Ketosis and the Possible Benefits of Ketogenic Nutrition

Friday, October 10, 2014

Benefits of Ketogenic Nutrition

Cristi Vlad has used a ketogenic diet to achieve a healthy, high energy, and according to his research, long-lived body.  In this article, he shares the benefits of the metabolic state of ketosis.

Most people do not know what ketosis means. Those who may know about it often confuse it with keto-acidosis (a high-acidic metabolic state occurring in people suffering from Type 1 Diabetes).

In Type 1 Diabetes the body cannot produce insulin to cleave glucose from the bloodstream and allow it to enter into the cells for energy. Since the body cannot efficiently use glucose for energy, it releases fat from adipocytes to be used for energy.

Some structures in the body cannot use fatty acids directly for energy. One of these structures is the brain (fatty acids cannot directly cross the blood-brain barrier).

That's why some of the fatty acids from the blood stream (which have been released from adipocytes) are transported to the liver, which will engage in ketogenesis: ketone body production (Acetone, Acetoacetate, Beta-Hydroxybutyrate). These metabolites will then be used by the body for energy (especially the brain).

However, in keto-acidosis the body makes too many ketones and along with high-blood sugar can create a potential harmful effect.

Ketosis and the Possible Benefits of Ketogenic Nutrition

Ok, so what is ketosis?

On the other hand, nutritional ketosis occurs when your liver makes ketone bodies from fatty acids in the presence of low blood glucose. So, most people going on a restricted carbohydrate diet (on average < 50g of total carbohydrate consumption/day) will start the process of ketogenesis.

Nutritional ketosis occurs when your liver makes ketone bodies from fatty acids in the presence of low blood glucose.

Your brain can draw up to 70% of its energy from ketones (Acetoacetate and Beta-Hydroxybutyrate), while the remaining energy is provided by glucose (which does not necessarily have to come from eating carbohydrates).

This is the same mechanism that your body uses when being deprived of food. Once the glycogen (glucose storage in muscles and liver) is depleted, your body turns to burning fat for energy (either directly used as fatty acids or by producing ketones). Several studies have shown potential benefits for the brain running primarily on ketone bodies (see references). All these benefits emerge from the same premise: lower inflammation levels (lower oxidative stress).

Your heart can take up to a few weeks to adapt to using ketones for energy, but once it is adapted, it may run much more efficiently compared to when it runs on glucose. Veech and colleagues have done studies and reached this conclusion.

Your muscles can adapt to running on ketone bodies but the process of adaptation can take from a couple of weeks to a couple of months or sometimes years (yes, you wont keto-adapt overnight).

I've been following a well formulated ketogenic nutrition protocol for more than a year now. It's relevent to mention the amount of fat that I've burned throughout the whole time. Once you get keto-adapted (months to 1-2 years), losing fat may be your last concern.

I've written about these benefits on my blog, but I'm going to mention the most important benefits here:

1. Higher energy levels

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I require less sleep (though I usually sleep 6-7 hours because I do not want to disrupt hormonal activity). I do not feel lethargic or sleepy after meals, the same way that I did when I followed a higher carbohydrate approach to nutrition. I usually wake up at 6 AM and have the same higher level of energy until going to sleep at 10-11 PM. 

2. No hunger - No Cravings

Once you stay in ketosis for a while and start getting adapted to this type of nutrition, you may alter your gut microbiome by lowering the population of sugar craving "bugs". As soon as your body knows that it can efficiently rely on its own fat storage for energy it does not enter in panic mode every couple of hours as your blood sugar levels fall after a meal.

I usually schedule my days around the activities that I have to do and not around the meals that I need to have every couple of hours. There are days when I do not have time to eat because I have a lot of stuff going. I am satisfied that I'm not disrupted by hunger. Besides, as a former sugar addict, I'm very happy that I do not crave fries, pasta, high-carb sweets, pizza, and all the related. I do eat very dark chocolate (very low carb) every day though.

