Hi I’m Dr. Connie.

I recently enjoyed some time at the beach, and on our drive there, we listened to a podcast about ketogenic diet.

This particular podcast was done by Tim Ferris, in which he interviewed a professor at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine.

For those of you who don’t know Tim Ferris, he’s the author of a best selling book, The 4 Hour Work Week, and he also leads a popular podcast.

You can argue that this school is a reputable institution and this professor is definitely credible.  However, I was conflicted because he talked about extreme ketosis, giving a message of “don’t try this at home”, without proper medical guidance.

I was opposed to the extreme position he held concerning this diet.

While I do believe that a ketogenic diet is beneficial, I want to talk to you about the importance of keeping things in balance. But, first learn what is a Ketogenic diet for weight loss:

What is a Ketogenic Diet?

Generally, a ketogenic diet allows the body to rely on burning fat for energy, rather than carbohydrates.

So this diet includes high amounts of good quality fats, less protein, and not so much carbs.

What Are Ketones?

The “keto” in ketogenic diet comes from the fact that the body is producing small fuel molecules, called ketones.

Since the brain needs to be supplied with energy and nutrients due to its high energy needs, it needs fuel in the form of glucose or ketones.

Like glucose, ketones can be used as alternative fuel for the body when blood sugar is low.

Ketones are typically produced in the liver from fat, and this occurs when your body doesn’t have available blood sugar to burn as energy.

So on a ketogenic diet, when you decrease the amount of carbs (sugar) you eat, your body begins to run on fat.

The result?  Insulin levels become low and fat burn increases dramatically.

Remember, ketones are a byproduct of burning fat as energy.

This is why the secondary benefit of a ketogenic diet is weight loss.

Ketosis

When the body produces ketones, it is known to be in ketosis.

The fastest way to obtain the state of ketosis is by fasting.

You see, a ketogenic diet, combined with intermittent fasting, has been proven to reduce oxidative stress, ultimately reducing inflammation in the body.

Why?

The more you eat, and the more frequently you eat, your body needs to continually process the foods you consume.

It takes significant energy to digest food, and this constant use of energy makes our bodies more vulnerable to “free radicals”, which cause oxidative damage, ultimately resulting in inflammation.

Similar to running the motor in a car, the more you run your car, the more toxic fumes are released in the form of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.

So to take away, a ketogenic diet is a high fat and moderate protein diet with very little carbs. To take it a step further, more research is proving the health benefits of fasting because it gets our bodies in a ketogenic state.

Make sense?

I believe basic physiology supports this concept.

However, in the podcast I listened to, the professor talked about almost eliminating vegetables and fruits completely because of their carbohydrate content.

Even an avocado would not allowed, as it contains 11.5 grams of carbs, nevermind the good monosaturated fat, minerals, and fiber that it contains.

This is where I have issues with taking any physiological concept too far.

Learn what is a Ketogenic diet for weight loss, and use it with intermittent fasting, for up to 24 hours once a week, for the reasons listed above. I personally use it and advocate it for you as well as my patients.

As for limiting vegetables and fruits, especially vegetables, this is something I do not agree with. Here’s why:

Vegetables Contain Phytonutrients

It’s important to note that unlike a typical ketogenic diet where the intake of vegetables is severely limited (due to carb content), I’d argue that we also need great amounts of phytonutrients, micronutrients, and minerals from such vegetables, including avocados.

Remember, antioxidants have a protective effect on our bodies as well.

They increase our telomere length, which is directly correlated to our health.  [2]

High Quality Dietary Fats

High quality fats are important because the energy center in our cells is made up of fatty acids, specifically, omega 3 fatty acids.

The omega 3 fatty acids help to regenerate the membrane, or lining, of the mitochondria where our cells produce energy.

Low Glycemic Impact

Research indicates that low glycemic diets tend to decrease the risk of certain diseases, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. [1]

Many vegetables are very low glycemic, and keep our blood sugar levels under control, due to their fiber content.

Metabolism

What is metabolism?

