Introducing ketogenic nutrition
April 16, 2018
Tags: , Keto, Weight Loss, Weight Management
Burning fat is the ever-present goal on the American fitness scene. This article introduces a proven approach to turning your body into a fat burning machine, ketogenic nutrition, with resources and next steps.
What is ketogenic?
Ketogenic refers to the metabolic state of body known as ketosis, a normal process which occurs when your body does not have enough carbohydrates from food for your cells to burn for energy. Instead of burning glucose from recently consumed carbohydrates, your body burns fat as its primary fuel source.
Ketogenic nutrition is a term we use to refer to any strategy resulting in the body switching from glucose to ketones for primary fuel. Today, these strategies most often consist of low-carbohydrate diets and intermittent fasting.
Benefits of ketogenic nutrition.
According to WebMD, many noteworthy benefits can be found in research related to ketogenic nutrition plans. Here we consider briefly our primary focus; weight loss, muscle preservation, and overall wellness.
Weight Loss. A ketogenic diet may help you lose more weight in the first 3 to 6 months than some other diets. This may be because it takes more calories to change fat into energy than it does to change carbs into energy. Studies by Harvard Institute of Public Health suggest that a low-carbohydrate diet may help people lose weight more quickly than a low-fat diet, and may help them maintain that weight loss. Such studies have been commonplace in medical research for over 50 years.
One important study was conducted of 322 obese individuals over 2 years, and was later reported in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine in 2008. Considering three diets (Low-Carb, Mediterranean, and Low-Fat), the study concluded that ketogenic low-carb dieters lost more weight than either alternative.
“The mean weight loss was 2.9 kg for the low-fat group, 4.4 kg for the Mediterranean-diet group, and 4.7 kg for the low-carbohydrate group… The relative reduction in the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was 20% in the low-carbohydrate group and 12% in the low-fat group (P=0.01).”
Muscle Preservation. For many years it has been wrongly assumed that fasting or carb-controlled ketogenic dieting set the stage for muscle break-down as the body looked to burning lean tissue for fuel. However, with the advent of a growing body of research on ketogenic nutrition, it is becoming increasingly clear that just the opposite is the case. Ketones actually preserve muscle tissue.
“Although more long-term studies are needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn, it appears, from most literature studied, that a VLCARB is, if anything, protective against muscle protein catabolism during energy restriction, provided that it contains adequate amounts of protein.”
Heart Disease, Neurological, and More. While our focus here is on ketogenic nutrition for overall health and fitness, research has demonstrated that there are a multitude of health and wellness benefits being discovered from a ketogenic lifestyle. Consider, for example, the following summary from
“Research suggests that ketogenic diets lower your risk of heart disease, ..help people with metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes, and studies are under way on the effects of these diets on acne, cancer, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and nervous system diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s disease.”
How It Works
One of my first fears when I started ketogenic dieting could be stated simply, “Doesn’t my body need sugar? For glucose? To fuel muscle and motor function?” Well, as it turns out, my body does need glucose and my liver and kidneys will help me get it – even if I don’t eat a single food with sugar in it as long as there is fat to burn for ketones. There are two ways commonly used today to get the ketone production cycle going:
Ketogenic Nutrition. When you eat less than 50 grams of carbs a day, your body eventually runs out of fuel (blood sugar) it can use quickly. This typically takes 3 to 4 days. Then you’ll start to break down protein and fat for energy, which can make you lose weight. Your body begins to break down fat, using ketones for fuel.
Intermittent Fasting. Research has shown that it is possible to accelerate ketogenic progress by putting your body in a fasting zone reliant only on fat-burning for fuel. While not essential to a long-term ketogenic plan, in the near term intermittent fasting can help you get into ketosis sooner, accelerate weight loss, and promote natural detoxification.
When fat is broken down to produce ketones for fuel, the body produces a by-product called glycerol. As with most things produced by your body, it is put to good use as a healthy body will convert glycerol into glucose through a processed called gluconeogenesis. This is a normal metabolic process that creates glucose from the glycerol by-product of breaking down fatty acids.
The net result, your body has a balance of ketones and glucose in the blood stream, both coming as product and by-product from burning fat.
We close this short introduction to ketogenic nutrition with the following guidance for those interested in turning their bodies into fat-burning machines using ketogenic approaches:
Focus first on the caloric deficit you need each day. Work with your trainer or nutritionist to determine how many calories you are burning each day. Regardless of food source, unless you are trying to gain weight, the calories consumed must be less than the calories expended. While many report feeling more full when consuming high-quality proteins and fats, as opposed to low-quality carbohydrate foods, low-carb eating does nothing to the timeless truth that gluttony leads to obesity. Plan your food consumption so that your calories consumed is less than your calories burned.
Protein is the next critical component, because it will help protect your lean body mass while you are burning fat. As a general rule, you can use the following guidelines; Sedentary: 0.8g of protein per pound of lean body mass, Lightly Active: 0.8 – 1.0g of protein per pound of lean body mass, Highly Active: 1.0 – 1.2g of protein per pound of lean body mass.
For example, a 200 pound man with 20% body fat has 160 pounds of lean body mass. If he is highly active he should consume at least 160 grams of protein per day, which translates to 640 calories.
Focus on quality carbohydrates. You will want to consume less than 50 grams of ‘net carbs’ each day. Net carbs consists of the total carbohydrates consumed minus the total grams of fiber consumed. High quality green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, lettuce and cabbage are just examples of the many high quality foods that can be consumed. Forget trying to fit your candy bar into your net carbs. Any food containing low-quality processed sugar will undoubtedly throw your body into a shock and out of ketosis. Don’t blow all that hard work on one food, one snack, or one meal.
Forget cheat meals. It takes 3 to 4 days to put your body into fat-burning ketosis, so one cheat meal which takes your body out of ketosis costs you 3 to 4 days of fat burning. If you’ve got any weight to lose at all, its just not worth it. Forget cheat meals.
Supplement smartly. Ketogenic nutrition plans have been shown to help athletic performance in endurance athletes and, over time, it improves your muscle-to-fat ratio and raises the amount of oxygen your body is able to use when it’s working hard. But if you’re engaged in bodybuilding, powerlifting, or other sports involving peak muscle contraction, you will want to begin to research supplements that help quickly rebuild muscle energy known as ATP.
Continue research. The best way to navigate your own success is to research. There are many great sites, a few of which are listed below, where you can continue to learn about ketogenic eating and intermittent fasting. As always, you can also contact me if you have any questions as well.
This discussion of ketogenic nutrition strategy is intended to provide a foundation of general information, including successful life experience of others. Anyone making substantial changes in their diet, such as severely restricting carbohydrate intake or fasting, should have the approval of their physician and a qualified personal trainer.
For further research and information, please visit the following websites:
The Keto Diet & Getting in Shape (ruled.me)
Your Complete Guide to Intermittent Fasting (blog.kettleandfire.com)