The Ketogenic Diet (or keto diet) is a “low carb” diet that is getting a lot of notice today. However, it has been around for almost a century. First developed to reduce the number of seizures in patients with epilepsy, the keto diet promotes excess body fat loss and produces positive effects on, hunger, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels (1).
The ketogenic diet works by changing the “fuel source” that your body uses for energy. When we eat foods with sugar and starch (carbs), these foods are broken down into insulin and glucose that our body uses for fuel. If we eat too much of these foods, anything left over is stored as body fat. The keto diet shifts this process by drastically reducing your intake of carbohydrates. If no carbohydrates are allowed to be stored in your muscle and soft tissues for energy, your body will naturally utilize fat deposits for energy. This reliance on your own body fat for energy when carbs aren’t available is called ketosis. In order to achieve this state, a severe reduction of foods with starch (carbohydrates) and sugars is necessary.
The Ketogenic Diet and Hunger
This state of ketosis tricks your body into thinking you are fasting through a strict elimination of glucose. Not only does this result in a rapid loss of body fat, but it also curbs hunger.
The ketogenic diet produces ketones that help to control hormones related to satiety:
• Ghrelin, a hormone that causes increased appetite and triggers the feeling of hunger
• Cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone that causes you to feel full (2)
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Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
We’ve talked about this benefit already, but it is necessary to emphasize the sometimes immediate effects a keto diet can have on weight loss. A British Journal of Nutrition study in 2013 found that those who followed a ketogenic diet not only lost weight quickly but also “achieved better long-term body weight and cardiovascular risk factor management when compared with individuals assigned to a conventional low-fat diet (i.e. a restricted-energy diet with less than 30 percent of energy from fat).” (3)
Slows Down Aging
The keto diet reduces oxidative stress, which is responsible for some disorders and diseases attributed to aging. Oxidative stress involves free radical damage to cells and higher than normal insulin levels that promote oxidative stress. Adhering to a ketogenic diet decreases your insulin levels, which allows ketone formation for use by the body for energy. In addition, people with type 2 diabetes may experience stabilization of their blood glucose due to ketone formation.
Reduces Risks of Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Disease
Ketogenic foods are low in carbohydrates and high in proteins, which can help prevent development of high blood sugar, hypertension/high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other factors promoting heart disease and metabolic syndrome, a condition involving a person suffering from at least three of the following medical issues: high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high-serum triglycerides.
Ketogenic diets may also reduce or eliminate symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome, lower systemic inflammation, decrease pain caused by inflammation and improve non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Does the Keto Diet Work While on Bioidentical Hormones?
Yes! In fact, if you are on a keto diet and have not suffered any side effects, supplementing the diet with bioidentical hormones (and vice versa) further enhances the ability of your body to enjoy numerous health benefits. Many physicians are suggesting a keto diet to women with perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms. Since bioidentical hormones are made from phytochemicals that are nearly identical to the molecular structure of your hormones, the combination of high-protein, low-carb foods and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) works to increase the benefits of a keto diet while replenishing hormone levels lost to aging.
Additionally, BHRT may help reduce your risk for osteoporosis, increase muscle mass, decrease the risk of breast/endometrial cancer and improve memory and concentration. Thus, a ketogenic diet, which may provide these same benefits, is a perfect complement to hormone replacement or optimization treatments.
While the keto diet can benefit all aspects of your health, it may not be for everyone. Some people eating only keto diet foods experience adverse side effects such as constipation, fatigue, nausea, lightheadedness and rapid heart beat. You should always get advice from your doctor before starting a ketogenic diet. Call us today to learn more about other advantages of BHRT when combined with a ketogenic diet.
-Whitney F. Brown, ARNP at Revitalogy
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Whitney F. Brown, ARNP
With deep understanding an experience in hormone therapies, alternative medicine, and aesthetics, nurse practitioner Whitney F. Brown’s provides a patient-focused, holistic, and functional approach to wellness. Her priority is to help her patients feel better on the inside while giving them more confidence about the way they look on the outside. To achieve this, she considers her patient’s entire medical, wellness, and nutritional history with their wants and needs.
Whitney considers nutrition to play a pivotal role in optimal wellness. As a collegiate athlete, she realized years ago that her own vegan diet was negatively affecting her bloodwork values. This inspired her to study nutrition extensively, and allowed her to use her own story to help relate to her patients’ frustration with the overwhelming information about nutrition today. Whitney blends her traditional medical education and experience with proven natural therapies to restore vitality to her patients from the inside out.