Crossfit has been a long proponent of the idea of ketogenic diets.
You read about ratios of penance, such as reducing carbs to 4% of your total diet with fat being 90% and protein being 6%. Then you look at how much sugar is in an apple and you realize you’ve quit before you’ve even started.
Surely, these gears need adjusting because the brain lives on bread and bread alone. Figuratively speaking about carbs, the brain can only utilize glucose – right?
Well as it goes, we have a pretty genius fail-safe system built in – the ketone.
Simply, the ketone is a molecule that acts like sugar inside the brain; kind of. It essentially allows the brain to still manufacture the fatty acids it needs to survive if glucose isn’t present.
It’s a nifty design we have especially if deciding to start a ketogenic diet.
Ketogenic Diets, Starvation & Acetone?
Ketones at first glance can seem… questionable.
They seem to be the derivatives of starvation, alcoholism, diabetes and low carb diets. That’s not a nice group of friends for low carb diets to be hanging out with.
According to our friends at Wikipedia:
Ketone bodies are the water-soluble molecules (acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and the spontaneous breakdown product of acetoacetate, acetone) containing the ketone group that are produced by the liver from fatty acids during periods of low food intake (fasting), carbohydrate restrictive diets, starvation, prolonged intense exercise, alcoholism or in untreated (or inadequately treated) type 1 diabetes mellitus.
…acetyl-CoA is diverted to the formation of acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate. Acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and their spontaneous breakdown product, acetone.Wikipedia
Yet, on purpose, millions of people around the world are currently burning what would seemingly be nail polish remover in their brain for extended periods of time and the results are quite surprising.
Nail Polish Remover – Please Don’t Drink It
After about 24 hours with no food, your body will have used all its carbohydrate stores.
At this point, the liver releases the kraken; properly pronounced, ketones.
Ketones are then processed by the body and are eventually converted into a few different chemicals and (fun fact) some of them spontaneously become acetone.
However, it’s these “few different” chemicals that are cool. They can actually enter the brain and replace the glucose typically needed to run the brain.
They play a tremendous part in ketogenic diets.
The Truth Is Confusing
This 2018 trial, funded by Virta Health, tested the impact of a high-compliance ketogenic diet on biomarkers in Type 2 diabetics that correlate to heart disease.
What they found was the following:
Multiple studies have shown that carbohydrate restriction consistently resolves imbalances of fats in the blood.
It was noted, that in normal populations it’s very difficult to maintain such a diet due to lifestyles and habits. In other words, the temptations are winning and like it or not – we’re addicts.
That makes sense though because when going keto, merely eating a speck of sugar launches you into an earthward spiral of relapse back onto the Tera Firma of carb binging.
The researchers guided people into a ketogenic state for one year to observe how it affected biomarkers of the heart.
It consisted of 262 Type 2 Diabetics. This is what happened…
They Looked On The Inside
In the study, subjects were assigned a health coach and started tracking biomarkers using a system like Lab Me.
In addition, the participants received different meal programs but it generally involved 1.5 g/kg of protein intake and less than 30 g of carbohydrate intake per day, alongside non-starchy vegetables, multivitamins, and adequate fluids.
Essentially they were ketogenic diets.
There was no deliberate caloric restriction. Of the original 262 subjects, 218 completed one year of treatment. Type 2’s, by the results of this study, are quite determined. Maybe the pancreas is the secret epicenter of commitment.
These are some of the changes you may see on your Lab Me dashboard if you followed the same dietary program:
- 24.4% decrease in triglycerides
- 18.1% increase in HDL-C (and a -29.1% decrease in HDL-C/triglyceride ratio)
- 38.9% decrease in large VLDL particle number and a 20.8% decrease in small LDL particle number
- 9.9% increase in LDL-C
- 4.8% decrease in systolic blood pressure and a 4.3% decrease in diastolic blood pressure
- 39.3% reduction in hsCRP (a marker of inflammation)
There were no significant changes in total LDL particle number or ApoB.
And what that means is you’re dramatically less inclined to die from a heart attack or stroke.
What’s interesting is millennials are actually valuing this data more than baby-boomers according to research done by Delloite.
What’s The Shortcut To Healthy Eating & Ketogenic Diets?
There isn’t one.
In case you didn’t get the memo, there isn’t a way to cheat biology just yet. So you know, the quick fix pills have been out of stock since Jesus turned water into wine.
Putting in the effort and repeating with consistency is the secret to all success. With a horrible workout plan done with consistency. You can look like a greek god (comparatively) by just going to the gym 3x a week for 15 minutes.
A half-ass plan executed with consistency will always outperform a perfectly created yet never executed plan.
Perfectly created plans usually start with, “I don’t have time”.
Studies are starting to pill up showing who has better outcomes. According to a massive study done on nearly half a million people around the globe – it’s not quite “keto-genic”.
It’s people that limit meat, dairy, and processed foods while powering up on fiber-rich plant-based foods that are prospering. The would include vegetables and oddly enough according to the research – carb-heavy beans.
Dr. Sara Seidelmann, a cardiologist and nutrition researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, describes their diets as being rich in “whole foods.”
“They were not processed,” she said of the diets of people in her study who lived the longest.Dr Sara Seidelmann
In short, it suggests that neither high-carb nor low-carb diets are necessarily great for your health.
So What’s The Answer?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest its a dynamic answer and one size really doesn’t fit all.
Depending on your condition and history certain approaches may work better than others, therefore, be dynamic.
If your blood work is showing signs of heart biomarkers heading in the wrong direction, a ketogenic push could get that turned around quickly and without meds.
Consider using a blood tracking system as explained in the study, for instance, start with, twice a year even if you think you are “healthy”. This actually contains all of the same biomarkers, and you can do it at home.
In summary, processed food is simply toxic.
Consume vegetables (listen to your Mom), limit your meat, remove the dairy and just think – living, whole foods. If it’s in a can, it shouldn’t be in your hand. Run with that vision to start.
Let me know what your experiences have been by commenting below and if this article would help someone you know – be a good sort and share it.
Smarter, not harder.