What is the Ketogenic Diet?

 There are many diets in the world, and often people will engage in radical behavior or follow extreme diets without becoming aware of the biological and physiological consequences of their actions. Fasting was one such diet that was at first practiced for theoretical beliefs in purity, abstinence and such, and only after were the biological processes at play understood, researched, the practice refined. What was discovered is that fasting produces the same results as a carbohydrate free diet, and that by restricting the carbs in your diet you can achieve rapid weight loss.

This approach is called the ketogenic diet, and it is so named because the form of abstinence from carbs causes bodies called ketones to be produced by the liver, which then helps your body process fat as a primary source of energy instead of glucose. Why is that?

Traditionally our bodies burn glucose as our primary form of fuel. Glucose is derived from carbohydrates, with excess glucose getting stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen. What excess glucose remains after that process is then turned into fat. When we cut all carbs from our diet, we no longer have access to glucose, which forces our bodies to burn through the glycogen reserves and then start oxidizing fat. This would be fine but for the fact that certain tissues such as parts of our brain can only be sustained by glucose, which is where ketone production comes in.

The production of ketones allows those tissues to substitute ketones for glucose and allow us to survive without any carbs at all. If you eat less than 100 grams per day you will trigger this process, resulting in a diet that is based solely on fat and protein and which burns fat and protein as a source of fuel. Unless managed correctly, such a diet can cause your body to cannibalize your lean body mass as well as your fat, resulting in a dramatic drop in weight that cannot be wholly attributed to fat loss.

Where do ketones come from? They are produced by the liver as a byproduct of free fatty acid breakdown. Ketones are thus derived from fat, and their production also has consequences on the hormone levels in your body which are normally used to regulate glucose movement in your bloodstream such as insulin. That is why many people report feeling sluggish or exhausted when on the ketogenic diet.




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