The Keto Diet
Is it Right for You?
On episode #95 of THE TONIC, I interviewed Ryan Foley. Ryan has a degree in food & drug sciences and spent 15 years in research & development, working for the largest nutraceutical companies in North America before starting Nuvocare in 2007. We discussed the ins and outs of the Keto diet. This is a digest of the interview (which can be accessed as a podcast at thetonic.ca).
Q. What is your experience with the Keto diet?
A. I started to compete in bodybuilding before I graduated high school. Intuitively, the ketogenic diet was the one, the pioneering one, in terms of the body-building lifestyle. We didn’t know enough about it and we didn’t have the nutritional science to perfect it then. The Keto lifestyle is the best for burning fat and maintaining lean body mass.
Q. What is the Keto diet?
A. We live in a world of carbohydrates. What the keto diet does is shift your macronutrient intake to a very low amount of carbohydrates: less than 50g a day. And you replace carbohydrates with fat.
Q. How does the Keto diet work?
A. When you lower your carbohydrate intake you lower your blood sugar and you lower your insulin levels. The way we store carbohydrates in the body is via insulin. By starving your body of blood sugar and insulin, it requires another energy substrate; and that is body fat. When your body is processing the fatty acids, it becomes overwhelming to the body and it produces ketone bodies. You actually want to raise the level of ketone production until you reach a state of nutritional ketosis.
Q. What is nutritional ketosis?
A. It’s a state of consistent fat burning. At that point your main energy substrate is fat. The key is to maintain that diet so that you are continuously burning body fat.
Q. What are the health benefits to the Keto diet?
A. There are three main areas. It helps with anti-aging, weight management and neurological health.
Q. Let’s start with anti-aging
A.When you lower glucose and raise your ketone levels, it mimics calorie restriction, which is the best approach to anti-aging. You will stimulate anti-inflammatory pathways. Ketones are a very clean burning fuel. There are not a lot of free-radicals that are produced. The result is that you will live longer and healthier.
Q. How does the Keto diet help your neurological health specifically?
A. It has been prescribed for children suffering from Epilepsy. When you’re in a ketogenic state, you’re going to be very focused and have higher cognitive function. There is growing research that shows that the diet can offset illnesses that people as they age might be suffering from: e.g. Parkinsons and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Q. I’m interested to hear more about how the diet can help with weight management and keeping lean.
A. Yeah, lean body composition and accelerated fat loss. As you age, from 45 or 50 onward you lose muscle mass. And in ketosis there’s an anti-catabolic state -which means that you’re protecting your muscle mass from diminishing.
Q. What is “Keto flu”?
A. Back when I was body-building we didn’t really understand the science behind the diet. So without proper supplementation we weren’t getting key vitamins and minerals in our diet. There can be side effects. You get headaches and you can suffer from lethargy and develop flu-like symptoms. You might have a low mood. But if you supplement properly you can avoid those symptoms.
Q. Why might it be difficult to sustain ketosis after the initial adaptive stage?
A. You have to switch your macronutrients to achieve the adaptive stage. You have to take in approximately 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% maximum of carbohydrates. Once you get to the ketogenic stage you aim for the optimization stage and there the key is the regulation of the fat burning metabolism to maximize the positive effects. There are supplements that can help the process, which is what my company specializes in.
Ryan Foley can be reached at email@example.com. Jamie Bussin is actively trying to lose those last 5 pounds.