The Ketogenic Diet – more popularly referred to as the keto diet, is one of the most acclaimed high-fat, low-carb diets suited for healthy weight loss. Its effects are not just limited to weight loss; however, multiple studies from diverse sources also prescribe the Keto diet for effective management of epilepsy in children and reduced risk of developing diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and several cardiovascular diseases. But how exactly does this diet work on the body?
The Ketogenic diet derives its name from a biochemical process known as Ketosis. Ketosis is the process whereby the body converts stored fat into energy without glucose. When we consume high-carb (including starchy and sugary) foods, they are converted to glucose to be used immediately as fuel or stored in the liver as glycogen. However, when the body starts to run out of these two, it resorts to a backup system, using the body’s triglycerides as an energy source. Triglycerides are the macromolecules gotten from the breakdown of fatty foods and oils. This conversion process, whereby triglycerides change into glucose, ends with by-products known as Ketones. Ketones pass out of the body in urine, but an accumulation in the body leads to poisoning known as Ketoacidosis.
The Ketogenic diet aims to spur the body into Nutritional Ketosis as much as possible so that the body’s fat is burned naturally as an energy source. The process is done with a high-fat, low-carb diet where the fats make up about 70-80% of the diet. It is unsure how the Ketogenic diet works to manage epilepsy, but converting fats to energy could help stabilize insulin levels in people living with diabetes. It should also be noted that Ketoacidosis does not occur directly from a Ketogenic diet; this is because the diet ensures minimal glucose levels even in people living with diabetes. However, test strips for a urine test to ascertain healthy ketone levels in diabetes type 1 patients are easily accessible.