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To Keto Diet or Not to Keto Diet – What’s the Story?
By Dr. Chrystyne Olivieri February 2019
Seems like everything you read now talks about how a “Low Carbohydrate Diet” is the way to health. I have to say I agree with the use of a diet low in sugars and high glycemic index carbohydrates (bread, pasta, cereals, cookies, cake, muffins, pretzels, rice, corn, oats, white potatoes) as this fits the criteria of The Paleo Diet. But what about really lowering your intake of carbohydrates and going into Ketosis?
The human body is capable of using two different fuel sources to provide energy. We are like a hybrid engine using either gas or electricity. Since we are “Omnivores” (we eat both plants and animal protein), we have evolved the ability to switch between burning sugar or fat to fuel our bodies. Ketosis simply means that your body is burning mainly fats, not sugar.
However, since the body will use either fuel, the only way to really get your body in fat metabolism is to deny it the sugar to burn. Sugar, or glucose, is an easier and much smaller molecule to burn for energy. The main problem with using this as your main fuel source is that you will not burn fat and your insulin levels will be elevated. Those who eat a diet high in sugar and grains/starches life in constantly high insulin levels. This sets you up for weight gain. You cannot burn body fat when your insulin levels are elevated. You must strictly avoid all sugars and carbohydrates to burn body fat and lose weight.
There is a lot of evidence that eating a low carb diet and even a keto diet will improve your health. Much research into an Ancestral Diet has shown that it will improve many common, chronic diseases like:
· Type 2 Diabetes
· Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
· Cardiovascular Disease (Heart Attack and Stroke risk)
· Crohn’s Disease
· Cardiac Arrhythmias
This research has shown this can occur rather quickly after starting to eat a diet low in
sugars and carbohydrates. How strict you follow the protocols will determine how well you do to improve your health.
Overall, to get your body into fat metabolism, you must become “fat adapted”. That means that your diet will provide very little carbohydrates (about 5-10% of daily foods), medium protein (20-30%) and very high fat intake (>60%). You can track these percentages through many phone apps available. The benefits of a Keto Diet include:
· Reducing internal inflammation
· Improved body fat loss
· Mental clarity
· Clear skin
· Reduced food cravings
· Anti-aging effects
· Improved daily energy levels
· Reduced risk of chronic disease
· Better sleep
You can measure ketones in your urine by using “Keto Sticks” available in every drug
store. If the tab turns lavender, you are burning body fat for energy. If it turns purple, you are really doing well!! But this is not as easy as it seems. You have to be pretty strict with your diet to get into and stay in ketosis.
Ketosis is NOT the same as “ketoacidosis”, which is a dangerous metabolic condition in which the body does not have ANY insulin. We see this in people with undiagnosed Type 1 Diabetes. On the contrary, ketosis means low insulin levels, not NO insulin level. Ketosis is a very healthy metabolic state which burns body fat and produces ketones in the absence of glucose. Ketones are actually a better source of fuel for the brain than glucose. Based on human evolution, ketones were probably the MAIN source of fuel for much of the year for quite a few human beings throughout our time on Earth. Starvation and near starvation were not an uncommon scenario for many people. Finding sugars and carbohydrates was also uncommon and usually only occurred when fruit was in season.
Ketones are a very acceptable alternative fuel source to run our bodies. We can cycle in and out of ketosis by occasionally eating some starch and fruit to balance our weight loss. However, the best way to weight loss always was and always will be to switch our bodies to fat metabolism by avoiding periods of excess sugar and carbohydrate intake.
If you are using insulin injections or certain kinds of blood sugar lowering medications, you MUST check with your Certified Diabetes Educator so they can help you to transition to a diet low in sugars and carbohydrates. This type of a dietary shift will usually necessitate LESS medications. But after all, it’s that the point?