Associate professor at the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine, Dominic D’Agostino focuses his work on metabolic-based therapies, including ketogenic diets, and their potential for treating seizure disorders, muscle-wasting diseases, and other health problems. His lab oversees research on ketone technologies and ketone supplementation using ketone esters. Dominic D’Agostino’s work in the area of ketone research has also focused on following a vegan ketogenic diet.
The goal of someone on a ketogenic diet is to enter a state called ketosis, which occurs when the metabolism switches from burning glucose to burning ketones for fuel. In order to produce ketone bodies, a person must carefully manage their macronutrients so they are consuming much more fat than carbohydrates or protein. Although this can be a difficult task when following a plant-based diet, it certainly isn’t impossible.
A vegan or vegetarian interested in following a ketogenic diet must understand they will have to remove or severely limit their intake of fruit, grains, legumes, and some vegetables. They should replace these items with healthy plant-based fats, low-carb nuts and seeds, and low-carb vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, and cabbage.
It’s important for anyone wishing to reach and maintain ketosis to monitor what they’re eating to ensure 65 to 85 percent of their daily caloric intake comes from fat, 15 to 35 percent from protein, and 5 to 15 percent from carbohydrates. The exact nutrient ratio needed to adapt to ketone burning varies. Those who become “keto-adapted” report numerous benefits, including weight loss, increased energy and endurance, improved cognitive function, and reduced hunger.
Known for his research in areas ranging from ketone ester, ketone salts and other ketone technologies, Dominic D’Agostino teaches at the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine and serves the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) as a visiting research scientist. In his research, some of which is highlighted on the KetoNutrition website, Dominic D’Agostino has investigated the benefits of ketone supplementation and the ketogenic diet for a broad range of neurological diseases, cancer and to enhance safety and resilience in in the warfighter and astronaut.
The ketogenic diet involves the intake of foods high in fat very low in carbohydrates, and moderate in protein. Following a well formulated ketogenic diet typically results in significant body composition alterations, including rapid fat loss and sparing of muscle tissue. When accompanied with resistance training a modified ketogenic diet can effectively build muscle and strength. This approach works, in part, due to enhancing insulin sensitivity and preventing the development of insulin resistance that normally occurs with aging. Thus, the ketogenic diet is an effective means to enhance longevity.
When you eat carbohydrates, your body produces insulin. Greater levels of sustained insulin secretion result in decreased insulin receptor signaling, leading to insulin resistance and high levels of blood glucose. Persistent hyperglycemia trigger inflammation, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and de novo lipogenesis. Ultimately your body then stores extra glucose as fat, causing weight gain, metabolic derangement, type 2 diabetes, and perhaps increasing the risk of cancer and other age-related chronic diseases.
Because a ketogenic diet reduces carbohydrate intake, it typically results in decreased insulin levels and an overall suppression of insulin signaling. Consequently, this accelerates fat mobilization and fat burning processes in the body and can help prevent or reverse the negative effects of insulin resistance.
Associate professor Dominic D’Agostino teaches classes at the University of South Florida. Alongside his work there, Dominic D’Agostino is a researcher who focuses on nutritional sciences and their applications in diseases that impact muscles and movement. Some of his recent work involves the ketogenic diet and its usefulness in managing epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a condition characterized by seizures that can be brought on by many different conditions, and many cases have unknown causes. The treatments for epilepsy generally center on pharmaceutical therapies and sometimes involve surgical procedures.
A longstanding and growing body of research suggests that dietary intervention can be beneficial to people with epilepsy. Specifically, physicians turn to the ketogenic diet to help some patients who do not respond to medication.
The ketogenic diet, also known as a keto diet or just keto, is very high in fat and low in carbohydrates. The diet encourages the body to produce molecules called ketones that are known to have anticonvulsant effects, especially in children. Recent research has provided support for this dietary therapy in adult patients as well.
