Dr. Osborn: Why a Ketogenic Diet Can Work for You
January 6, 2017
Dr. Brett Osborn, a board-certified neurosurgeon, nutrition specialist and our featured sports expert, walks us through the science behind a keto diet:
“Ketogenic diets work for everyone, period. After all, from a physiologic standpoint, we are all the same! That said, if you’re looking to shed fat fast (and many are), a ketogenic diet might be your best bet. But not so fast: there are several things you must consider before hopping onto the keto-bandwagon.
“Keto” is the craze nowadays, akin to “Paleo” several years ago. Truth be told, both diets are similar in that they are both based on low insulin signaling. And THAT is what drives fat loss. A ketogenic diet, however, entails far less daily carbohydrate intake than Paleo. And this can be a ball buster. Individuals have difficulty tolerating the low carbohydrate load because let’s face it, most of us are addicted to carbohydrates. Our brains, in particular, are conditioned to run on glucose. By depriving the brain of glucose during the induction phase of the diet, you strip it of its fuel supply to a degree. The result? Lethargy, irritability, and the so-called “keto-flu.” This is compounded by electrolyte (sodium, for example) shifts that occur due to the aggressive diuresis from low serum insulin levels.
Both phenomena, however, are indicative of the fact that you are doing something right! And both are easily addressed. Cure the “flu,” with an exogenous ketone product such as BPI’s Keto Aminos™, and the diuresis with aggressive water intake. That will get you through the induction phase. After a week or so of low carbohydrate intake, your body will be somewhat adapted to ketones and free fatty acids as sources of cellular energy. What does that mean? That means that your body will be calling upon its own fat stores aggressively to fuel cellular processes. The result? Turbocharged fat loss and those high school jeans again!
And here’s the great thing: It works for everyone because we’re physiologically identical at base level. Deplete your body of carbohydrate (and liver glycogen specifically) during the induction phase, and your body will be forced to generate ketones, the breakdown products of fat, in essence. Instead of fueling your machine with sugar (who wants to pour sugar in their gas tank?), why not fuel it with a cleaner source of energy, fat, or more specifically, fat breakdown products (ketones)? After all, gasoline is simply purified oil or fat, right? And your car runs on it. You should too! It certainly shouldn’t be gracing your abdomen nor your thighs. After all, fat is simply stored energy. Use it!
The ketogenic diet is best suited for those wishing to shed excess fat off their waistlines. It is not for those wishing to amass muscle in time for beach season. In fact, at best, you will maintain muscle but not add it, as ketones tend to have anti-catabolic effects but certainly not anabolic effects. You are dieting after all, right? And classically, muscle tends to be shed in addition to fat. This can be tempered to some degree with consistent usage of BCAA’s. But don’t fret. Ketones themselves exert a variety of positive effects on the body: They are anti-cancer agents, serve to lower body inflammation and from a functional standpoint, energize you. Therefore, by virtue of the presence of ketones, you are getting healthier!
So what are you waiting for? Get serious and get going…”
Dr. O is a Team BPI Sports’ fitness and nutrition expert.