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How Does Ketogenic Diet Work?

What is  Ketogenic Diet? How does it work?


First, let’s look at what our body uses for energy.

We use for energy primarily dietary carbohydrates (pasta, rice, sugars) and/or fats (butter, fatty meats, oils, nuts).

Our body “habitually” uses dietary carbs and sugar as fuel as long as our regular diet provides large portion of our calories from these foods. Remember, carbs = sugar. That is because all dietary carbs we ingest are broken down in our liver into simple form of sugar, “glucose,” in order to serve as our fuel. Our body runs on “glucose metabolism,” as long as our diet is based on calories mostly coming from high carb foods -like Standard American Diet (SAD).  This means our liver produces simple form of sugar, the “glucose from ingested carbs and added sugars, which is burned by our body to satisfy our energy needs for our basal functions, food digestion (digestive work also needs energy, believe or not) and physical activity.

What happens when carbs and added sugars are in short supply?

When we “drastically” cut back on all high-glycemic carbs and all kinds of sugars –natural or processed, we purposely starve our body of sugar.

In the scarcity of  dietary carbs (i.e. sugar) for extended time, between four to seven days, our body starts out to shift from glucose metabolism (digestion of carbohydrates including sugars) into lipid metabolism (digestion of fats) in order to respond to its energy demand.

As the shift to the state of lipid metabolism starts, our liver begins to break down ingested dietary fats and our stored fats. This is the basis of “fat loss.”

Our body’s switch to lipid metabolism happens in response to our never ending energy demand. Well, to say the least, our heart, lungs, digestive tract, glands, muscles, all need to work; our cells need to multiply, grow and repair, … It is that simple; all this activity needs energy.

This metabolic state is basically the other way of our body to fuel our cells with the necessary ATP (adenosine triphosphate a.k.a. energy).

In the scarcity of other alternative calorie sources, our body intuitively goes after the stored fat. This is the basis offat loss.”


What is Ketogenic Diet? What is Ketosis?

The ketogenic diet (often termed keto) is a very low-carb, high-fat diet (LCHF) designed to put and keep our body in lipid metabolic state. The ketogenic diet necessitates drastic reduction of our carbohydrate intake and introduction of healthy/unprocessed/natural/whole fats in our diet as the main source of our calories. The natural result of LCHF diet is called the state of nutritional ketosis.

KETO Ketogenic-Diet-Pie-Chart
MyKetoPal’s 180 Food Plan focuses on Standard ketogenic diet (SKD), which is a very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat. 180 Food Plan recipes typically contain 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein and only 5 percent carbs.

Let’s remember, our body can not “directly” burn the stored or ingested fat as fuel without first converting them in our liver into ketoacids.

In the state of nutritional ketosis, our fat cells are induced to release stored fat. These released free fatty-acids get converted in our liver into ketoacids (most notably beta-hydroxybutyrate).

Ketoacids are small energy molecules broken down in the liver from long fatty acids stored in our fat cells. Ketoacids are great replacement for glucose to fuel our muscles, many key organs, and most importantly our brain.

Consumption of the ketogenic diet is characterized by elevated circulating levels of the ketone bodies or ketones (acetoacetate, β-hydroxybutyrate and acetone) produced largely by burning (oxidation) of ketoacids by our cells. Therefore ketones are the byproduct of partial oxidation of ketoacids as energy source. In the absence of glucose, the preferred source of energy (particularly of the brain), the ketoacids are used as fuel. Our brain actually function better on ketoacids.


Is Ketogenic Diet for everyone?

The ketogenic diet can be great for people who are overweight, and diabetic, for those who suffer from hypothyroidism, PCOS, and early stage of Alzheimer’s disease, or for those who are looking to improve their metabolic health. The low-carb ketogenic diet has also been found to be anti-inflammatory and reduces cardiovascular disease risk factors.

As with everything in life, ketogenic diet will only work exceptionally well if we are consistent and stick with the ketogenic lifestyle in the long-term.




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