Weight loss is the most popular benefit of the keto diet, and for good reason. Being in a fat-burning state allows the body to use stored fat for fuel. But the diet’s ability to stabilize blood sugar levels is perhaps even more significant. By eliminating significant sources of carbohydrates, blood sugar levels don’t spike as high as they normally would. This reduces the amount of insulin needed to control blood sugar levels. As a result, blood sugar levels stabilize and decrease without crashing all the way down to hypoglycemia, which can cause feelings of weakness, agitation, and sluggishness. Additionally, the steady fuel source of ketones can reduce appetite. Although I don’t believe in the idea of “calories in = calories out,” eating less because you aren’t hungry will lead to weight loss regardless.
Insulin and Blood Sugar
This article found that nasal insulin spray can reduce appetite and food consumption. The brain is an energy-intensive organ, and having an alternative fuel source is essential for survival and cognitive function. Glucose is the brain’s primary fuel source, obtained from nutrients in the bloodstream. Unlike other tissues, the brain does not store energy locally. However, a significant problem arises when insulin resistance occurs due to a high-carbohydrate diet, leading to Type 3 diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease. Simply put, glucose is used as fuel by cells, but insulin resistance occurs when cells become unresponsive to insulin’s “key” to allow glucose inside.
However, eating excessive carbohydrates causes insulin bombardment, and your cells stop responding to insulin, becoming insulin resistant. This creates two serious issues: firstly, your cells lack fuel, leading to cell death and low energy levels. Secondly, high blood sugar levels become dangerous if left untreated, causing ketoacidosis, a condition where your body produces ketone bodies excessively in an attempt to survive. Fortunately, we can avoid all these complications by increasing metabolic flexibility through the keto diet, which helps our bodies become fat-adapted.
Our carbohydrate intake would traditionally have fluctuated day to day, season to season. In the summer and autumn, there would be berries on bushes, sour apples and peaches in trees (UK seasonal fruit) and we would eat them because they’re a good source of energy and they’re available. But then the winter and the spring would come around. No berries, no fruit, nothing even really resembling a carbohydrate. We would be living on what we had stored, and animal products. Eggs, milk, any animals we could hunt, or any fish we could catch. This would likely be a period of sustained ketosis, and this period would reset our insulin sensitivity levels. Mimicking this period of low carb diets, and even fasting are really simple and traditional ways we maintained our insulin sensitivity. In the 1700s the average person consumed less than 10lbs of sugar per year.
Now the average person consumes well over 100lbs of sugar. No wonder your cells are sick of insulin knocking at their door. When we give the body this opportunity to function exclusively on fat we allow it to develop the metabolic flexibility to be adaptive and use the fuels available to it. Having these ketones available provides a great source of fuel, particularly in these diabetic conditions, because insulin isn’t required for the ketone bodies to enter the cell.
The ketogenic diet is a well-documented and established treatment for epilepsy, though not fully understood. Most people with epilepsy see improvement while following the diet, possibly due to changes in brain function, metabolism or neuromodulation. Results have been conclusive, with some people completely stopping seizures through strict adherence to the diet.
As more people seek solutions for their health conditions, they turn to the ketogenic diet which has shown positive results beyond epilepsy. This is because many modern diseases share the same underlying pathologies of oxidative stress and nutritional deficiencies. The diet works by utilizing the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties of ketone bodies. By emphasizing fresh meat, healthy fats, and low-carbohydrate vegetables, the diet eliminates many unhealthy foods while increasing nutrient density and fat-soluble vitamins that are often deficient in low-fat diets. To learn more about the importance of fat-soluble nutrients, check out my article.
Applying A Healthy ketogenic Approach
Now that you understand the benefits of the keto diet, let’s discuss how to get started. For beginners, it’s recommended to track macronutrients (fat, carbs, and protein) to ensure adequate fat intake and avoid excessive carbs. You can download my free book on the topic of weight loss, and if it’s helpful, please share the information and donate as you see fit. To summarize, aim for high fat intake (80%) and low carbohydrates (<5%), including organ meats, butter, fatty fish, bacon, eggs, and olive oil. Although organ meats may seem unappealing and challenging to cook, they are a great source of nutrition. We have many low-carb and keto-friendly recipes in our growing recipe section to help you stay healthy and lean.
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