Why Does the Keto Diet Work? Part 1 of 3- Macros


There’s a lot of hype about the ketogenic diet right now. But every diet had its day in the sun. So why is this one any different, you ask?? Because THIS one is based on medical knowledge and research.

Did you know that the infamous Food Guide Pyramid is not based on medical knowledge? That’s right- the Food and Drug Administration uses a food guideline that was implemented by a politician- George McGovern- in the 1950s. And not much has changed since then.

These guidelines did and still do stress eating small amounts of dietary fat because it was thought that this increased heart disease. Turns out that is not the case (research proven- see link at the bottom for more information). OBESITY increases the amount of heart disease, and obesity is caused by sugar!

Let’s break down the 3 macronutrients (“macros”) here. We’re about to get deep– stay with me! Our body uses 3 major sources to stay healthy: carbohydrates, protein, and fats.

  1. Carbohydrates- when eaten, they break down into sugar molecules in the body. Each body system takes some sugar to use for energy. If there is any left over, the body stores it in the “bank” for future use. If too much sugar is left over, it can’t fit in the “bank” because there is limited space. The extra sugar is stored in fat cells, creating body fat. This is the liver’s job.
  2. Protein- when eaten, they break down into something called amino acids. These are used to keep things like bone cells, blood cells, muscle cells, and connective tissues healthy. Proteins don’t actually give us energy! The liver does not have to do anything when this happens.
  3. Fats- when eaten, dietary fats are broken down in the intestines and sent into the bloodstream to do their job. The liver does not have to do anything when this happens. (NOTE: the body HAS to have dietary fat to stay healthy.)

The key to each of these processes is the liver. The liver works by using hormones to send and receive messages to other parts of the body. One of these major hormones is called insulin. Insulin is released when the liver is working on the jobs listed above. High insulin levels tell the body that we have extra energy sources (sugar), and we need to find a place to store them. Low insulin levels tell the body that we need to use that extra energy source (sugar) for energy. So it is used up/burned up!!

NOTE: Generally speaking, there IS such a thing as too much protein. When too much protein is taken in, the extra has to be stored just like when we have extra carbohydrates. So our bodies change these protein molecules- amino acids- into sugar molecules and store them in the SAME WAY as carbohydrate molecules, as body fat. Once again, this is the liver’s job, and once again, insulin tells your body to store the extra as body fat. HOWEVER, a person who has had bariatric surgery is taking in such small amounts of food at a time that they have to eat protein more times throughout the day to get to the right amount. It would be very difficult for a bariatric surgery patient to get too much protein. Don’t worry- if you are, we will bring it to your attention! I only add this note in here to give you the full picture- not to make you eat less protein.

Wondering where the fruit and veggies are? They are in a different category called micronutrients, and they are ESSENTIAL for vitamins and minerals, and they are the focus of the next post. Continue reading with “Why Does the Keto Diet Work? / Part 2 of 3- The 411 on Fruit and Veggies.”

If you’re a fellow medical provider, or just want to know more about nutrition research, here’s my sources: