Updated: Aug 14, 2019
If it’s good enough for the navy seals, It’s good enough for diabetics.
Let’s get one thing straight - ketones come in good and bad forms.
- Nutritional ketones
- Starvation ketones
- Diabetic ketoacidosis (lack of insulin in the body)
Historically, we have shoved all these types of ketones into one basket and this has influenced how we deal with them.
Not any more.
If your doctor hears you say Keto diet, and begins to panic - change your doctor.
Now, on a softer, more fluffy note; us humans can benefit greatly from learning more about ketones and how we can take advantage of them. They’re actually quite amazing and can fuel our bodies just as well, if not more effectively than our old friend, carbs.
Quick fact: Did you know; babies are born in a state of ketosis. They will often stay in ketosis for months and even years. Even before this point, the fetal brain gets 30% of its energy from ketones.
“But how?” I hear you ask? “I’ve always been told that if I have ketones in my blood then I’m basically on a one way track to an early grave”.
As we’ve said, dietary ketones differ greatly from ketones produced when you don’t have enough insulin in your body Or are starving.
Diabetics cannot produce enough insulin by themselves. When you don’t have enough insulin in your body, it creates ketones as it cannot convert the glucose in your blood to energy. This state is known as diabetic ketoacidosis and is very dangerous. However, if you have insulin on board (which we now do due to synthetic insulin being manually injected), we cannot reach this state apart from in extreme cases (I.e. mis-management during sickness, insulin pump failure).
What are ketones?
Ketones are a type of fatty acid produced by the liver when you need energy.
Many people will usually not produce ketones as they live off a high carbohydrate diet, and the body becomes used to sourcing that energy from glucose which is what the carbs are broken down into (i.e. carbs are essentially sugar).
When you remove the carbs from your diet, your body breaks down fat instead and the liver then produces ketones to send to the muscles and tissues for fuel.
So, why is this better than using carbs for energy?
When you eat organic whole foods, and steer away from highly refined, processed and high carbs foods, you still consume carbs but in far less amounts (how nature intended). Your body utilises dietary fat in your body to help fuel your body. You are essentially fat adapted.
When you eat carbs as your primary source of fuel, your body turns what’s left into fat. This fat is stored for a rainy day (I.e. periods of starvation), But it’s highly unlikely that you’ll actually be starving anytime soon, so the fat stores build and begin to surround your organs and other parts of your body.
We now know this fat - also known as visceral fat - is toxic and contributes toward insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes), heart disease, stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis and high blood pressure.
So, by simply utilising ketones for energy, you’re removing harmful fat, reducing your chances of a plethora of serious medical conditions and as an added bonus you look better in the mirror. Win - Win.
But wait! There‘s more!
Our knowledge is only just beginning with ketones and how they are benefitting us.
The american military - aka the largest and best funded military on the planet - is placing their navy seals on a keto diet. They have discovered that they are performing better when in a state of ketosis and that the incidence of oxygen deprived seizures - a frequent event due to the seal being under water for prolonged periods of time attempting to avoid detection - is greatly reduced when in ketosis.
The keto diet has already been used for a long time to treat epilepsy patients. So by joining the dots the military are tapping into benefits unheard of till now.
Is there a magic number of carbs to consume that increases your chances of being in nutritional ketosis?
Yes. 0g per day - but anything less than 20g per day puts you into low level ketosis and this is fine.
Diabetes and Ketosis
By now, you’ve probably realised that we’re not about to start shouting keto is bad. It’s not. In fact, it’s a game changer.
- Reduced insulin requirements
- Better blood sugars (lower HbA1c and time in target range)
- Fewer hypos
- Fewer hypers
- Weight loss (particularly visceral fat loss)
- Mood stabilisation (due to less extreme highs and lows)
- Energy stabilisation and consistency
- Better quality and nutrient dense foods consumed
If the above list isn’t enough to convince you that keto can be life changing then that’s ok. Not everyone will want to make these changes as they will see them as extreme or not want to give up their life‘s ‘luxuries’.
A persons perception of what they consider normal and brings joy and quality to their life is frequently more important to them than their health. Otherwise, none of us would smoke or drink.
It’s your life after all and no-one has the right to tell you how to live It. If on the other hand you have children or other dependants, there’s an argument that you need to be more responsible with your lifestyle choices.
Ketones and Treating Cancer
That’s right. You heard that correctly. Some of the top hospitals in the world are putting their patients into ketosis before treatment. Cancer cells cannot efficiently process ketones and need glucose to grow and spread. Ketones have also shown to slow the proliferation of tumour cells (slow or stop metastasis).
There is still a lot of research to be done in this field but more and more trials are being done and so far, the results are promising. It’s certainly not a story of ‘my keto diet cured my cancer’, but alongside other treatments, it appears to be very positive.
There is growing evidence to support lowering your carbohydrate consumption and producing ketones to fuel your body. However, the best way to make an informed decision is to research more about it as try it out. Not for a week or 2 but for a few months. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have the odd carb but to really see the benefits, you need to become fat adapted.
Your life will change forever.
Believe the hypo