It’s the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life.

The mitochondria in our cells is responsible for metabolism.

Consumption of too much carbs (glucose) and toxic fats can poison our mitochondria because of the oxidation that occurs with these. This oxidation degenerates the mitochondria cell wall, resulting in less efficient energy production.

In addition, a bad diet high in simple carbs and unhealthy fat, along with a lack of exercise= the acceleration of aging. [3]

Ketogenic diets are also touted as being protective of our nervous system.

So the higher good fat consumption leads to increased beta hydroxybutyrate, which are ketones that have beneficial impacts on our health.

Research indicates that beta hydroxybutyrate is not just a fuel, but a “super fuel”, meaning it more efficiently produces energy than from glucose or fatty acid.  [4]

To put it all together, ketogenic diet has the following benefits:

  1. It mimics a fasting state; the body switches from using glucose as fuel to using ketones as fuel.
  2. It’s used as treatment for kids with uncontrolled seizures.
  3. It has a fat to carb ratio of 4 (fat) to 1 (carb)
  4. It’s also known to treat Alzheimers by having a protective effect.
  5. It’s beneficial for Parkinson’s disease by improving mitochondrial efficiency (energy producing part of our cells)
  6. Helps with brain tumors, Autism spectrum disorders, and migraines   [5]

And the effects of a ketogenic diet include:

  1. Reduces inflammation
  2. Enhances mitochondrial regeneration
  3. Enhances energy production
  4. Prevents cell death
  5. Improves insulin sensitivity
  6. Increases leptin sensitivity (the hormone that keeps our appetite in check)

Additionally, the intermittent fast is beneficial because it triggers our body to utilize fat as fuel, converting fat into ketones in the the liver so our body can use as fuel. Basically, fasting gets us into the state of ketosis.

Ultimately, the health of our mitochondria, as mentioned above, is what we are after.

So before we talk about “how” to do this diet, it’s important to know your resting metabolic rate. This will allow you to tailor your calorie intake according to your personal needs.

So the RMR for :

Men:  9.99 x your weight (kg) + height  (cm) – 4.92 x age (y) + 5

Women:  9.99 x your weight (kg) + height  (cm) – 4.92 x age (y) + 5

How to Implement the Ketogenic Diet in your Life

The types of foods we eat and how we eat can impact how we age throughout the lifespan.

This is our version of the ketogenic diet I refer to as the Alkaline Food Plan.

The essential principle of the plan is to keep a balance and the following:

  1. Eat foods high in phytonutrients, typically veggies with color:  green, yellow, orange, and red peppers, kale, dark leafy greens, squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, celery, etc.
  2. Keep a low glycemic impact on your body:  those foods that tend to be less in carbs, more good fats, protein, and fiber, such as nuts, seeds, green leafy veggies, grass-fed beef, organic chicken, eggs, avocados, etc.
  3. Consume good fats and oils:  clarified organic butter (ghee), extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil
  4. Be conscious of cooking techniques:  less frying and burning, and more slow, steam cooking
  5. Fast:  calorie and carb reduction for overall health benefit.
  6. Eat organic, clean foods: refer to the EWG ‘s Dirty Dozen list to know which foods contain the most contamination. These are the foods you should definitely purchase organic.

I hope this information was helpful to you all. Thanks so much for watching.

As always, share this blog, leave comments, and subscribe to my YouTube channel and newsletter on www.conniejeon.com.

See you next time.

References

1.  Am J Clin Nutr.2008 Mar;87(3):627-37

2.  Marcon et al. Mutagenesis pp. 1–9, 2011 

3.  Ageing Res Rev. 2006 May;5(2):144-64. Epub 2006 Apr 21.Lipotoxicity, overnutrition and energy metabolism in aging. Slawik M, Vidal-Puig AJ. 

4.  GEORGE F. CAHILL, JR. and RICHARD L. VEECH 

5.  Front Pharmacol. 2012 Apr 9;3:59 J Med Food 16 (11) 2013, 965–967