How to read this article


These metabolic and neourodegenerative diseases show common features, such as oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and inflammation. Some intriguing possibilities, particularly for aerobic performance, but to date there very little evidence to improve overall athletic performance. After a week, the cyclist repeated the experiment with the opposite drink. Vary in the proportion of protein but are generally low. So why go to all this effort? As part of the carb-insulin hypothesis, people thought that maybe metabolism would also increase during ketosis.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if butter and bacon were “health foods”?


Shape and orientation matter to molecules and their actions, just like having right-handed and left-handed gloves or shoes matters. Each stereoisomer uses different enzymes for conversion, much like each lock has its own unique key. You want to supplement the right stereoisomer, rather than a random pile of ketone types. Usually in test tube chemistry, you get a mix of stereoisomers often around half one type, and half another type , unlike our body, which only uses and makes one version.

Some people like to think of ketone bodies as the fourth energy source for humans in addition to carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Ketosis, which just means having more ketone bodies than normal, should not be confused with ketoacidosis , which is a potentially dangerous metabolic situation of uncontrolled ketosis. If it senses acid levels rising as happens in ketosis , it responds by buffering with more alkaline molecules such as bicarbonate , changing blood levels of CO2, absorbing hydrogen ions, or telling the kidneys to excrete more dihydrogen phosphate and ammonium ions.

This usually happens in diabetics and alcoholics, since their normal metabolic mechanisms may not work properly. For the average healthy person, dietary ketosis or even brief fasting is generally safe. How do we get into ketosis? Ketogenesis We can make our own ketone bodies naturally, through the process of ketogenesis.

Our ancestors kicked off ketogenesis the good old fashioned way: Ketosis is essentially an effect of fasting. This means that many of the health effects of fasting may be due to ketosis itself, rather than something like energy restriction. This may have to do with our energy-hungry human brains. About 20 percent of our overall energy intake is devoted to feeding our brains.

And it may be this particular evolutionary adaptation — which perhaps began as a way to keep the thinking factory upstairs working when food was scarce — that also enables the brain-benefiting effects of the ketogenic diet.

Stored glucose our sugar-based fuel is actually rather heavy. Our body prefers to store most of our excess energy as body fat. When we eat normally, our brain gets enough energy from glucose that can easily pass the blood-brain barrier. By the way, the relative heaviness of stored glycogen is why many people report fast weight loss on a ketogenic or low-carb diet: Unfortunately, this water and glycogen comes right back once we start eating normally again.

Most people frown on starving children with epilepsy, so a ketogenic diet is the next best thing. Many people like to measure their ketosis with Ketostix, which test for ketones in the urine. Therefore, you may see different readings on the Ketostix, regardless of what is actually happening in your body. Supplement with ketones If ketones are what we want, why not just take them instead of making our own by fasting or cutting out carbohydrates?

This has a lot of cool possibilities. Check back in 10 years. The buzz is that ketone supplements can make you thin and cure whatever ails you. Actually, research on this topic goes back to the s.

All of it has been conducted using rats. Here are the findings. A recent study found that ketone supplementation extended survival in mice with metastatic cancer. For now, almost no studies on ketone supplementation have used human clinical trials. Will ketosis help me? Ketogenesis and ketosis are easy to study. Trust me, we scientists can barely keep the grad students from contaminating the super-purified water by leaving the lid off the jug, never mind organize an evil cabal of ketosis deniers.

To be fair, the introduction of anti-epileptic drugs in the late s onward did lead to less interest in dietary ketosis as a treatment for epileptic children. In these specific situations, a ketogenic diet or a structured intermittent fasting program done under close medical supervision for a specific objective, may be a useful as part of a multi-pronged treatment program that probably should include other therapeutic tools such as medication or other well-established health procedures.

Could help in some cases, but should be done with a clear purpose and carefully monitored. Ketones may help, in part, because they decrease oxidative stress, boost antioxidants and scavenge free radicals. Oxidation is a natural part of cellular metabolism, but too much oxidation, too fast, without the balance of antioxidants, contributes to many metabolic and other diseases.

If we can slow and regulate oxidation, it may improve our health and longevity. Neurodegeneration and brain injuries We know ketosis for epilepsy is a win — can ketosis help other types of brain illnesses and injuries? These metabolic and neourodegenerative diseases show common features, such as oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and inflammation. The presence of ketones also seems to improve outcomes from traumatic brain injury TBI. However, right now, most of these studies have been done on rats.