3. Ability to fast for longer periods of time

Sometimes I do intermittent fasting (for hours, or even days). This gives my body extra time away from processing food and it allows it to focus on repairing processes. This also has the potential of increasing longevity because of the lower oxidative stress that it outputs.

4. Higher mental clarity
When your brain does not rely on sugar (after a period of adaptation to ketosis), you feel like you have more mental power, you can go longer hours of intense focusing on a certain task without being disrupted by hunger. I mostly felt this after the first few weeks in ketosis. Now, it feels like a routine.

5. You become a fat burning machine

This is not the magic pill that disrupts processes throughout your body and promises melting fat off in an instant. This is a complete metabolic change that I think one should stick to if they decide that it's best for them. I lost a lot of fat from my abdominal area once I embarked and stuck to this approach and I've finally achieved the abs I wanted to have all my life.

I personally do not advocate for getting in and out of ketosis because I think you're confusing your body and it does know whether to rely on fat or on glucose. A well formulated (nutrient rich - with plenty of greens and healthy fats) ketogenic diet does not have to be cyclical (for no reason).

What's in it for me?

My philosophy for sticking to ketosis is that of targeting lower oxidative stress. This nutritional approach is only one of the interventions that I use for this purpose. Others may include:

- lowering exposure to non-native electro-magnetic-field,

- lowering exposure to blue light,

- optimizing my life around the normal circadian clock,

- using cold-thermogenesis as a means to mitigate ROS (reactive oxygen species),

- using intermittent fasting as a means for caloric restriction which has been shown to promote longevity,

- training under a weight lifting protocol which I do once or mostly twice a week.

- and other interventions that I'm still testing and tweaking.

1. Phinney, S. D., Bistrian, B. R., Wolfe, R. R., & Blackburn, G. L. (1983). The human metabolic response to chronic ketosis without caloric restriction: physical and biochemical adaptation. Metabolism, 32(8), 757-768. 
2. Westman, E. C., Feinman, R. D., Mavropoulos, J. C., Vernon, M. C., Volek, J. S., Wortman, J. A., ... & Phinney, S. D. (2007). Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 86(2), 276-284. 
3. Volek, J. S., Fernandez, M. L., Feinman, R. D., & Phinney, S. D. (2008). Dietary carbohydrate restriction induces a unique metabolic state positively affecting atherogenic dyslipidemia, fatty acid partitioning, and metabolic syndrome. Progress in lipid research, 47(5), 307-318. 
4. Yudkoff, M., Daikhin, Y., Horyn, O., Nissim, I., & Nissim, I. (2008). Ketosis and brain handling of glutamate, glutamine, and GABA. Epilepsia, 49(s8), 73-75. 
5. Yudkoff, M., Daikhin, Y., Melø, T. M., Nissim, I., Sonnewald, U., & Nissim, I. (2007). The ketogenic diet and brain metabolism of amino acids: relationship to the anticonvulsant effect. Annu. Rev. Nutr., 27, 415-430. 
6. Gasior, M., Rogawski, M. A., & Hartman, A. L. (2006). Neuroprotective and disease-modifying effects of the ketogenic diet. Behavioural pharmacology, 17(5-6), 431.
7. Veech, R. L. (2004). The therapeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: ketosis, ketogenic diet, redox states, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism. Prostaglandins, leukotrienes and essential fatty acids, 70(3), 309-319. 
8. Phinney, S. D. (2004). Ketogenic diets and physical performance. Nutr Metab (Lond), 1(1), 2. 
9. Volek, J. S., & Westman, E. C. (2002). Very-low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets revisited. Cleveland Clinic journal of medicine, 69(11), 849-849. 
10. Cahill Jr, G. F. (2006). Fuel metabolism in starvation. Annu. Rev. Nutr., 26, 1-22.

By Cristi VladEmbed

Author Bio - Cristi Vlad, the author of Ketone Power, is an avid researcher and self-experimenter who wants to gather as much knowledge and experience as possible in approaching higher life span through various interventions.

Most of the people can undertake these interventions as soon as they become aware on how their environment and the stimuli from the environment have a powerful and sometimes decisive influence on their lives.