21 August 2014
Well of course I have some ideas of my own, but with Google being my friend and all that, I decided to check it out. Hey, what do you know, there are two ways to define this word. Both of them are pretty appropriate too.
The first definition is to:
cause or enable (a condition or situation) to continue
which makes sense and is pretty much what I expected to see. I guess if you'd asked to define the word myself, that's probably roughly what I'd have said.
But wow, look at this, the other one is to:
provide with necessities for life or existence
Hmmm, 'necessities', eh? Now that's very interesting.
OK, I'd say this second one's really rather an apt definition too. Given the LCHF ketogenic way my lovely hubby and I eat these days, which is to say deliberately opting to restrict our carbohydrate intake quite dramatically (i.e. generally staying under 50g per day) to stay in a state of nutritional ketosis*, we're choosing to limit a food group which isn't actually 'essential' to our bodies.
* Don't forget, nutritional ketosis is a quite different animal to ketoacidosis. Ketosis is absolutely not a bad or dangerous thing - a ketogenic diet is, after all, one of the medical intervention strategies used to treat children with intractable epilepsy.
So, thinking about those carbohydrates for a moment - what do I mean here? That they're not an 'essential' part of my diet and I don't truly 'need' them? Yes indeed, they are actually not 'critical' or 'necessary' to my well-being in any way. Don't take my word for it though...
A number of pretty knowledgable people have written about this topic, but Dr Jeff Volek was asked in an interview a while back whether it was correct that we humans have a base-line 'requirement' for carbohydrates of around 130g to 150g per day. This figure, it seems, is calculated based on the brain's expected use of glucose as a fuel or energy source. In other words, isn't ingesting that level of carbs a daily 'necessity'?
He made it quite plain that this degree of carb intake or more is really not necessary, and went on to explain that if you allow your body to produce ketones (and the easiest way is by restricting carbohydrate intake), the vast majority of the brain cells will cheerily adapt to using those ketones for fuel. Most of your other body cells will adjust just as well too. There is, as ever, a 'but', which is that there are 'some' brain and other cells in the human body which can 'only' utilise glucose as a fuel - ketones just don't cut the mustard for these little guys.
However, in case you are worrying about those odd cells which really do require glucose to function (some of which, like the retina, lens and cornea in the eye, are pretty important), he also mentions the fact that the body can perform a sort of 'do-it-youself' miracle. That is, your body can, and does, produce the glucose it needs from other, non-carbohydrate, food sources in your diet. In short, the body can quite happily make use of the proteins you eat in a process called 'gluconeogenesis' to make any glucose it actually requires. Go on, look it up - you know you want to.
To bring us back to where I began, defining 'maintain'... I'll vote for both of those Googled definitions as being equally apposite and important. So this forms the basis of my plan to keep on and 'maintain' the status quo when it comes to my weight, and to keep on to 'maintain' my cells by providing things they actually need and minimising the things they don't.
Blather over. Onwards, ever...