Ketogenic (Very Low-Carb) Diet for a Better Brain & Heart

As of late, ketosis has been dubbed ‘the metabolic advantage’ or ‘lipolysis,’ because it’s commonly confused with ‘ketoacidosis.’ The two are very different, and if you don’t know the difference, you can click here to learn more.

Ketones are generated when the body breaks down fat, and act as an alternative fuel source to glucose or carbohydrates. Although conventional wisdom tells us we need carbohydrates for energy, we are perfectly capable of running on ketones. In fact, research suggests that our brain and heart may actually prefer ketones, and a ketogenic (very low-carb) diet may be the ideal solution for preventing diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and even cancer.

A 2004 study in the Journal of General Medicine had 68% of type 2 diabetics discontinue their meds in only 16 weeks.

Knowing the effects of excess carbohydrates on our overall health and body composition, it’s no shocker that a ketogenic eating strategy is so useful in disease prevention. The experiment above noted improvements in glycemic control, fasting glucose, and triglyceride levels for ALL diabetic subjects. And as you know, chronically elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia) is directly correlated with insulin resistance and diabetes, and triglycerides may be the most reliable risk factor for predicting heart disease.

Although many of the improvements from a ketogenic diet are likely the result of carbohydrate reduction, it’s clear that ketones themselves are a driving force in disease prevention.

“In Alzheimer’s disease (AD), there appears to be a pathological decrease in the brain’s ability to use glucose. Neurobiological evidence suggests that ketone bodies are an effective alternative energy substrate for the brain.”

The irony in the statement, ‘our brain and heart need sugar to function,’ is that degenerative diseases of the brain, like Alzheimer’s, are correlated with insulin resistance. Brain cells can get just as overloaded from excess carbohydrates as other cells, and turn off their glucose and insulin receptor sites. Restricting carbohydrates on a ketogenic diet not only improves the brain’s insulin sensitivity, but it supplies an alternative fuel source that can reach brain cells regardless of their resistance to insulin.

Furthermore, ketones appears to help prevent brain damage from free radicals, by:

Over time, the cell damage from excess free radicals, is a significant contributer to the progression of aging and disease. And aside from ketones providing beneficial fuel, and carbohydrate restriction improving insulin sensitivity, this could be why ketogenic diets are proving to be so successful in treating various neurological disorders (1, 2) like autism, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS.

We also see ketones providing additional support to the heart:

“Ketones serve as important metabolic fuels for many peripheral tissues, particularly heart and skeletal muscle.” Biochemistry – Drs. Donald and Judith Voet

The participants in this study experienced decreases in triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (the BAD small dense variety), and beneficial increases in HDL (good) cholesterol after only 6 weeks!

Again, whether this is the result of low or no carbohydrates, or the ketones themselves is up for debate.

What isn’t up for debate, is whether or not you should embrace a ketogenic diet and start burning fat as your primary fuel source.

Stay Lean!

Coach Mike


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