So those that know me well know that I like to prove a point. 🙂
I’ve been going back and forth with people on a diet Facebook group about the idea that you must eat a certain way to lose weight.
Again, those that know me understand that I think the optimal diet is a low carb/ketogenic diet that is very heavy in meat and animal fat.
This group happens to be a carnivore group that believes that eating ONLY animal foods is optimal.
I tend to lean to the side that mostly animal foods is optimal but some plant foods are fine.
So there was a couple people saying that sugar is toxic and addictive and you can’t possibly lose weight eating carbs. They believe that insulin must be avoided to lose weight and since carbs spike insulin you can’t eat them and lose weight.
Wrong. Insulin reduction can help weight loss but how much you eat is the ultimate determinant of what your weight does.
So what did I do just to prove a point? The cookie diet.
Disclaimer: This is not healthy. Do not do this. I used specific supplementation to ensure I was getting all essential nutrients and it was for a very short period of time.
I ate my normal breakfast of bacon and eggs, because another argument said you can’t eat fat and carbs in the same day due to a physiological process called the Randal cycle, then the rest of the day I ate nothing but cookies and a protein shake at each meal.
I kept my calories down to a number I know results in weight loss.
I lost weight of course. 11lbs in 13 days. Magic? No. Just ate less than I normally do.
While a good diet can have many benefits it is important not to become a zealot to any diet to the point where you become closed off to reality.
Food quality matters. Hormones matter. The amount you eat matters. You cannot separate any of these factors. They all are required to have good health.
If you need help getting to a healthy weight I can help. No matter what your preferred diet and no, I won’t put you on a cookie diet.
If you are like me you spent years trying every different diet on the planet only to lose some weight and gain it back. The promise of easy sustainable weight loss was so alluring but it never worked for me. So what is wrong with me that all of these people can do it but I can’t? Why are all the people on the commercials doing it but I just fail? Well the secret is that they are either just actors or they are in the honeymoon phase and have not been to the point that you have. They too will likely gain the weight back as well. Everyone can lose weight on nearly any diet. The hard part is keeping it off. There is nothing wrong with you just as I found there is nothing wrong with me. You just have been fooled for so long that you now think that you are the problem. You aren’t. You’ve been deceived and I am going to tell you all the secrets. There is a clear reason that Weight Watchers has less than 2% success rate and even Bariatric surgery has less than a 5% success rate. Right now you are going to learn the secret. Are you ready?
First lets talk about me and what makes me qualified to tell you this secret. I was diagnosed at the age of 5 with ADHD. This was in 1983 so it wasn’t like today where every kid that acts out in school was diagnosed. I was not even in school. I was completely unable to stay still at any point in the day. I was completely untamable. After I was diagnosed my mother was offered various medications but rather than giving them to my very ingenuitive mother decided she was going to treat me naturally. She had me on a strict diet that contained no sugar, artificial colors or preservatives and when I would get out of control she would sit me down with a cup of black coffee. How she figured this out without google I will never understand but she did and I find it amazing to this day.
My parents have been separated since I was 4. I lived with my mom all of my life until I was in the 5th grade when I thought I would give living with my father a chance. Until this point I had been on a strict diet to control my ADHD. When I moved with my father all that changed. We ate poorly and more often then not we ate out at the local truck stop. Even at home it was junk food most of the time. Chips and cookies were always available. Until this point I was always of normal weight and very active. Within 9 months I had gained a huge amount of weight. I had no idea how much until I moved back with my mother and went back to my old school. My friends didn’t even recognize me at first. It was a very difficult time for me. I went from being a pretty popular and happy kid to being constantly teased and tortured by my old friends. I was one of the few fat kids in school at that time.
