Time to Reframe Ketogenic Diet Supplements

Or reframing keto supplements

Ketogenic diets have gone beyond the fad stage and have now grown into something much larger… a movement. The reason for this is pretty simple; science has started to catch up and now understands why keto diets are so effective. Admittedly, the research has gained acceptance because Type 2 Diabetes has been virtually cured in many patients by strict adherence to well formulated ketogenic diets. Regardless why the research was conducted, the outcome legitimized keto as a valid way to lose weight in a healthy way.

However, even though strict ketogenic diets have been proven to work, they are very difficult to follow. There are two main reasons for this. First, in order to be fully nutritionally sound, whole foods are needed and preparation can be difficult if time is limited or if a wide variety of ingredients aren’t easily available. Additionally, most people don’t have the knowledge to formulate a diet correctly, nor do they have the ability to hire a nutritionist specifically trained in ketogenic nutrition. As a result, many people want to experience the benefits of ketogenic diets, but aren’t willing or able to do what would be needed to do it correctly.

Because of the hype, marketers took advantage of what ketosis can do by selling ketone salts under the guise of a “diet in a bottle”. The spiel was simple, take the pills and you could reap the benefits of ketosis without the carb restriction. This was obvious BS and doesn’t work, but due to the only way to check ketones at the time, urine test strips, it LOOKED like they were in ketosis. However, as current research shows, the use of ketone salts for weight loss actually DECREASES the amount of body fat you burn when taking them.

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Regardless, ketone salts are still being sold as an adjunct for weight loss despite science directly disputing their efficacy. As more people understand that ketone salts do not increase weight loss, they have gone out of fashion for that use. That is great for consumers, but because they were the first type of keto supplements on the market, they hold the title of “ketogenic diet supplement” hostage. However, now that science has made progress in understanding how ketosis works, it has also identified how we can enhance ketosis as well. Now that there are effective ways to enhance ketosis, it is time to reframe ketogenic diet supplements by considering supplements that actually enhance or protect ketosis.

The current research shows that there are multiple ways to enhance ketosis by targeting some of the same pathways used by diabetic medications, although without using pharmaceuticals. Although in its infancy, botanical enhancements of ketosis are now available. They are not as strong as the medications used for diabetes, but they don’t need to be. All they do need to do is target the pathways relevant to decreasing carbohydrates and circulating insulin levels. Unfortunately, this article is too short to discuss the relationship between insulin and ketosis, but you can find out more about it HERE.

The current research shows that there are multiple ways to enhance ketosis by targeting some of the same pathways used by diabetic medications, although without using pharmaceuticals. Although in its infancy, botanical enhancements of ketosis are now available. They are not as strong as the medications used for diabetes, but they don’t need to be. All they do need to do is target the pathways relevant to decreasing carbohydrates and circulating insulin levels. Unfortunately, this article is too short to discuss the relationship between insulin and ketosis, but you can find out more about it HERE.

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There a five main targets of diabetic research, but only four are relevant to a discussion of ketosis (the fifth is increasing insulin, which is counterproductive for keto): increasing utilization of carbohydrates, suppressing glucose production, decreasing carbohydrate absorption, and increasing glucose elimination. All four of these can be acted upon by botanicals, some of which have been used for this purpose for centuries in Ayurvedic, Traditional Chinese, and other Eastern medical traditions. While they were not strong enough to treat Diabetes, at least compared to Western pharmaceuticals, they are more than capable of safely enhancing and protecting ketosis in those already in ketosis.

Botanicals can increase glucose utilization by moving more into the muscles without the need for insulin. This allows glucose to be taken out of the circulation so not to stimulate more insulin release. This helps in another aspect as well. Insulin stimulates glucose to be converted and stored as fat, while at the same time, stopping the body from burning fat. By decreasing systemic glucose, and thus insulin, fat continues to be burned instead of glucose being stored.
Botanicals can also decrease the production of glucose by the liver, although not dramatically. Which in itself is good, because your brain, red blood cells, and other cells without mitochondria can’t live without glucose. That is one reason why the liver produces glucose to begin with. It is also a highly regulated process, so it is difficult to influence it anyway. However, even minor changes in glucose production can impact ketosis and ketogenesis (production of ketones). Therefore, botanicals that decrease gluconeogenesis also enhance ketosis.

There are multiple ways to affect carbohydrate absorption with botanicals as well. Only monosaccharides like glucose, fructose and galactose can be transported from the GI tract into the bloodstream. Not only are there botanicals that can inhibit this transport, there are others that can stop starch and other carbohydrates like maltodextrin being broken down into simple sugars and others that can stop simple sugars from being broken down into monosaccharides. This results in shunting many different sized carbohydrates into the colon for elimination without getting absorbed into the bloodstream.