Dr. Dominic D’Agostino serves as an associate professor at the University of South Florida (USF), where he has undertaken extensive research on the way ketogenic diets help shift the type of energy that muscles rely on from glucose to fatty acids and ketone body metbolites. Dominic D’Agostino, PhD, maintains a regular podcast on Tim Ferriss and thequantifiedbody.net and recently spoke with blogger Andrew Scarborough on how fasting and a ketogenic diet helped him beat a brain tumor and gain control over epilepsy.
Mr. Scarborough detailed his cancer diagnosis and decision to adhere to a ketogenic diet following unsuccessful chemotherapy. MRIs were used to visualize changes in the tumor affected by the diet.
In addition to contributing to cancer remission, the ketogenic diet has led to far healthier blood test results for Mr. Scarborough than before he developed cancer. Other topics of the wide-ranging podcast conversation include how to mimic chemotherapy naturally through the diet and the power of fasting and limiting protein.
An associate professor, Dominic D’Agostino divides his time between teaching at the University of South Florida and researching matters related to muscle loss and disease. Specifically, Dominic D’Agostino possesses expertise in ketones and the ketogenic diet.
In February of 2015, Nature Medicine published a study funded by several National Institutes of Health grants. The research analyzed the effects of the compound B-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) on NLRP3. A person’s body produces the metabolite BHB when they fast, restrict calories, engage in intense exercise, or limit carbohydrates with nutritional plans like the ketogenic diet. NLRP3 is a part of the inflammasome family. The protein sparks inflammation in conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to autoinflammatory disorders.
Researchers worked with mice to document how their bodies responded when BHB was heightened. The subjects were exposed to ketone bodies as well as placed on a ketogenic diet. Exposure to ketone bodies returned positive results in inflammation reduction. The addition of a low-carbohydrate diet boosted BHB, thus inhibiting the impact of NLRP3.
An expert on the low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet, Dr. Dominic D’Agostino dedicates his profession to researching its nutritional benefits at the University of South Florida, where he serves as a senior research scientist. Dr. Dominic D’Agostino has been sought after by many to share insight on the topic, and recently, gave an interview with Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit on how the diet impacts athletes.
The ketogenic diet is an ideal option for gaining lean muscle mass. In strength athletes, the nutritional approach encourages fat loss, but does not prohibit the body from growing in size and strength. In fact, it helps a person gain a stronger composition. For younger athletes, a ketogenic diet does not have to be used long-term. The body will respond positively if the diet is followed intermittently.
Endurance athletes must take more time to see the benefits of a ketogenic diet. Because runners tend to rely on carbohydrates and sugars for a boost of energy, their bodies must adapt to using fatty acids for fuel. When done properly, the diet improves fat oxidation capacity and requires fewer calories to sustain energy levels. As a result, endurance athletes can replenish their bodies with fluids and electrolytes during a race and not worry about refeeding as often.
Dominic D’Agostino, PhD, is an associate professor and researcher in the University of Southern Florida’s Department of Neuroscience, Cell Biology, and Physiology. In addition to researching ways to address the muscle wasting that is associated with various diseases, Dr. Dominic D’Agostino focuses his work on the therapeutic qualities of the ketogenic diet.
A ketogenic diet is a diet low in carbohydrates but high in fats. Carbohydrates should make up about 5 percent of nutritional intake, and fats should account for 75 percent. The purpose of this shift is to induce ketosis. In most diets, carbohydrates are the staple, and the body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose and produces insulin to regulate the glucose in the blood. When carbohydrate intake falls, the body enters ketosis. Ketosis is a state where rather than the body using glucose as its energy source, it instead breaks down fats and uses these broken down fats, or ketones, as the energy source for the body. Therefore, a ketogenic diet typically consists of high-fat-content foods such as nuts, butter, cheese and oils, as well as sources of protein and green vegetables. Breads, pastas, and starchy fruits and vegetables are to be avoided.
The ketogenic diet was developed in 1924 as a treatment for epilepsy, and while it was effective, the development of anticonvulsant drugs stymied its popularity. In the last two decades, however, the ketogenic diet has been re-popularized. The modern form of the ketogenic diet has been found to reduce the frequency of seizures by more than 50 percent in over half of people with epilepsy and decrease seizure frequency by 90 percent in a third of individuals.