydrate and moderate protein content,” says Gabrielle Mancella, a Registered Dietitian with Orlando Health. “Carbohydrate is depleted to provide an alternative fuel source, known as ketones, to the brain. The body converts from burning carbohydrates to burning fats, known as ketosis.”
Thanks to a very-low carb eating plan, the keto diet is effective when it comes to quick weight loss and stabilizing blood sugar levels. However, carbs are not just pasta and bread, they are beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods contribute vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber to the diet that’s hard to get without them. If you’re planning on trying out the keto diet, focusing on plant-based fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut and olive oil will help to get some of the micronutrient losses back in.
Practicing intermittent fasting. This works wonders to help patients get into ketosis. Ideally, you’ll go 13.5–15 hours between dinner and breakfast to help your body find energy reserves beyond stored glucose. (Your body can only store reserves for about 24 hours, so if you are eating much less, intermittent fasting will allow you to drop your storage levels way down, requiring your body to burn fat instead.)
The keto diet has also been studied as a possible cancer therapy. In a study focusing on people with cancer who followed the ketogenic diet as a medical therapy,4 the authors reported: “There is a great need for complementary approaches that have limited patient toxicity while selectively enhancing therapy responses in cancer versus normal tissues.
When your brain uses ketones for fuel, you don’t experience the same energy slumps as you do when you’re eating a lot carbs. On keto, your brain won’t start to panic, wondering when it will get its next hit of energy. When your metabolism is in fat-burning mode, your body can simply tap into its readily available fat stores for energy. The result? No more energy crashes or brain fog.
Examples include non-starchy fruits and vegetables such as leafy greens, mushrooms, bell peppers, and berries. The trace minerals and vitamins found in grains can also be obtained at higher percentages in good-quality meats and dairy products. Moreover, compounds such as phytates and tannins in grains hinder the bioavailability of several minerals.13
"Many of the richest sources of fiber, like beans, fruit, and whole grains are restricted on the ketogenic diet," registered dietician Edwina Clark told Everyday Health. "As a result, ketogenic eaters miss out on the benefits of fiber-rich diet such as regular laxation and microbiome support. The microbiome has been implicated in everything from immune function to mental health."
It’s important we distinguish between the process of ketoacidosis seen in type 1 diabetes and this ketosis that so many people on the keto diet are striving for. If someone with diabetes lacks enough insulin and/or does not eat enough carbohydrates, they risk entering a state known as ketoacidosis. For those with uncontrolled diabetes, this can increase the levels of ketones in the blood, increasing the acidity of the blood, and potentially leading to a coma or even death. In ketosis for a healthy individual, the level of ketones in the blood never reaches these crazy high levels so it’s generally safe for the average healthy individual.
Cancer cells express an abnormal metabolism characterized by increased glucose consumption owing to genetic mutations and mitochondrial dysfunction. Previous studies indicate that unlike healthy tissues, cancer cells are unable to effectively use ketone bodies for energy. Furthermore, ketones inhibit the proliferation and viability of cultured tumor cells.
This is where dietary fats come into play: depleted glucose reserves leads to the production of ketone bodies that are used as an alternative energy source, especially by the central nervous system, including the brain which has high energy demands. In order to get enough fat and limit carbs, the keto diet includes plenty of foods like meats, eggs, oils, cheeses, fish, nuts, butter, seeds and fibrous vegetables.
"Muscle loss on the ketogenic diet is an ongoing area of research," Clark told Everyday Health. "Small studies suggest that people on the ketogenic diet lose muscle even when they continue resistance training. This may be related to the fact that protein alone is less effective for muscle building than protein and carbohydrates together after exercise."
Here’s the thing, the Keto diet can be executed in many different ways. The only requirement for achieving ketosis is to restrict carbs and limit protein so that the bodies glycogen reserves are depleted to the point that ketosis kicks in. If you do that by eating hot dogs and margarine then I agree with this claim, you are on a dangerous nutrient-deficient diet. However, if one chooses to achieve ketosis by eating fatty cuts of quality meat, dairy, nuts and plenty green leaves and fibrous vegetables-they are on a nutrient dense, complete diet.
Note: Because you'll be excluding some major food groups on the keto diet (grains, many fruits) you should definitely think about taking a multivitamin—especially one that contains folic acid, which helps your body make new cells and is often found in enriched breads, cereals, and other grain products, says Julie Upton, R.D., cofounder of nutrition website Appetite for Health.
Imagine your body is a home with a fireplace in the middle and the heat required to keep it at a comfortable\livable temp is keeping the fireplace burning at a manageable and constant pace. To do this you have two fuel-types at your disposal: Kerosene and Charcoal. (in this analogy Kerosene is carbohydrates and coal is fat). American diets are high in carbs, which is like throwing a bucket full of kerosene on that fire. Will it keep the house warm? Sure, but it burns down fast so you have to keep throwing bucket after bucket on it to keep it going, consuming tons of kerosene, and you get these huge spikes in heat. It is much harder to control the strength of the flame, and thus much harder to keep the house at a constant, comfortable temp.