The Ketogenic Diet: Benefits and Successes

 The Ketogenic diet was originally designed for patients with epilepsy by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. It was found that fasting helped improve the amount of seizures patients had. Unfortunately, long-term fasting is not a feasible for more than a few days, therefore a diet was developed that would trick the body into thinking it was fasting.

Elimination of Glucose

Our bodies normally run on glucose or sugar for energy. We cannot make glucose and only have about 24 hours stored in our muscles and liver. Once glucose is no longer available, we begin to burn stored fat. The ketogenic diet therefore, eliminates glucose and causes the body to burn stored fat. If this diet is being used for a child to treat epilepsy, close medical monitoring is necessary. For adults, a ketogenic diet can actually help promote weight loss and does not need to be as closely monitored. The traditional ketogenic diet for epilepsy is about 75% fat, 5% carbohydrates, and 20% protein.

 ketogenic-diet

Weight Loss

A 75% fat and 20% protein diet may not be necessary for adults to reap the benefits of the ketogenic diet. Many adults find weight loss success in a more moderate approach to the low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet by just eliminating carbohydrates and increasing calories from healthy fats and protein.  Most adults will see weight loss by just reducing carbohydrates to 30% of their diet, and increasing fat and protein to 40% and 30%, respectively.

When we eat carbohydrates insulin is released as a reaction to elevated blood glucose. Insulin is a storage hormone which signals the cells to store as much available energy as possible, initially as glycogen (storage carbohydrates) and then as fat. The ketogenic diet works by eliminating carbohydrates from the diet and keeping the body’s carbohydrate stores almost empty and preventing too much insulin from being released during meals. With less insulin around, the body is able to reach into fat stores for energy.

Cancer

Sugar feeds cancer cells causing them to proliferate. Therefore, a diet which eliminates sugar and other carbohydrates may be effective in reducing or fighting cancer. The regular cells found in our bodies are able to use fat for energy, but cancer cells cannot metabolically shift to use fat. Therefore, when cancer cells are starved of sugar they die. Some proponents of ketogenic diets believe that these diets should be prescribed for all people in order to lower cancer rates overall.

Is a Ketogenic Diet Right for You?

Modified ketogenic diets can be beneficial for most healthy adults, especially those struggling with losing weight. It may also be beneficial for those with Type 2 Diabetes who are not on insulin. Diabetics on insulin, should contact their medical provider prior to starting a ketogenic diet as insulin dosages may need to be adjusted.

Even though the ketogenic diet is a high fat diet, it will not raise your cholesterol or increase your risk for heart disease. Heart disease is caused by inflammation, influenced mostly be the intake of trans fats and sugar, not heart-healthy fats. So, if you want to lose weight, reduce your risk of cancer, and improve your blood sugar a ketogenic diet may be right for you.

The “Modified Ketogenic Diet” for Lasting Fat Loss

I’ve laid out my exact recommendations below for following the ketogenic diet to reduce blood glucose, burn fat, and reverse disease in your body. First, the type of fat you consume is very important.  I recommend consuming a large amount of MCFA’s (Medium Chain Fatty Acids) from coconut oil since this is the easiest type of fat for your body to burn as fuel.

Then getting SCFA’s from raw dairy products and other sources of fat from nuts, seeds, and organic meats.

I recommend eating mostly coconut, chia seeds, non-starchy vegetables, sprouted nuts, seeds, organic meat, and raw dairy products.  A ratio that is about 40% fat, 35% protein, and 25% carbs.

Sample Eating Plan:

[See the PDF below if you want to print out this plan]

Breakfast: Coconut Chia Smoothie

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup cultured dairy (amasai, kefir, or goat’s milk yogurt)

4 tbsp of chia, flax, or hemp seeds

2 raw eggs or organic protein powder

Lunch:

Chicken Vegetable Soup in real bone broth

OR a big salad with organic meat (chicken, turkey, salmon) and olive oil.

Snack

Raw Sprouted Nuts or Raw Cheese and Flax Crackers

Dinner:

Organic meat with double vegetables

Click here for the Ketogenic Nutrition Plan PDF

Lessons Learned:

  • Ketogenic diets were developed to help improve symptoms of epilepsy, but help many other chronic health problems.
  • Weight loss for people on ketogenic diets due to lowered insulin levels and the body is forced to burn stored fat.
  • Ketogenic diets can help prevent or “starve” cancer cells.

High fat diets, like the ketogenic diet, do not raise cholesterol and may actually reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors.