To understand why Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) Products are so important for human health it helps to understand the basics of why the Keto Diet has become so popular.
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Many have heard about the growing popularity of the Keto Diet but there are numerous misunderstandings. Following a Keto Diet does not mean that you are only eating huge quantities of fat and also does not mean you are eating large amounts of meat. The basic principle of the Keto Diet is to achieve ketogenesis and this is done by reducing our dependence on excess refined and processed carbohydrates in the diet in favour of a diet that combines plenty of nutrient rich high fibre vegetables with high quality fats such as those from coconut oil, MCT oil, olive oil, nuts, avocados and so on. Excess protein also should be kept to a minimum along with all processed foods. Once your target BMI has been achieved then it is beneficial to follow a more cyclical Keto Diet and more high fibre wholefoods may be introduced on specific days along with a more personalized approach based on our genetics, age, health and activity level.
In fact, the Keto Diet or Ketogenic Lifestyle is constantly evolving and should be seen as a work in progress as our understanding of the the role of genetics and diet in human longevity is rapidly advancing as more scientists produce ground-breaking dietary discoveries every day.
The Keto Diet offers the understanding of the role of ketones in health and as a sign that we have successfully regained our metabolic flexibility and become fat adapted. When we reduce our addiction to processed foods and constant dependence on sugars for energy then the body may now burn fat instead, producing ketones in the liver that are sent into the bloodstream where they may be utilized by your muscles, tissues and brain as an alternative source of energy.
This ability to switch between carbohydrates and fats as an energy source is coded into our DNA as we have evolved to survive periods of feasting and fasting when food supplies dwindle due to seasonal and other food scarcity issues. For people living in modern cities today the only time we produce ketones is when we are fasting however this too has become something nearly impossible to do for most people due to unlimited high carbohydrate food choices available 24/7.
Thankfully there is a growing interest among health conscious people to practice fasting as it has been shown to extend life, prevent illness and is also used in the treatment of specific diseases. The keto diet, when properly followed produces the same results as fasting on a regular basis while enjoying delicious healthy recipes and without having to undergo strict fasting to keep us within the optimal healthy "ketosis" range (see chart below). Even those on the Keto Diet however can benefit from the occasional 3 or 5 day fast (water, juices or veges only) during which the level of ketones will reach the "starvation ketosis" range <10mmol/L and this is normal. This is not to be confused with ketoacidosis which is a life threatening condition that diabetics/alcoholics must guard against and a sign of advance progression of the illness.
By adding healthy fats, especially coconut products and MCT Oil to coffee or a healthy low carb breakfast we also support appetite satiation that allows us to make healthier food choices for the rest of the day by getting us off the high/low blood sugar roller-coaster that has become the norm with modern refined carbohydrate breakfast, lunch and dinner. Those who do this for only 1 month have found they feel great and lose significant weight while maintaining lean muscle mass.
Ketones are considered a clean fuel in comparison with sugar, as relying only on carbohydrates for energy can promote inflammation and metabolic imbalance. Excess protein in the diet will also spike blood sugar levels and is the same as having excess sugar and is also pro-inflammatory as well. This is the main area that people new to following the Keto Diet need to reduce as eating excess animal protein can over time negate many of the health gains made from following a ketogenic lifestyle. For most of us today we only need look back just 100 years ago to our great great grandparents and red meat was something only consumed perhaps once per week, or only on special occassions and certainly never on a daily basis. With this in mind, please ignore all those Keto Facebook posts that show the Keto Diet as only bacon and eggs as these individuals have still got a lot to learn!
Taking out the guesswork by measuring ketones at home
Ketones may be measured in either our blood, urine or the most non-intrusive method of all, from the breath. All these testing equipment can be easily purchased and used in the comfort of our own home. The 3 ketones produced when we breakdown fat for energy are; Acetoacetate (AcAc), Beta-hydroxybutyric acid (BHB) and Acetone. While blood ketone measuring is the most accurate it is not as convenient as it does involve drawing a tiny drop of blood to apply to the ketone strip. Our preference is breath ketone measuring, although while it only measures acetone on the breath, it does give a strong correlation to the overall level of ketosis that one is in.
Tracking our ketones as a sign of improving our metabolic flexibility is actually only the start of our health journey, not the end, but it is an important step that even a beginner in nutrition can embrace. Taking the ketogenic diet to the next level is sometimes referred to as "biohacking" and incorporates the latest advances in the role of genetics and diet on the biomarkers of health and longevity. Once we achieve our fat loss and metabolic rate target then it is time to address the other causes of disease and reduced lifespan. There are many health and longevity risk factors that are best measured in tests taken in conjunction with your medical health professional or a trained dietary therapist. This includes more frequent monitoring of fasting blood glucose, blood pressure, blood cholesterol and markers of inflammation including C-reactive protein and insulin growth factor 1 (IGF-1) a biomarker for cancer growth and cellular aging. A deeper insight into role our individual genetic markers play in our response to diet is also of great importance via a Nutrigenomics DNA test (download flyer here) and this propels us in our understanding of the role of specific micronutrients in reducing inflammation as well as dietary, exercise and lifestyle changes that are based on our personalized DNA.