Keto, what is it and how does it work?
The Keto or Ketogenic diet (or lifestyle) is a topic that has been in vogue in recent years, however, before deciding to start it, it is important that you know a little more about some aspects of the diet.
The keto diet gets its name due to the abbreviation of the English word “ketosis”, which means “ketosis” in Spanish, this is the state in which it is sought to enter during this diet so that your body begins to use ketones as main power source; But let's go little by little.
Generally, a keto or ketogenic diet involves eating:
- 70% fat (good)
- 20% to 25% protein
- 5% to 10% carbohydrates
Normally the human body works with energy mainly obtained from the intake of sugars or carbohydrates, this is the famous Glucose in our bloodstream.
When there is an increase in glucose in the blood, the hormone called insulin is released by the pancreas to make use of that glucose, giving the signal to our cells to open to receive glucose, already inside, that glucose will be used as energy or else It will be saved for later "ideally" use, but this is when we generally get fat, by not "using" that extra energy that we ate.
However, glucose is not the only source of energy, since we are biologically prepared to store fat and use it as a secondary source in case of fasting or low carbohydrate intake.
But, surely you wonder how this happens? When a prolonged fast or a low carbohydrate intake is generated, the liver begins to take fats and amino acids to generate Ketones, which function as energy for the human body, including the brain. Important, the brain uses up to 20% of the energy we need on a daily basis.
What are ketones?
Ketones are compounds produced by the human body to generate energy; There are three main groups of ketones in the body:
Once the liver has created the first two groups of ketones, they are distributed throughout the body to be used for energy; When your body uses ketones as its primary source, you are said to have entered ketosis
There are also commercial ketones, that is, they sell you food supplements or "keto pills", which induce your body to enter ketosis, this path, although it is the shortest, is not the most recommended, since your body does not do the same. change by itself and can generate some side effects, such as the dreaded rebound, when you stop consuming these types of supplements. Apart from not receiving all the positive effects that your body and brain could have, by self-producing ketones.
How to measure or know if I am in ketosis?
To know the amount of ketones in your body it is not necessary that you go to a doctor, currently there are several home tests that you can perform to know this information, such as: urine test strips, breath analyzers, these 2 methods are not very exact , the best is through blood ketone meters, this is very similar to the one used by diabetics, but with special strips for ketones.
It is important that you know that very high levels of ketones can lead to Ketoacidosis , which occurs when the amount of ketones produced is much greater than the amount of energy required daily, at that time, acetoacetates and beta-hydroxyburitates remain in Blood and by not being used, organically lose oxygen molecules and turn into acetone, which can be harmful to your body.
0 to 0.5 mmol, it is known as "Carb Burner"
0.5 to 3 mmol, the ideal, this range is called Nutritional Ketosis
3 to 6 mmol, this range is more used for therapeutic issues such as Epilepsy or Cancer
7 or more mmol, this is where the risks of Ketoacidosis begin, you should not reach these levels.
What are the benefits of ketosis?
The keto diet, like all diets, has benefits and can also have side effects; It is very important that you are alert because each body is different, it is best to perform this type of diet with a specialist who can guide you in the best way to reach ketosis.
Important: Check that the professional you approach understands and knows well about the Ketogenic Diet, since being a relatively new topic, many are unaware and label it "very bad" without knowing in depth about it.
Fortunately, every day more health professionals are studying, learning and trying the Keto lifestyle.
You must remember that the keto diet is based on changing your eating habits so that your body changes its functioning and uses ketones as its main source of energy; One of the main benefits is to lose weight relatively quickly and not from "water" like other diets, but to lower your amount of body fat.
Something very interesting when taking it correctly and already being in an optimal degree of adaptation and ketosis, is that with this diet you do not feel that you are hungry between meals, and you stop having those "outbursts" for something sweet or bread, since Unlike glucose, fat is always available in the body, and the brain, knowing of this high availability, does not send you the "signal" to eat Now! Because it lacks energy.
There are studies that show that it has positive effects in people with diseases such as epilepsy, migraine and type 2 diabetes; It also helps improve mental focus and increase your physical performance, which is why it is often used during the preparation of some athletes, such as runners.
When the body works with glucose, it is forced to generate insulin peaks in order to metabolize the carbohydrates and sugars ingested , these insulin peaks are not the best for the body, since they are forced and can cause problems and the most common Diabetes ; With the keto diet, these peaks greatly decrease or disappear and only the necessary insulin is generated, without forcing the natural process.
There are a number of conditions in which the keto diet has been shown to be effective in helping with:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Diabetes type 1
- High blood pressure
- Alzheimer disease
- Parkinson's disease
- Chronic inflamation
- High blood sugar levels
- Heart disease
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Fatty liver disease
It is not a miraculous or unique diet, and it is always important to consult an expert on the subject, so that you can carry out the diet in the best way, adapting it to your lifestyle and needs; Over time, you get used to this type of diet without "suffering" by not eating sugar or carbohydrates in excess.
Written by: Rocío Ruiz and Chris Castillo