Keto, Not Keto - Part I


As you’ve probably gathered from reading previous articles, I like to educate AND entertain. I also like to keep my articles (and the paragraphs within them) short.

I’m keenly aware of my own attention span, thus I assume I probably have a window of time to keep yours.

Trouble is, many of my thoughts and opinions get misconstrued since I don’t take the time explain the nuances or situational exceptions.

One of these points of misunderstanding relates to keto and carbs.

It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of ketogenic diets. Why? Because for most people they are not sustainable over time and restriction typically leads to over-consumption when strict adherence is no longer tolerable.

I much prefer a flexible diet where carbs, as well as protein and fats, are consumed in controlled measurable amounts. Psychologically it’s easier and is more adaptable to a person’s lifestyle (it's realistic).

Ketogenic diets and other low-carb diets work and are very beneficial.

For a moment, let’s separate the “lifestyle” component from the “physiological”. From a purely physiological and health standpoint keto accomplishes two things that high or moderate carbohydrate diets cannot.

They give you greater control your over blood sugar and insulin.

That’s a major accomplishment!

Insulin resistance—marked by an overabundance of glucose in the blood stream—is a main cause of obesity and type II diabetes which are risk factors for cancer and heart disease, among others.

Most people are not active enough to utilize or eliminate this excess glucose so over time it accumulates without notice, and eventually leads to health complications and disease.

Later I’ll give you strategies for depleting glycogen without complete elimination of carbs from your diet.

Another advantage of a ketogenic diet is that in the absence of glucose...

Your body uses fat as its principal fuel source.

Because we have an abundance of fat (even if a person is not overweight or obese) it’s like having a never-ending fuel source. Some people could probably go on for a lifetime with the amount of stored fuel they have!

One guy almost did. In a carefully monitored study, a man fasted for 382 days straight, consuming nothing but water and electrolytes!

Okay, okay, it might not have been a lifetime but that's pretty freakin' long.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Just because your body is using fat for fuel does not necessarily mean you’ll miraculously lose your gut. Losing body-fat still requires you to be in a caloric deficit.

Conversely, glucose gets used up quickly which is why it needs to constantly be replenished if being relied on for fuel. This is the reason why after a sugar crash—we've all had em—your body craves more sugar (in addition to the dopamine release).

Such crashes and cravings don’t occur with fat. And this “leveling off” effect doesn’t just fare better for your physical energy.

One of the most notable benefits of a keto diet is mental energy and clarity.

The brain, like the rest of the body, requires glucose for proper function. But what happens when glucose is not available? Does the brain stop working?

Of course not!

What happens is, the liver breaks down fats and converts them into a usable form of energy called, ketones (bet you would’ve never guessed that!). And this doesn’t just happen when you intentionally eliminate carbs from your diet. It happens every night when you lay your sleepy head down on the pillow and fast for the next 6-8 hrs.

Research shows that our brains function 70% more efficiently when it is using ketones for energy.

With all this evidence—and additional benefits I haven’t even mentioned—it’s hard to knock keto when your goal is to burn fat, have more energy, and think more clearly. Then again as I alluded to earlier, the physiological benefits have never been disputed. It’s the practicality of living a keto-lifestyle which is called into question.

In parts II and III we’ll examine some of the ways you can, have your cake and eat it too—metaphorically and literally.