Over the years my mother tried to get the weight off me but it never worked. I never lost weight. I was always hungry and when she wasn’t around I would just eat anything I could find. We didn’t have junk in the house so I would often eat things like bread with butter and sugar. Anything to make my hunger go away. Probably more than making my hunger go away I was trying to make my feelings go away. I stayed overweight throughout school and into my 20s. I tried going to the gym but never really tried any “diet” really. The gym didn’t do much for me. I met my wife and life went on. I went to school and started working and all seemed well. We decided we wanted to get some family pictures done. When we got them back I was stunned. The person in the photo was a stranger with the biggest head I had ever seen. I could not for the life of me understand how this happened. I went and bought a scale and was devastated by the number. 298 pounds.
I made an appointment and went to see my doctor. I needed help. I asked her what I could do to get this weight off and she ordered some blood tests. I left that day hoping something the tests showed would give me an answer. When the tests came back it showed that I was pre-daibetic. This was heart breaking but at the same time I totally expected it. My father has been diabetic since I was in the 7th grade. My grandmother died of diabetic complications and my brother is also diabetic now. I asked what I could do. I was told to exercise daily and follow the Canadian food guide. I found everything I could regarding the guide and followed it. It didn’t help. I didn’t gain any more weight but I lost nothing. My follow-up tests also showed that my numbers had not improved. I asked her to refer me to a bariatric surgeon and she did.
A few days before my consult something amazing happened. I saw a documentary on TV about the Atkins Diet. It sounded amazing. I can eat all the bacon and lose weight? I’m in. I went out and bought the book and read it cover to cover. I started out with the induction phase which is under 20g of carbs. I cooked all kinds of super fatty meals and ate a breakfast of omelette and bacon and steak every single day. I always ate 3 meals and even snacked on meats and cheese between meals. I never once even looked at calories but I was always eating at least 3 large meals. The first week I jumped on the scale and I was down 14lbs. I was hooked. I kept doing the same thing and week after week the weight kept coming off. Before I knew it, 8 months had passed and I was down 125lbs. This was 2005. Now with Atkins the idea is to do the induction phase for sometime then start adding carbs. I saw no reason to ever do this as it was working so well. If carbs were the problem why would I add them back in? I just stayed at 20g or less for the whole time. It worked.
Never during this 8 months did I set foot in the gym. I didn’t even walk. This was the first time I had ever tried a “diet”. This is part of what made me successful. I didn’t count calories and I didn’t starve. I just ate 3 meals a day until I was stuffed and kept carbs low. Once I had gotten to 175lbs I felt the need to start working out. People were constantly saying I looked too skinny. I have to say though, I was the lightest I had been since middle school but I still had a belly and huge love handles. I was still wearing a size 36 pants. I started going to the gym daily and running daily. I wasn’t losing anymore though. I started running as much as 3 hours a day on a treadmill I bought. Still not losing any more weight. I decided it was time to try something new. I started reading running magazines and fitness magazines and then I found p90x. I started doing that and started following their meal plan. I did see I was starting to put on some muscle which was nice but I was also starting to put on weight. After 90 days I was up from 175lbs to 185lbs. I could see muscles in my arms but my belly and love handles where still there. I decided to try Jenny Craig with one of my coworkers. We ordered all teh food and got started. I was so happy that I could eat these great cookies and pre packaged meals. I didn’t have to cook. It was all awesome. After 1 week I had lost nothing and was starving all the time. I quit. I went back to Atkins. At this point though I figured I had to cut calories to make it work this time so I ate smaller meals. I left the table hungry. I still didn’t lose any more weight. I doubled down and joined crossfit.
