Ketogenic Diet, switching to FATS as primary energy source
If you are into health & nutrition you have likely heard the term ketogenic diet. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to adapt the body to utilize fat as its primary fuel source instead of sugar. The body does this by first converting fat into what are called ketones that the cells can then burn as fuel. Is this a healthy diet option and what are "ketones"?
Biological Role of Ketones
Eating three meals per day for our ancestors was unusual. Ancient humans would hunt and forage for the foods they could find. If food was scarce, they wouldn’t eat.
Our ancestors often faced the possibilit of going without food for days. To sustain life during these times of scarcity, the body is thought to have developed the ability to store and utilize fat as an alternative fuel source.
In a traditional nutrition course, you would learn that sugar is the body’s primary fuel source while fat is a secondary fuel source. When sugar stores are burned up, the cells then convert to burning fat as an energy source. What we are finding out now is that fat can actually be a healthier and more sustainable source of energy.
Sugar sugar everywhere...
Modern man has an abundance of food that is available to us on impulse. Most people will regularly eat three meals a day with snacking in between
This kind of frequent eating, along with an overemphasis on carb-rich and sugary foods, causes a reduced ability to burn fat. As these foods damage our bodies on a metabolic level, we actually lose the ability to produce ketones.
This type of reliance on sugar creates massive blood sugar spikes, inflammation, hormone imbalance, and ultimately many of the chronic diseases that plague society today. By adopting a more ketogenic style of eating, we can reverse this damage and revert back to the efficient fat-burning machines as near to our bological forefathers as possible.
The Ketone advantage
The energy currency of the body, comes in the form of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). The mitochondria within every cell in the body either metabolize glucose or ketones to form this important energy molecule.
Based on what we understand of cellular energy metabolism, ketones are able to create much greater amounts of energy per molecule than glucose. This means when the body begins to convert fat into ketones, you actually have a much more stable and sustainable energy source.
At the same time, burning fat does not create the same insulin and blood sugar response that burning sugar does. This is part of the profound benefits of being in ketosis including, improved hormone balance, lowered inflammation and improved brain health.
Likewise, many people report feeling much more stable when they go into ketosis. Feeling less hungry, gaining control over cravings, and often experiencing a much more stable emotional state.
How The Body Gets Into Ketosis
As I mentioned already, the body will either burn sugar or fat for energy. Sugar is converted into glucose while fats are converted into ketones by the liver. When blood sugar drops and glycogen stores are burned up, the body begins to convert fat into ketones for energy.
As we find out more about the benefits of ketones, people are intentionally putting themselves into this state for therapeutic benefits as well as a heightened state of mental performance.
There are several ways to promote an increase in ketone bodies. The general strategy is to supply the body with ample fats while depleting blood glucose to signal the metabolic shift towards fat-burning. See the pie chart to analyse your Macronutirient percentages and use the nutrition guidelines on products and online calorie calculators to ensure you are keeping your dietry intake to similar values on the chart. Contact me if you need advice on how to do this.
You can also have blood work done to analyse in more detail your levels of ketogenic state.
Its possible after a change in your diet that you will not feel so great to start with as you enter a ketogenic state, after 2 to 3 weeks however you will start to feel the benefits.
Ketones are the body’s alternative fuel source to sugar. Derived from fatty acids, they provide a much more long-lasting and stable production of energy. In addition to providing stable energy, ketones also do not promote the inflammatory rise and fall of insulin as does sugar.
Modern dietary habits have altered our metabolism and made sugar our primary fuel source. By following a ketogenic style of eating, it is possible to reverse these metabolic defects and take advantage of the benefits that ketones have to offer for our brains and bodies!