See above about getting medical supervision from someone other than Dr. We know that caloric restriction CR improves longevity in most organisms studied. We know that intermittent fasting seems to have some of the same benefits, sometimes. For now, any longevity benefits would be mostly speculative. And your th birthday cake would have to be a block of butter. Could we possibly enable people to tap into their stored body fat more effectively, and require less re-fueling from stuff like sugary energy gels?

You increase fat oxidation, spare glycogen, produce less lactate and use less oxygen at submaximal rates. It seems that combining ketones with carbs, rather than exclusively using one or the other, might offer some benefit. Then they drank the other half of their drink and biked as far as they could in 30 minutes. Supplementing with a combination of carbohydrates and ketones may improve performance in aerobic competitions. Some intriguing possibilities, particularly for aerobic performance, but to date there very little evidence to improve overall athletic performance.

Low-carb advocates in the late s and early s thought maybe they had stumbled on the key to fighting flab: Insulin is mainly a storage hormone: Its job is basically to help nutrients get into cells. For one thing, it got some of us unhooked from processed sugary and starchy treats, and thinking more about fiber content and healthy fats.

Unfortunately, insulin is not the only player. Nor does insulin act alone. Energy storage is governed largely by our brain , not a single hormone. The other upside to the low-carb approach was that people often ate more protein and more fat.

Which means we eat less. Which means we lose fat. Lower the carb intake, and our body will eventually release some water and glycogen. You may find it easy to eat less when all you can eat is protein and fat. You may start to have fantasies about a threesome: Not only that, you may be getting some serious scurvy and other nutrient deficiencies. As part of the carb-insulin hypothesis, people thought that maybe metabolism would also increase during ketosis.

With this dietary change, insulin went down while fatty acids and ketone bodies went up. Basal metabolism energy expenditure went up by about kcal per day.

The authors concluded that while there was a small increase in metabolism initially, that disappeared over the four weeks while insulin levels were still low. Is protein actually the key factor?

The authors of the study think that differences found in other studies comparing high and low-carb diets are because of differences in protein intake rather than carbohydrate intake in those studies. Protein promotes satiety and takes the most energy to digest and absorb, so differences in weight loss may be net calories absorbed , rather than decreases in insulin or increases in metabolism. Gaining lean mass As you may have read above, insulin is mainly a storage hormone.

As in building things. As in getting swole. For the most part, we need insulin — along with other hormones, such as growth hormone and testosterone — to create an anabolic, muscle-building environment.

Trying to build muscle while in ketosis is like stepping on the gas and the brake at the same time. However, as with athletic performance, we may discover that there is some benefit to supplementary ketones while building muscle.

Build muscle with a more appropriately anabolic diet that includes carbohydrates particularly around training , and supplement with ketones if you want to experiment. After reading this article, you might feel like nutrition is more complex than you thought. Our next group kicks off shortly. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article. Swets and Zeitlinger, Old Remedies for Epilepsy: Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal. The use of diet in the treatment of epilepsy. Cox PJ, Clarke K.

Therapeutic ketosis with ketone ester delays central nervous system oxygen toxicity seizures in rats. Ketogenic diet decreases oxidative stress and improves mitochondrial respiratory complex activity.

Energy expenditure and body composition changes after an isocaloric ketogenic diet in overweight and obese men. Am J Clin Nutr. Linking mitochondrial dysfunction, metabolic syndrome and stress signaling in neurodegeneration. Effects of exogenous ketone supplementation on blood ketone, glucose, triglyceride, and lipoprotein levels in Sprague-Dawley rats. Over the course of 12 months together, we help them get into the best shape of their lives and stay that way for good.

Want to coach in-person? Or a combination of the two? Precision Nutrition also does extensive research on key nutrition and health topics and publishes regular articles and infographics on hot topics in the field. Learn the best ways to coach your clients on eating and living better. Become a better coach. Learn how to change lives.

Feel like your body is working against you? Then you'll love these 5 important lessons. Learn how to stop dieting and start feeling better immediately. Feel busy and out of control with your fitness? These 5 lessons will change your life. Learn how to take back control and get in awesome shape. Precision Nutrition is the home of the world's top nutrition coaches.

Coaching clients and certifying professionals since