What is Healthy Ketosis and Who Can Benefit?
Most of you have probably heard of the KETO diet, short for the Ketogenic diet, a dietary pattern and lifestyle characterized by low consumption of carbohydrates and high consumption of healthy dietary fat. KETO has been making headlines across many health forums due to its benefits and positive health outcomes for certain disease states. If you have pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer, PCOS, migraines, Alzheimers, Parkinson's or are wanting to lose weight, the KETO diet could be highly beneficial for you.
So what happens on KETO? By consuming high amounts of fat and very low carbs, the body goes into a state known as ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state that happens when you consume a low carb, high healthy fat, and moderate protein diet. It is a way of eating that causes your body to switch from using glucose (sugar) as its primary source of fuel to running off of ketones. So what are ketones? Ketones are produced when the body burns fat, and they are primarily used as an alternative fuel source in place of sugar. Your body changes from being a sugar-burner to a fat-burner! Once you transition your diet from the Standard American Diet to a KETO Diet, it can take the body a few days to a few weeks to become keto adapted. Once KETO adapted, the body burns stored fat for energy which not only promotes weight loss but also increases insulin sensitivity which can improve blood sugar and in some cases reverse pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Another huge benefit of ketosis for anyone with insulin resistance, pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes is that the body is using fat for fuel instead of sugar (glucose). Fat is a much more efficient fuel source for individuals with the aforementioned conditions because their cells are not resistant to fat as they are sugar for fuel. With insulin resistance, the cells cannot uptake glucose effectively for fuel because the cells are insulin resistant. Our cells cannot become resistant to ketones. So, the cells are well fed, so to speak, and complications associated with those conditions are reduced and/or healed. This is why ketosis improves outcomes and health status for individuals with Alzheimer's and dementia - because the brain is being fed by an alternate fuel source and insulin sensitivity is increased. Much more to come on insulin sensitivity and resistance in a future blog post!
A ketogenic way of eating combined with Intermittent fasting (I.F.) is a great way to improve your overall health, especially if you suffer from a chronic illness. I.F. is time restricted eating - restricting your daily caloric intake to a small window of time, and “fasting” for the rest of that time. There are many different schedules that could be implemented with I.F., the key is consuming your daily nutritional intake in a short timespan, consistently. I.F. allows insulin levels to lower which causes the body to burn stored energy (which can lead to weight loss and enable sustained weight loss). Then the body will start breaking down its own stored body fat for energy. This also enables autophagy, a process in which old or damaged cells are broken down or recycled in the body - an internal cleansing process. I.F. allows the body and the pancreas to rest, which again allows insulin levels to lower promoting insulin sensitivity. Insulin is also our fat storage hormone, so as we lower the level, the less fat we will store in our body and the less complications we have from elevated insulin levels.
To name a few of the benefits associated with this way of eating are stabilization of blood sugar levels, improved insulin sensitivity, use of stored body fat as fuel, appetite control and hunger control, regulation of hormones, lower blood pressure, lower levels of inflammation in the body, decreased mood swings, decreased depression and anxiety, weight loss, improved overall sense of well-being, improved immune system and improvements in blood work!
Stay tuned for future blog posts that will discuss more about the benefits of I.F., the risks associated with elevated insulin levels as well as more information about the KETO diet and allowable foods!