The 6 Superpowers of The Ketogenic Diet
Why you should be doing this, not just for now, but forever.
Did you indulge over the holidays like I did?
Well that’s what the holidays are for… indulgence, time with friends, and treating yourself.
But now it’s 2018, and it’s time to get back at it.
I’d like to share one of the best ways to shed excess weight, get your energy levels up, clear your brain fog, and turn you into a lean, mean, healthy machine.
But first, a question:
“Can eating MORE fat make you THIN?”
The science says ‘yes’ (details below), and so do the hundreds of case studies from my clinic.
Here’s one of them…
Meet Daniel. (photo below)
Six months ago, Daniel weighed 324 pounds.
When he first stepped into my clinic he was severely overweight, required a CPAP machine to sleep, and was eating lots of white food — breads, pastas, rices…all under the direction of multiple doctors.
Daniel had severe irritable bowel, and almost every food with colour upset his stomach. He was always exhausted, had very low energy, and had tried every diet, and every program under the sun.
So when Daniel and I first started working together, he thought I was barking mad.
“You’re going to make me eat what?? All that fat?! Green vegetables??!!
No, no, no. Sorry, Dr. Stephanie, but I’ve been to the top gastroenterologists in the city. They’ve all run tests, and they all agree — I should not be eating things like broccoli, or cauliflower, or cabbage. Nothing with colour. My body just is not made to digest this kind of food.
A picture says a thousand words, doesn’t it? Now look at him. This is before and after, with a difference of 80 pounds between the photos.
What I notice most of all about these pictures, besides the obvious weight loss, is how happy he is. How full of life he is. How proud and tall he stands.
His story can be yours — whether you’re looking to lose 100 pounds or the last 10.
This is something that I strongly believe about every single human on this planet — our bodies WANT to be healthy. Your body wants to be healthy — no matter what it looks or feels like right now.
Our default setting in our body is to SEEK health. Give it the right environment, and it will go after health like a bull in a china shop.
I want this to be your story, too.
In this article, I am going to details the basics behind a high fat, low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet. The science behind why it works, and exactly what we did with Daniel to achieve his result.
So Let’s Break Down What the Ketogenic Diet is, and how it Worked for Daniel…
A ketogenic diet is, in a nutshell, a high fat, low carbohydrate diet.
When done properly, the results are astounding.
It’s important to understand that your body has two main sources of fuel — sugar (in the form of glucose), or fat (in the form of ketones).
The body can’t burn sugar and fat at the same time.
You’re either in a sugar-burning state (called glycolysis), or a fat-burning state (called ketosis). Just like you cannot be in drive and reverse at the same time.
It is one or the other.
It’s also important to note that our bodies (especially our brains) PREFER fat as a fuel source.
One of the advantages the keto diet has over most other diets is it teaches your body to use fat as fuel. This is how the real weight loss happens.
When we are accessing our fat stores and breaking them down, we use fat that we have stored on our body as a source of energy.
As if that wasn’t awesome enough, we also see all sorts of health markers improve — weight loss, increased energy, mental clarity, strength, endurance, and improved insulin sensitivity, cholesterol, blood pressure, and hormonal balance.
Fat is traditionally a harder fuel source to access and use because our bodies will always want to use sugar first if it is available.
Sugar is cheap, easy, and readily available. Your body will always try to use it first.
High carb, and, yes, even high protein diets will all convert excess proteins and carbs into sugar. So your body will never get a chance to use fat as a fuel source. Too much carbs — your body makes sugar. Too much protein — your body makes sugar.
Think about how easy it is to use your credit card when you want to buy something. You just whip it out of your wallet and it’s there.
This is how easily and readily available sugar is in the body.
When you want to pay for something with cash, well then you need to work for it a bit, don’t you! You need to find and ATM, punch in your code, withdraw the cash, then make your way back to the store, and finally pay.
It is way more cumbersome and more effort to get the cash versus using a credit card. Just like fat stores on our body — they are always there, just harder to access when your credit card isn’t available.
