Our first order of business is to replace the word ‘diet’ with ‘lifestyle.’ This isn’t a fad, but a scientifically-backed medical solution to many of today’s illnesses AND just so happens to be the optimal way to live.
The goal of keto is to get into a state of “ketosis.” You are in ketosis when your body uses ketones for fuel instead of glucose (sugar). Ketones come from fat – both stored body fat and healthy fats that you consume through diet. Sugar comes from carbohydrates, processed foods, sugary drinks, and fruits. A century ago, the average American consumed a total of five pounds of sugar per year. Today, the average American consumes 150 pounds of sugar annually and our disease rates are at an all-time high. I’d also like to mention that new diseases exist today that didn’t six decades ago. Don’t have anything diagnosed yet? Doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Disease processes can take years to develop and they say that cardiovascular disease begins in childhood.
Sugar is hidden in many of the processed foods you eat and there are over 120 names for it. I implore you to write down everything you eat this week and take a good, hard look at this list. How much sugar are you eating? Start to look at food labels properly and do some quick, easy math.
In this example, a 2/3 cup serving contains 37gm of carbohydrates (total carbs). Every 4gm of carbohydrates turns into 1 tsp of sugar in our bodies. All you have to do is divide 37 by 4. That resulting value equals the # of teaspoons of sugar that 2/3 cup of this food item turns into à 9.25 tsp of sugar per 2/3 cup serving. One must also pay attention to their fruit consumption. Fruit sugar is called fructose. Fructose uses the same formula above. An increasing amount of evidence shows that fructose is quite harmful to many areas of our body as well.
When our bodies run on sugar, we alter its natural chemistry and functional abilities in a very negative way. Humans are designed to primarily use ketones for fuel and very minimal sugar. Here are five excellent reasons why you should adopt the ketogenic lifestyle today.
- Daily Functioning – Now that I’ve been in ketosis for just under 2 years, I’ll never go back. That moment you feel your brain fog lifting… it’s like moving from a life in black & white to hi-def color. Our brains love ketones. Our cells love ketones. Our heart, muscles, and tissues love ketones. You have more energy, better focus, better mood, and mental clarity. Your energy no longer drops mid-morning or mid-afternoon. You are a better worker, better parent, better partner, and better person. You feel G-R-E-A-T. Keto has been around since the 1920’s. NASA and the Navy SEALS implement the keto lifestyle in our heroes. I wish that our local police and fire departments would support and implement keto as well. Ketones do not spike insulin like sugar does, signaling fat storage and resulting in energy crashes. Ketones do not cause inflammation all over your body like sugar does. Ketones don’t encourage the formation of harmful plaques on your brain cells like sugar does. All of these things affect how you feel and function every single day. Not one good thing comes from using sugar as your primary fuel source.
- Prevent Illness and Dis-Ease – Insulin resistance is defined as the body’s inability to appropriately handle a glucose (sugar) load. The more sugar we feed it, the more tired it becomes and over time, the more it struggles to bring sugar levels down. When you are insulin resistant, higher sugar levels circulate throughout your body, literally bathing (marinating) all of your cells, organs, muscles, and tissues in sugar. Visualize that for a second. There exist hundreds of articles and studies that show the higher the sugar load, the higher your level of inflammation and risk of cardiovascular disease. (Our government and medical societies, though, continue to focus on fat and ignore the whopping amounts of carbs and sugar in our processed foods.) In a 2012 study released by the Cardiovascular Department at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, they conclude the following: “what must not be overlooked is the increasing number of clinical syndromes, in addition to 2DM and CHD (Type 2 Diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease) now known to be linked to insulin resistance. The list continues to grow.” There is huge concern in the right areas of our medical community. Here are other examples of what sugar does outside of diabetes and cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes): cancer cells thrive on sugar, sugar causes a malfunction in the enzyme in our brain which fights inflammation and ultimately leads to plaque formation and Alzheimer’s Disease, high-carb/high-sugar/low-fat diets cause major hormone imbalances which affect our thyroid, fertility, emotional stability, and other hormone-mediated processes, sugar drives inflammation in our gut lining contributing to numerous digestive issues, sugar causes the formation of AGEs advanced glycation end products) which destroy the collagen in our skin and joints and contribute directly to cardiovascular disease. This is not a complete list. There are many illnesses linked to sugar, but seriously, how many more do you need?
