Ketogenic Diet For Beginners
The food we eat is comprised of three major macronutrients. We know them as fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Fats include monounsaturated oils such as olive oil, polyunsaturated oils such as sunflower oil, and saturated fats such as butter and coconut oil, which are solid at room temperature.
Contrary to mainstream advice, saturated fats are the healthiest fats because they are the most chemically stable, and don’t oxidize easily. Monounsaturated oils are the next healthiest, and polyunsaturated oils, which are highly reactive and chemically unstable, should be avoided as much as possible.
Proteins are important foods, as we need them to repair our body tissues, provide protection against bacteria and viruses, make important hormones and enzymes needed for biological processes, and maintain muscle mass. Protein is found in meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, nuts, and beans and in smaller quantities in vegetables.
Carbohydrate is found in large quantities in most of the processed foods you’ll find on the grocery store shelves. Carbohydrates, however, are not essential nutrients, and you can get all the glucose you need from green vegetables and protein. And food that isn’t high in fat or protein will usually be high in carbohydrates.
This includes breads, crackers, pasta, cookies, cake, sugars, juice, and starchy vegetables such as corn, beans, and potatoes.
Grains including rice, wheat, and oatmeal also contain carbohydrates. And there isn’t much difference between a whole grain complex carbohydrate and a simple carbohydrate like sugar. They both get turned into excess glucose in your body.
Major Macronutrients this increases the likelihood of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is what causes metal to rust, and cooking oils to go rancid when exposed to the air. In the body, oxidative stress can create molecules called reactive oxygen species, or ROS. These molecules, commonly called free radicals, are chemically reactive and can damage internal cellular structures. Small amounts of ROS are created as part of normal cellular respiration, and our cells have been equipped with various antioxidant molecules to disarm them. So far, so good. But if inflammation is present, excessive amounts of ROS are created and overwhelm the cell’s defenses, causing accelerated damage and eventually cell death.
This is why inflammation is linked with so many types of disease processes. Here is where our food choices become very important. Eating foods that are high in carbohydrates leads to increased ROS and inflammation because these foods increase the amount of glucose and insulin in the bloodstream. This is the main problem with high-carbohydrate diets. While glucose is an important fuel for the body, too much of it circulating in the bloodstream can harm body systems.
How much is too much? Typically, a healthy individual will have less than one teaspoon of sugar dissolved in the bloodstream at any one time. Compare that to a typical canned soft drink, which contains about ten teaspoons of sugar, or a bagel, which breaks down into about sixteen teaspoons of sugar in the bloodstream.
These high-carbohydrate foods provide much more glucose than the human body can handle efficiently. Blood glucose is basically liquid sugar, and if you have ever spilled fruit juice or syrup on your hands, you know how sticky it can be. In the body, this “stickiness” is called glycation. Glycation is a process in which excess blood sugar sticks to and damages the proteins of body tissues.
These injured proteins stop functioning correctly, and this results in a chain of events that increases inflammation and creates substances called advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). Advanced glycation end-products interfere with cellular function, and are linked to the progression of many disease processes, including Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, stroke and autism.
Eating a steady diet of foods that drive up your blood sugar increases glycation damage and inflammation, because the extent of glycation damage is directly linked to glucose and insulin concentrations in the bloodstream.
The higher the blood sugar, the more serious the damage. Glycation damage is why diabetics with chronically high blood sugar experience neuropathy, higher rates of cancer and heart disease, kidney damage and blindness.
You want to minimize glycation damage and the resulting inflammation as much as possible for good health. Carbohydrates are essential to good health because the brain can only use carbohydrate generated glucose for fuel. The logic goes that since the brain can only use glucose for fuel, you must eat carbohydrates or the body will break down your muscles to get the glucose it needs for the brain.
In other words, for most people 50 grams or less per day of carbohydrates allows the brain and heart to burn ketones for fuel. This is not written in stone. The less insulin resistant you are, the more carbohydrates you can eat. Some people can consume as many as 150 grams of carbohydrates a day and still efficiently use ketones for fuel. Ketogenic diets of short duration show little benefit.
Our bodies require time to build the enzymes needed to burn fat efficiently and induce ketosis. se for the ravages of cellular respiration. People who eat a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet have lots of energy, and it stays steady throughout the day. As you can see, using carbohydrates for body fuel is just not efficient. The presence of high amounts of glucose increases glycation and inflammation, ramps up oxidative stress and ROS damage, and creates less energy for cellular and body use.
Given that excess glucose can be toxic, and ketones are so beneficial, it makes sense to consider the idea that ketosis is the preferred nutritional state of the human body. Muscles use fatty acids constantly, and research has shown that the heart and brain utilize ketones as a fuel source to a greater extent when carbohydrate intake is minimized. When your diet is higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates, all body systems work as they were designed to, and inflammation is reduced. This is why a ketogenic diet has such a positive effect on health markers associated with metabolic syndrome and on more serious disease states such as neurological impairment, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and epilepsy.
This is not to say all carbohydrate-containing foods should be avoided. There are certain cells in the body that can only use glucose for fuel, so we must have some glucose in the bloodstream. The idea is to avoid having too much glucose circulating by minimizing your consumption of concentrated carbohydrates.
Fats, protein, and green leafy vegetables are better choices as these foods can provide the minimal glucose needed without causing glycation damage. In summary, healthy natural unprocessed fats are good for you, and ketogenic diets can have a profound and positive effect on a multitude of health markers, as they provide an excellent tool for regaining and maintaining health and well-being, right down to the cellular level.
Health and lifespan are determined by the proportion of fat versus sugar people burn throughout their lifetime. The more fat that one burns as fuel, the healthier the person will be, and the more likely they will live a long time. The more sugar a person burns, the more disease ridden and the shorter a lifespan a person is likely to have. People who eat a high-fat, low carbohydrate diet have lots of energy, and it stays steady throughout the day.
To learn more abore about the ketogenic diet,