The Health Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet - Life Extension Blog

Holli Lapes RD, LD/N

FANS Recap Part 2 - Session Highlight: The Health Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet

In July 2017, we attended the Annual Food and Nutrition Symposium (FANS), which is put forth by the Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (FAND) and provides science-based, cutting-edge educational sessions presented by recognized experts in nutrition. We heard from more than 30 national and international speakers providing over 20 hours of continuing education. The continuing education units (CEUs) are a requirement for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN or RD) for national registration and state licensure.

In our previous blog post covering the conference, we highlighted “Dietary Patterns that can Prevent and Control Diabetes” by Osama Hamdy, M.D., Ph.D. In today’s blog post, we will highlight key points from the presentation by Angela Poff, Ph.D., discussing the therapeutic potential of ketosis.

How Do Ketones Work?

When there are periods of fasting and/or low circulating glucose levels, the body can use stored fat or dietary fat to make ketone bodies as an energy source. The brain is able to use ketones as an alternative source of energy but usually it prefers carbohydrates. The synthesis of ketones occurs mainly in the liver. The liver makes the ketones, but does not use them. Most fatty acids cannot cross the bloodbrain barrier. With evolution and periods of starvation, the human body was able to adapt by using ketones. Without ketone bodies, fatty acids, and an adequate amount of protein, muscle breakdown would occur because the body would pull amino acids from muscle protein.

How is Ketosis Induced?

A state of ketosis is induced by fasting, starvation, diabetes, or by following a ketogenic diet. A ketogenic diet is very low in carbohydrates, high in fat, and usually a bit higher in protein than the average diet. People who are on a ketogenic diet may use Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s) or other exogenous ketone supplements or precursors.

Why Follow a Ketogenic Diet?

Following a ketogenic diet can be helpful for blood sugar regulation and weight loss. Interestingly, Angela pointed out, that consuming exogenous ketones in and of themselves (without following a ketogenic diet) could lower glucose & insulin and increase insulin sensitivity. Angela explained that ketones are considered a “cleaner” energy source, meaning, less free radical production by providing superior energy efficiency. When other energy sources are metabolized to yield energy and ATP, free radicals are also produced. Ketones can beneficially alter gene expression by activating antioxidant genes and suppressing oxidative stress. Some research has even shown promise for cancer treatment. Ketones have also been shown to enhance mitochondrial function and induce mitochondrial biogenesis.

Ketogenic Diet for Brain Health

One of the first uses of a ketogenic diet was for reducing seizures resulting from epilepsy and other disorders. Now, research has shown that ketones can be helpful for a variety of neurological conditions. There has been some intriguing research on why a ketogenic diet should be followed in those with a brain tumor. Ketosis can influence Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is associated with learning and memory. Ketones such as MCT oil from coconut might be helpful as an alternative source of energy for Alzheimer’s patients, who have diminished glucose uptake to the brain, but more human studies are needed. A ketogenic diet has also shown promise for the management of Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. For more information, visit The Charlie Foundation’s website for ketogenic therapy resources.


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I would have to say a low ketogenic diet! It is a fast way to lose some weight! I am on it and am very pleased with the results I only wanted to lose ten pounds and I lost more in about a 21/2 week period and you can definitely tell! For low carb you start out by eating 20g of carbs a day for 2 weeks. By just doing this it will shock your body and after three days you will be in a state of contoses. The state of contoses is where your body will run off the 20g of carbs and the already exsisting fat/carbs and burn them away! After 2 weeks of 20g you should go to 30g for another 2 weeks, 40g-2 weeks,50g 2 weeks.. Then drop back down to 20. It is a quick way I lost.

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