• Christian Caba

North Wilderness Fitness: Ketogenic Diet

Out in the wild you will need various things to keep you alive, but in order to first survive you’re going to need to create a fire, this fire will provide you with energy, and power. Firstly, There are 3 ingredients that are useful to start a fire; Kindling, Fire wood, and Charcoal. All of these work together to help begin the camp fire, and each item should be used accordingly so, the Kindle is a great place to start but the problem here is that it burns fairly quickly, your going to need to use the right amount of fire wood while lighting the kindling to slowly catch the charcoal for a successful fuel burning fire. Like a fire, our body contains 3 sources of fuel and when they are consumed properly they can potentially lead to fat burning effects; Carbs, fat, and protein, when we exercise and perform normal daily activities our primary fuel source for energy are carbohydrates (Just like the kindling), carbohydrates are the most efficient macronutrient at converting glucose to glycogen in our muscles for a very fast acting energy which is called ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) this is important for activities such as a sprint, baseball pitch, and other various quick movements last anywhere between 0-15 seconds, ATP can be looked at as the energy currency in the body. Although we crave these carbs for quick energy, there are two optional carbs you can eat, you can consume simple or complex carbohydrates, if you have a soda drink (Simple carb) consider that your going to get the sugar into the blood stream all in one go, this leaves us feeling lethargic due to the quick rise in blood excess sugar and  high increase of insulin, skip to 30 minutes later we get this spill over effect and our insulin pulls in the excess sugar from our blood stream which then delivers glycogen to our muscles and other organs for either useful energy or fat storage due to excess amounts of energy (Calorie surplus) this is all depending on an individuals specific metabolic demands, or “activity level”.furthermore the hormone insulin is an energy storing hormone with many functions, when insulin spikes and the glucose is pulled from the blood we become very lathargic, giving us a massive drop in energy, alternatively this is why you want a slow digesting complex carbohydrate to keep blood sugar steady and have a slow release of insulin so that other tissues can be slowly delivered glycogen.

A ketogenic diet is very useful at  keeping our blood sugar stable and providing us with more sustainable energy. This involves removing the majority of carbohydrates from the diet, (carbs are the only macronutrient that are not essential) and consuming a high fat/moderate protein diet , this makes sense in alot of ways because carbs account for 4 calories per 1 gram and fats account for 9 calories per 1 gram. Keeping the body’s glucose stores almost empty prevents too much insulin from being released  to create normal blood sugar levels, this can help reverse “insulin resistance,” which is the underlying problem contributing to diabetes symptoms. essentially individuals would restrict carbohydrate intake to below 20-30g per day or less than 5% of their total caloric intake and eliminate all or most foods with sugar and starch, fat is consumed at 70-80% of total caloric take and protein around 20-25%. (insulin is sometimes called the fat storage hormone) and is secreted from the pancreas. However, when glucose levels/insulin are depleted due to low-carb dieting, thankfully to thousands of years of evolution we can alternatively burn fat as an energy source and produce ketones, this energy substrate  secreted by the  liver can be measured through serum Ketone tests or urine tests and are very inexpensive,  Borat Voice “great success!”. As a result many individuals that enter ketosis will experience extreme levels of improved cognitive function, mental clarity, decreased depression, high energy, an increase in sports performance, hormonal stabilization, satiety of hunger and even fat loss. Ketones, also known as “ketone bodies,” are used to fuel the brain under conditions of oxidative stress; and states of low insulin during fasted periods or very low carbohydrate diets, this occurs because our brain is normally using all glucose to function but changes using this new energy source, so lets quickly break it down.

Here’s how it works:

  1. When there isn’t a sufficient level of available glucose (Carbs)— which is what the body uses for its main source of fuel — and glycogen levels are depleted, blood sugar and insulin are lowered and the body looks for an alternative source of fuel: in this case, fat.

  2. This process can happen when a person is fasting, after prolonged exercise, during starvation, or when eating a low-carb, ketogenic diet.

  3. And when the body begins breaking down fats for energy like this, a process known as beta-oxidation, ketones are formed for use as fuel for the body and brain. This is known as ketosis.

  4. People following a ketogenic diet specifically reduce their carbohydrate intake for this reason: to create ketones for energy.(W. (n.d.). How To Use The Ketogenic Diet for Physical Performance – Perfect Keto. Retrieved January 04, 2018, from https://www.perfectketo.com/use-ketogenic-diet-physical-performance/)

Now that you understand the benefits of a ketogenic diet, I think its important to state that it may not be for everyone. We have grown into carbohydrate dominant diet typically referred to as the “Standard American diet” and with that being said a lot of us will experience major drops of energy and even major headaches when reaching states of ketosis (Typically when glycogen stores are close to depleted, 3-5 days into no carbs), individuals with hyperinsulinemia,  will most likely see this happen when using a ketogenic diet. Many reccomend to push through it and you should be fine but if this is too intense then its fair to say no diet is worth struggling for if you can’t experience happiness or any kind of sustainable energy long-term especially if you’re trying to fuel your workouts, this is about feeling good in your skin and performing to the best of your abilities in sport. Another diet that may be suitable for individuals experiencing negatives affects could be a paleolithic diet which doesn’t rely on extreme low carbohydrates or ketones as a focal point but more so the quality of the food and the reaping benefits of a high fat diet, the benefits of a paleolithic diet appear similar to the ketogenic diet.

Overall, The goal of the ketogenic diet is to become more metabolically flexible and to remain  in this state of ketosis, in which you will lose weight until you reach your ideal goal .This isnt an article bashing on carbohydrates, infact carbohydrates can be a great fuel for energy and consuming carbs comes with great benefits depending on an individuals goals, a high fat diet is just more satiating and in most cases promotes less hunger which means less cravings for food, in order to lose weight/bf you need to be in a caloric deficit and a ketogenic diet makes that alot easier to do. Finally, a Standard Ketogenic diets will be most beneficial for aerobic endurance athletes looking to keep sustained energy for a long duration exercise like a marathon due to supressed apetite, quicker recovery between workouts because of its anti-inflammatory benefits , and sustained stability of blood sugar, also a few more benefits at the cellular level like increasing mitochondrial production .Advanced anaerobic athletes are encouraged to move onto a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet approach where you can cycle carbohydrates in an undulating fashion through out the week to meet a particular goals in sports that require glucose for optimal performance specifically quick energy involving ATP.

Hope this helps some people reach their fitness goals in 2018!

Cheers.

Christian Caba

Fitness & Health Promotions Graduate/Personal Trainer

References:

  1. (W. (n.d.). How To Use The Ketogenic Diet for Physical Performance – Perfect Keto. Retrieved January 04, 2018, from https://www.perfectketo.com/use-ketogenic-diet-physical-performance/)

  2. Keto Diet. (n.d.). Retrieved January 04, 2018, from https://draxe.com/keto-

  3. Keto Diet. (n.d.). Retrieved January 04, 2018, from https://draxe.com/keto-

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