In the first article, I discussed the diet of prehistoric humans, throughout evolution, to emphasize that a large number of diseases of our time would be linked to the recent changes in our diet. The higher intake of processed foods and carbohydrates is certainly responsible for a high proportion of modern metabolic diseases.
We will therefore continue our reflection on this keto diet which is inspired by the past.
Lipids: an abundant and effective source of energy
Although carbohydrates remain a good source of energy, it is not possible to store energy in the form of carbohydrates. This is why unused carbohydrates become glycogen, which can be used quickly when needed.
However, it must be taken into account that this glycogen only provides us with energy for a few hours, or even a day at most. The rest of the unused carbohydrates are then stored in the form of fat, waiting for the lean periods in terms of food that our ancestors lived through. Nowadays, with the food abundance of industrialized countries, these fats can accumulate and generate weight gain in addition to other metabolic issues.
In addition to glycogen, the other sources of energy used by the body are proteins (muscles) and lipids (fat mass). However, once our body has almost exhausted its glycogen reserve, it does not want to use our proteins too much, in order to avoid muscle loss which would prevent us from continuing our activities.
Thus, during periods of food shortage or carbohydrate reduction, lipids are the most abundant and efficient source of energy. For example, a 70 kg person with 10% body fat, which is not a lot, has about 60,000 kcal in reserve and could, under the right conditions, live 30 days on this energy reserve without even eating a bite.
Ketones and the brain’s needs
The word ketogenic, comes from the word ketones. Ketones are molecules produced by the liver from our fat stores that act as a fuel source when our body lacks glucose.
Indeed, some cells in our body, such as those in the brain, do not have the ability to use lipids directly in the absence of glucose.
This is why humans have evolved by developing another source of energy for the brain, which comes from the famous ketone bodiesi. Therefore, when a person is low on glucose, a signal is sent to the liver to take stored fat and turn some of it into ketones to feed the brain, which craves it.
According to some research, the brain could function normally, or even better, with up to 60% ketones as a fuel source. Of course, it will always need some glucose, but luckily we can produce some without eating foods high in carbohydrates, that is, from protein, and even from the glycerol that comes from the breakdown of stored lipids.
The most interesting thing about all this is that ketone bodies, in addition to being an exceptional fuel usable by the brain, produce less waste (free radicals) when they are burned. Ketone bodies are credited with a multitude of benefits, some of which are well demonstrated (anti-inflammatory, painkiller, energizing, cognitive stimulant, mood stabilizer and others)ii. The two conditions that can increase ketone production are that of prolonged fasting (48+ hours) or a very low carb ketogenic diet, which consists of 20 grams or less of carbs per day over multiple days.
Organic food for the keto diet: a choice that goes without saying!
Adopting a keto diet, however, requires choosing your foods carefully. Indeed, since fats become a primary source of our energy, we must avoid contaminants of all kinds by turning as much as possible to those foods that come from organic farms and resources.
For example, with regard to products of animal origin, choosing them with organic certification offers the guarantee that they are produced without the use of growth hormones and antibiotics, which generally increases the quality of the fats we eat. This choice applies to both meat and dairy products.
For products of plant origin, the fact that the organic production method prohibits the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides, as well as GMOs, represents an undeniable advantage in the consumption of this type of product, in greatly reducing the presence of contaminants in foods.
In general, we can say that choosing organic products in a keto diet allows us to consume only products that will help balance our metabolism, while taking care of our health.
Additionally, on a keto diet, as with any form of diet, ultra-processed foods and the addition of undesirable ingredients to foods, such as synthetic preservatives and artificial colors should be avoided.
You can’t imagine what a simple food can contain when you don’t consult the labels on the packaging! Here again, organic foods offer us several guarantees in this regard, by avoiding the use of any synthetic substance that is harmful to our health.
Seeing things differently
It is high time that we review our habits and question the content of food guides, in the light of recent observations on the health of our populations.
My knowledge and my observations lead me to believe that we must now consider more seriously the possibility of adopting a type of diet that is closer to that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
With this in mind, the ketogenic and organic diet is undoubtedly the one that can best help us to capitalize on the positive effects of fats in our diet, by transforming them in part into ketones, to serve as an exceptional fuel usable by the brain while producing less waste or free radicals. This state also allows the reduction and even in some cases the reversal of chronic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetesiii.
[iii] Dashti HM, Mathew TC, Khadada M, Al-Mousawi M, Talib H, Asfar SK, et al. Beneficial effects of ketogenic diet in obese diabetic subjects. Mol Cell Biochem. 2007; 302:249–56
Other suggested readings:
- Ketogenic Diet: Reaching the Suggested 6 Months!
- Fasting, Article 1: The Biological Basics of Reflection
- Fasting Article 2: Metabolic Changes and Resistance