I went to crossfit 6 days a week. Loved it. They were big on paleo so I bought all the grassfed beef and sweet potato and made all the amazing paleo deserts with the agave syrup and other great paleo ingredients. We had a challenge at the gym for paleo so I joined and got my body composition tested. I also started running again. I decided I was going to do a marathon and started running huge miles along with crossfit and paleo. After 3 months of paleo and running I went back to get my bodyfat tested. I was happy to see I had lost the 10lbs I had gained over the last 6 months but very unhappy to see that 4 of those 10lbs was muscle. That is not what I wanted to see. I decided I better increase my protein intake. Other than that I kept on. One day I was out for a 30k run and it was harder than normal. I pushed thought though. No pain no gain as they say. I got to 29 of 32 KM we were running and just could not take another stride. I went into a coffee shop to use the washroom and when I urinated it was brown. I called my wife and had her take me to the hospital. I had Rhabdomyolysis. This is when the muscles break down and release toxins into the blood and it poisons the kidneys. I stopped training for the full marathon and decided to do the half instead. Great idea.
I figured this had to be something to do with the diet so I went back to Atkins again. I was fully into counting calories at this point though. I was now watching my calories and my carbs. Still below 20g a day but I was trimming calories as well. I had gotten down to 1500 calories a day and was still not losing any weight. I was supremely frustrated. I saw another program online and they seemed to be aimed at crossfitters. I thought great that is for me. It was not low carb all the time but advised loading with carbs around the workouts. I bought their materials and read it all. It was not specific on how many carbs to eat around workouts and exactly when to eat them but just that you needed to test and see what worked for you. I tested and played and toyed but it just didn’t work. I got no leaner and my performance was not getting much better either. Back to Atkins. I stayed with atkins and my weight stayed about the same. I was pretty lazy with it and didn’t really track but still made a conscience effort to keep calories in check by eating smaller meals. I did seem to drop a bit of weight but nothing significant. I decided that it just wasn’t worth all the hassle and gave it all up and ate what I wanted and drank when I wanted. Before long I was up to 225lbs. My performance was not better.
This is when I found out about keto. I knew the term ketosis from Atkins. They spoke about entering ketosis when you limit yourself to 20g of carbs but not much deeper than that. I started reading everything I could. I realized that this was essentially what I had been doing for years but a bit more refined with keeping protein moderate and fats high. I could do this. What do I have to lose. I decided and January 1st of 2016 I jumped right into it. I ate 80% fat, 15% protein and 5% carbs and ate 3 meals a day. I ate until full at every meal. Within 30 days the change was amazing.
I jumped even further down the rabbit hole. I started reading every article and book I could get my hands on. I experimented with every strategy. I spent almost a year testing various fasting techniques. We will get to my many experiments later. As of now, I am at my lowest weight I have been in years. I achieved this without fasting. Without skipping meals. It even had something involved that was not keto at all and something that people will say cannot be done. All this you will learn about in time. Through this journey I have learned many things. I have learned that my own bias has to be kept in check and that there is more to health than weight loss.
In the past 2 years I have been reading every study and every book about nutrition that I can get my hands on. I have also completed 2 different certifications in sports nutrition, I have completed my Crossfit level 1 trainer certificate and hopefully by the time this reaches you I will have completed my 2 year course to become a Registered Holistic Nutritional Practitioner. For years I have been using my experience to help others in my community as well as on the various forums and facebook groups I have been part of. In June of 2017 I started my own nutritional counceling business. Since then I have continued to learn more and test the boundaries of nutrition and in the process have helped thousands of people break through weight loss plateaus and learn that losing weight and being healthy does not have to mean starvation. In September of 2017 I launched my own Facebook group called Common Sense Keto. Within 10 months it has reached 126,000 members and continues to grow at a pretty astounding rate. I use this platform to help many more thousands of people through my constant research and experimentation.
I hope that gives you some insight into who I am and why I feel I am qualified in providing you with all of this valuable information. In the rest of this document you will learn various ways to lose weight but more importantly how to gain your health and maybe even to think outside the box and take something out of every groups strategies. Every different group wether it is vegans or ketonians have many ideas that are rooted in truth but they all seem to be missing something. I think that something is Common Sense.
What is keto? Since there are complete books dedicated to this question, I won’t spend long on it but I want to give you the basis of it and introduce you to my definition of it.
