Hundreds of studies have been published showing therapeutic benefits of the Ketogenic Diet for a variety of diseases. Originally studied for its positive effects on epilepsy, the diet is now showing promise for a multitude of disorders that have an underlying metabolic component. Recent studies show promising results for treating a variety of chronic illnesses directly, or having compounding effects when combined with other medical treatments.
- Brain Tumor/Cancer
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Tramatic Brain Injury
- Mitochondrial Disease
- Brain Health
If you have arrived at the Ketogenic Diet as a tool to tighten the screws of your overall health, fitness, and cognition, we recommend you jump directly to the different types of Ketogenic Diets that exist.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with any of the above illnesses, are genetically predisposed to developing any of them, or feel your lifestyle and/or environmental factors may increase your chances of developing any of them, the Ketogenic Diet may be a great tool to improve your health outcome. While anyone consuming a western diet stands to gain from a Ketogenic Diet, we urge you to consult a nutritionist or general practitioner prior to making the switch to Keto. The Charlie Foundation will provide you with the information and tools necessary to adopt the diet, and partnering with your doctor during this process will ensure the most therapeutic outcome.
What are the benefits of Ketosis?
Achieving a state of ketosis can have many benefits from treating chronic illnesses to optimizing performance. While the benefits are well documented, the underlying mechanism of action is not entirely known. 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.
“Despite the relative lack of clinical data, there is an emerging literature supporting the broad use of the KD (and its variations) to prevent against a variety of neurological conditions. These preliminary studies are largely based on the fundamental idea that metabolic shifts may lead to neuroprotective actions (Gasior et al., 2006; Maalouf et al., 2009). How can a simple dietary change lead to improvement in disorders with such a huge span of pathophysiological mechanisms? Alterations in energy metabolism appear to be a common theme. So while the mechanisms through which Ketogenic Therapies create such effects are likely diverse (Maalouf et al., 2009; Rho and Stafstrom, 2011), there may indeed be one or more common final pathways that are mechanistically shared. Ultimately, the details of how that altered metabolism reduces neuronal excitability, abrogates ongoing neurodegeneration, or mitigates functional disability remain unknown. Herein lay rich opportunities for further investigation, in both the laboratory and the clinic, in the broad realm of translational neurosciences.” (Stafstrom Rho, 2012).
Ready to get started? Learn to basics…
The Ketogenic Diet, also referred to as the Ketosis 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, rather than carbs. This shift has profound effects on metabolism for both the sick and healthy alike. The diet shows promise for improving or reversing many neurological conditions and metabolic disorders. For the healthy, the diet represents a tool for preventing chronic disease, as well as optimizing cognition and body composition (i.e. body fat loss).
What is ketosis?
The term ketosis refers to a byproduct of the breakdown of fat into useable energy, called ketone bodies, or ketones for short. This fat can be derived directly from the food we eat, or adipose tissue stored throughout your body (otherwise known as body fat). Ketones are used directly by the body to power itself. 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.
How do I get into ketosis?
There are two methods to make the metabolic shift from using glucose to ketones as your main source of energy.
Fasting – the method of complete cessation of caloric intake for a prolonged period of time has been used to treat disease as far back as 400 B.C. when Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, employed the method for a myriad of ailments. Though this should be done under medical supervision, fasting is a safe, effective (and, some would say, the easiest) way to get into ketosis, quickly. For the average adult, a 48-hour fast will generally result in ketosis. After this fast, adopting a Ketogenic Diet will allow you to stay in ketosis. We recommend starting the fast at least 3 hours before bedtime on the first day, and eating at the same time 2 days later. While fasting means many things to many people, we define it here as the total restriction of macronutrients. We recommend boosting water consumption in order to avoid dehydration, and many find black coffee or plain tea to help maintain focus and performance during the fast. Children go into ketosis much faster and therefore can be started on the diet without fasting.
Diet – adopting a high fat, moderate protein, and low net-carb diet, will result in ketosis, and will take 2-3 weeks to achieve this state, as defined above. The diet is most basically explained by the ratio of macronutrients (fat, protein and net-carbs) in your diet, as it relates to fat. A classic Ketogenic Diet has a ratio of 4 parts fat, to 1 part protein + carbs (referred to as a 4:1 ratio). This 4:1 ratio is the high end of the spectrum as it relates to fat intake, though modifications to the diet can see this ratio go as low as 2:1. The ratio you adopt depends on the therapeutic benefit you are trying to achieve as well as the diet that is achievable for your lifestyle. We will go into diet options below, but you can also link to them here.
How long should I be on the diet?
We at the Charlie Foundation believe that a 3-month commitment to the diet is a minimum commitment to allow your body to fully acclimate to the new fat based fuel source. Since most people following a western diet are not proficient at metabolizing fat optimally, this period allows the body time to become “fat-adapted”, utilizing dietary fat efficiently and effectively. There are a variety of nutritional plans that will enable a ketogenic lifestyle, and flexibility is one of the hallmarks of the diet that make it easy to adopt as a life-long tool to enhance your health. Our nutritionists can help figure out both the short and long-term options best suited for you and your lifestyle.
Am I a candidate for the Ketogenic Diet?
While the short answer is yes for the majority of people consuming a western diet, we urge you to consult your general practitioner prior to making the switch to Keto. The Charlie Foundation will provide you with the information and tools necessary to adopt the diet, and partnering with your doctor during this process will ensure the most therapeutic outcome. We also suggest that you connect with a diet professional who can help you form a plan in collaboration with your doctor, who may be less familiar with the diet.
Types of Ketogenic Diets
There are a variety of diets that will allow you to get into ketosis. The major differentiating factor between them all is the amount of calories that come from protein, carbs and fat, which are what we call “macronutrients”, or nutrients in our food that have a caloric value. The three macronutrients differ in many ways, namely, their caloric values, as well as how the body uses them. Fat is the most calorically dense macronutrient, having 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram for both carbs and protein. In a homeostatic state, the body utilizes fat and carbs for energy production, while it uses protein to rebuild the cells of our body. While this is generally the case, an overconsumption of protein can lead the body to break down the excess protein into glucose (which is what carbs break down into)
- Classic Ketogenic Diet
- Modified Ketogenic Diet
- MCT Oil Diet
- Modified Atkins
- Low Glycemic Index Diet (LGIT)
- Intermittent Fasting
If you think you can benefit from adopting a Ketogenic Diet, we encourage you to consult one of our nutritionists, visit a participating hospital, or contact us so that we may guide you towards the best option given your specific needs.