: 5 minutes
The commitment to low-carbohydrate diets is acquiring special relevance among current nutrition trends due to the multiple benefits that they report at certain times in the context of the person. However, from Levels we want to invite individual reflection so that, with a critical spirit, we evaluate the strategy that best suits our physiology, personal circumstances and emotional situation.
Knowledge is power and gives you freedom of choice, so we want to explain the basics of ketosis in a simple and entertaining way so that you take into account all the pieces of the puzzle :)
1. Ketosis and the ketogenic diet
There is no doubt that for most of us, the degree of accessibility to all types of food is far from what our ancestors were used to. The low cost and abundance of foods with a high energy content and carbohydrates means that our body is constantly "fed".
The evidence falls under its own weight and sooner or later ends up taking its toll. Cardiovascular problems, diabetes and other modern diseases have increased the consumption of this type of product.
There are many people who rarely expose themselves to a slight degree of conscious "discomfort"; periods of more than 2-3 hours without food (apart from sleeping hours), exposure to cold, daily sunlight, less exposure to light from screens. In short, the exit from the "comfort zone"
to which we were previously forced by the conditions to which we exposed ourselves no longer occurs, because we have to want it voluntarily and consciously. Modern man wants comfort and easy things, but let's not forget that it is in periods of effort and sacrifice that adaptations occur. A slight exposure to situations of physical stress has multiple positive effects on a physiological level ;)
I WANT TO SEE IT
2. What is ketosis? Mechanism of action
Ketosis is the physiological state determined by the presence of ketone bodies or ketones in the blood
. Ketone bodies, like carbohydrates and fats, are another source of energy for the body.
The ketogenic diet gets its name from this state of ketosis, hence the name "keto" or "keto" diet. They are eating protocols designed to introduce the body into a state of ketosis, thanks to the emptying of blood glucose levels and obtaining energy from fat.
Physiological ketosis is achieved through periods of fasting or carbohydrate deprivation. After a period of time, which varies depending on the particular circumstances of each person, blood glucose levels begin to decrease and, consequently, the glycogen reserve begins to run out. It is in this context, when the body finds alternative routes for the production of energy. Ketosis is one of those pathways. Therefore, diet is important but it is not the only alternative to enter ketosis.
Now you may be wondering, why do I want to use ketones when carbohydrates and fats are available as quick sources of energy?
Before going into assessing this question, we must first resolve and clear up doubts about ketones. What are they, how are they produced and in what contexts are we interested in using them as an energy substrate?
3. Getting familiar with ketones
are a group of fatty acid metabolites that serve as an energy substrate for the body. We can differentiate between " endogenous
" ketones, those that your body manufactures once it has entered ketosis, or " exogenous
", those ingested as a supplement.
When glucose and glycogen stores are depleted, a signal cascade is initiated in the liver, leading to the production of the major ketone bodies: acetoacetate (AcAc), beta-hydroxy-butyrate (BHB), and acetone. In this context, ketones become a source of fuel for the brain and muscle. Thanks to stored fat deposits, our ability to harness this energy source is virtually unlimited.
As an "alternative" energy source, they are the result of the evolution of the human being, in his process of adaptation to survive in times of low energy availability (shortage of food).
4. How does the body enter ketosis?
A person is in nutritional ketosis
when they have a blood ketone level greater than 0.5 mmol/l (1). As a reference, levels between 0.5-1-5 mmol/l are considered low ketosis, between 1.5 and 3 are considered moderate ketosis levels and from 3 mmol/l we speak of a high level of ketosis.
But how can we induce the body to produce ketones and use them as a new energy substrate?
We know that the body first turns to glucose for energy, but once all the glucose is used and glycogen stores are depleted, the body produces ketones (2). Ketone production will increase as we prolong the fasting state or gradually decrease carbohydrate intake. In this answer, and broadly speaking, stored body fat or fatty acids ingested with food are subjected to a series of chemical reactions that give rise to the formation of ketones (3). In other words, the body stops using glucose for energy and starts oxidizing fat for it
5. Is a low carb diet right for me?
Despite the growing popularity of the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting, they are not contemporary strategies. Both have been subjected to constant testing, first by nature itself and then accredited by science. Before making the decision to start a low-carbohydrate diet, it is essential that you take into consideration your current state of health, the goals you want to achieve, and whether this nutritional planning suits your lifestyle. In this way, you will have a realistic perspective of your current condition and you will be able to determine what is most convenient in your particular case.
If you have any medical condition and you suspect that it could be affected in some way by the ketogenic diet, it is best to see a trusted professional (doctor or nutritionist) before making any changes to your diet.
It is also appropriate to mention that if you are of development age, you are a pre-adolescent or adolescent, find out if it is convenient for you to follow a low-carbohydrate diet, because at this stage your body needs many nutrients for its growth and development.
In short, the ketogenic diet produces very positive metabolic adaptations when there is a basic strategy and the person's health is put first. This type of protocol favors fat oxidation and reduces glycogen reserves on the other.
Personally, I think that most people can benefit from including some period
of ketosis at certain times, but not from using this type of food as the only main strategy
. As always, your personal experience and individual requirements will lead the way.
1- Volek JS PS. The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. Beyond Obesity Publishing: Miami FL.; 2012.
2-Uppaluri WMK. Ketogenic Diet. Stat Pearls, (eds). Treasure Island (FL); twenty
3- Hensrud DD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug 9, 2017
4- Well, NB, de Melo, IS, de Oliveira, SL, and da Rocha Ataide, T. (2013). Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet versus low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Br J Nutr, 110(7), 1178-1187.
5- Feinman, RD and Fine, EJ (2004). "A calorie is a calorie" violates the second law of thermodynamics. Nutr J, 3, 9.
6- Volek, JS, Sharman, MJ, Love, DM, Avery, NG, Gomez, AL, Scheett, TP and Kraemer, WJ (2002). Body composition and hormonal responses to a carbohydrate-restricted diet. metabolism 51.