The term ketosis refers to a byproduct of the breakdown of fat into useable energy, called ketones. This fat can be derived directly from the food we eat, known as nutritional ketosis, or from stored body fat. Ketones are alternative energy sources for both the brain and body.
Hundreds of studies have been published showing therapeutic benefits of the Ketogenic Diet for a variety of diseases. Originally studied for its effects on epilepsy, the diet is now showing promise for a multitude of illnesses that have an underlying metabolic element.
The Ketogenic Diet, or Keto for short, is a way of eating that mimics the effects of fasting. By consuming a diet rich in quality fats, adequate in protein, and low in net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber), the body’s metabolism begins to utilize fat as its main source of fuel. This breakdown of fat into useful energy is similar to the process that dietary carbohydrates undergo in producing glucose to fuel the body. In other words, ketones are to fat what glucose is to carbohydrates. Ketosis is defined as having blood ketone levels > .5 millimolar/L.
Achieving a state of ketosis can have many benefits from treating chronic illnesses to optimizing both mental and physical performance. While the benefits are well documented, the underlying mechanism of action is not entirely clear. The diet seems to enhance the ability of mitochondria, the power plants of our cells, to deliver our bodies’ energy needs in a manner that reduces inflammation and oxidative stress. Through optimizing the way our body uses energy, we fortify our bodies’ ability to take on the ever-growing stressors of our modern way of living.
The Charlie Foundation received the American College of Nutrition’s Humanitarian Award for being “an organization that has worked selflessly and effectively in the broader field of nutrition to benefit humanity.”