Studies on diabetes, obesity, weight loss and cholesterol have shown the ketogenic diet can have a positive impact on fighting the health issues of a dramatic proportion of the population and, when adopted safely and correctly, allows olive oil to be a regular part of a daily lifestyle.
The ketogenic diet is a diet based on the consumption of predominately fat, giving less emphasis to the other two macronutrients, particularly carbohydrates. While ratios vary depending on the individual and their goals, consumption typically consists of only five to ten percent carbohydrates, fifteen to thirty percent protein and the remainder of the diet is made up of fat.
The premise behind the diet is simple: a higher consumption of fat converts the body to using fat as its energy source instead of its default, carbohydrates. The body breaks down fat for fuel, turning it into ketones, or ketone bodies, which it can then use in a process known as ketosis.
Ketosis is the conversion of these ketone bodies into a usable energy source, completed along an energy conversion path in the body. Because the body is reverting to this alternative source of fuel, it is important to not consume a high volume of carbohydrates, as it will convert back to using this macronutrient as fuel.
From a health and dietary perspective, the popularity of the ketogenic diet has arrived because, at its root, the body is burning fat for energy. As the body becomes efficient in this method of energy extraction, you can reduce the amount of fat you consume and the body will start to use stored fat as well as the fat you consume to facilitate ketosis.
The simplicity of the concept and its potential associated benefits have become the foundation of research studies investigating the potential effects and implications of the ketogenic diet on various population groups.
One study looked at individuals who suffer from obesity and the ketogenic diet as a potential aid in weight loss. The research showed that one of the biggest benefits of the diet when it comes to tackling obesity is the indirect effect of boosting satiety.
An increased amount of fat in the diet helps individuals feel fuller for a longer period of time by modulating blood sugar levels. Because fat does not cause a drastic spike in blood sugar, and is digested slowly, it provides a sustained source of energy, making people feel hungry less often, and the overall caloric intake is reduced.
It is a natural progression along the health trajectory to move from addressing obesity stemming from blood sugar regulation to further addressing blood sugar regulation dysfunction: diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a long-term metabolic disorder that is characterized by high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and relative lack of insulin. Insulin resistance is when the body is no longer able to secrete insulin naturally in response to blood sugar increases, and hence blood sugar remains high. This is typically a dysfunction with the insulin receptors, and with changes in diet, including lower levels of sugar and carbohydrates, it can be controlled or reversed.
One of the ways to do this that is yielding promising results in research is the ketogenic diet. In a 2017 study evaluating the ketogenic diet in the management of diabetes, researchers showed the diet had the potential to decrease blood glucose levels, the rudimental key to minimizing the occurrence and diagnosis of diabetes. This was further supported in a study evaluating the long-term effects of the ketogenic diet in obese patients, offering similar results in its ability to lower blood glucose levels, as well as decreasing total cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
All of this, of course, comes down to not only consuming the proper amounts of fat and being mindful of carbohydrate intake but also the types of fat one consumes.
One study had individuals consuming a diet that was 20 percent saturated fat, and 80 percent polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, essentially allowing a balanced consumption of healthy and essential fats to maximize the functional ability of ketosis within the body.
With mounting evidence of fat consumption being beneficial, focusing on fat sources that allow individuals to take advantage of these benefits is a crucial step.
One of these sources is olive oil, offering both saturated and monounsaturated fat, as well as the essential fats, Omega-6 and Omega-3. Other healthy fat options include avocados, flax oil, and nuts and seeds
While the ketogenic diet has shown increasing promise for helping individuals with certain health conditions in fighting diabetes and in reducing cholesterol, converting the body to ketosis and having it stay there is challenging and requires strict adherence to macronutrient values.
Whether or not you adopt a ketogenic diet, it is important to include a regular intake of healthy fats including olive oil.