The Optimization and Science of the Ketogenic Diet

The Optimization and Science of the Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet has been creating quite the buzz in pop culture recently. It seems to be the next biggest bio-hacking fad diet that promises everything from weight loss to mental clarity to self actualization. Bodybuilders seem to love the diet because they can eat all the bacon, steak, and ground beef they wish. Or can they? Are all ways of doing the ketogenic diet healthy, or are some ways better than others? For the sake of clarity, I’m going to cover what a ketone is, the health benefits shown in the scientific literature, common pitfalls when following the common ketogenic diet, and supplementation to maximize results.

 

  1. What is a ketone?
Our bodies are built to be extremely versatile: geared to survive famine and rapidly changing food supplies, all while keeping up with our demands of daily life. For the vast majority of human history, there wasn’t a grocery store right down the street, with a variety of boxed carbohydrates, grains, and foods from halfway around the world. We consumed what we could forage, hunt or fish, and our bodies are beautifully adapted to do just that, as we are able to effectively burn multiple fuel sources:
 
Glucose: This is the breakdown product of all carbohydrates. Insulin is required to utilize this fuel source. It can be rapidly burned and can be utilized by every tissue in the body. When carbohydrates are consumed in the proper form and not to excess, they’re a wonderful fuel source. However, when consumed in excess, carbs create fat, triglycerides, and glycation (a crispy glazing on our tissues and blood vessels, as measured by HbA1c).
 
Ketones: These are the breakdown products of fat, effectively making every single fat cell in the body a fuel source. This has been huge in ultra-endurance athletes for decades, as it completely stops “bonking,” a phenomenon that is characterized by extreme energy depletion once glycogen stores (the storage form of glucose in our muscles and liver) run dry. Ketones burn incredibly clean and have a host of biological functions (1):
 
  • Decrease appetite
  • Increase expression of genes that curtail oxidative stress
  • Inhibit the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight)
  • Improve vasodilation
  • Protective of our nervous system
  • Decrease atherosclerosis
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Significantly decrease insulin and leptin resistance and HbA1c number by over 25% in just 6 months (2).
  • Improve athletic performance

 

  1. Common Pitfalls

The body only switches over to ketone metabolism when the macronutrients in the diet are properly balanced. A ketogenic diet consists of 65-80% fat, about 20% protein and less than 10% carbs. Remember, not all fats are created equal. Fats from wild caught fish are healthy, anti-inflammatory, and mainly polyunsaturated. Fats from four legged animals are higher in saturated fats and don’t exert the same anti-inflammatory effects of fish, but tend to be healthy when grass-fed and consumed in moderation. Plant-based fats, however, are the healthiest of all and should make up the majority of fat intake during a ketogenic diet.

 

The biggest pitfall I’ve seen is the reliance on animal fats, resulting in the consumption of vast quantities of inflammatory molecules liberated from the animal fats, as well as nitrites and sulfites from processing procedures. The foundation of any healthy diet is characterized by the consumption of a variety of fresh, whole foods. We, at DBC, are creating a healthy, phytonutrient-dense, ketogenic diet plan, geared for maximizing health benefits and results.

 

  1. Supplementation
Transitioning into ketosis can be challenging during the first few days. Every cell in your body has to retrofit its cellular factories for ketone production and utilization. During this transition it’s important to support clean energy production and electrolyte balance. We currently have two supplements that are geared for those in, or entering, ketosis:
 

MCT Oil: Metagenics MCT oil is an ultra-pure derivative of coconut oil. It’s standardized to contain only Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are metabolically unique, as they can be burned almost instantly for energy and ketone production. Studies have shown that MCT oil can lower many inflammatory cytokines, improve gut immunity, and reduce alcohol-induced liver toxicity (3).

Exogenous Ketone Salts: Ketones in powdered form for instant utilization upon GI absorption. The ketone present in the supplement is betahydroxybutyrate, which has been proven to be responsible for almost all the profound health benefits associated with ketosis. This product is best used during the transition into ketosis, to boost athletic performance, or to maintain ketosis when circumstance causes a temporary deviation from the ketogenic diet (1).

 

 

References:

  1. Puchalska, Patrycja, and Peter Crawford. "Multi-dimensional Roles of Ketone Bodies in Fuel Metabolism, Signaling, and Therapeutics." Cell Metabolism, vol. 25, 7 Feb. 2017, pp. 262-84.
  2. Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base." Nutrition, 2015, pp. 1-13.
  3. Berit, Marten. "Medium-chain triglycerides." International Dairy Journal, 15 June 2006, doi:10.1016/j.idairyj.2006.06.015. Accessed 12 May 2018.

 

Comments

  1. Nature's Remedies Nature's Remedies

    Hi Bev,

    This is a different program than the Nourish plan that we currently have in place, although there are similarities!

  2. Bev DenBoer Bev DenBoer

    Thanks for this. Is the diet being created going to be different than the NOURISH plan?

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