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The final target botanicals can affect is glucose elimination. The kidneys naturally recycle glucose so it isn’t released into the urine. There are botanicals that can inhibit this process so glucose pulled from the bloodstream and released into the urine. The same botanicals recycle ketones so they aren’t released into the urine. So, not only does this remove glucose from the circulation, it also increases the energy available to the dieter.

There are multiple reasons targeting these ways to enhance ketosis might benefit those trying to lose weight. First, as discussed previously, strict ketogenic diets are difficult to follow. As a result, there are many new hybrid ketogenic diets being introduced. Typically, these follow the same macro concepts, but are usually less stringent about rules. While they may be easier to follow, the changes also makes it easier to fail.

Two of the newer ketogenic diets that fit this description are Lazy Keto and Dirty Keto. Both are very similar in design and both make ketosis more attainable to the populous. Consequently, they are becoming more popular despite the warnings of nutritionists and doctors. Before getting into any specific concerns, let us look at what they are.

Lazy Keto is a version of the ketogenic diet where those on the diet count the grams of carbohydrate intake, but do not really worry about the other macros. This is the more traditional of the two and really does not deviate much from the regular ketogenic diet in theory. In practice, it is also very similar, although the lack of focus on fat and protein may make ketosis more difficult. This is particularly the case when there is more protein intake and less fat intake. There is a real risk of falling in and out of ketosis due to lower fat intake and excessive protein. That being said, many people that are on ketogenic diets are probably actually doing a Lazy Keto diet to some extent if they are not actively monitoring all of the macros.

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Dirty Keto is similar to Lazy Keto in that the only macro actively tracked is carbohydrate intake. The big difference is what type of food counts as Dirty Keto. The reason nutritionists and physicians are becoming acceptant of ketogenic diets is the focus on whole foods. However, Dirty Keto is not concerned with whole foods or clean foods, ONLY macros. Dirty Keto does not distinguish between saturated fats like butter or polyunsaturated fats like soybean oil. In terms of Dirty Keto, fat is fat. There is some truth to the fact that it does not matter what kind of fat you eat when it comes to getting into or staying in ketosis, but it DOES matter to your overall health and how long you can stay on the diet. It also means that Dirty Keto meal planning includes fast food, and what is generally considered junk food, as long as you keep carbs low. Whereas Lazy Keto can meet the nutritional requirements for people on the diet, it is doubtful one could sustain Dirty Keto without some nutritional deficit.

Both of these ketogenic diet offshoots are popular because they are easy to follow, especially for those that do not prep meals or cook whole foods. While shunned by mainstream nutritionists as a result, many people feel they have no choice if they want to use the power of ketosis for fat loss. This is where enhancing ketosis with botanicals may help. By making a wider range of nutritious foods available to those on ketogenic diets, those on the diet have a better chance of getting the nutrients they require.

When limited to restaurant food, or at least, not home cooked whole foods, many people can still get their nutritional needs met. However, when you introduce the need to avoid carbohydrates, this becomes increasingly difficult. This is particularly the case in regards to fillers and other “hidden carbs” used in food production. While the overall meal may be nutritious, the additional carbohydrates make the meal non-keto, so it will not be eaten. However, if the carbohydrates in question could be blocked or otherwise limit their effects on ketosis, this would be a viable option. Obviously not ideal from a nutritional standpoint, but viable from a ketosis standpoint and from a harm-reduction standpoint if weight loss is a priority for health.

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The same can be said for any time ketogenic dieters have to deviate from their chosen meal plan. People frequently fall off the “keto wagon” due to social inability to maintain the diet at all times. Many people will “cheat” on the diet when they only have the choice of cheating or being socially uncomfortable. For example, at a good friend’s wedding one may cheat instead of refusing to eat whatever meal was planned and forgo cake and the other trappings of weddings. Instead, with a botanical option, they may be able to limit the damage done to their ketosis and maintain social norms.

This can also be the case for the “cheat day” or an off-diet day that people succumb to when the diet itself gets to be too much. Botanicals can be used to help off-set the additional carbohydrates while protecting the ketosis the dieter had worked so hard to develop. Counteracting the nutritional deficits of the diet are beyond the scope of this article. In additional to before meals protection, botanicals can be used more generically to help upregulate gene expression for fat oxidation or to decrease gluconeogenesis over the longer term.

In conclusion, there are multiple ways current botanicals known to diabetic science can help those seeking ketogenic diet weight loss. Whether on a pre-meal basis, or as a daily supplement, these botanicals can become adjuncts to the diet in order to address some of the concerns commonly cited as reasons the diet was untenable. As a result, it is now time to reframe “keto supplements” to include supplements that make ketosis more effective or more sustainable.



*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.