Keto, or the Ketogenic Diet, is a diet that actually replicates a fasted state. This is something that I have found through research that many in the ketogenic space have not yet connected the dots on yet. The idea is that you keep carbs low enough, fat high enough and protein just at the adequate level. This will mimic the body using mostly fat as fuel and to the body this means that there is no food coming in and that means starvation. The reason why it thinks this is because in evolutionary history when we would go days without experiencing a state of high insulin (from eating high protein or high carbohydrate foods) this would mean that food was unattainable. This triggers several responses. The first response is to ramp up production of ketones. Ketones are compounds created to replace glucose as the primary fuel source for the body. There are certain parts of us that are happy to use fat as fuel but other parts like the brain and red blood cells need some glucose. The brain likes glucose but is actually very content to use these ketone bodies as an alternate fuel source. There is some debate on wether the brain can use only ketones and even how much, if any, glucose it still needs. Ketone bodies are created by fat oxidation. I won’t get into the process of this as it is complex and requires at least a basic understanding of chemistry and human physiology. Just know that when we are running on fat one of the byproducts are ketones and the body can use these as an alternative fuel in the absence of excessive glucose.
I have been forever dealing with people that have problems with edema or just general fluid retention. I have known it has something to do with blood sodium concentration but not the exact mechanism behind it. Here I aim to explain it better and provide a better understanding of why it happens and a possible solution.
ADH (Anti-Diuretic Hormone) is a hormone released in from the pituitary gland that regulates the kidneys reabsorption of water in relation to plasma osmolarity. Plasma osmolarity is the concentration of electrolytes (potassium and sodium primarily) in the blood. We have osmoreceptors that keep very tight measure of this and when the plasma osmolarity increases (too much electrolytes) we release ADH to prevent the kidneys from excreting more water so the concentration decreases to maintain homeostasis. The opposite is true. When plasma osmolarity decreases, ADH should reduce to allow the kidneys to release water. This is how the body keeps control of electrolyte balance.
For some reason, people with edema seem to have a malfunction in the regulation of ADH. They likely have a low concentration of electrolytes, either from not taking enough sodium and potassium or drinking too much fluids, which should have them in a state of low ADH so kidneys can let the fluid out and correct the balance but for some reason they have higher ADH and it is causing the kidneys to reabsorb the fluid keeping the concentration high. The next thing that happens when you can’t correct through urination is the large intestine will stop pulling water out of the stool which could result in diarrhea. I doubt this is happening in people with edema though as they swell and I do believe that ADH would downregulate this action as well. The next thing that happens is the part that causes the edema. Water always wants to flow to a place of higher electrolyte concentration. The blood is can be changed easily but one place that cannot is the intracellular space. This level is maintained pretty constant. So if fluid wants to flow into the cells to get to the higher concentration that means you get all of your cells filling with fluid that cannot escape. That is the definition of fluid retention. The question remains, what can we do about it? I hope to get there by the end of this article.
Something else that causes release of ADH is drop in blood pressure. This explains somewhat why women experience bloating during menstruation. Loss of blood would lower blood pressure and release ADH which would reduce the excretion of water and make you hang onto water. Another thing that causes a release of ADH is nausea and vomiting. If you are feeling nauseated the body shunts out ADH to tell the body that it is about to lose alot of fluid through vomiting so make sure to hang onto any fluid we can so not as to let electrolytes go out of whack.
There is a test you can take with your Doctor to determine the ADH levels. Conveniently enough it is called an ADH test. Another way you can determine if this is an issue is to essentially dry fast for a day to see if your edema goes away and you lose weight. Keep sodium levels as close to normal as you can and restrict fluid as low as possible but to a max of 17oz total. If the edema goes away and you drop a bit of weight it means you may have excess ADH.
We have been told forever that fiber is going to prevent cancer and keep our colon healthy. Unfortunately the evidence for this is only bias, fairytales and poor quality correlational epidemiology.