The advantage a ketogenic diet has over most other diets, is you are training your body to be a fat burner (because we are already sugar burners). Most of us though, have not yet made the transition to also have the ability to use fat on a regular basis.
The ability to tap into our fat stores and use them is why and and how weight loss happens. You will also balance your hormones, and give your body the ability to make lots and lots of energy.
The Ability to Access our Stored Fat has the Following 6 Awesome Health Superpowers…
SUPERPOWER 1: Rapid Weight loss
Eat fat, get thin. It truly can be that easy.
(Plus -think of the money you’ll save — now you don’t have to pay extra for the egg whites only option at your favourite brunch place. Whole eggs now on for you. You’re welcome.)
Although this may seem like crazy talk, there is this 3-legged, spotted unicorn myth “eating fat makes you fat” that continues to persist despite solid evidence to the contrary. A basic book on physiology will debunk this myth. Seriously. Literally makes no sense.
Ever hear that if you eat fat you get fat (wrong), that fat clogs your arteries (not supported by any science whatsoever), or that fat will give you a heart attack?
Yeah, unfortunately me too. Except these are all myths and are all dead wrong.
Let’s just get the record straight — your body REQUIRES and EXPECTS fat. Taking this a step further — your brain — your master organ that is processing the words you are reading right now — also REQUIRES and EXPECTS fat.
In fact, if you’ll indulge me nerding out a wee bit …a ketone called BHB has been shown to be more efficient fuel source than glucose, providing more energy per oxygen unit used in the brain.
Ketones for the win. Fat for the win. Keto for the win.
I know this may be a new concept — but the truth is we have been marketed to and convinced that we need to be eating low carb — or worse — a low- fat diet because big food companies profit off cheaply made, nutritiously void foods.
When the real culprit, the real cause of heart disease, high blood pressure, and “bad” cholesterol is sugar.
Death by sugar.
Sugar is the lynchpin, the original, the Darth Vader for all chronic, degenerative diseases.
Sugar is why we are overweight. NOT fat.
Weight loss is profound when we eat a ketogenic diet because we use up our stored sugar in the body (called glycogen). When glycogen is used up, we also use up the water molecules that store along with glycogen. Each molecule of glycogen is stored with it 3–4 molecules of water!
It is why we feel so bloated and gross after eating a carby meal. Your body is storing 3–4x water alongside it.
In other words….eating carbs creates bloating. Getting rid of carbs gets rid of bloating.
We typically see huge improvement in bloating through the belly area and extremities like the ankles and wrists with an initially big loss of weight. After the sugar and water is gone, your body will start using fat for fuel.
SUPERPOWER 2: Rapid belly fat and visceral weight loss
A ketogenic diet is awesome for rapid weight loss, and when we can achieve weight loss in the abdominal area it’s even more awesome. I’m talking adding on years to your life.
Fat in and around the organs decreases life span, increases blood pressure and resting heart rate, and reduces forced inspiration.
This all combined makes your heart and lungs work harder to do the same basic work. This is incredibly inefficient and leaves you exhausted. You have no energy left over at the end of the day.
You know that uncle that you love who has a belly that makes him look pregnant? That, my friends, is visceral fat. Basically it is fat piling up all over your organs, forcing them outward. Making your heart, lungs, and energy production systems go into overtime, and reducing the years on your life.
On a keto diet, your body, being the intelligent machine it is, will get rid of the abdominal fat almost immediately in and around your organs.
Permission to eat coconut oil granted.
SUPERPOWER 3: Improved cholesterol without statins
I wrote about how fasting improves cholesterol markers HERE.
Similarly, eating a high fat, low carbohydrate diet is also an important way to improve cholesterol…not worsen it.
Even though you may be scratching your head and wondering if I didn’t edit this article properly. Nope. It’s been fully edited. Fat is NOT the culprit when it comes cholesterol.
Excess carbohydrates are.
Your liver makes around 80% of your body’s cholesterol.
A whoppping 80%, people!
