Over the last few decades, the keto diet spawned thousands of ecstatic reviews, dietary supplements, and (what’s also important) scientific studies to confirm its safety and benefits.
Anyone can follow it, and anyone can achieve fabulous things thanks to its action.
Eager to join the club? The first step is to learn what the ketogenic diet is in the first place - and why it is so effective.
What is the keto diet?
Keto diet is short for ketogenic diet, a dietary term coined in 1924 by Dr Russel Wilder at the Mayo Clinic. Essentially, it’s a low-carb high-fat eating regime designed to put the human body into a state of ketosis, characterized by an elevated level of ketones (ketone bodies) in the blood.
This is achieved through a massive change in macronutrients intake:
The average healthy diet - 20-35% fats, 10-35% proteins, 45-65% carbohydrates
The ketogenic diet - 70% fats, 25% proteins, 5% carbohydrates
The crucial difference lays in the amount of consumed fats and carbohydrates. By cutting on the carbs, the body is forced to start transforming dietary and previously stored fats into ketones, special substances produced in the liver from fatty acids and used as a fuel when the conventional source of energy (carbohydrates, mainly glucose) become scarce or unavailable. They include 3 water-soluble biochemicals:
- β-hydroxybutyric acid (BHBA)
Essentially, ketosis is like a «plan B» to ensure survival: in the absence of carbs, the body shifts from a carb-fueled to a fat-fueled metabolism. Adaptation at its best.
Ketosis occurs naturally during fasting and extensive physical exercise, for instance, but why would anyone intentionally aim for it? Isn’t glucose alright as a source of energy?
Glucose vs Ketones
All of the processes in your body are fueled by the energy from burning a certain substrate. In the vast majority of cases, that’s glucose, the primary carbohydrate.
Now, that alone doesn’t make glucose a terrible thing: moderation is the real problem.
Excess glucose is deposited in the liver in form of glycogen - and all around in the form of body fat. That’s why more than two thirds of the US adult population has excess weight or obesity: most Americans have way too much carbs in their diet, especially the deadly added sugar.
There are other confirmed health risks associated with sugar consumption, besides excess weight and obesity:
- Increased cardiovascular risk
- Increased risk of developing diabetes
- Formation of unhealthy reward patterns in the brain, thus giving way to the consumption of MORE sugar
Long story short, when the body perceives glucose as the primary source of energy, it is prone to store the fats you eat - and all excess glucose as well. No surprise that shedding excess weight is so hard for some people out there: their body is just absolutely NOT motivated to use these deposits as a source of energy. Why would it, when there’s so much glucose available every single day?
Now imagine what happens when the body suddenly stops receiving glucose from one’s diet.
The choice is simple: either die from energy depletion - or find an alternative source of it. Luckily, the body has been storing this «source» for quite some time now: fat. The body starts transforming previously stored fats into ketone bodies to use them as a source of energy instead of glucose. It starts actively utilizing the fats present in the diet as well.
And oh the benefits you could reap from that. Here are a few of them:
- Ketones are considered a more efficient source of energy than glucose
- Ketone bodies enhance physical performance and body composition
- Studies indicate that the ketogenic diet is able to improve cognitive performance (memory, alertness, concentration) and fight back depression
- Low-carb eating regimes are effective in alleviating acne and other kinds of skin breakouts
- For people suffering from epilepsy, the ketogenic diet has been proven to be exceptionally effective even in those cases when heavy anti-epileptic drugs don’t do the trick
Diets come and go. Sometimes it looks as if some kind of REVOLUTIONARY and extremely EFFECTIVE eating regime emerges every single year - and the hype rages all around.
The ketogenic diet, however, is on a whole different level. Fasting diets have been around ever since ancient times and used to effectively improve all sorts of health conditions. The only difference between these fasting courses and the keto diet is that the first approach restricts ALL kinds of nutrients while keto cuts ONLY the carbs. All the benefits of heavy fasting - without the fasting itself.
Instead of starving the calories, we starve the carbs and keep a healthy abundance of proteins and fats, preserving (or even exceeding) the recommended calorie count.