Other experts say the long-term accumulation of ketones could be harmful. œThose ketones are emergency fuel sources, and we're not meant to run on them long-term, says Kristen Kizer, a registered dietitian at Houston Methodist Hospital. œKetones are negatively-charged molecules, which means they're acidic. When you build up ketone bodies in your system, you're building up acid. One of the ways your body buffers acid is by pulling calcium from your bones. Kizer also notes that the diet isn't very balanced and involves a very high intake of animal products, which generally do not protect against cancer, diabetes, or other diseases.
This process of burning fat provides more benefits than simply helping us to shed extra weight ” it also helps control the release of hormones like insulin, which plays a role in development of diabetes and other health problems. When we eat carbohydrates, insulin is released as a reaction to elevated blood glucose (an increase in sugar circulating in our blood) and insulin levels rise. Insulin is a œstorage hormone that signals cells to store as much available energy as possible, initially as glycogen (aka stored carbohydrates in our muscles) and then as body fat.
¢ Cardiovascular Disease: This is definitely a point of confusion and controversy since a diet that relies so heavily on meat and fat is naturally thought to raise blood cholesterol and cause heart issues. However, some evidence suggests that this may not be the case. In fact, the keto diet may help improve triglyceride, HDL and LDL levels. A 2017 review looked at all of the available evidence around the ketogenic diet and cardiovascular health and found that the diet may be associated with some improvements in cardiovascular risk factors. Mind you, the authors also expressed their concerns with maintaining the diet in the long term, and they proposed that these benefits may not be long-lasting. It's clear that we need long-term studies to fill that gap.
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This is an adaptation period, where we're essentially re-training our muscles and our brain to use fat as the primary fuel source instead of glucose. This adaptation can take a couple of weeks to a couple of months. As a hallmark of being keto-adapted and not just in ketosis, the skeletal muscles are able to burn fat directly for fuel, and the brain relies on the higher volume of ketones in the blood as its main source of energy.
There are several medical studies ” such as two conducted by the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center for the University of Iowa, and the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, for example ” that show the ketogenic diet is an effective treatment for cancer and other serious health problems. (12)
The ketogenic diet ” a high-fat and very low-carb eating plan ” can be tough to start. After all, it's likely a radical departure from the way you're eating now (a typical standard American diet is high in carbohydrates and processed foods). But many people are trying the keto diet, which puts your body in a state of ketosis. That's what happens when your body's carb-burning switch flips to a fat-burning one, a change that can cause weight loss and has even been credited with controlling diabetes. (1)
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