Going keto: Rewiring metabolism for relief


Training your body to work differently may sound bizarre. But don’t let words such as ketone, ketosis and ketogenic throw you off — a ketogenic diet can be a more efficient way to meet your pain relief goals while getting in shape. Sounds pretty good, right?

We asked Dr. Robert Koser, a Patient Services Physician at Laser Spine Institute, to give us the rundown on the benefits of a ketogenic diet for back pain and overall health. And it all starts with how you train your body to burn energy.

“Our body uses two energy pathways — glucose and ketones,” said Dr. Koser. “Most people use glucose, which is energy derived from sugar and carbohydrates; other people train their bodies to use ketones, which is energy derived from fat.”

It’s almost like flipping the switch on your metabolism. By lowering your carb intake while increasing your healthy fat intake, you’ll teach your body to run on fat instead of sugar. That can result in ketogenic benefits for your neck, back and biochemistry.

Kicking inflammation, the keto way

You’ve probably asked yourself, “Is a low-sugar diet good for back pain?” The answer is yes, and it’s because of the link between refined carbs and back pain. It’s true that refined sugars and carbohydrates produce energy, but they also fuel inflammation that can worsen chronic neck and back pain. That’s why it makes sense to switch to a keto diet to help inflammation.

According to Dr. Koser, avoiding these foods is a good way to kick start your keto diet:

  1. Flour products
  2. All sugar (except low glycemic berries and fruits)
  3. Highly processed foods

“For those who may not like to cook, try a bunless burger in a lettuce wrap,” said Dr. Koser. “Throw some avocado on it, too. That’s a good keto meal.”

Using keto to keep weight off

“Weight loss is probably the number one goal of a ketogenic diet,” said Dr. Koser. “It can also improve blood levels of glucose and insulin, help you feel full longer, and have more energy.” Losing weight and keeping it off takes some pressure off of your spine and can relieve pressure from your neck and back.

Remember Dr. Koser’s top three ways to maintain your ketogenic diet:

  1. Plan your meals for the week
  2. When you cook dinner, make enough for the next day’s lunch
  3. Cook large batches of keto-friendly food and freeze for later

“For dinner, I like to make Thai curry without the rice,” said Dr. Koser. “It even has turmeric for the extra anti-inflammatory benefits.”

You should always ask your doctor or licensed nutritionist before getting started on a ketogenic diet for back pain relief. If diet and lifestyle changes haven’t helped you meet your pain relief goals, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn why thousands of patients have trusted us to treat their chronic neck or back conditions.


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