The Keto Diet: What Is The Ketogenic Diet Anyway?

The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, and high-fat diet. On the diet, you’ll be focusing your macronutrient breakdown in a very specific way.

On this diet, you’ll be cutting out carbohydrates to a large degree and consuming lots of food high in fat with a moderate protein intake.

You’ll be cutting out the foods that are harder for your body to digest and are not the greatest for your health, such as sugar, sugary drinks, pasta, bread, candy, and more.

It’s recommended to consume no more than 50 grams of carbs per day because right now, your body’s energy source is what’s derived from carbohydrates, and that is glucose. 

When your body gets depleted of these energy stores, it enters into a state of ketosis, where it starts to produce a different energy source called ketones for energy. 

This is a fat-burning state where you get your energy from your fat stores and dietary fat. This is why the ketogenic diet is the most popular diet for weight loss. 

Related: What Ketosis Level Is Best For Losing Weight?

Some people use it short-term to hit their weight loss goals, while others stay on it for life because they have made a lifestyle change and love its health benefits.

What Does The Keto Diet Help With?

The biggest reason people get on the ketogenic diet is to lose weight, but studies have shown that the ketogenic diet has so many more health benefits.

Weight Loss

In order to answer how the ketogenic diet has helped in weight loss, we have to understand what the ketogenic diet is. 

The ketogenic diet is a very low carb, high fat, and moderate protein diet.

The goal of the keto diet is to induce nutritional ketosis, which for our use would be 70-75% of calories derived from fats, 5% from protein, and 5-10% on carbohydrates. 

To get into nutritional ketosis, the body must first go through a process called gluconeogenesis which means “making new glucose.” 

The removal of carbs is what makes this type of eating plan so effective. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in the body. 

Insulin is a storage hormone, it wants to store any excess energy that you take in. So when you remove carbs from your diet and start restricting your calories, one of two things will happen. 

Either your body will burn the remaining carbs that are left in your diet, or it will start burning fat to gain that needed energy.

When this happens, the body is in ketosis. The body is burning fat, keeps in stored energy, and is able to continue burning fat without losing muscle.

Neurological Conditions

Originally, the keto diet was a way for doctors to control epilepsy. (1)

Scientists discovered that when patients lost their carb intake, they had much less seizure activity. This observation led to the idea that the keto diet could be used for people with other neurological conditions.

Keto has also been shown to help heart disease by lowering high triglycerides. Elevated triglycerides are associated with atherosclerosis, which is the breakdown and clogging of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. (2)

The ketogenic diet helps by reducing triglyceride levels within cells and soft tissues of your body.

Researchers have also shown that people on keto diets reduce their risk of degenerative disease. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, and ALS all found that people on the ketogenic diet lowered their risk of getting the diseases. (3)

This is because when the cells produce energy, they begin breaking down the proteins in your body. When proteins are broken down in a cell, they can be toxic. 

When these toxic byproducts enter the bloodstream and are excreted, they then travel through our lymphatic system. 

Researchers found that when people with neurodegenerative diseases followed ketogenic diets, they had fewer toxic metabolites in their lymphatic system. The ketogenic diet could provide a way to control the symptoms of these diseases.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is a general term for disorders that involve the heart and can include coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and cardiomyopathy. 

In healthy adults, a healthy heart is largely controlled by the autonomic nervous system and endocrine system. Heart disease can also be caused by disorders of the heart muscle.

This means that damage to the heart muscle can occur as a result of a number of factors, including physical trauma, infections, and inflammation.

The ketogenic diet can help with heart disease by lowering the levels of cholesterol in the blood and triglycerides while also helping to heal and regenerate cardiac tissue. (4)

Related: Keto And Heart Disease: Is The Diet Bad For Your Heart?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome, often abbreviated PCOS, is a hormonal disorder that causes a woman to produce abnormally high levels of hormones. 

The ovaries produce multiple (sometimes as many as 20-30) small cysts that contain immature eggs. 

Women with PCOS are at an increased risk of gaining weight and developing Type 2 diabetes because their high hormone levels can reduce insulin sensitivity and cause them to store sugar more easily in between meals. 

The ketogenic diet can help PCOS in a number of ways by protecting women from developing diabetes, lower blood pressure, and improve symptoms of depression.

By aiding the body to produce less circulating insulin, it would be easier for women with PCOS to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight without needing to worry about rising blood sugar levels.

Cancer

Cancer is a natural process that the body uses to destroy cells that are not functioning properly. These are usually cells in the body that are no longer needed due to injury or aging.

The body has several methods of detecting and eliminating these abnormal cells, including cancerous tumors. There is also another type of tissue cell called a stem cell, which plays a role in repairing and maintaining healthy tissues.

The ketogenic diet helps with cancer in a variety of ways. (5) More specifically, it helps in two ways:

The keto slows down the growth rate of cancer cells through increased mitochondrial metabolism. 

This type of metabolic process creates more energy for the body’s cells so that they can do what they need to instead of using up all available energy on cell division and growth. 

This results in less consumption of glucose and fatty acids from body tissues, which ultimately leads to lower levels of circulating blood lipids and esterified cholesterol.

Studies have shown that people on the ketogenic diet have decreased levels of amino acid homocysteine (as well as its precursor MTHF), leading to decreased levels of tumor regrowth after chemotherapy treatment. (6)

This is one of the very important reasons why the ketogenic diet can be used as a cancer treatment in conjunction with conventional methods, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Diabetes

Diabetes consists of two main things, elevated blood sugar levels, and insulin resistance. 

Elevated blood sugar levels occur when the body becomes unable to properly use glucose for fuel, which can result in diabetes. 

Insulin resistance is the body’s inability to process insulin, which can also lead to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

The ketogenic diet can help to control blood sugar and insulin levels by providing the body with an alternative fuel source, which in turn helps to regulate these levels. 

By consuming a low-carb, high-fat diet, it also promotes weight loss, which further helps to reduce the risk factors for diabetes and other related illnesses.

Summary

Practicing the ketogenic diet does not have to be difficult. It can be as easy as eating, drinking, and lowering your carbohydrates. 

Exercise is all about burning calories, so if you are trying to lose weight, then that should be your goal. If you want to gain muscle on the ketogenic diet, then the diet will change slightly.

The very high-fat content of the diet makes it a very effective way to burn stored fat, allowing the body to burn about 2-3 times the number of calories while on a ketogenic diet compared to a low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet. 

This is because ketones are a much easier and cheaper source of fuel for your body than glucose.

Check with your doctor to make sure the ketogenic diet is right for you. They have your medical history and will take that into consideration or monitor you closely to make sure it’s safe.

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