The Ketogenic Diet is making the rounds as a new “fad” and people are asking questions. In fact, this nutritional regimen was devised in 1924 by the Mayo Clinic as a way to manage epilepsy through food. It became less popular once anti-seizure pharmaceuticals became available in the 1940s.
Ketosis is the process by which the body burns fat rather than carbohydrates (sugar) for fuel. Normally, we burn up sugar in the form of glucose for fuel.
When the glucose runs out, carbon fragments called ketones are created as cells turn to fat stores for energy.
A Ketogenic Diet puts the Body Deliberately in a State of Ketosis.
By changing diet, metabolism changes. Scientists have found that, with a ketogenic diet, the change in the brain’s metabolism causes a disruption of the misfiring neurons that cause epileptic seizures. This was the motivation behind the development of the diet.
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What also happens as part of the process is that fat is burned–hence enhanced interest in adherence to such a diet for weight loss in adults. The idea behind the diet is this: glucose (the form that sugar takes in your body) is what is used first for energy. Carbohydrates are complex sugars that are broken down into glucose.
The body will continue to use glucose for as long as there’s some available in the body. If it runs out of glucose, the body will start to burn fat as fuel. This chemical process that takes place is ketosis. A ketogenic diet is very low in carbohydrates, forcing the process of ketosis to occur, burning fat instead of sugar.
When you eat carbohydrates, insulin is released to moderate the sugar level in the blood. With few carbohydrates, the body produces less insulin (with implications for diabetics) and allows ketosis to occur.