Scientist say a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic-style diet is better for weight loss, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome than diets focused obsessively on calorie restriction. Obesity experts say the longstanding emphasis on calorie counting has failed, and we need to move beyond the "calories in, calories out" dogma if we're serious about defeating the global tsunami of obesity and diabetes. According to Ludwig, the true cause of weight gain isn't eating too many calories, but eating a high-carb diet that's rich in refined carbs.
Ludwig join a growing list of medical experts who are dispelling the myth that eating fat makes you fat, and that calorie restriction is best for weight loss.
Eating refined carbs like a 100-calorie pack of jelly beans (which are fat-free) produces a huge insulin spike that signals your fat cells to store calories.
You'll also feel fuller, longer, after eating the nuts, while the jelly beans will make your blood sugar surge and promptly crash, causing you to quickly feel hungry again. Surges in blood sugar and insulin also leads to diabetes, inflammation and metabolic syndrome, so by curbing these with a low-carb, high-fat diet such as the Atkins and ketogenic diets, we simultaneously stem several diseases in one fell swoop. Ludwig's JAMA commentary comes on the heels of new scientific research suggesting that unprocessed saturated fat is not the cause of weight gain, diabetes or heart disease.
What fuels weight gain and disease is inflammation — which is caused by a high-carb diet — especially one high in sugar, said Dr. The irony is that the foods we were taught are good for us — breads, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes — are the very ones that are killing us, said Westman. Westman has been aware of the health benefits of dietary fat for years and is glad there's a growing vindication of this important macronutrient. Studies show the ketogenic diet is better than drugs for managing epilepsy-induced seizures, can reverse type 2 diabetes, and manage cancer. Volek, author of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, is encouraged by the increasing popularity of high-fat diets like the ketogenic diet, as more people are beginning to accept that eating fat does not make you fat. September 2009 – I eliminated most sources of sugar in my diet (for a definition of “sugar” click here) six days per week. January 2011 – I reduced starch intake to one serving per day, but continued to eat fruits and vegetables in an unrestricted manner.
May 2011 – Reduced carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams per day and reduced protein intake to approximately 120 grams per day, entering a state of nutritional ketosis.
Another way to see the implications of these changes on my actual intake is shown in the figure below. The most externally obvious change that occurred as I ratcheted down my carbohydrate intake was a decrease in body fat.
The other (profoundly simple) “test” I used to track my weight loss was my waist measurement.
Between February 2010 and July 2010 I had a bad bout of swine flu, which left me in pretty rough shape for a while.
Pay more attention to fat mass, separately, than overall body weight, and do the same with lean mass. Most people, especially physically active people, probably experience some seasonal variation in body fat, especially at low levels. The Ketogenic Diet forces the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates, so the Keto diet is a low-carb way of eating.
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Remember when your high school biology teacher said that the brain absolutely NEEDS glucose to function? Originally devised as a therapy for drug-resistant epilepsy in children, the ketogenic diet (keto) has been gaining popularity lately. Simple speaking, strict carbohydrate restriction depletes liver glycogen and forces the body to turn to other macronutrients for energy. There’s a reason neuroscientists and neurologists still haven’t figured out why keto is so effective in treating epilepsy. Ketone metabolism generate pH-lowering metabolites, hence a change in pH was proposed early on as a way keto influences brain function.
Mitochondrial respiration, while generating ATP, also produces many reactive oxygen species (ROS). Poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the keto diet, such as DHA and EPA have garnered a lot of attention. Direct injection of ACA and acetone into animal models of epilepsy prevented seizures, hinting that ketone bodies may directly suppress seizure activity. Keto seems to suppress the expression of pro-cell death proteins such as caspase-3 and clusterin (both of which mediates cell death in Huntington’s disease, among others), which correlates with enhanced recovery from seizure episode or stroke in patients.
The ketogenic diet (along with other low-carb diets) is gaining popularity as a weight-loss measure. Whether keto promotes cognitive improvement and neuroprotection in the general public remains to be seen.
Edited Sep 2,2013: For those interested in exploring more, here is an accessible journal review that looks at potential therapeutic uses of nutritional ketosis in many other diseases. As for your question, I’ll point you to this blog post by Mark Sisson, who explains it quite thorough. I would like to use this for an assignment for school, what is the name of the author and date published? If you mean the sources that I read to put the post together, they’re listed at the bottom of the post. I do largely agree that the Biology teacher nonsense that says your brain absolutely needs glucose to function is not accurate, but in my own experience in ketosis, I will say that glucose is a superior fuel for the brain. David Ludwig, director of the Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, wrote in JAMA.