- Fat Loss – Being in ketosis means you are in a constant state of fat burning ̴ natural fat burning. When we cut back on carbs and sugar, our bodies burn fat for fuel. You will see inches melt off your body in all areas: neck, arms, chest, waist, abdomen, hips, thighs, knees, calves. Your clothes will feel looser. Your internal organs will no longer wear a coat of fat. People report huge changes in dress size for females and pants size for males. In fact, you might have to get all new clothes (including underwear lol)! Friends and family will start to compliment you on how great you look. In our program, we have you take baseline measurements of different areas of your body and track them. The results are overwhelming. The reason we don’t focus on pounds is because your body goes through different adaptation phases. Weight loss in pounds is not a consistent thing and can be a huge deterrent. Sometimes you’ll shed pounds rapidly and other times, you’ll stall for days or weeks. People tend to panic when this happens not realizing that the stall occurs when their body is going through hormonal adaptation and healing. Focusing on inches and what we call “non-scale victories” are the best approach. When was the last time your clothes were loose, you were lean, felt full of energy, had focus and mental clarity throughout the day, and slept like a baby? This is what happens when your body runs on ketones for fuel!
- Fat (Adipose Tissue) is an organ – Many people don’t realize this, but fat isn’t just fat. It’s an organ. The National Institute of Health uses the following definition: “Adipose tissue is a complex, essential, and highly active metabolic and endocrine Besides adipocytes, adipose tissue contains connective tissue matrix, nerve tissue, stromovascular cells, and immune cells. Together these components function as an integrated unit.” Unless you have some type of severe metabolic disorder, have wasting syndrome, or are anorexic, your body knows how to keep just enough adipose tissue on it to function properly. The problem lies when we have too much fat. Fat can accumulate in and around your organs including your heart and liver. This puts severe strain on their ability to function and lends to severe disease over time. Fat can also produce inflammatory proteins and hormones which contribute negatively to illnesses including chronic pain. Overall, the less fat we have the better. Your body will know exactly when to slow down the fat loss (and weight loss) and keep you in a healthy state moving forward. The human body is truly amazing.
- Aging – Sarcopenia is defined as muscle loss with aging. Those who are physically inactive can lose 3-5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30 with a sharp increase around age 75. Why is this a big deal? Any loss in muscle reduces strength and mobility lending to delayed healing, slower recovery, and higher morbidity. I can’t imagine a retirement with low mobility, multiple medications, and numerous illnesses after working my butt off for 42+ years. If that’s the retirement in my future then I don’t want it! Ketones happen to be muscle sparing. Whether you are sedentary, moderately active, or the highly-active CrossFit type, ketones rule in terms of optimizing body composition. Thought you had to carb load before a long, intense workout? New data shows this is no longer true. Professor Timothy Noakes wrote The Lore of Running in 1985. In this book, he underlines the importance and benefit of carb loading. After years of patient observation and continued research, he reversed his original belief and corrected it in The Real Meal Revolution (2015) and the Lore of Nutrition (2017). These are books he co-authored with other medical professionals and researchers and these books support the ketogenic lifestyle. The University of South Florida and Applied Science and Performance Institute in Tampa, FL are some of the leaders in ketogenic research. The ASPI has been performing some very well designed studies in this area in conjunction with major Universities around the nation looking at this exact thing.
I don’t know about you, but quality of life is hugely important to me. Aging doesn’t have to include illness, pain, struggle, and medications when you have the right information and know how to feed your body properly. It is extremely eye-opening to track the parallels between industrialized, processed foods and both the appearance and prevalence of illnesses in our country. You’ll never know how good you can feel if you don’t give it a try.
An increasing number of healthcare providers around the world are learning about Keto and joining the movement. If you are a medical professional and would like to learn more, LowcarbUSA.org and nutrition-network.org are great professional resources.