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Ketogenic diets or low carb protocols have more and more followers who have achieved good results after having failed with many other nutritional strategies. The key to the success of this type of diet is mainly due to the fact that they generate greater satiety and, consequently, it is easier to reach a caloric deficit.
The theory is quite simple a priori: “reduce daily carbohydrates, increase fat intake and moderate protein”. However, a series of errors are repeated when executing it that greatly limit the results and even produce negative consequences for health .
In today's article we want to help you discern if this type of protocol is for you. Playing with nutrition without knowing the consequences behind each tool can lead us to make choices that can turn against us. Knowledge is power and freedom to always make the best decision ;)
1. Therapeutic applications of the keto diet
Today the ketogenic diet is popular in weight loss processes thanks to the body's ability to use fat reserves as an energy source, in addition to regulating appetite control.
Conventional caloric restrictions for very long times no longer make sense in terms of health and adherence. For this reason, many people see ketogenic diets as an effective and easy-to-maintain alternative to lose fat and improve health parameters thanks to the hormonal and metabolic changes that occur directly and indirectly.
However, the ways to lose fat and improve body composition are many and varied, which will always depend on the individual context of the person and their physical and emotional state. Not all protocols are valid for all equally.
The uses of ketosis seem to have potentially infinite applications to improve health and disease and especially in pathologies whose main source of proliferation is glucose; in which having an alternative source of fuel such as ketone bodies, could mean a before and after in the life of the person.
Beyond the aesthetic and performance objectives, I want to name some of the therapeutic applications that this type of diet is given today.
The therapeutic applications of the ketogenic diet that enjoy the greatest scientific evidence take place in the following diseases:
- Epilepsy : Ketosis favors the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, thus reducing the frequency of provoked seizures in patients with epilepsy.
- Alzheimer's : Ketones may reduce oxidative stress in the brain, improving cognitive function and developmental behavior in people with the disease. Ketogenic bodies favor the stabilization of the electrical potential of neuronal cell membranes. That is why people with neurodegenerative pathologies such as Alzheimer's or senile dementia show an improvement in symptoms and a stabilization in the progression of the disease.
- Parkinson's : Ketosis improves brain energy levels, thus leading to increased tremor control, balance, and mood.
- Cancer : There is great evidence and the use of ketogenic diets to slow the growth of tumor cells is becoming more and more popular.
- Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome : Ketosis helps regulate available blood sugar, thus favoring the recovery of sensitivity to the hormone insulin.
- Intestinal dysbiosis and alterations of the microbiota : ketosis enhances the benefits of the bacteria present in our intestine, thus avoiding the fermentation of carbohydrates and favoring inflammation reduction and recovery of intestinal health.
- Arterial hypertension : fluid loss associated with a carbohydrate withdrawal leads to an improvement in the cardiovascular environment.
Finally, and although it is not a pathology, I usually use this type of protocol in consultation for people who are in stages or periods of their lives in which they need to strengthen their cognitive focus , their alertness (opponents, demanding work periods that require special concentration; etc).
The physiological basis attends to a clear activation of the sympathetic nervous system that leads to increased production of catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine) which will enhance energy levels, cognitive focus and mitochondrial activity.
2. Side effects of ketosis
Despite the multiple benefits associated with the ketogenic diet, it is important to take into account and learn to differentiate the entry into ketosis from one of its side effects when it is not well regulated, diabetic or alcoholic ketoacidosis that can put the life of a person at risk. many people with diabetes mainly.
In broad strokes, ketoacidosis is a condition that occurs when the body breaks down fat so quickly that the liver converts the fat into a booster called a ketone that makes the blood acidic.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is caused when the body is unable to produce insulin normally, thus:
- Blood sugar cannot reach the blood cells to be used as a booster.
- The body breaks down fat too quickly.
- The liver makes a large amount of blood sugar.
Ketoacidosis is the first diagnostic sign of type 1 diabetes, although in people already diagnosed it can occur when the insulin supply has been exceeded or undergoes surgery, injury or serious illness.
People with type 2 diabetes can also have ketoacidosis, although it is less common and aggressive, usually caused by uncontrolled blood sugar levels that are sustained over time.
And lastly, please! Do not ignore the importance of carbohydrates, which play an essential role in the following contexts:
- Sports performance
- Building muscle mass
- Sleep conciliation and regulation of biorhythms (thanks to the entry of serotonin into the nervous system)
3. The key: seek Metabolic Flexibility
Beyond making use of the ketogenic diet to improve health parameters and promote weight loss, we must be aware that if we are in search of health; None of these strategies are sustainable indefinitely over time.
Metabolic flexibility has as its main objective the achievement of an optimal state of health, defined by the WHO as "the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not only the absence of disease"; in addition to improving any chronic pathologies, the digestive, nervous system, the alteration of biorhythms or even reaching goals of sports performance and weight loss.
A person with adequate metabolic flexibility is capable of optimizing the use of the respective nutrients. When high energy consumption is required, it will be able to use glucose in the first instance to produce energy without depleting muscle glycogen, without degrading muscle tissue. However, when you need a constant consumption of energy, you will be able to extract it from fatty acids, thus reserving muscle glycogen for moments of faster energy demand.
Food is all a game and learning to implement the various strategies it offers requires knowledge and good information.
Here you will find a practical proposal on how we can implement strategies aimed at achieving metabolic flexibility. Do not stay with a feeding style, learn to play!
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