This is because our body stores fat when we experience insulin spikes, which are caused by eating too much sugar and processed grains like white bread.
The way to lose weight is to prevent insulin spikes, which the LCHF Atkins and ketogenic diets do. The true cause of obesity, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and diabetes is a high-carb diet, especially one high in sugar. Eric Westman champions a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic-style diet for weight loss and reversing type 2 diabetes. Westman said eating a diet high in healthy fats such as olive oil, whole eggs, grass-fed beef, and pastured butter not only accelerates weight loss, but reduces inflammation. For people who want to lose weight without deprivation and enjoy optimal health, Westman wholeheartedly champions a low carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet.


Volek has followed a ketogenic diet for the past 20 years, and credits it for his excellent health.
Volek explained that by drastically reducing carbs in our diet and replacing them with healthy, unprocessed fats, we boost fat-burning, eliminate nagging carb cravings, experience more stable blood sugar levels, and enjoy better mood.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Samantha enjoys running, cycling and photography. As a result, I probably lost more lean mass than I would have liked, or expected to, even transiently. My body fat probably fluctuations between 7 and 10% over the course of year now, often a function of activity type (more than activity level). It’s a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet (LCHF) designed to force the body to go into a state called metabolic ketosis.
And why aren’t pharmaceutical companies racing to package keto into a convenient treat-all 3-a-day pill? Proteins are metabolically costly to utilize (not to mention dangerous – heart is also a muscle), and is often used as a last resort.
Holistically, the body is now running in a different metabolic state with changes in hormone levels (to say the least) which influences the nervous system. However there’s no evidence that keto significantly lowers brain pH, although mild decreases in pH may be possible in local microdomains. In fact, BHB may provide a more efficient source of energy for brain per unit oxygen than glucose. An acute increase in ROS is associated with stroke damage, while accumulation of ROS is one of the major hallmarks of aging and age-related neurodegenerative diseases.
Some evidence links them to decreasing neuronal excitability in hippocampus, which may contribute to decreasing seizure generation. At the moment it’s impossible to tease apart which mechanisms are the driving forces behind keto’s powers, and which ones are secondary manifestations.
As increased ROS accumulation and mitochondrial dysfunction are common threads in age-related neurodegenerative diseases, it is conceivable that keto could be beneficial with its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory actions.
Some go on the keto diet because they experience “fewer sugar crashes, enhanced energy levels, mental clarity and decreased hunger”. A small study involving 21 obese women showed impaired higher cognitive function after 28-days on the keto diet. Children following ketogenic diets have higher rates of dehydration, constipation, and kidney stones. While waiting for science to catch up though, I’m going for that bacon, spinach & cheese omelet.
Note I am not promoting using keto as a sole treatment option – if there are efficient pharmaceuticals available please do not forgo them in favour of ketosis.
Those will direct you to individual studies that focused on different aspects of neuroprotection by the ketogenic diet.
I am a writer and when I was in ketosis (due to medical issues at one point I was restricted completely from all sugars, for a time) I found it hard to do my job; I could still read, write, and function at a passable level but I found myself getting stuck on vocabulary, metaphors, and taking longer to think or recall things, generally. I am leery of the absolutely no carb diets, as a result, but find the low carb ones to likely be good. I function on ketones 100% of the time, 10 times more effectively than I did while consuming foods that converted to glucose. I attended a top 10 university, and have always been intent on being at my highest caliber, in all regards.
I’ve also been on a ketogenic diet for the last 3 months, and just got off of it a little over a week ago. The issue, from an evolutionary perspective, though, is that today’s sources of glucose are extreme, and the dopamine reward that we were wired for in the early days, when glucose containing foods were limited, are now out of control. I hadn’t considered the dopamine effect, but I remember feeling that same dulling of drive, ambition, excitement, and interest.
