As I have mentioned in a prior post, I have been participating in the Ketogenic life style for 9 months now. I started this journey in the mid-month of June 2017. The person responsible for my involvement in Keto is a buddy of mine, Jake Cofield “The Keto Nurse” (I encourage you to check out and follow Jake and see his amazing results and keto post). When Jake and I first met we were on an assignment together in the deep south. I am sure between the both of us, we pretty much tested the waters of quite a few fad diets in our time. None, of which had long lasting results. Jake being more of a mix between a Mesomorph/ Endomorph, where I am more of a mix between Ectomorph/ Endomorph, giving us (I believe) mixed views to what was best way to lose weight, remain healthy and most of all retain muscle mass. After splitting ways once our contracts ended and taking on different assignment locations elsewhere, one day out of the blue Jake got in contact with me. He wanted to let me know of this awesome and proven weight loss diet or life style he was experiencing called the Ketogenic Diet. Of course, skeptical and thinking he has run upon a new fad diet, I decided to take what he told me and do my own internet diving and YouTube searching regarding the Keto diet (don’t laugh you do it too). Low and behold after much reading and clinical studies read, I was ready. Since June I have lost 24 pounds and most of all kept it off. In November of 2017 I got down to 173 pounds and felt that I was losing weight at an unacceptable rate. Therefore, I decided to modify my diet for a short time to help put on a little more weight and focus on muscle gains during this phase. I will explain this modification in a later post. But for now, let’s get to the meat of the Post.
The Ketogenic Diet is the nutritional consumption of foods mostly comprised of fat. Your daily macros are divided up into the following percentage: 70-75% Fat, 20-25% Protein, and 5-10% Carbohydrates. Now, the breakdown of macros can be split up a little differently depending the therapy at hand, but for the more practical weight loss purpose this is the standard. The basic idea or principle here is to convert your body from being primarily sugar burning for energy to ketone burning for energy. The analogy thrown around a lot for this is the equivalent of going from a gas burning car to more of an electric burning car such as the Tesla.
So how does this work? In a prior post I spoke a little about insulin and its job within the body. Just a little refresher, insulin is the hormone that regulates the blood sugar within our body. When the blood sugar becomes high from the foods that we eat the Beta cells of the pancreas goes to work and signal for the production and secretion of insulin into the blood stream to combat this current problem at hand. In order to get the glucose/sugar levels back to a tolerable level the insulin signals the cells of the body to absorb glucose from the blood. Therefore, insulin will unlock these cells primarily of the liver and muscles and start packing them with this excess glucose along with other things (in which I will cover in a later post). But for the purpose of this post we are focused on the glucose/sugar. Throughout the day the cells of the liver and muscle will store and release glucose or glycogen for the bodies need, keeping homeostasis of the glucose level within the blood. The liver which is an insulin-guided organ plus the muscle cells will take the glucose from the blood and go into a process of glycogenesis. This process will package this glucose and store it in the form of glycogen, basically becoming a warehouse for excess glucose. The cells of the liver and muscle will use the glycogen in times of low blood sugar within the blood, which does occur during fasting, exercise or the lack of future carb consumption. When the blood glucose/sugar drops below an acceptable level in the blood the pancreas by way of the alpha cells will produce a peptide hormone called glucagon. It will enter the blood stream telling the liver (first) to raise the level of the blood glucose and convert the glycogen to glucose and secondly the muscle cells will follow suit if needed. Once the liver and muscles cells receive this signal they will liquidate or release its assets from storage back into the blood, a process known as glycogenolysis. So, what happens if the liver and muscle cells become full? The insulin will then unlock the fats cells for storage. Much like your garbage bag in the kitchen, once it is packed and full you need to get another bag out for the remaining trash. The fat cells are no different regarding storage. Once full, more fat cells are made to handle the load. Please understand that once the body reaches this point of storage you must deplete the Liver and muscle storage of glycogen first before you can withdrawal fat as a source of energy. As long as you are producing insulin you will never use fat as energy as insulin prevents the utilization of fat. Think about it, insulin is the key which opens the cells for storage, right? So, if you are producing insulin you are in storage mode not burning mode. What about type II diabetics? Wow, they are in double trouble, right? Once the production of insulin decreases or the cells of the body become insulin resistant, the pancreas continues to be signaled to produce more and more insulin to try and combat the glucose crisis.
Now what is the deal with Keto? Keto for short is the state of Ketosis. This is when the utilization of glycogen from the liver and muscles have been depleted and used for energy. Now the body needs to go into its next level of storage for energy, which is the fat storage. In order for the body to use its fat for energy it needs to be broken down first into glycerol and fatty acids a process known as lipolysis. Once broken down into the blood and making its way to the liver for conversion into what is known as ketone bodies. There are three ketone bodies produced by the liver. The three ketone bodies are Acetoacetate, β-Hydroxybutyrate and Acetone. This of course is the nut shell version of the breakdown process but good enough for now just to get my point across. Once you get into the state of ketosis you are fully using fat for energy. Not to say your body does not have any insulin or carbs floating around because it does. The body, especially the brain does need some level of glucose to correctly function therefore, the body will find ways of producing what it needs. Outside of weight loss you are probably asking, how else does this benefit the body? Well, I just list a few things for you:
*Originally designed for Epilepsy
*High Blood Pressure
*Type II Diabetes/High Blood sugars
*Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Also, people have experienced better brain function and cognition. Increase energy levels and an improved body composition.
Now with all that said, this diet although good for those who want to lose weight and enjoy the food that they eat, this diet is not tailored for everyone. Those who are type 1 diabetics for example should not participate in this practice. Those who have minimal body fat and those who are looking to pack on large amounts of muscle mass, this may not a diet for you either.
Of course, there is a lot more to the diet than what is mentioned. It is a complex process that your body needs to go through and it is not an easy conversion for many. This process of change can take anywhere from 3-10 days on average. Most will experience what is known as the Keto Flu. This is when the body is actually making needed changes to begin the conversion from glucose to ketones. Unfortunately, the body will flush a lot of fluid in the beginning consequently depleting or unbalancing the electrolytes within the body. Therefore, electrolyte replacement and hydration are a must. There is thing you can do to combat the Keto Flu symptoms which I can follow up with if you are interested in later post. Keep in mind there are many resources you can read online and videos to watch that can help you with this diet. My favorite sources are once again Jake Cofield “the keto Nurse”, Thomas Delauer, Dr. Eric Berg, Jason Whitrock, Goody Beats, and high intensity health just to name a few.
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