Health Begins in the Kitchen

Why You Should Love Keto

Why You Should Love Keto

Within the last few years, the popularity of the Ketogenic Diet has soared even thought it’s been around for moons and moons (early 1900s).  A high fat, moderate protein and low carb diet was bound to raise some eyebrows from those who believed that too much fat made you fat.  However, researchers are now finding the opposite is true.(1) For the many who have benefited from this way of eating it’s been a game changer for health.

The Ketogenic Diet became big during the 20s and 30s when Doctors discovered how effective it was at treating symptoms of epilepsy which is a disturbance of electrical activity in the brain.  However, the benefits are more widespread that helping the brain run better.  Many people use it when Doctors have told them to lose weight…and do it pronto.

The idea with a Keto diet is that we burn energy from fat more efficiently than glucose which is contrary to the general view that we need carbohydrates to survive.  Apparently we don’t need that many because we can use non-carbohydrate sources like protein (amino acids) and fat (fatty acids) to make glucose in a process called Gluconeogenesis.  Our body runs extremely well on good fats.  In fact, it’s actually the preferred nutrition for the brain especially.  It’s actually nice to know we can burn both glucose and fat.  It served our primal ancestors well when they were in starvation mode and needed fat stores to keep them thriving.

I personally don’t “do” number crunching when it comes to calories  but with a Keto diet you need to be mindful of the ratio of fats to carbs to protein grams.  Otherwise, how is your body to know when it’s to burn fat for fuel vs. carbs for fuel?  So in adhering to the keto diet you generally must stick to between 5-10% carbohydrates, 15-30% protein and 60-75% fat for your body to enjoy the benefits of keto.  If you are going to stick to this ratio, there better be some fantastic benefits, right?

First a blurb about how the Keto Diet or Ketogenesis works:

By reducing your carb intake from grains, starchy vegetables, sugary fruits your body must find another source for energy.  That source becomes fat which produces ketones.  After a certain amount of ketones enter the blood you reach ketosis, the desired state.  This state of ketosis results in safe and quick weight loss among other benefits.

Here are some other benefits:

Benefit #1 Supports Brain Health:  Not surprisingly the Keto diet which originally had such a huge impact on epilesy, a neurogenerative disease, was also applied successfully to other conditions of the brain–specifically Alzheimer’s.  It has been used to treat and even reverse the disease.(2)  Wow!  Other neurological disorders that Ketogenesis has helped are:  headaches, Parkinson’s disease, sleep disorders, brain cancer, autism and multiple sclerosis.(3)

Benefit #2 Supports Anti-Aging:  Oxidative stress, which causes aging, is reduced when you follow a ketogenic diet.   It also supports mitochondrial function which is important for increasing cellular energy throughout the body.(4)  By reducing blood sugar levels, glycation and the formation of advanced glycation end products is reduced (a significant cause of cellular aging).

Benefit #3  Supports Hearth Health:  A Keto diet is especially good for those dealing with a risk of heart disease.  Heart disease markers such as high cholesterol and triglycerides are lowered considerably.(5)  In one study, patients following the diet had a significant reduction in LDL and increase in HDL.(6)

Benefit #4  Protects Against Cancer:  Sugar feeds cancer cells so it makes sense that when you “starve” them of their preferred nutrition, they have difficulty flourishing.(7)  A keto diet reduces carbohydrate and sugar consumption in aces.  The Department of Radiation Oncology at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center for the University of Iowa is one among many research centers showing how this diet can help treat cancer.(8)

Benefit #5  Protects Against Diabetes:  Because your carb intake is limited, insulin gets to take a break from being constantly released and creating fluctuating blood sugar levels.  Keto is extremely balancing to blood sugar levels and has been used successfully to treat Type-2 Diabetes.(9)

Benefits #6 Supports Weight Loss:  Two important studies have shown that the Ketogenic diet was much more effective for losing weight than a low fat diet. (10)(11)

Okay, now you’re sold.  I knew some of those studies would make you sit up and snap to attention.  Now you’re wondering, “Okay Suzy, how do I stick to the ratio of carb, protein and fat on this diet so I can reap the rewards?”  First grab a scale.  You need to pay pretty close attention to the macronutrient ratio if you want to reach the state of ketosis.  Measuring ingredients by guessing or even using measuring spoons and cups is a little haphazard and inaccurate sometimes.  That was my cooking method for years…”ah, that’s about a 1/2 tsp of baking soda”…disastrous consequences for my baking projects but when you’re cooking with keto health in mind it’s pretty important.

It’s certainly not a diet for everyone.  Changing the way you eat can be stressful but if you’re at your wit’s end looking for a complete structural over haul, then this is certainly worth the effort.  Another reason it’s a bit of a challenge following Keto is the strict adherence to a macronutrient guideline.  Following it is imperative if you want to reach the state of ketosis where you’re burning fat instead of glucose as your energy supply.

Now I’m going to send you a little secret cheat note:  Dave Asprey, author of The BulletProof Diet and Head Strong, makes a solid case with plenty of studies to back his information up, that you can have your cake and eat it too.  I don’t mean that literally, of course.  He shows how you can eat a bit more carbs than you normally would on the keto diet and still maintain the keto state.  He does it with his BulletProof Coffee recipe.  His deal is about mitochodria, the powerhouses or energy makers of the cells, and keeping them running efficiently.  To do this we need lots of polyphenols (a type of antioxidant from coffee, chocolate, berry extracts and more) and take them with good fats (like coconut oil and grass-fed butter).

