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Why follow a keto diet?

Is a ketogenic diet important for health? Is getting into ketosis the only path to improve health?

I have been following a low-carb diet for a few years now and has given me great benefits. Especially energy throughout the day and most importantly saved me from issues, that I would for sure face had I not changed my diet.
And the reason is – not being 20 anymore! Time can catch-up pretty fast if you don’t take care. And the signs were there. Starting to put on kilos easily, bigger cravings and after work energy crashes and probably much more which at the time I did not recognize as issues.

Let’s look into why a ketogenic diet is such a powerful tool.

The basics

A ketogenic lifestyle is not a new diet. Keto has been known since the early 20th century (1920) when it began to be used as a treatment for epilepsy. It has been observed that the ketogenic diet usually reduces the number of seizures by 50 percent or more! During a crisis, neural networks fire when they should not. The ketogenic diet reduces the amount of glucose in the brain and enhances the synthesis of GABA, making spasm less likely to occur. 

Keto can also reduce inflammation in the brain. Inflammations due to infections such as meningitis, encephalitis or autoimmune disorders can trigger seizures. But why; Let’s go back in time. Our ancestors had a ketogenic diet and lifestyle for millions of years. At first it was common for them to have periods when they were not eating and so they relied on their own fat for energy. This meant that the body functioned mainly with ketones and less with glucose. When food was available, and depending on the season, it would be mainly of animal origin and bulbs (tubers). That is, foods very low in carbohydrates. The fossils of our first human ancestor in Africa describe the first humans as carnivorous creatures.

A diet focused on animal fat was vital to the evolution of the human large brain. 

Thus, about two million years ago, hunting techniques were developed that allowed us to eat high-calorie animal fats, proteins, organs, and marrow instead of a plant-based, low-nutrient diet. The evolution of the human species is a result of the large size of the human brain, which requires a huge 20 percent of our energy when resting. While the monkey’s brain requires only 8 percent. The bottom line is that the human body and brain have evolved to depend on and function optimally on a diet rich in energy foods. There is nothing more energetic than fatty meats.

Summary

  • Ketones are an anti-inflammatory form of energy that is preferred by the brain.
  • Keto was used to treat epilepsy since 1920 but in actually fact was the diet followed by our ancestors for thousands of years.

What is keto

But first an important definition. A ketogenic diet is primeraly defined by the absense of carbs and not the presence of fats. Absense of carbs is what allows the utilization of fat as the alternate fuel source.

The normal diets problem

Following a ketogenic lifestyle addressed many problems

The insulin problem

When eating carbs your blood sugars tend to raise and insulin is the mechanism to allow the sugars to be be brought down again and absorbed by the cells for energy. The model is pretty simple and efficient, to the extend that the pancreas and liver can handle the amount of carbs that need to be processed. The problem starts when an indidual consumes on a daily basis and for many years simple refined carbs (sugars etc) and to amounts that the body starts having difficulties to handle. Simple sugars raise the insuling very high and will result in

  • Energy crashes during the day
  • Excess storage of fat
  • Insulin resistance and diabetis

Insulin resistance is a state where the body produces excess insulin in the body in an attempt to reduce the blood sugars. This is a very taxing process for the body especially if one has 5-6 meals a day.

Summary

A more fat based diet does not trigger the insulin as much and in combination to intermittent fasting allows to because insulin sensitive, start tapping into your fat for energy and avoid those energy crashes. By tapping directly in your own fat, weight loss will be effortless and with no cravings.

The satiety problem

Fortunately the body does not know of calories. What we need is nutrients to be an effective machine and some sort of energy for the machine to run. The problem is that most carb diets foods these days does not have the right amount of nutrients we require. It is all processed, removed from nutrients and only offer fast energy! And once this balance between nutrients and energy is lost, it will lead to over-eating. This is simply because the body is still signalling that it needs nutrients, so we eat more and more but of the wrong foods. Have you noticed how often you usually go for an second plate of pasta, or how fast does the whole bag of chips dissapears?

