The ketogenic diet is a relatively new weight-loss strategy though its roots date back to the 1920s. Though it initially was created as a potential treatment for epilepsy, it has recently joined the ranks of popular diets, showing some promising results. In this series, we’ll discuss the keto diet, what the research says about its effectiveness, and who this strategy might work for.
What is the Keto Diet?
At its core, the keto diet is basically an extremely low-carbohydrate diet. People using this strategy limit their intake of carbs to 5–10% of their overall consumption. On a 2,000 calorie diet, this equates to a carb goal of fewer than 50 grams per day. As a reference, one medium apple contains about 25 grams of carbs¹.
In a typical diet, carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy. When carbs are severely restricted, as in the keto diet, two processes begin to ensure an adequate energy supply from sources other than carbs: gluconeogenesis and ketogenesis¹.
Gluconeogenesis is the production of glucose (a type of sugar) in the liver. When carb consumption is severely restricted, gluconeogenesis cannot produce enough glucose to meet the body’s needs. This is when ketogenesis kicks in and provides the body with an alternate form of energy: ketone bodies¹.
When the body begins to use ketone bodies as an energy source, we’ve entered a process called ketosis. Several changes happen during ketosis that together decrease fat storage and increase the breakdown of stored fats¹.
During ketosis, fats are metabolized into ketone bodies which are used for energy in the heart, muscle, kidneys, and brain¹.
Summary: When carbohydrates are severely restricted, the body enters ketosis. Fat is converted into ketone bodies that can be used as energy.
The Ketogenic Diet Series
In this series, we’ll discuss the potential benefits of the keto diet, who might benefit from it, and its possible health implications.
Check back here for updates!
- Masood W, Annamaraju P, Uppaluri KR. Ketogenic Diet. [Updated 2020 Jun 22]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing.
Originally published at https://straighthealth.com on December 18, 2020.