Keto friendly foods are quickly gaining popularity on the Whole Foods shelves. At face value this may seem like any other carb restrictive diet but research is showing effects that go beyond shedding a few pounds. The effects of the low carb higher fat diet can be traced back to 5th century BC. In the time of Hippocrates, it was observed that fasting was an effective treatment for the treatment of epilepsy. Epileptic patients that went a few days without food or water demonstrated significant increase in production of ketone bodies and could significantly diminish frequency of seizures.
Building on those previous findings it was later observed that the absence of carbohydrates in the presence of food consumption (not fasted) mimicked the physiological state (increased ketone bodies) of the fasted individual. From there, we realized ketosis could be achieved by altering the diet and thus “The Ketogenic Diet” was born.
Now before you jump on the bandwagon, let’s go over the basic information required to achieve a state of ketosis.
Remember, the goal of Ketosis is to minimize energy from carbohydrates and shift the body to using fat as its main fuel source. When carbs are readily available in the body glucose (sugar or your morning donut) is used as the primary fuel source. This available glucose is what the body would use initially at the beginning of a race during a heavy lift or if you’re just trying to chase your child that out into the middle of the street. Most people don’t achieve ketosis due to a constant carb supply in the body therefore, minimizing number of substrates available from carbs will allow for fat to be used as alternate fuel.
High Fat Low Carb
Switching our fuel source to fat is very difficult and requires a well formulated diet. A diet aiming to achieve ketosis is typically very high in fat (approx. 65%) and low carbs (5-10%).
Time to Ketosis
Like anything else in life ketosis doesn’t happen overnight. Studies have shown significant increase in ketone bodies within 6 weeks. Data collected in elite athletes has also shown adaptations occurring up to a year after initiation. This is important and can play a role in performance. Because we are asking the body to completely transition to the use of fats initially this may negatively affect our performance.
The Production of ketones
Ketones are produced by the liver when fats are metabolized. The three types of ketones produced are:
- Acetoacetate (AcAc)
- Betahydroxybutryate (BHB)
Like we mentioned achieving ketosis requires strict dieting. You don’t get to eat fat all day long. Think of this, how many times have you sat and polished off an entire bag of almonds? Seemed harmless but if you look closely at the caloric content you can see a little goes a long way. For purposes of ketosis its recommended you track your macronutrients and make sure your consuming enough protein to avoid malnutrition and adequate ratios of fat and carb. Generally, ketosis is attained when ketone concentrations exceed 0.5mm/L. To determine these levels, it is necessary to
test for ketone bodies using a urine strip, finger prick (blood) and breath meter (testing acetone).
Keto for Weight loss
Several studies have consistently shown better weight loss when compared to those on a low-fat diet. Although these studies often used slightly higher protein consumption, results could be due to greater adherence because of improved satiation with higher fat consumption. In conjunction with resistance training, a keto diet has shown up to a nine-pound loss of body fat.
Keto and Decreased Performance
We wouldn’t ask southpaw Clayton Kershaw to switch pitching hands mid-season without some sort of decline in performance. Similarly, we can’t expect leveled performance when our body is changing to an entirely new fuel source. It has been observed that following a decline in performance I takes around 6 weeks for these losses to return to baseline. For this reason, it may be wise to time a ketogenic diet so that it doesn’t overlap with a time of competition.
Keto research is ongoing and new applications are being examined. Some of the therapeutic applications being investigated include:
- Chronn’s Disease
A Taste of Keto
Fall is just around the corner, here is a recipe taken from Amy Ramos’s “Easy Ketogenic Diet Slow Cooking” to give you a little taste of keto!
Pumpkin Nutmeg Pudding
¼ cup melted butter divided
2 ½ cups canned pumpkin puree
2 cups coconut milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup almond flour
½ cup granulated erythritol
2 ounces protein powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
- Lightly grease the insert of the slow cooker with 1 tablespoon of butter.
- In large bowl, whisk together the remaining butter, pumpkin, coconut milk, eggs, and vanilla until blended.
- In a small bowl, stir together the almond flour, erythritol, protein powder, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
- Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir to combine.
- Pour the mixture into insert
- Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours.
- Serve warm.
Per serving: CALORIES:265 TOTAL FAT:22G PROTEIN:13G TOTAL CARBS:8G
Wilson, J. and Lowery, R. (n.d.). The ketogenic bible.
Phinney, S. D., E. S. Horton, E. A. H. Sims, J. S. Hanson, and E. Danforth, Jr. “Capacity of moderate exercise in obese subjects after adaptation to a hypocaloric, ketogenic diet.” Journal of Clinical Investigation 66 (1980):1152-61. Doi:10.1172/JCI109945
Veech, R. L. “The therapeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: ketosis, ketogenic diet, , redox states, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism.” Prostaglandis, Luokrotienes and Essential Fatty Acids 70, no. 3 (2004):309-19. Doi:10.1080/17461391.2014.959564