Key Takeaway: Eat a more nutrient dense diet to get all the micro-nutrients required. Eating more healthy fats from quality, whole foods will provide everything you need, make you satieted and stop you from over-eating. This is the single reason why most diet plans fail. Nutrient and energy imbalance.

We need fat in our diets

Fats are essential for health

Cards are non-essential macronutrient, where as there are essencial fatty-acids. Essential means that the body cant produce those nutrients, so we have to get them from food. Omega-3 (DHA, ELA) and Omega-6 are essential fatty acids (e.g fish) which are key for health and also needed to be able to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin-A, D, E, K. The one thing that should be not confused is the use of trans-fats such as vegetable oils which are extensively used in fried fast foods. These oils are dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
Key takeaway : Not getting enough fatty acids will leave you with many skin issues, low immune system, mood and depression issues, cognitive issues. Fatty acids are especially important for the tissues, brain and the vision.

Fats are a better source of energy

Carbs (ie glucose) are always immediately available but are a limited resource in the body. The liver can store about 1700Kcals and there is some stored in the muscles. If the liver glycose is depleted then you will be breaking down muscle if you are not fat adapted. On the other hand, the fat stored in the body is nearly endless even for a lean person. And it is even the preferred source of fuel for our cells and mitochondria. Fatty acids are metabolized in a process called beta-oxidation and produces 129 ATP molecules compared to 38 produced by the glucose metabolic process (glycolysis).

Key Takeaway

  • Is a strict ketogenic diet the only way to health? The answer is probably no. However a ketogenic diet is probably the foundation and a very important tool that you need to have in your arsenal in order to be healthy
  • This is how our ancestors lived for many thousands of years and what our physiology has evolved upon.

Further Reading




Cee Kay´s sixth week with KetOntrack

Completed the six-week program, what an experience! I´m really happy to have marked this milestone. Summarizing the step by step approach of the previous weeks in one sentence: A very rewarding and change in a lifetime self-exploration.

Having pushed the boundaries in fasting, learning a lot about nutrition and digestion, and picking up on getting fit again, was unexpecting a very smooth ride. This was exceptionally possible through the KetOntrack principles and the 6-weeks program. It´s not that you don´t have access to the knowledge, knowing what is good for you, i.e. less carbs, more rich in nutrients food, focused workout, having the right level of hydration and so on, but it´s the special way of KetOntrack having taught me and my body, to become metabolically flexible. This was a physical and psychological learning curve and has had so far, a big impact on my lifestyle.

Check my before and after pictures!

Needless to state that I am now since two weeks in keto, justified and measured via the Keto-Mojo meter, whereby in week 5 it was as desired a slight ketosis, then this week, with 18/6 intermittent fasting and usually two rich meals, as well as a good level of activity, I´m fully ‘ketonised’ 🙂

I´m now
much more energetic and I have written this in my previous posts, but what does
it actually mean? For me it means, that I´m much more focused on my energy
levels. I have achieved to be more awake and productive during the day. I have
the feeling as if someone switched on an additional battery. Even when there was
some hick up´s, as posted previously, with some sickness, I was able to recover
quickly, my body and mind demanding to continue on the chosen path. This is
simply fantastic.

Positive (side) effects I have noticed and which definitely need to be mentioned:

a.) Better Skin, cleaner, rosier look, less skin irritations
b.) Improved taste, food tastes richer and pure.
c.) Better sleep, more efficient recuperation.
d.) More relaxed, day to day approach to life.
e.) Down one and a half clothes sizes from my original size 6 weeks ago.
f.) All the gathered knowledge is very useful going forward.
g.) Picked up on autogenic training more frequently again.

Since one
of my passions is cooking, for me it was a won challenge to cook keto
compatible meals. I have amended a lot of my recipes to be keto friendly, derived
from the nutritional awareness achieved with KetOntrack. Some of my recipes are
already online here, and there are yet more to come. It was so far a fulfilling
experience, with some slight challenges, where I needed to prep some side
dishes for the family from time to time, to be equipped with the right level of
needed carbs (I have a son of 1 year, he needs it).

