How the Ketogenic Diet Works
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The Eskimos and Maasai group are cultures we often look at to learn how their scant consumption of carbohydrates sustained their bodies through harsh weather conditions. It turns out that their low carb diet switched their metabolism to burn fat instead of sugar or glucose.
This created a metabolic state known as ketosis, a process in which the body burns ketones to make energy, instead of relying on sugar or carbohydrate.
Ketones are metabolized by fatty acids in the liver for energy. (This source of fuel is capable of crossing the blood brain barrier and is an excellent form of energy for neurons.) When the body lacks glucose, which is its first source of fuel, ketones are created in its absence.
Ketosis was a beneficial process the human body developed as an adaptation to times when food was unavailable (such as for these hunter-gatherers). However, you can effectively produce ketones too by limiting the carbohydrates in your diet to less than 80 grams daily and protein to no more than 1.2 grams of protein/per kg lean body mass. As the body adapts to the use of ketone metabolism over time, the hormone in the liver that is essential to ketone metabolism (known as FGF21) becomes more efficient.