So if your doctor tells you to eliminate cholesterol from your diet, just know there will be little to no change.
Just think of all the whole eggs (with the yolk!) fried in butter you have missed out on.
Here’s the kicker: when you lower your intake of cholesterol from your diet (skipping out on whole eggs, butter, meats and chicken), your hard working, smart AF liver lifts her weary head and says,
“WAIT A MINUTE — where is my cholesterol?”
You know…that good stuff that makes all your sex hormones, the energy substrate and involved in wound repair? Do I have to do ALL this cholesterol production now all by myself?
And so it gets to work. With or without you. Your liver will up regulate the cholesterol it produces when you limit it from our diet.
Your liver is incredibly intelligent. Your liver knows cholesterol is one of the most important things you produce. Almost every cell in your body needs it. The liver don’t play around.
You know what ACTUALLY ruins healthy cholesterol levels?
In particular simple, processed carbohydrates. These will increase the production of triglycerides, and will be pushed out of the liver as LDLs (low density lipoproteins) into the blood.
For the physiology nerds out there (#nerdarmyunite) what we know about cholesterol is that there is all cholesterol is the same. There is really no such thing as “good” or “bad” cholesterol, only stable and unstable carriers of said cholesterol.
HDL is a highly stable carrier of cholesterol, and LDL and VLDLs are less stable carriers.
Meaning — HDL is a very stable carrier and does not tend to break down whereas LDLs and VLDLs are easily oxidised and will cause a hella inflammation.
Think of it like this : the knock off purse you bought on Canal Street VS. The original you bought on 5th Avenue. Which one is going to have the better longevity? Which one is made to be more durable? Which one will perform best over time?
The knockoff is made for the quick sale, in the absence of quality materials. It will likely be a short time before the thing starts to discolour, deform, and disintegrate. Just like LDLs. You give your body crap and it will make crap.
Think of HDL as the 5th Avenue carrier and the LDL carrier as the Canal Street knockoff.
Your body is ALWAYS capable of making 5th Avenue products. Just feed it the right stuff. Like fat.
SUPERPOWER 4: Reverses prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes (through improved Insulin resistance)
Every time you eat sugar or too much protein, your body releases insulin. Insulin basically stuffs sugar in cells to store it for a later use.
Fat, on the other hand, has a very minimal, if any, effect on insulin levels
With long term exposure to insulin (from too much carbohydrates or too much protein), it makes your cells resistant, requiring more and more insulin to achieve the same effect.
Kind of like the boy who cries wolf. First few times, everyone rushes to see what the issue is. After a while, you’re like…oh THIS again. Le yawn.
Your cells are the same. After the cells stop responding to insulin, your body will try harder and pump out more and more insulin to try and get the sugar out of the blood and into the cells.
This is the basic physiology around Type 2 Diabetes.
When we have longer periods of low insulin levels in the blood (by removing carbohydrates and eating healthy fat), your cells have a chance to heal. They get to breathe for a moment without being constantly bathed in insulin.
SUPERPOWER 5: Improved Blood pressure
Continuing from #4 above, with constant elevated insulin levels, excess salt and other fluids in the blood will accumulate, which will increase blood pressure.
To add further insult to injury, overtime, elevated insulin levels have also been shown to thicken the wall of the artery itself, thereby increasing blood pressure even more.
A ketogenic diet encourages salt and excess fluid excretion via the urine. Remember before I said sugar is stored with 3–4 molecules of water? Well all that literally all sheds with low carbohydrate intake.
SUPERPOWER 6. Lowered stress (by lowering cortisol secretion)
Cortisol is the hormone released in the body in response to stress.
We may have many sources of stress in our lives — work, personal relationships, not being able to watch Billions until next year — but we have one physiological response to all stress — the release of cortisol.
Short term, this is a brilliant response.
You either fight the stress, or you get the hell out of dodge. Hence the nickname “flight or fight” stress response.
This comes from our hunter/ gatherer ancestors.
When faced with a predator or something that threatened our survival, this hormone diverted all your blood away from your immune system, digestive system, and reproductive system and flooded your muscles so you could FIGHT or RUN.
