Story at-a-glance -
- A ketogenic diet is a dietary approach that focuses on minimal carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein and high healthy fat consumption — the three keys to achieving nutritional ketosis
- Ketogenic diet also involves consuming high amounts of fiber. Foods that are rich in antioxidants are recommended as well, as long as they do not contain high amounts of sugar
- Ketogenic diet is not only ideal for people who are suffering from chronic illness or obesity, but also for those who simply want to optimize their health
Having a ketogenic diet plan is good for your mitochondria, those tiny energy factories in your cells. Dr. Mercola’s "Fat for Fuel" helps you reach nutritional ketosis where your body burns fat for its primary fuel. Visit Mercola.com to learn more.
Every year, more and more people are suffering from chronic and debilitating illnesses in just about every corner of the world, and the statistics of obesity-related deaths are also steadily increasing. Inappropriate diet that consists of minimal fat and excessive carbs, sugar and protein is largely to blame for this growing epidemic.
In Dr. Mercola’s “Fat for Fuel” book, he emphasized the importance of consuming healthy fats, since these are actually the body’s preferred source of fuel. In order for your body to turn fat into energy, it has to be in a state of nutritional ketosis. You can induce your body into this condition through a ketogenic diet — a dietary approach that focuses on three key points: high consumption of healthy fats, moderate intake of high-quality protein and minimal amounts of carbohydrates.
Ketogenic diet is not only ideal for people who are suffering from chronic illness or obesity, but also for those who simply want to optimize their health. This dietary approach can help improve your well-being in more ways than one.
Here’s How the Ketogenic Diet Can Optimize Your Overall Health
When following a ketogenic diet, your body eventually becomes accustomed to using healthy fats as its main source of fuel. This causes the liver to produce higher amounts of ketones, which are water-soluble fats that burn more efficiently than carbs. Here are some of the benefits that you can get once your body uses ketones for energy:
Improved weight loss
A high-carb, low-fat diet is usually recommended for people who are trying to lose weight. However, studies have shown that this may further inhibit the body from putting fat into good use.
In a ketogenic diet, the intake of non-fiber carbohydrates is restricted so that the body can access and burn healthy fats for fuel. This results in increased weight loss, and is particularly useful for obese people.
Decreased risk of chronic inflammation
When the body burns glucose for energy, high amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and secondary free radicals are produced, which may cause inflammation and premature degeneration.
Eliminating sugar and carbs from your daily food consumption allows your body to burn ketones, which produces less ROS and secondary free radicals, thereby decreasing your chances of developing inflammation.
Lower risk of cancer
Unlike mitochondria that have the flexibility to burn either glucose or fat for energy, cancer cells can only use glucose as fuel.
When you go on a ketogenic diet, the cancer cells are robbed of their primary source of fuel, which eventually causes them to starve to death.
Improved muscle mass
Ketones spare the oxidation and breakdown of leucine, which is a branched-chain amino acid used for building body mass. As a result, higher levels of leucine are left in the blood, ultimately improving muscle mass.
Studies have shown that a ketogenic diet helps curb appetite since its low carbohydrate requirement reduces the feeling of constant hunger and eliminates carb cravings.
Lower insulin levels
When your body burns glucose for fuel, it causes the blood sugar levels to rise. This results in higher insulin levels in the body. Over time, the constant spike in insulin levels may cause insulin resistance, consequentially increasing your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Adopting a ketogenic diet may help lower your insulin levels, as the body no longer burns glucose for fuel. Rather, it uses healthy fats which do not have negative effects on the blood sugar levels.
Improved mental clarity
The ROS and secondary free radicals that your body produces as it burns glucose for fuel may damage the mitochondria and cause “brain fog.”
Following a ketogenic diet may help repair the mitochondria and improve mental clarity, as it uses a cleaner fuel in the form of healthy fats.
The higher levels of ketones in your body may help extend your life span by increasing vital structural proteins, improving glucose metabolism and removing malfunctioning immune cells.
Foods That You Should and Shouldn’t Eat When Following a Ketogenic Diet
In order for your body to reach nutritional ketosis, you have to know the foods to include into your diet and the ones that you should avoid. Keep in mind that a ketogenic diet is focused on high-fat, low-carb meals with moderate amount of proteins.
First off, make sure that you’re eating real and organic foods. It’s best to steer clear of processed products and foods that contain excessive amounts of sugar, starch and trans fat, since they obviously won’t do your health any good. You should also avoid foods that contain high amounts of carbohydrates, such as milk, as they may cause you to consume more than the allotted amount of carbs that you need for a day.
You should consider adding some of the following foods into your diet plan as well, as they’re rich in healthy fats:
Ketogenic diet also involves consuming high amounts of fiber, preferably from green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale and parsley. Foods that are rich in antioxidants are recommended as well, as long as they do not contain high amounts of sugar.
It’s important to note that healthy high-fat foods are small in terms of volume even though they’re high in calories, so don’t be confused when you see that vegetables still take up the largest portion of your plate.
Things to Keep in Mind to Make the Most Out of This Dietary Approach
There are different types of ketogenic diets that you may choose from depending on your specific needs. Dr. Mercola usually recommends the standard ketogenic diet (SKD) for most people. It’s highly effective and involves allotting around 70 percent of your diet to healthy fats, 25 percent to high-quality protein and only 5 percent to carbohydrates.
Whichever type you choose, you should switch to a cyclical ketogenic diet once your body becomes accustomed to burning fat for fuel, since long-term ketosis may also be unhealthy.
Dr. Mercola has developed a program that follows this cyclical approach — it’s called the metabolic mitochondrial therapy (MMT). In this program, he also reviews other strategies that may help boost your mitochondrial health, such as cold thermogenesis, photobiology, detox and exercise.
Before you commit to this major lifestyle change, it’s important to note that it may cause several undesirable side effects at first, including bad breath, short-term fatigue, frequent urination, digestive problems and hair loss. Don’t forget to evaluate your body to figure out if you’re consuming enough nutrients to meet your daily needs.