Being a
regular Sauna guest, especially in these nice Spa´s, I´m convinced that a Sauna
visit can remarkably soothe your body and soul and I think everyone should do
it frequently. I´m now going every week once, at least in the winter months, so
I stay fit and focused on staying healthy.

My three key take ways in week 6:

  • Time flew by, and now I feel like a new human being. Really remarkable.
  • Positive attitude comes from achieving set targets, as well as the overall improvements with KetOntrack, visible and inner strength. A foundation, which I trust to continue on the same path.
  • Twelve (12)!! Kilo´s down in 6 weeks. An achievement, but yet more to come and as the next steps, to increase muscle strength, resulting in more weight balance as a result.

In the
weeks to come the focus is on trying to improve sleep length and quality. I
will need to strengthen further my fitness and drive muscle growth in my back
and hip and of course get the belly even more reduced. What´s life without proper
targets? All in all, I am eager to continue the given path and am happy to receive
my KetOntrack Practitioner certificate, aiming to go the full path and become a
Trainer at some point.

I´m happy
to have achieved all this and thanks to Panagiotis for gathering all the
information and his consultancy and his mentoring on his true passion, being
KetOntrack.

Cheers,

Cee Kay.




Life Optimization and BioHacking

“Biohacking is the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you, so you have more control over your own biology”

My definition of biohacking is applying techniques or hacks to improve our life, health and overall functioning in a world of stress, decease, electromagnetic fields and constant lights to name just a few.

The biohacking scene has been rapidly growing for the last few years and I was lucky enough to participate in the 5th Biohacking Summit that took place in Helsinki, Finland. It was an event that hosted more than 30 speakers on various topics over a packed two-day agenda with many exhibitors, very interesting products and over 1100 visitors.

The event started with an enlighting breathing session by Kasper van der Meulen (@kaspersfocus). It is amazing to experience the change of state while standing still with closed eyes and feeling the energy flowing through you.

The next few hours passed with uncontrollable desire to learn about and try out every product in the exhibition! It was really exciting as many of the companies are still start-ups and everyone on the floor had an enourmous amount of energy to explain their product but also to listen, discuss and collect feedback.

I would strongly suggest having a look at some of the below ideas to get a feeling of what the field is focusing on.

  • Recovery optimization through the effects of vibration on the autonomic nervous system (Neurosonics). A very interesting product which also gave me an insight into the Finnish mentality. This product is targeted for companies as well as the public sector to relief stress from the working environment and provide the employers productivity tools as it I was told each day-off due to sickness is estimated to cost 350 Euros! Maybe this is why the Finnish are one of the leaders in the biohacking field!
  • Energy production improvement while optimizing aerobic and anaerobic capacity through hypoxia and hyperoxia training. A product simulating altitude training. Only you don’t need to go to the mountains. After having having tried it for 20 minutes you really feel the difference.
  • It was interesting to listen to Wade Lightheart talking about protein absorption and best techniques to improves tissue repair and building.
  • There was also a lot of interest in sleep optimization in areas where some statistics show that up to 50% of the population has some sort of sleep disorder. Of course, there were big queues for the Oura ring and I think that everyone was probably wearing one at the end of the second day. But tracking your sleep is one thing. Preparing for a good night sleep is another. Increasing melatonin requires blocking blue-light and reducing heart rate to ensure deep sleep requires the proper body temperature. Hence, products such as ChilliPad and the collection of glasses from Biohacking Collective seemed to be really popular. Having purchased some pairs of glasses, I can tell you that the family goes to sleep in no time!

The first day finished in the sauna, a traditional Finnish custom. It is a really great practise to finish a long tiring day by relaxing both the body and mind. And if you are one of the daring ones, you of course dive in the freezing 9 degrees water to get you refreshed!