Makes sense, right? You don’t need to worry about digesting food if you have bear in front of you threatening your life. You need muscles on full tilt and ready for action!
Brilliant short term adaptation. Long term…not so much.
This is why we see people under chronic stress get sick more often, have more digestive issues, have more reproductive issues, and develop chronic degenerative diseases.
Chronic cortisol bamboozles the system. It decreases serotonin production, making people more susceptible to sleep disorders, mood disorders, and digestive disorders.
We see a decreased ability to learn and focus, making learning and concentration more tedious.
We see increased clotting factors rise in the blood coupled, a higher resting heart rate, and elevated LDL levels…the perfect storm for heart disease.
A ketogenic diet hacks this very simply, and very elegantly.
Very simply, cortisol and insulin are twinsies. When one is high, the other follows. Lowering the continuous spike of insulin through excess carbs and proteins help lower cortisol.
You can literally hack into your stress levels by improving your diet.
So Back to Daniel’s Story…
This is how Daniel and I worked together to save his life.
I started him on a classic ketogenic protocol of 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.
No dairy. No artificial sweeteners. No vegetables or fruit with a high glycemic index. None. Zip. Zero. At least not for the first month.
I gave him my favorite keto recipes I personally have created (and enjoy) in my kitchen, and supplements to support his metamorphosis.
I asked him to start walking to his meetings whenever possible, or at least parking the furthest away to get in more movement every day. I gave him a step goal to work towards everyday.
I designed a rehab program for his spine and movement patterns. He bought a backpack so he could walk more.
It is important to note that in his world at the time, everyone, I mean everyone — including many top doctors — were telling him to do the exact opposite of what I was telling him to do.
Can you imagine for a moment how scary that might have felt?
In the first week, things got temporarily hard for him. He had all the symptoms of a sugar and neural detox.
Headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, foggy thinking. He was uncomfortable.
I very clearly remember him asking me Hey Doc, how long is this going to last? I feel awful.
He had sales meetings scheduled, he was having a hard time concentrating, and his body was achy, tired.
So, yes, it sucked for a minute for him.
But, as it always does, the headaches faded, and with it, so did his craving for sugar. So did his irritable bowel. So did his food intolerances. So did the numbers on the scale.
Then we played with fasting protocol (which you can read more about HERE) and the weight continued to drop. Often he would weigh in 7–10 pounds lighter each week.
We started to notice other things, too. His energy was increasing. He was walking more. His spine was moving properly, and was more flexible. He was able to get to the gym more often. He was able to do more work, be more productive, and therefore taking on more clients. He was happier.
Most importantly, he was finally seeing results. Real weight loss and normal function of his entire body was returning.
For me, the most exciting part of it all was I got to see his paradigm and beliefs were changing.
I got the see him begin to trust his body.
(For me, that’s the good stuff. Yes, I nerd out hard on physiology, and neurology, and protocols…but when you get to see mindset shifts, where someone starts believing in themselves after years of being told something else…that’s the cool shit right there).
What we saw next was his body, (like the glorious machine it is), continued to shed weight, his gut healed itself, and changed the course of his life.
Almost 80 pounds later, Daniel is trim (seriously check out those pipes!), has limitless energy, and eats the same meals as his family now.
(Prior to this experience, he would always need to make himself something bland, white, and nutritiously devoid, while his wife and 2 daughters ate “normal” food with colour. This went on for 19 years.)
He gets to eat the same things his family does now.
And his CPAP machine? He is now a candidate for not needing it anymore.
His biggest accomplishment, when you speak to him, is knowing that he will get to walk his daughter down the aisle, rather than simply hoping he will be around for it.
He is a shining example of the benefits of a ketogenic diet, and if I may humbly suggest, a good doctor who believed in him. Even when he did not.
If Daniel can do it. You can do it.
You just need the tools and info on how to get started.
Make this your story, too.
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Originally published at www.thehealthloft.ca on December 26, 2017.