Figure out the right combination of salts and vegetation to make up for his low glucose levels or just eat berries? When I was restricted from carbs and sugars by my doctor for a time, it essentially meant that the only food I could eat was meat and vegetables. Nevertheless imagine if you added some great graphics or videos to give your posts more, “pop”! Past research has shown that lowering blood sugar through diet can prevent kidney failure but not reverse it in patients with diabetes.A  Lead author Charles Mobbs, a neuroscientist at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, said that this study -- in which mice were fed a high-fat diet of 5% carbohydrate, 8% protein and a whopping 87% fat -- was the first to show that dietary intervention alone is enough to reverse kidney failure caused by diabetes.
Sugar raises insulin, which causes inflammation, which is the fundamental cause of heart disease.
Restricting carbs allows the body to use stored fat for fuel rather than the limited fuel obtained from carb intake, he told me. Volek doesn't have a weight problem, but follows the ketogenic diet for its many health benefits, which include reduced inflammation, improved mood, and protection from diabetes and heart disease.
Dominic D'Agostino told me the ketogenic diet can prevent and treat metastatic cancer because cancer is a metabolic disease, and cancer cells thrive on sugar. My goal was to reduce my waist to 32 inches and I calculated I would need to lose 20 pounds of fat, without losing any muscle mass, to do this. Lean mass took a big hit initially (although I believe in my case, the prolonged illness didn’t help), but then recovered. Under severe carbohydrate restriction, the brain can adapt and start burning ketones as fuel. With the advent of books like “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and “Why we get fat”, LCHF diets are increasingly touted as the magic bullet to weight loss. By providing adequate amounts of fat, the liver uses dietary and body fat as fuel and produces ketones.
Locally, the brain is running on 3 types of semi interchangeable ketone bodies, the effects of which often can’t be teased apart.
A microarray study showed that keto induced a coordinated upregulation of genes encoding energy metabolism and mitochondrial enzymes, increasing the number of mitochondria in the hippocampus, a brain area associated with learning and memory.
Keto can induce upregulation of mitochondrial uncoupling proteins (UCPs) in rat, which correlates with decreased ROS generation and increased resistance towards chemically induced seizure. PUFAs can also directly act on receptors called peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), the latter of which translocates to the nucleus and shuts down expression of pro-inflammatory factors. On the contrary, another study involving 83 obese patients showed improved blood lipid profile after being on a 24-week ketogenic diet without significant side effects. A caveat of most of these studies is the lack of an adequate control group, making results hard to interpret. Other reported adverse effects include hyperlipidemia, impaired neutrophil function, optic neuropathy, osteoporosis, and protein de?ciency. The reason, guaranteed, that you couldn’t focus on ketogenic protocols is micronutrient depletion.


I’ve put a lot of time and focus on my lifestyle, nutrition, supplementation and workout regimes, ever since I was 12. Common words and names of familiar faces would escape me more regularly than they’d come. I don’t wonder if these different diets work for different people for different reasons. Consider your response to me, right here: in order to make up for the mental fog that came with your ketogenic diet you had to formulate a complicated strategy that involved worrying about micrornutrients and likely had to consume (and still have to consume) supplements to make up for the sodium deficiencies and clear the mental fog.
Modern convenience is what makes this diet possible: ironically, also what makes it necessary, for many. A  "This finding has significant implications for the tens of thousands of Americans diagnosed with diabetic kidney failure, and possibly other complications, each year," he said.
It’s a pretty remarkable test that is now the gold standard for measuring body composition. As silly as this sounds, I recall, back in the spring of 2009 while stuck in an airport, using calculus to integrate the volume of fat I needed to lose from my waist (both visceral – around my organs – and under my skin) to get down to a 32-inch waist. Total body weight is shown on top of each bar, while the blue bar represents lean tissue and the red bar represents fat. While there is considerable interest in the medical community in using the ketogenic diet to manage metabolic syndrome or prevent cardiovascular disease, more attention has focused on its role in drug-resistant seizure management and (potentially) neuroprotective effects in brain damage.
Hence it’s hard to say whether specific molecular and cellular alterations observed clinically or experimentally in animal models are a direct effect of ketosis, or simply a secondary phenomenon.
