What is Nutritional Ketosis?
First lets take a look at what the Federal Government did when it changed our food pyramid to a high carb low fat diet. Yup, you guessed it we became an overweight nation like a vengeance. Just go anywhere and sit for 10 minutes and observe the people who pass by you, they are all overweight. Whether they are 10 pounds or a 100 pounds overweight they are all running their bodies on glucose. Physiologically and biochemically we were not designed to do this and we are suffering the consequences of it.
30 million americans are type 2 diabetic and another 60 million are pre-diabetic. Sadly this is not just in our adult population but our children are affected also. Not to mention the rapid increase in disease states that are plaguing us like cancer, CVD, Alzheimer's, depression and a myriad of auto-immune problems. These numbers will continue to increase until we realize and change our biochemistry of fuel burning back to the way it was designed to operate.
When we consume glucose containing foods we shut down our capacity to burn ketones (lipids) or more commonly known as fat. Yet our body in a lean, normal, healthy person can store 20x the amount of energy in ketones than it can in glucose. If you are overweight the amount of energy increases exponentially. Which might be good if you were living hundreds of years ago and trying to survive through a famine.
Now here is the trick....if the body is metabolically flexible, meaning you are in nutritional ketosis i.e. your primary source of fuel is ketones you can tap your glucose stores for extra, fast acting energy. However, if your primarily burning glucose and pumping tons of insulin to store that glucose into tissue you turn off the ability to tap your fat storage fuel tank. This is why you cannot loose weight. You can try the good ole method of energy in energy out, meaning eat less and exercise like a maniac. But that never works because you get hungry from all the exercise and when you stop the ridiculous diet or exercise routine you start gaining weight again and usually more than you started with. So yes one of the key benefits to being in nutritional ketosis is that you settle into your natural lean body weight. You don't have to exercise to do this or starve yourself, you just have to fuel your body in the proper way.
Other benefits of Nutritional Ketosis
Now here is something few know or if they do know they don't understand how this happens. Our brain is basically 2 pounds of fat and it operates the best predominately on ketones. So when it operates on glucose what happens? Glucose causes inflammation to the body and inflammation activates the stress response system which puts our autonomic nervous system into a chronic state of sympathetic mode, i.e. the fight or flight system is turned on all the time. When we activate the sympathetic mode we have a rise in glucocorticoids which are damaging to the brains neurotransmitters and neurons. Over time the neuronal connections become disconnected in some areas of the brain and too many connections in the fear oriented part of the brain. Because of the neuronal disconnections we need more dopaminergic neurotransmitters to account for the lose and to fire these neurons. We become what's called having a Relative Nutritional Deficiency which cannot be met by food intake alone. Neuroscientists found the hippocampus located in the limbic part of the brain was affected like a vengeance. This was first documented in 1969 at the Rockefeller University by Bruce McEwen and since then much scientific research has been done to confirm this.
The hippocampus has much to do with mood, pleasure, motivation and short term memory. The prefrontal cortex, which is also affected, has to do with cognition and emotions. This part of the brin does not fully mature until around 25 years of age so it is highly affected by our experiences. hardly, the amygdala is where these connections are amplified and this part of the brain deals with anxiety and fear. All three areas are highly dependent on dopamine which converts to norepinephrine then epinephrine.
As you can see the body is very complex metabolically and the fuel (food) we use has a large impact on how it works, more than you probably imagined. It's effects are wide spread from affecting inflammation, cognition, weight to our sex drive and more.
Is this a one size fits all program?
No it is not. We are all biochemically different. This is where a lot of the science comes in. Once you are in ketosis now you have to dial in your fuel intake to match your metabolism. For some it is more carbs than for others. You also have to understand what nutrients you will need more of to maintain balance in your system.
This is not something you can read about on the internet and try it and wonder why it either is not working or you are experiencing problems. That's why it is important to learn how this actually works on a biochemical basis so you understand what is going on in your body and how to effortlessly make adjustments when you need to. Nothing is frustrating or difficult when you understand it. When you understand it, it's easy and fun.