Hmmm, are you getting where I’m going with this?  You’ve probably even heard people talk about making their Bulletproof coffee and thought it sounded pretty yucky.  But let me tell you from personal experience you can whip up a most amazing latte when you take his special BulletProof coffee and blend it with grass fed butter and a tablespoon of his Brain Octane Oil (essentially some of the most important isolated components of coconut oil).  One paragraph is hardly enough to tout the benefits of following his regimen but it does add some spice to the mix, doesn’t it?  I encourage you to check out Head Strong and find out other ways to make your mitochondria and ultimately your brain work better.(12)

I have never followed a ketogenic diet strictly enough to reach a state of ketosis, however, I’m a Culinary Nutrition Expert and I have carefully weighed the evidence and found it to be extremely health-promoting for some people.  I’m also interested in how important Ketogenic diets or any healthy diet for that matter translates in my kitchen/lab.  I love the idea that I get to use a scale and you can use a certain ratio of protein, fats and carbs to reach a state that helps with heart disease, epilepsy, cancer, alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases.  And on a purely subjective level, I feel like a real chemist in my kitchen/lab when I use my scale.  Plus my daughter gets some valuable math lessons as I’m mixing, blending, whipping and folding the precisely pre-measured ingredients up.

In the coming weeks I will post a number of Keto recipes for you to enjoy.  Even if you’re not interested in following a Keto diet, you’ll still be getting plenty of wonderfully fresh ingredients in healthy meals if you choose to make some of these delicious recipes.

I started writing a list of what you should and shouldn’t eat on this diet and it became a whole other blog post in itself.  So to keep it brief, I will let you seek out the many sites that have a complete breakdown or yay and nay foods.  For example, I love Martina Slajerova’s blog that lists in detail what to include and avoid.  In fact a few of the recipes I use myself have come from her book, The Keto Diet Cookbook.(13)  My aim with this blog is to demystify and encourage you to add a few new healthy delicious recipes to your culinary repertoire.

  2. Henderson, Samuel T., Janet L. Vogel, Linda J. Barr, Fiona Garvin, Julie J. Jones, and Lauren C. Costantini. “Study of the Ketogenic Agent AC-1202 in Mild to Moderate Alzheimers Disease: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, Multicenter Trial.” Nutrition & Metabolism6, no. 1 (2009): 31. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-6-31.
  3. Paoli, A., A. Rubini, J. S. Volek, and K. A. Grimaldi. “Erratum: Beyond Weight Loss: A Review of the Therapeutic Uses of Very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) Diets.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition68, no. 5 (2014): 641. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2014.47.
  4. Jarrett, Stuart G., Julie B. Milder, Li-Ping Liang, and Manisha Patel. “The Ketogenic Diet Increases Mitochondrial Glutathione Levels.” Journal of Neurochemistry106, no. 3 (2008): 1044-051. doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2008.05460.x.
  5. Paoli, Antonio. “Ketogenic Diet for Obesity: Friend or Foe?” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health11, no. 12 (2014): 2092-107. doi:10.3390/ijerph110202092.
  6. Vranceanu, Maria. “Long Term Effects of a Ketogenic Diet with Mav Ketofast Pro Supplements in Obese Postmenopausal Women.” International Journal of Growth and Development1, no. 1 (2017): 33. doi:10.25081/ijgd.2017.v1i1.34.
  7. Freedland, Stephen J., John Mavropoulos, Amy Wang, Medha Darshan, Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, William J. Aronson, Pinchas Cohen, David Hwang, Bercedis Peterson, Timothy Fields, Salvatore V. Pizzo, and William B. Isaacs. “Carbohydrate Restriction, Prostate Cancer Growth, and the Insulin-like Growth Factor Axis.” The Prostate68, no. 1 (2007): 11-19. doi:10.1002/pros.20683.
  8. Allen, Bryan G., Sudershan K. Bhatia, Carryn M. Anderson, Julie M. Eichenberger-Gilmore, Zita A. Sibenaller, Kranti A. Mapuskar, Joshua D. Schoenfeld, John M. Buatti, Douglas R. Spitz, and Melissa A. Fath. “Ketogenic Diets as an Adjuvant Cancer Therapy: History and Potential Mechanism.” Redox Biology2 (2014): 963-70. doi:10.1016/j.redox.2014.08.002.
  9. “A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet Versus a Low-Fat Diet to Treat Obesity and Hyperlipidemia: A Randomized, Controlled Trial.” Yearbook of Pediatrics2006 (2006): 427-31. doi:10.1016/s0084-3954(07)70252-x.
  10. Bueno, Nassib Bezerra, Ingrid Sofia Vieira De Melo, Suzana Lima De Oliveira, and Terezinha Da Rocha Ataide. “Very-low-carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet v. Low-fat Diet for Long-term Weight Loss: A Meta-analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials.” British Journal of Nutrition110, no. 07 (2013): 1178-187. doi:10.1017/s0007114513000548.
  11. Paoli, Antonio. “Ketogenic Diet for Obesity: Friend or Foe?” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health11, no. 12 (2014): 2092-107. doi:10.3390/ijerph110202092.
  12. Asprey, Dave. Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster – in Just Two Weeks. New York, NY: Harper Wave, 2017.
  13. Slajerova, Martina. The Keto Diet Cookbook: More than 150 Delicious Low-carb, High-fat Recipes for Maximum Weight Loss and Imporved Health. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds, 2016.