Gluconeogenesis- Is it good on Keto?
Gluconeogenesis is a hot topic in the keto community right now. What exactly is it? Gluconeogenesis is your body's ability/process of taking non-carbohydrate sources of fuel and converting them into sugar. The biggest misconception about this process is that it is bad and it is triggered by excess protein. This is not necessarily true. In fact there are many sources your body uses for this process. Some of them include lactate, amino acids and even fatty acids. Here is a video going into depth about the process itself. See, truth of the matter is that we are all experiencing gluconeogenesis right now! The following are three of the biggest reasons I believe that gluconeogenesis is a healthy and needed process on a ketogenic diet -
1. Glycogen stores
2. Brain fuel
3. Blood sugar levels
If you love the feeling of looking filled out and big at the gym, you can thank gluconeogenesis for that if your a ketogenic athlete. When transitioning into a fat adapted individual, your body finds itself in an interesting situation. It has no carbs to fill glycogen for explosive exercise. So what does it do? Gluconeogenesis! Your body decides to open up this metabolic pathway and take lactate, amino acids and even fat and turn it into glucose to be stored for later use! Another amazing thing is your body's ability to become very proficient at using and storing glycogen as a fat adapted individual. In Dr. Ryan Lowerys podcast "What The Fat" , we learn during his episode with Craig Emmerich that our bodies are very efficient at creating and utilizing glycogen on a ketogenic diet. In one study they reference, fat adapted athletes and carbohydrate based athletes started off at different glycogen levels. At the end of the exercise they had exactly the same amount remaining! In another study referenced, they found that ketogenic based athletes and carb based athletes restore glycogen levels at the same rate! Based off their findings, it is clear that your body not only needs glycogen but, in a fat adapted state, your body's ability to create it is efficient and safe. Here is a link to listen to the podcast.
Brain fuel & Blood sugar
Our brain needs glucose, to some degree. Specifically around 30% of your brain's fuel needs to come from glucose. If we are fat adapted individuals and generally only 1-5% of our daily intake is carbohydrates, where does our body get this fuel? It makes it itself! Our bodies ability to create its own means of providing itself specific fuel is amazing. One of the amazing things people first notice on a ketogenic diet is their bodies ability to stabilize blood sugar levels. Usually people only address the fact that there is typically no rise in blood sugar. However, few notice why there isn't a drop. This is a clear indicator that our body has an amazing ability to create homeostasis by creating its own amount of glucose needed to keep blood sugars at a steady number. Your body really is an amazing machine.
In another podcast Dr. Lowery explains that our bodies have what we would consider a thermostat when it comes to the nutrients we take in. Too far to one side or the other and our bodies will adjust accordingly. Many fat adapted individuals I know can go as high as a 1:1 ratio of fat to protein (1 gram of fat to 1 gram of protein) and still be above 0.5 mmol in their blood ketone levels. Now, is this most optimal? For some individuals including myself it is not. However, we can gather based off of the evidence that as long as your protein does not exceed your intake in fat, your body will stick to using fat as its primary fuel source and use the protein for secondary needs.
Your body has an amazing ability to use multiple sources of fuel to create glucose for itself
Gluceneogenesis has an important role in our body's ability to be fat adapted
As long as protein is kept in check (keeping it at a 1:1 ratio or lower) Your body will prefer fat as its primary fuel source on a ketogenic diet.
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