Ketogenic diets force the body into a state called ketosis. The body generally uses carbohydrates as its main source of energy. This is due to the fact that carbohydrates are the easiest for the body to absorb.
However, if the body runs out of carbohydrates, it reverts to using fat and protein for energy. Essentially, the body has a kind of energetic hierarchy that it follows.
First, the body is programmed to use carbohydrates for energy fuel when available. Second, you will revert to fat as an alternative in the absence of adequate carbohydrate intake.
Lastly, the body will turn to protein for its energy supply when there is an extreme depletion of its carbohydrate and fat stores. However, the breakdown of protein for energy supply leads to a widespread loss of lean muscle mass.
The ketogenic diet is not entirely dependent on the calorie in, calories out model. This is because the composition of those calories is important due to the body’s hormonal response to different macronutrients.
However, there are two schools of thought in the keto community. While one believes that the amount of calories and fat intake do not matter, the other argues that calories and fat do matter.
When you use a ketogenic diet, you are trying to find a balance point. While calories are important, the composition of those calories also counts. On a ketogenic diet, the most important factor in making up those calories is the balance of fat, protein, and carbohydrates and how each affects insulin levels.
This balance is very important because any increase in insulin will stop lipolysis. Therefore, you need to eat foods that generate the least insulin surge. This will help keep your body in the state of burning stored body fat for fuel – lipolysis.
The body can normally enter a state of ketosis on its own. This is usually the case when you are fasting, such as when you are sleeping. In this state, the body tends to burn fat for energy while the body repairs it and grows while sleeping.
Carbohydrates generally make up the majority of calories in a regular meal. Also, the body is inclined to use carbohydrates for energy, as it is more easily absorbable. Therefore, dietary proteins and fats are more likely to be stored.
However, on a ketogenic diet, most of the calories come from fat rather than carbohydrates. Since ketogenic diets are low in carbohydrates, they are depleted right away. The low level of carbohydrates causes an apparent shortage of energy fuel for the body.
As a result of this apparent shortage, the body draws on its stored fat content. Makes a switch from a carb eater to a fat burner. However, the body does not use the fats from recently eaten food, but stores them for the next round of ketosis.
As the body becomes more familiar with burning fat for energy, the fats in an eaten meal are depleted and there is very little left to store.
This is why the ketogenic diet uses a lot of fat intake so that the body can have enough for energy production and can also store some fat. The body needs to be able to store some fat, otherwise it will start to break down its protein stores in the muscles during the ketosis period.
During periods of fasting, such as during ketosis, between meals, and during sleep, the body still needs a constant supply of energy. You have these periods in your normal day, and therefore you need to consume sufficient amounts of fat for your body to use for energy.
If there are not adequate amounts of stored fat, the proteins contained in your muscle become the next option for the body to use for energy. Therefore, it is important to eat enough to prevent this scenario from occurring.
The main goal of a ketogenic diet is to mimic the state of starvation in the body. Ketogenic diets deprive the body of its preferred immediate and easily convertible carbohydrates by drastically restricting and reducing carbohydrate intake. This situation forces you into a fat burning mode for energy production.