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Nutritional Science Series 3: What is Keto?

I had a good chuckle the other day after seeing this meme and thinking about the heroic elevation of the humble cauliflower. From a soggily boiled vegetable only considered edible if doused in cheese sauce, it has rapidly podiumed to one of the most versatile, low carbohydrate ‘must haves’ that feature in everything from low carbohydrate pizza bases to chocolate mousse and even ‘bread’ replacements.

The cauli stardom can largely be attributed to the exploding popularity of low carbohydrate, high fat (LCHF) diets, banting and ketogenic programmes. The proven benefits of a keto lifestyle range from mental alertness to increased ability to burn fat, reduced inflammation, weight loss and chronic illness management.

To many, keto is merely about increasing fat consumption and reducing carbohydrate intake at all and any cost. But this can be problematic as it misses the bigger picture of the essence of a ketogenic lifestyle and ensuring application to the uniqueness of your body. A well designed ketogenic diet is critical.

Keto is a loose term which has come to collectively reference a multitude of very low carb diets. The only real common denominator amongst these ‘keto’ approaches is in fact that they all reference a low carbohydrate intake. But how low is low?

The term ‘low carbohydrate’ can vary from ingesting as little as 10-20 grams of carbohydrates per day whilst some programmes allow for 50 grams (and in some cases more) per day.

KETOSIS How It Works Info graphic (1)

Either way, the key to successful keto programmes is to reduce carb intake to low enough that the body needs to switch from running on glucose provided by carbs, to finding alternative energy sources. These alternative energy sources come from burning fat which makes a substance in the liver called ketones. Most of the body can use and tap into fat stores efficiently when in a carbohydrate-reduced state, however the brain is 1 organ that cannot use fat efficiently… but it can use ketones and it uses them well! Ketones burn like glucose in the body and this is particularly important for the brain as this organ burns 20 – 25% of the calories we consume!

This is the reason that one of the most frequently cited benefits of ketosis and a ketogenic lifestyle, is the positive impact on cognition, neuronal function, mental clarity and memory. The brain has an exceptionally positive response to accept and utilise ketone bodies for functioning.

Other benefits of ketosis include:

  • Appetite reduction
  • Fat loss- specifically from the abdominal area
  • Reduced blood sugar and insulin sensitivity
  • Effective against metabolic syndrome
  • Increased levels of ‘good HDL’ cholesterol
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Increased energy and physical performance
The beneficial effects of ketosis are overwhelming but as with all approaches at Made To Thrive, it is important to be mindful of the uniqueness of each of our bodies. During a detailed consultation process, we will partner with you to understand all your body’s markers in order to ensure maximum success of the programme against your specific goals. We also monitor your body’s feedback to ensure that the application of a ketogenic programme is unique and targeted for you.
  • How do you feel on keto? Your general well being, stomach function and sleep patterns?
  • What happens to your body composition on the diet?
  • What happens to your blood markers?

In the upcoming blogs, we will discuss how to start a keto diet and reset your body to ensure it is receptive and able for this transition from a carb dependent state to one of being fat and keto adapted. Join us on this journey!

Keto images referenced are courtesy of Dr. David Jockers ( DNM, DC, MS ) who is a doctor of natural medicine, functional nutritionist and corrective care chiropractor. DrJockers.com

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