A Low Carb, High Fat lifestyle is not an excuse to eat all you want!
You cannot have the best of both worlds!! Eating a high fat, high carb diet is an accident waiting to happen! Choose one or the other……..
The body efficiently uses ketones for fuel; a by-product of the breakdown of fats
A diet high in good, healthy fats does not cause heart disease! It is the CARBS that cause arterial damage and resultant cholesterol deposits!
I know that the word ‘low carb’ sends many people running but I would like you to bear with me and promise that you will suspend your scepticism and read this article to the end.
I was one of the sceptics when the whole Banting craze broke a few years ago; I believed that it was just another silly diet craze that lured people with the promise of bacon. I was interested enough however to start researching the principles of the lifestyle and that is when my curiosity turned into a passion.
The so called Banting diet is actually based on a very sound principle called the Ketogenic Diet which has actually been around for at least half a century.
It is based on very sound scientific principles that were first used to treat children with epilepsy.
In so doing, all the other benefits were discovered along the way that were then extrapolated to a host of other conditions and has now become a mainstream way of treating a plethora of conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer.
The first myth I would like to dispel is that it is not an “eat as much bacon and whipped cream’ as you’d like diet. It is a principled and controlled eating plan that is meant to use fat as the body’s primary fuel source instead of carbohydrates. This is a crucial as the benefits of the ketogenic diet will not work otherwise. You cannot combine high fat and high carb eating,,,, choose one or the other.
Most people in society are burning sugar in the form of glucose as their primary energy source. When we are in this sugar burning mode, we end up with large blood sugar fluctuations and higher insulin levels.
A ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carb and moderate protein nutrition plan.
This pattern of eating lowers blood sugar and insulin levels and causes the body to adapt to burning dietary fat and its own body fat for fuel.
Ketones are by-products of fatty acids that are more easily used to produce cellular energy and they can cross through the blood brain barrier to fuel the brain. Ketones are a preferred fuel for the body because they produce significantly more energy per molecule than glucose and they produce a lot less metabolic waste. They are a clean fuel source as opposed to the dirty fuel produced by burning sugar.
A ketogenic diet mimics fasting and you get some of the same benefits of fasting while still eating food. By blunting insulin, the ketogenic diet primes autophagy pathways and when we apply intermittent fasting, we get into a state of autophagy much quicker than if we were not keto adapted.
How Ketosis works
The only source of energy for living beings is derived from the food that they eat. This food is broken down into its various elements that are then used in different ways.
The body essentially has two pathways that can convert food into energy; one is the carbohydrate (glucose) pathway and the other the fat (ketone) pathway.
BOTH are completely natural evolutionary processes that every mammal on the planet has access to.
There is no trickery or sorcery – it is as natural as breathing and does not require any special biology or skills. In fact every single human newborn baby is in ketosis and will remain that way if breastfed.
The fact that human babies are naturally in ketosis is an inconvenient truth because it implies that ketosis is not only a natural metabolic state for infants, but that it’s probably beneficial too.
Nature seldom does something without a reason, so it’s likely that ketosis may confer some kind of evolutionary advantage to human infants.
Unfortunately, conventional medicine still view ketones as toxic metabolic by-products of metabolism, which are used as back-up fuel during emergencies only. Ketones are certainly not seen as a preferable fuel to glucose. In fact, many experts are concerned about their potential adverse effects.
Most experts caution against adopting a ketogenic diet as they are completely confused between ketosis and ketoacidosis.
Ketoacidosis is a dangerous condition that diabetics need to be aware of; the difference is that nutritional ketosis is when the ketones in the blood are at healthy levels of 1-5mmol/L whereas diabetic ketoacidosis is when ketones in the blood reach unhealthy, toxic levels of 10 mmol/L or above.
Ketone bodies are three different water soluble biochemicals that are produced as by-products when fatty acids are broken down by the liver to be used as energy.
Today most people have moved away from eating a lot of healthy fats, moderate protein and minimal carbs.
Instead they consume diets mainly comprised of carbohydrates (sugar), lots of protein (that turns into sugar), and eat low to no healthy fats!
We have become sugar burners and not fat burners and are always using glucose for energy. This dietary issue is one of the main reasons that degenerative diseases, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, strokes, Alzheimer’s etc. are one the rise.
The evolution of large human brain size has had important implications for the nutritional biology of the our species. Humans expend a much larger share of their resting energy on brain metabolism than other primates or other mammals and the high costs of large human brains are supported, in part, by diets that are rich in energy and fat.
A bigger brain also appears to have consequences for human body composition, particularly in early life. Human infants have higher levels of body fat than the infants of other mammals.
These greater levels of body fat allows human infants to accommodate the growth of their large brains by having a ready supply of stored energy.
Unfortunately as humans ‘evolved’ and started agriculture, their diets changed to reflect this and more carbohydrates were consumed thus changing the body’s default of using fat for energy to using glucose for energy.
Ten thousand years ago this was still not a problem as MacDonald’s and KFC was not on the radar and our ancestors were still very active and ate clean foods. Forward wind to 2019 and the landscape has radically changed with the advent of processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle foisting upon humanity the modern scourge of obesity and diabetes which has reached pandemic proportions.
Why low carb?
When you rely on glucose for energy your body has to produce loads of the hormone called insulin, an excess of insulin could potentially create severe health problems.
