Nutritional Ketosis and the Ketogenic Diet

After many years of struggling with my weight, I have been searching for strategies to break the lifelong battle. I’ve always been sports obsessed and have been participating in regular physical activity & exercise for most of my life. However, something wasn’t adding up, the fat wasn’t budging. I became obsessed with reading and learning as much as I could about different diets that had worked for people battling overweight & obesity. I tried cutting down all calories, juicing diets and everything in between. Inevitably, all roads lead me back to failure and succumbing to poor food choices as usual. I had always just chalked it up to a lack of willpower, but that excuse wasn’t going to cut it any more.

Then, I stumbled upon the golden ticket. The Ketogenic Diet. I had heard of it a few times but never looked into it assuming it would lead me down the same road as all the other diets that had come before it. I spent several hours jumping from resource to resource as my excitement continued to build. I read scientific blogs, watched videos and scoured the internet for all the material on the subject of keto. As an Exercise Physiologist, the scientific basis of the keto diet paired with the fact that many of the resources were written and produced by doctors was enough to peak my intrigue.

What is Nutritional Ketosis & The Ketogenic Diet?

Nutritional Ketosis is the process whereby the body uses Ketones as a fuel source rather than glucose/carbohydrates. A ketogenic diet involves meal plans around the premise of very low carb, low-medium protein and high fat.

The video below featuring Dr. Peter Attia (his blog here) outlines a substantial overview of the details of nutritional ketosis and the ketogenic diet.

Eat Fat, Get Thin?

The traditional model of “good diet” and “healthy eating” virtually forbids consuming a high fat diet for increased risk of obesity, heart disease and many other related lifestyle diseases. The science involved with nutritional ketosis strongly disagrees with this premise arguing instead that a high fat diet is vital for improving the body’s ability and efficiency for burning fat as its primary fuel source.

All carbohydrates consumed eventually enter the blood as sugar. Complex carbohydrates take longer to be digested and therefore enter the bloodstream at a slower rate. Once blood sugar levels start to rise, the pancreas produces and releases insulin to help encourage the body’s tissues (mostly liver, brain & muscles) to take sugar out of the blood stream and use it as fuel. The Keto diet research suggests that if your body is always receiving a steady stream of sugar into the bloodstream, any fats consumed will not need to be used by the body and instead will go into storage for later use.

My belief is that obesity & fat gain is a sign of addiction to carbohydrates.

Despite my on-again-off-again attempts at lowering my caloric intake, I was never properly teaching my body how to use fat as an alternative fuel source. My body had never (!) been depleted of carbohydrates long enough to have to use anything else. The same with my parents, and their parents…and their parents. We couldn’t even last a few days without succumbing to those cravings for sweets and carbohydrates. Reducing carbohydrates significantly, accompanied with plenty of dietary fat will eventually train your body to use fats as an energy source. As the practice continues, the body becomes more efficient at producing ketones, as well as cells becoming more efficient at using them. This encourages the body not to store fat, but rather, use it each day for energy.

The other benefit of increased fat intakes as well as lowering carbohydrate intake is that the body is not left without any fuel source. If you only reduce the carbohydrates, the body signals cravings that urge us to provide something it can use for energy. If your body is not keto-adapted, it will crave sugar and carbohydrates. As demonstrated, that can cause a vicious cycle that eventually leads to obesity when the body’s addiction becomes too strong.

Getting Started

The scientific backing of nutritional ketosis and the ketogenic diet is what has captivated me so much. By using a glucometer (the same device diabetics use to measure their blood sugar),  I can easily test my blood sugar and ketone levels to ascertain whether the changes in my diet are resulting in my body utilising fat as a fuel source. Increased ketones in the blood indicate that fat is the primary fuel source (when coupled with low blood glucose readings). High amounts of blood sugar means your body is not in ketosis and you have likely consumed too much carbohydrates or protein.

In only 6 months following a keto diet, I am down 12kgs of fat mass. My sweet tooth has been significantly tamed and each day I get on the scale the number is lower than the day before. Best of all, I’m not having to fight through hunger pangs or cravings. I have encouraged a few friends and clients to try the diet out too with great results. There is a lot of argument back and forth about the merits and safety of the diet. Many health diabetes and heart organisations are still recommending high carb, low fat diets which are not working. I encourage you to start an experiment where you are the subject. Try it out, test your blood, evaluate how you feel, monitor your weight and see for yourself. I truly believe that if done correctly, the keto diet will prevent obesity, cure diabetes and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.

Here’s what you need to get started

  1. Glucometer that can measure blood sugar AND blood ketone levels

2. Compatible Glucose Strips

3. Compatible Ketone Strips

I use the Freestyle Optium Neo which can be purchased from most pharmacies. You can purchase this for $30 from Ebay

Ensure that you use compatible glucose strips. These are cheaper than the ketone strips and can be even lower if you know any diabetics. You can purchase 100 strips for $40 on Ebay.

Ensure that you use compatible ketone strips. Although expensive, I believe they are crucial early on to let you know if you’re doing everything correctly. On Ebay, 30 test strips will cost you $67.40.

4. Recommended Reading

5. Online Resources

Exercise Physiologist

I would be honoured to help you in any capacity to help you get started and observe how your health improves using objective measures. Pop in your details and I’ll reach out with some more detailed and individualised recommendations at no cost to you. The more subjects I can learn from the better I will be able to help my existing and future clients.

Hany Georgy

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