Do Keto Diets Work??
Ketogenic (or keto diet) diets are one of the latest dietary trends to sweep the diet market. The idea is you reduce your carbohydrate intake to below 50g per day allowing your body to shift mostly to fat as it’s primary energy source.
During usual metabolism the muscles and organs use a combination of glucose and fat as it’s main energy sources. The central nervous system on the other hand uses only glucose as it’s fuel source.
During periods of very low carbohydrate intake glucose is unavailable meaning our body’s need to think fast. Luckily it has an answer. Our body’s begin metabolising more fatty acids for energy.
Usually fat metabolism follows a sequence of events which ultimately provides energy. During periods of low glucose availability this sequence is disrupted. Some of the fat is converted to glucose in the liver to help with glucose supply. With the usual process of fat breakdown disrupted the liver needs to find an alternative way of meeting it’s fat/energy quota. It does this by producing what we call ketone body’s.
Ketone body’s are an alternative energy source to glucose made from fat breakdown. These can fuel the central nervous system and take up the slack in times of low glucose. When ketone body’s are high you are in ‘ketosis’.
It is this process the keto diet manipulates. Ketosis is a natural process and can happen during periods of starvation, low carbohydrate diets, in type 1 diabetes when insufficient insulin is present and in some cases during excessive alcohol intake or exercise.
Supporters of such diets argue because we can manage without glucose intake it is not an essential nutrient. Others argue glucose is so important we have to be able to make it from fat and protein sources. However, such arguments are based on theory and so I like to delve into the evidence and see if there is anything to this.
I will write a full blog about diabetes and keto diets as soon as possible.