What is the Keto Diet and How Does It Work?

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If you’ve read any weight loss blogs or been on Youtube lately, you’ve probably come across the term Ketosis.

So, today we’re going to answer the question; what is the keto diet and how does it work? If you’ve never heard of Ketosis, well, this is basically a question about the benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet.

Let’s start with a basic fact of physiology; for many important parts of your body, glucose is the number one fuel. Brain, red blood cells, testes, and many others, will all shout for glucose without even looking at the menu. Glucose is normally created from carbohydrates.

However, sometimes there’s no carbs and so no glucose available. So your body had to evolve a way to replace glucose and avoid going into hypoglycaemia, where your blood sugar is dangerously low, leading to dizziness, loss of motor skills and eventually unconsciousness and death, which is not super fun.

There are two main ways for your body to deal with a lack of glucose.
One is gluconeogenesis, were glucose is created from a non-carbohydrate source like lactates, proteins or lipids.
And the other, the one we’re looking at today, is ketosis. This is where the liver converts fats into fatty acids and ketones.

Now, in the old days, before gyms, jogging groups and calorie counting apps, ketosis would mostly only occur at times of starvation or as part of certain illnesses.

Okay, now that doesn’t sound good but old diets were not a matter of choice, they were a matter of availability. Today, we get to choose what we eat. But, remember that illness thing; we’re going to come back to that for some fascinating research.

So, should you choose a keto diet? What does the research say?

The diet is generally defined as a strict 50g limit on carbohydrates per day. More than this and it’s unlikely ketosis will begin. Most keto diets are also mainly fat, sometimes up to 80%.

In comparison to other to other low-carb diets, a 2006 study from Arizona State University showed that there were no advantages to a keto diet over any others like Atkins or Paleo when it comes to weight loss.

As we’ve mentioned before on this channel, it’s calorie restriction that really makes the difference for losing weight and the only real advantage a low carb diet provides is that fats are a little more satiating than carbohydrates. Beyond weight loss, there are some very exciting papers on keto and how it relates to certain illnesses, as we mentioned before.

Firstly, it has been proven for almost a century, that diets similar to the keto, can dramatically reduce seizures from epilepsy. And it doesn’t end there.

There have been studies from Florida, exploring the benefits for Navy Seal divers and protection from the oxygen toxicity seizures they are sometimes susceptible to. Many other studies are looking at the effect on cancer growth.

The keto diet clearly slows the metabolism and this has been shown to slow the growth of even very aggressive tumours in rats. And there’s a handful of other research into various areas such as acne, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Is the Keto Diet Health Nerd Approved?
Yep. It’s certainly not for everyone, but the keto diet is a o.k. for a normal and healthy individual.

How long does it take to go into ketosis?
Well, it will take about 2 to 3 days to use up the reserves of glucose that you have, after which you will enter ketosis.

Finally, what happens if you break your carb limit?
If you go over the carb limit, you will stop the process but remember, as we said, this hasn’t been shown to affect your weight loss so, if that is your goal, it doesn’t really matter if you’re in or out of ketosis.

Thanks for watching, we’re always interested in any anecdotal evidence from our audience so please let us know if you’ve ever kicked the carbs and gone keto, and how that worked out for you. Hit subscribe for more scientific insight into your health and wellbeing from the Health Nerd, or just because you know we clap like excited school girls every time that subscriber count rises –it’s actually pretty tiring, but we do it anyway, you know, for the exercise.