When I was writing and speaking about the ketogenic diet 4 years ago, nobody understood what I was talking about or why. But now, thanks to an ongoing blitz of ketogenic diet hype in the media and on various weight loss blogs, it seems like everybody is either wanting to try a ketogenic diet, thinking they are consuming a ketogenic diet, or actually consuming a ketogenic diet and making themselves sick.
Achieving ketosis is ADVERTISED as a way to lose weight fast, stop cancer in its tracks, and even cure Alzheimer’s. However, as is the case with marketing messages, this is a half-truth at best and a dangerous myth at worst.
Few understand what ketosis actually is, and this is important because what you don’t know CAN hurt you (as well as other people if you’re spreading the myths and half-truths). In a nutshell, ketosis is when your body utilizes a “fourth fuel” for energy. (Carbohydrate, fat, and protein are the 3 other fuels, although protein actually breaks down to glucose so you could say these only represent 2 fuels: glucose and fat stores.)
There are 3 main strategies to tap into the fourth fuel (ketones), and this is important because two strategies are beneficial and one will make you sick. Most people are using the strategy that causes eventual sickness, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Let me begin by explaining the common and dangerous strategy: the ketogenic diet. “The keto diet” involves restricting carbohydrate to a minimal amount (usually less than 25 grams per day, which is the equivalent of a small salad), restricting protein to around 50 grams per day, and getting the majority of calories from fats (butter, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, avocado, cheese, bacon, bone marrow). This causes you to burn fat (instead of glucose) for fuel, but it’s not your body fat that you’re using. It’s the fat you’re eating. So it doesn’t magically cause fat loss.
In the short term, a ketogenic diet causes a loss of water weight as glycogen stores are used up. Then since keto dieters are eating so much fat, some of that fat gets deposited into their muscle cells. This blocks insulin receptors in the muscle cells, which is the process that causes diabetes. When the keto dieter goes “off plan” and decides to eat a piece of fruit or a bowl of oatmeal, their bodies can’t tolerate the carbs anymore because they are no longer “carb adapted.” They basically have pre-diabetes or diabetes as a result of the keto diet (due to insulin receptors being blocked and unable to use glucose).
Keto dieters may also experience a slowing down of their metabolism, which can lead to chronic tiredness (or a need for a constant caffeine drip), a lack of appetite, weight gain, thyroid problems, and muscle loss.
So the keto diet is NOT what you want, if good health and optimal fitness are what you’re going for.
The first beneficial way of achieving ketosis is an age-old strategy that even Jesus did. It’s called abstaining from food and caloric liquids (or fasting). When you abstain from food for about 12 hours (if you’re an athlete) or at least 24 hours (if you’re sedentary), you’ll eventually run out of glucose and stored glycogen. Then you will start to use stored body fat for energy. This process of converting body fat into fuel produces ketones. When ketones are produced in this way, fat loss occurs. The presence of ketones can also initiate healing processes in the body. As appetite goes away after fasting for around 48 hours, oftentimes the senses are heightened and the fasting individual can experience greater mental clarity.
The third way of achieving ketosis is a new strategy that involves supplementation with ketone salts or ketone esters. This method has been heavily researched over the past decade for the treatment of neurological conditions and for improving athletic performance. Taking ketones as a supplement allows an individual to receive the benefits of ketones on an ongoing basis, as opposed to fasting which can only be done intermittently.
If all this information is really confusing to you, you could likely benefit from supplementing with ketone salts to help benefit your brain function. “Brain fog” and memory impairment is known to be caused by the brain either (a) not having enough glucose or (b) not being able to metabolize glucose. Supplemental ketones can be used by the brain as an alternate source of fuel when glucose is either not available or not being metabolized effectively.
Your brain will feel noticeably better just minutes after drinking this pleasant-tasting ketone supplement.