A high carbohydrate consumption, coupled with chronic overeating can lead to elevated insulin levels, causing your body’s cells to stop responding to insulin. As compensation, your pancreas slips into a vicious cycle of producing even more insulin and your entire body is then immersed in a soup of insulin which wreaks havoc on every conceivable (and inconceivable) level.
This is clearly not the case for everybody; some people who consume carbs can manage them quite well, however even if you are in that category, it doesn’t mean that you will not benefit from a ketogenic diet as there are absolutely no detrimental side-effects regardless of what the medical establishment has to say.
Your brain is made of sixty percent fat so it really does not take a rocket-scientist to guess what it prefers as fuel! Carbs are used up very fast which means that you need way more carbs than fat to keep your brain firing optimally.
Furthermore, one gram of fat contains 9 calories versus 4 calories per gram of glucose so from a calorie perspective you need half that of the latter.
Not only are ketones good for the brain but for every organ and muscle in the body. Once your body is adapted to using ketones as fuel you will feel alive again – your thinking will be so much clearer, your energy level will not fluctuate, your digestive system will settle down and you will not suffer from constant hunger pangs, gas and bloating.
If you enjoy exercising, you will find that your endurance increases exponentially and you do not need to reach for that Energade or Goo halfway through your cycle. The reason is that you have more than enough of your own internal fat reserves for your body to draw on.
Even if you are lean and do not have much subcutaneous fat, all your internal organs are surrounded by layers of fat so there is never a shortage.
What I have described above is the reason for the weight loss benefit of a ketogenic diet; especially if you are overweight to begin with. Whilst your body is using carbohydrates as fuel it has absolutely no reason to tap into its fat reserves.
Picture an ocean tanker carrying barrels loaded with 100, 000 litres of petrol travelling from Australia to South Africa. Halfway between the two continents the ship runs out of fuel and is stranded in the middle of the ocean. How ironic that the ship’s tanks are empty but there are 100, 000 litres of fuel locked in the barrels its carrying in the cargo hold!
This is like an overweight body that is desensitised to insulin. There may be an additional 100kg of stored energy in the form of fat but the body is unable to use it regardless of how much exercise the person does or how much he/she restricts calories.
The only time that the fat can be used is if it can be accessed again. For this the body needs to respond to insulin and one of the best ways of achieving this is by embarking on a low carb eating plan!
You may lose some weight when you restrict calories (most of it stored water) but eventually, your body reaches its set weight and you can stand on your head and sing the national anthem – it will not budge from there.
This is a perfectly natural survival mechanism that your body employs to ‘preserve’ itself.
When your body switches over to use fat for fuel, it can finally access that stored fat that it has squirrelled away for a rainy day. When you are fat-adapted you can literally go for days if not months without eating anything because just like a camel you are carrying your own in-built survival pack.
This is how prisoners survive when they go on a hunger strike.
The key thing to remember is that there are only two macronutrients that your body needs to survive; those two are protein and fat.
You do not need carbohydrates, regardless what any doctor, dietician or other well-meaning people may tell you.
So can you live on a ketogenic diet forever? Absolutely. The question is do you want to? When I first started my journey I followed a strict ketogenic lifestyle for a year. This gave my body a chance to completely adapt and benefit from what this diet had to offer.
It takes approximately 8 weeks for your body to become completely fat adapted, which means it is efficiently able to use fat as its main source of energy.
It really depends on what your goal is; if it’s to lose weight than it becomes a personal mission as each person will lose weight at different rates and men tend to lose weight faster than women. If your goal is health-related then you can adopt this lifestyle for as long as you like.
After my first year on a ketogenic diet I changed the balance of the foods I consume and tend to eat more vegetables and protein and medium fat i.e. a Paleo diet (I still avoid carbs, starches, most dairy and sugar).
However, about four times a year I revert to a strict ketogenic way of eating (very high fat). This is known as a cyclical ketogenic diet. The benefit is that I can enjoy a broader array of foods most of the year and get to enjoy all the marvellous physical and mental benefits that a ketogenic diet has to offer.
Footnote: There is still much ignorance regarding cholesterol. Most doctors equate a high fat diet with high cholesterol when the truth is that unhealthy cholesterol ratio’s are driven by carbohydrate and sugar consumption.
A TOTAL CHOLESTEROL READING MEANS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
Furthermore there is no such thing as ‘bad’ cholesterol as all cholesterol performs vital functions in mammals.
The so called bad ‘LDL’ portion of cholesterol is only dangerous if made up of small dense fatty particles as it is these that tend to adhere to the artery walls. If your LDL is made up of the large puffy buoyant fat cells then they are as harmful as a newborn lamb.
The question is not why your body is making cholesterol but why your arteries are damaged. The scarring that occurs on the inside wall of arteries is due to continued systemic inflammation which is most likely as a result of carbohydrate and sugar consumption.
Once the arteries are damaged, the small dense LDL cholesterol particles adhere to the wound in an effort to ‘heal’ the area. This may eventually build up layer upon layer, eventually occluding the artery completely which is when a heart attack may happen.
There is nothing sinister about this. Your cholesterol doesn’t just one day wake up and decide to kill you. Your body is designed to heal itself and sometimes the methods it employs are not precise.