Discarded a while back, this hypothesis recently resurfaced as the mechanism behind keto’s positive effect on Type II bipolar disorder management, which relies on blood acidification. This increased energy capacity has been shown to enable hippocampal neurons to better withstand low glucose exposure, which happens in stroke. Keto also increases the body’s own antioxidant defense system, namely glutathione levels in the hippocampus and protects mitochondrial DNA from ROS damage. As inflammation increasingly recognized as a contributor to seizures, Alzheimer’s and metabolic syndrome, this mechanism may be a crucial one in keto’s favorable effects. However, direct application of the two ketones had no effect on (1) excitatory responses in hippocampal neurons after stimulation (2) spontaneous epilepsy-like activity in a brain slice model of epilepsy (3) whole-cell currents evoked by glutamate, kainate, and GABA in cultured hippocampal neurons. It may improve cognition in patients with neurodegeneration or enhance mood stability in patients with Type II bipolar disorder. Based on the above studies, keto is touted as a safe, effective tool for weight loss, with the added bonus of improved cognition.
However, ketogenic diet for the management of seizure is different than that for weight-loss.
My motivation sucked – although I could focus once I got into the zone, it took a very long time and great effort to get there in the first place. You do tend to read stories of people who survive on diets that would kill most other people so it stands to reason. I ended up having to set my eating on a schedule, after awhile, because eating had become more a chore and I was actually consuming too few calories, barely eating a meal a day.
Back when I was in high school we relied on a combination of calipers (in the hands of an experienced user) and something called hydrostatic testing, where you are weighed in and out of water to calculate your percentage of body fat. It’s actually an easy problem if you can remember how to integrate the volume of an oval “cylinder” and you know the density of fat.
Hence, in September 2009, I weighed 195 pounds, of which 156 was lean, 39 was fat, and my body fat (the number below) was 20%. In the last decade, keto has been shown to improve memory in patients at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, stabilize mood in type II bipolar disorder, reduce symptoms in Parkinson’s disease and even ameliorate some behavioral and social deficits in autism. All three can be delivered into the brain and metabolically converted into ATP in both neurons and glia.
Nevertheless, several hypotheses have been put forward to explain keto’s neuroprotective effects. Better bioenergetics is proposed to limit seizure activity by stabilizing neuron resting membrane potential (so they’re not as excitable) or activate KATP channels through adenosine release. A few studies in epileptic children and healthy volunteers demonstrate that keto exterts a biphasic effect on cognition, with initial lethargy and subsequent heightened vitality, physical functioning, and alertness.
The former generally requires 80-90% fat calories (although this has decreased slightly in the Modified Atkins Diet) while the latter proposes ~60% fat calories with sufficient protein for muscle maintenance. I have also been in very good physical condition for 15+ years, never having more than 8% body fat, nor being incapable of running a sub-6 min mile or bench press nearly 2x my body weight. Rather than only consuming veggies, nuts and avocado for my carbs, I reintroduced blueberries.
My aunt and uncle are on that strict paleo diet that sounds similar to what you are doing with this ketogenic diet and if it works for you and you can keep at it, permanently, you should make it a lifestyle. I do sometimes wonder (jokingly) if the sheer boredom of these diets is what makes them good at cutting calories down for their users as well (if I was restricted to gruel, essentially, I would eat enough to sustain me and never be driven to overeat like I might be with junk food, for example).
Doing in the “wrong” way can result in equal loss of fat and lean mass (or, worse yet, disproportionate loss of lean mass). The three are interrelated: BHB and ACA can convert into each other, while ACA can turn into acetone. There are no studies directly addressing if energy efficiency is the reason for cognitive improvement in neurodegenerative diseases under keto, or if it contributes to enhanced cognitive performance in healthy individuals.
I suspected reduced dopamine (reduced drive, excitement and passion), and possibly acetylcholine (poor memory). As for your and my differences, genetics, epigenetics and possibly even muscle mass, may be the difference between your lower glucose needs than mine.
I have often thought that part of what makes it such a good fit for him are his food allergies – he has a ton of them, from lactose intolerance to getting diarrhea when consuming certain kinds of chocolate and nuts.
Or, perhaps in time, we’ll see that too much time in ketosis, rather than cycling, leads to thyroid issues, blood-glucose insensitivities, etc. Paleo diet, in the strict sense, seems to cut most allergenic foods out (and is the closest thing to the ketogenic diet I can think of for an example).
Without any loss of lean tissue, I had reduced fat mass to 13 pounds and body fat to under 8%.
Although most of these studies were unblinded (hence placebo can’t be ruled out), the effect is still amazing.
Well, I realized it was because I was getting substantially less work done at work each day.



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