A Brief History of the Ketone Diet

Ketogenic Diet pic
Ketogenic Diet
Image: thetruthaboutcancer.com

Nutrition expert Dominic D’Agostino serves as an associate professor at the University of South Florida, where his work centers on metabolic therapies, including ketogenic diets, restricted diets, and exogenous ketogenic agents. As a result of his ketone research, Dominic D’Agostino regularly shares insights into the ketone diet with the media, including Men’s Health magazine and the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

The ketone diet traces its roots to the 1920s, when Russel Wielder of the Mayo Clinic began to use the diet to treat epilepsy. Dietitians started recommending ketone supplementation in the 1970s, inspired by the ability of ketosis to efficiently burn fat.

In 1976, the Last Chance Diet used ketosis by instructing practitioners to drink a protein- and fat-rich mix until they’d lost the desired weight. The diet, devised by osteopath Robert Linn, stipulated a physician’s supervision, but it wound up causing heart complications that resulted in at least 60 deaths.

MIT-trained nutritional biochemist Stephen Phinney continued to work on the ketone diet, developing methods of delivering minerals that would protect against heart problems. Embracing ketone technologies, the Optifast diet emerged in the 1980s, and Oprah Winfrey’s support made it an immediate sensation.

Ketone research continued in the 1990s. Scientists and dietitians began to scale up ketone in 2013. The Gladstone Institute discovered that beta-hydroxybutyrate, a ketone body, activates anti-inflammatory genes and antioxidants, potentially slowing the aging process.

Today, the ketone diet’s potential to help people lose weight and reduce the signs of aging has turned ketone into an industry estimated at $5 billion. You can learn more about the emerging science and application of nutritional ketosis at Dr.Dom D’Agostino’s website KetoNutrition.org


Insulin Resistance Countered by the Ketogenic Diet


Dominic D'Agostinopic
Dominic D’Agostino
Image: ihmc.us

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.

Using Ketone Supplements for Weight Loss

Dominic D'Agostino pic
Dominic D’Agostino
Image: ketonutrition.org

With a PhD in neuroscience and physiology from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers University, Dominic D’Agostino is now an associate professor at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. Dominic D’Agostino’s research is focused on areas such as nutritional ketosis, ketone supplementation and a wide range of metabolic-based therapies.

The ketogenic diet has become popular for its ability to help people lose weight and maintain muscle through supporting the body’s ability to remain in a state of nutritional ketosis. In ketosis, the body’s metabolic system gains its energy primarily from fatty acids, which the liver converts fast into molecules called ketones. Ketones also serve as powerful signaling molecules to boost antioxidant gene expression and reduce systemic inflammation.

Taking ketone supplements, often referred to as “exogenous ketones”, can play an important role in pursuing a optimizing your metabolic health. These supplements function in one of two ways: they augment energy levels for those already in ketosis, or they help push the body into nutritional ketosis. Ideally the ketone supplement (ketone salt) should be mixed with ketogenic fats, like medium chain triglycerides (MCT oil), which also stimulates endogenous ketogenesis.

Eating a ketogenic diet and taking supplements may not be enough to reach your goals, however. If you continue to gain weight, you may need to further decrease your carbohydrate intake to start ketosis, or you may need to decrease your overall calories (most important) to ensure you take in less than your body requires to maintain your current weight so that you can burn stored fat. Interestingly, things like nutritional ketosis, ketone supplementation and intermittent fasting make it easier for people to create a calorie deficit through appetite suppression effects.