How A Ketogenic Diet Can Help You Lose Weight


February 12, 2016

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Many people first stumble upon the idea of ketosis while looking for a weight loss strategy. They’ve tried one diet after another, but have found that cutting calories isn’t effective and are in search of something more. When counting calories doesn’t work, a ketogenic diet may be the answer.

Why Calorie Counting Doesn’t Work

Have you been counting calories only to be met with frustration when you aren’t losing weight? One of the reasons calorie-restricted diets tend to fail is because cutting calories increases hunger and food cravings. Cutting calories to lose weight doesn’t suppress your appetite. In fact, it causes your hormones to work against you, by telling your brain to eat more.

Ketosis, on the other hand, is an effective appetite suppressant.

How Ketosis Suppresses the Appetite

Appetite suppression through ketosis happens in more than one way. First, by eating more fat and cutting bad carbs (sugar, bread, etc), your blood sugar will stabilize.

Scientists have found that ketones have an impact on hormones that regulate hunger and satiety. Ketones help to increase production of cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone, which makes you feel full, and reduce production of ghrelin, which is known as the “hunger hormone.”

After you eat, your intestines release CCK — a powerful regulator of food intake. Your body secretes less CCK after you lose weight. When you are thinner, you will feel less satisfied with the same meal than you did before losing the weight and your cravings for unhealthy foods will increase.

A ketogenic diet for weight loss keeps you from getting caught in this trap.

Ghrelin (a.k.a. “the hunger hormone”) is released from your intestines and stomach and increases hunger. During normal fasting, grehlin levels go up, and when you eat, grehlin drops in response to nutrients circulating in your blood. It goes up during normal fasting. When you eat a meal, ghrelin drops in response to nutrients circulating in your blood.

If you are in a ketogenci state, grehlin levels do not increase with weight loss.

How Much Ketosis Is Enough?

How much ketosis do you need to effectively lose weight? A recent study published in January 2015 in Obesity Reviews found that a blood ketone level of 0.5 mM was sufficient to significantly suppress appetite in participants on a variety of diets. In the average person, circulating levels of ketones are typically at ~0.1 mM after an overnight fast.

Betty Murray, CN, IFMCP, CHC is a Certified Nutritionist & Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner with the Institute for Functional Medicine, founder of the Dallas-based functional medicine clinic Living Well Dallas and Executive Director of the the Functional Medicine Association of North Texas. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutrition for autoimmune diseases, digestive disorders, MTHFR and weight loss.  You can find her book “Cleanse: Detox Your Body, Mind & Spirit” on Amazon here.

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