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 production. Essentially, the body has a sort of energetic hierarchy that it follows.
First, the body is programmed to use carbohydrates for energy fuel when it is available. Secondly, fats will be used again as an alternative in the absence of an adequate supply of carbohydrates.
Lastly, the body turns to protein for its energy supply when there is extreme depletion of its carbohydrate and fat stores. However, breaking down protein for energy leads to an overall loss of lean muscle mass.
The ketogenic diet is not entirely reliant on the calorie-in/calorie-out pattern. 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 calorie count and fat intake don’t matter, the other holds that calories and fat do matter.
When you use a ketogenic diet, you are trying to find a balance point. While calories matter, the composition of those calories also counts. On a ketogenic diet, the most important factor in the composition of 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 should eat foods that cause the least increase in insulin. 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, just like when you are sleeping. In this state, the body tends to burn fat for energy while the body performs repairs and growth while you sleep.
Carbohydrates generally make up the majority of calories in a regular meal. Also, the body tends to use carbohydrates for energy, since it is easier to absorb. Therefore, dietary protein and fat are more likely to be stored.
However, on a ketogenic diet, most calories come from fat and not carbohydrates. Since ketogenic diets are low in carbohydrates, they are immediately depleted. 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. It makes a change from a carb eater to a fat burner. However, the body does not use the fats in the recently eaten food, but instead stores them for the next round of ketosis.
As the body becomes more familiar with burning fat for energy, the fats from an ingested meal are used up and little is left for storage.
This is why the ketogenic diet uses a lot of fat 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, you will start to break down your protein stores in your muscles during the ketosis period.
During fasting periods, 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 protein contained in the muscle becomes 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 severely restricting and reducing carbohydrate intake. This situation forces you to go into a fat-burning mode for energy production.