The next day, the hype seemed to have gone and there was a series of very interesting speakers so the conference area was totally packed. I also joined from the start, as I was also looking forward to hearing some of them.

  • An area of quite intense reseach is on epigenetics and genetic expression optimization. A couple of speakers focused on methylation while others on peptides which are different sized amino acids (proteins) which act as keys for specific functions in the body and are targeted for various deceases such as Alzheimer, tumors, etc.
  • The area I am personally interested in is nutrition and fasting and the benefits of autophagy, so it was great hearing Siim Land talking about Sirtuin activators which are associated with longevity and mitochondria metabolism.
  • If I could summarize the summit in one phrase it would be “Measure so you can manage”. Everyone is now realizing the importance of data to detect patterns which can lead to early prognosis of issues and prevention of decease. At the moment, the available tools seem to either be very expensive or to be offering limited capabilities, but I think it will not be very long before we all have our personal suite with all the important biomarkers. In this direction there was a big interest in measuring ketones, glucose or understanding your genetics via DNA tests (see Keto-Mojo, Ketonix, dnalife)

However, to my surprise the best was kept for the end. The quotes I connected with the most were from the last speaker known as Herbal Jedi, Yarrow Willard a Clinical Herbalist from Canada. “All decease come from the law of flow or lack of. Stagnation is where are decease generates from. Stagnation leads to inflammation, inflammation to pain and pain to decease” This is so true and can be extrapolated to so many areas of our life, such as stress and even to our work-life. “We are not the sum of our successes but the sum of our connections” . Live connecting not collecting.

The summit finished with a sense of great satisfaction and left me wanting for me. The mystery of human-beings, how to optimize life in a “natural” way and be the best we can is still unfolding.




Cee Kay´s fifth week with KetOntrack

Last week was really perfect. This time the half day spa break at the sauna has been energizing me nicely. From nutritious perspective I stayed OnTrack with the plan and was eating except for one day, every first meal a big salad, lots of fish, once liver and for the rest of all meals, quite balanced and healthy. I´m trying a lot of variations of my salad recipe, to keep it diversified.

Week 5 was
all about inheriting the knowledge from the previous weeks and fulfilling the
plan as per goal to reach ketosis in week 6. I´m following the micro nutrition
needed to keep me healthy and at the same time, check on carbs and balanced
meals in general, so I complement my food intake to perfection. I think I
actually was already in a light ketosis most of the days, but that’s yet to be
proven with some measurement. I managed to push out the 16/8 schedule on many
days more to a 18/6 schedule and one two days was fine with two meals instead
of the envisaged three, without a problem.

I noticed
some nice effects, that with the energized level I have reached, my physical
awareness is increased. I wrote about it in the previous weeks that taste is
significantly improved, this now seems to expand to the body overall, where I
observed that I´m glowing. Maybe a bad description but with the right meaning,
resulting good days with the right and measured nutritional balance, work out
and activities, I´m feeling really comfortably fresh and energized.

My three-key
takeaway’s in week 5:

1. Balanced
meals can be tasty. I have created a roasted veggie recipe with grass fed beef
steak, which is really giving me the right nutritional balance, and it is super
tasty as well. As soon as time allows, I will post this recipe.

2. Physical
awareness of my body and mind is increased. Watch out for a post on a similar
subject this week on autogenic training and mind – body balance.

3. I now lost in total 10 Kilo´s, with visible effects on belly and wardrobe. I need to buy new clothes soon I believe. 🙂

Week 6
focus is on getting into ketosis continuing training as well as balanced meal
intake. I´m now, on top of all the previous weeks learnings, trying to improve
sleep length and quality for a start. It will be a challenge, but it is
important to go beyond the week 6 completion of the initial KetOntrack program.

Sauna
visit´s I´m now regularly planning on a weekly basis and I´m confident that
this will ensure a healthy winter for me.

Cheers,

Cee Kay.