Biohacking Basics: Introduction to the Ketogenic Lifestyle

by John Limansky, MD February 06, 2018 3 min read

Biohacking Basics: Introduction to the Ketogenic Lifestyle

Biohacking is all about getting your body and mind to work at their optimum performance levels. Perhaps the most basic aspect of effectively hacking your body to work its best is eating the right foods. Unfortunately we live in a society that has lost its way when it comes to nutrition, and countless Americans suffer from diseases, poor health, and excess weight due to the poor quality processed food we eat. A combination of common misconceptions, junk science, and food industry influence on the government has created an environment where many people don’t understand the fundamentals of a healthy diet, or how to improve their quality of life through good nutrition.

The keto, or ketogenic lifestyle is an approach to eating that focuses primarily on the quality of ingredients you consume, rather than just how much you consume. Whether your goal is weight loss, increased energy, improved mental focus, improved overall health, or all of the above, the keto diet is one of the most effective biohacks for reaching these goals. The keto lifestyle gets its name from ketones, which are one of two primary fuel molecules in your body – the other being glucose (blood sugar). The core idea of the keto lifestyle is to force your body to start using ketones as its primary energy source, rather than glucose.

When you are eating a large amount of carbohydrates and sugar, your body relies on glucose for energy. When your stomach digests carbohydrates, it breaks them down into glucose. The stomach and small intestines absorb the glucose and release it into the bloodstream, where it can be used immediately for energy by cells throughout the body. Glucose that isn’t immediately used for energy is stored, first as glycogen in the liver, and when the liver’s storage capacity is full, as fat around the body.

The keto diet aims to limit the amount of carbohydrates you eat to such a low level that your body can’t rely on glucose for energy, and begins to use ketones instead. Ketones are produced by the liver, from fats, during extended periods where sufficient carbohydrates (and therefore glucose) aren’t available. When your body enters this state of ketone production, it’s called ketosis. Fasting[hyperlink to introduction to fasting article] is the quickest way to enter ketosis, but fasting long enough to enter ketosis may be difficult for some. Restricting carbohydrate intake to minimal levels can put your body into ketosis almost as quickly as fasting, without needing to go extended periods without any food.  

When your body is in ketosis, it becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat, because ketones produced from fat are now its main energy source. This is obviously a great way to lose weight and body fat, but it also carries a host of other benefits. Reducing carbohydrate consumption tends to stabilize blood sugar be reducing the amount on insulin released by the pancreas. This can help prevent the development of, or even reverse insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Stable blood sugar, combined with the constant availability of energy from ketones, leads to increased alertness and mental focus. Stable insulin and blood sugar levels also tend to reduce frequent hunger and cravings, making sticking to the keto diet much easier when compared to other (high carbohydrate) diets.

Many followers of the keto lifestyle report a reduction in stress and anxiety, and improved overall mood. If you have digestive problems such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain, or heartburn, these symptoms may be greatly reduced even possibly disappear altogether.  For those interested in biohacking with exercise along with diet, the keto diet will be an incredible powerful tool because your body will have greater energy and endurance for working out. And keto eating, along with the weight loss it leads to, can reduce high blood pressure to normal levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.

If you want to hack your body to look better, feel better, and perform better, the keto lifestyle is a great first step. Though the transition to eating very few carbohydrates can be a bit of a challenge, the benefits will quickly outshine any initial difficulty, and you’ll soon find your body and mind performing better than you thought they could.

 

John Limansky, MD
John Limansky, MD


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