The only studies that show fiber is of any benefit are studies using food questionnaires. These questionnaires ask people what they had to eat over the last year or many years. How reliable is this data to begin with? Can you remember how many cups of broccoli you ate in the last year? I can’t remember what I ate last week let alone specific amounts over a year of a specific food. Also people lie. They want people to think they eat better than they do.
So these studies take all this data and they break the people up
This is something most people wonder but I’ve never seen an answer. I now know.
I was under the assumption, as most people are, that insulin clears ketones somehow and the use of them stops but that is not the case I guess.
Insulin merely inhibits ketogenesis, the creation of new ketones, but it actually increases Ketolysis, the metabolism of ketone bodies, in non-hepatic tissue.
So insulin does stop you from making new ketones but it increases the use of them by tissue like muscle that use them well. Because the supply stops but the demand increases they clear very quickly.
This is why athletes are seeing performance increases from exogenous ketones.
They can’t use fat as efficiently when consuming glucose for sport so they are relying mostly on glucose which of course has limited availability. When ketones are introduced they can be quickly used in muscle during periods of aerobic activity and glucose can be spared for anaerobic activity.
The more time I spend reading and having discussions in keto and carnivore groups the more I notice the dogma and misinformation that is spread. Unfortunately these two very healthy diets are becoming as bad as Veganism for it’s level of unscientific and dogmatic views. We need to be willing to be wrong and when we find evidence to falsify our hypothesis we need to course correct and admit we were wrong and why. If we don’t stop ignoring some facts and common sense, this way of life will never be accepted by the mainstream.
Three of those views are:
Carbs are evil in every sense of the word and can never be beneficial.
Protein can be consumed ad libitum and will never turn to glucose.
Calories don’t matter. I’ve been guilty of saying this in the past.
These are the views I want us to get real about and realize that nothing is black and white. Everything is very very grey.
The first thing we are going to talk about is Carbs are evil:
As most of you know, I have been on a ketogenic diet for the better part of 15 years. I started off like everyone else that found keto and saw success and I feared carbs. I thought for sure that carbs in and of themselves caused all disease and made us fat. I spent 10 years doing high intensity Crossfit on zero carbs and while I was fairly successful, I feel my body composition changes were slow. I also got sucked into the trap of low calories. I saw a memory recently from myself complaining that I was eating 1500 calories a day and exercising 6 days a week and not losing weight. I am sure many of you resonate with that.
One fine day I was listening to a podcast about a fruitarian that was eating 50lbs of fruit and veg a day and he was lean and 130lbs. This made me laugh immediately, for one simply because there is no way in hell that anyone could eat 50lbs of any kind of food in a day, and two because he would be fat in no time from all the carbs. I decided to give it a try for the sake of science and to prove I would get fat.
Of course I couldn’t eat 50lbs so I aimed to get 2100 cals a day which was below my normal intake but I was so scared I would gain weight I wanted to mitigate it. I was consuming in excess of 300g of carbs every day.
This was probably my most valuable experiment I ever conducted. It taught me more about how little we know than anything else ever could have.
These were the major take aways:
It is nearly impossible to over eat on a whole food plant based diet. You just can’t get that much food into you. I was stuffed and had a hard time reaching my target calories.
Not only did I not gain weight, I lost weight.
My blood glucose was absolutely normal and healthy.
This led me to have to figure out why I didn’t get fat despite eating 300 plus grams of carbs every day. How did I lose weight? Why was my blood sugar control so good?
This led me to further my understanding of glycogen storage and how that contributes to insulin sensitivity and exercise. We have roughly 500g of glucose storage in liver and muscle. If we don’t exceed that storage level and we exercise at enough intensity to empty most of it, we will never get fat or insulin resistant. Especially if we are eating low fat. The reality is that carbs don’t make us fat. Carbs with fat make us fat. The carbs raise insulin and the fat gets stored. Just eating carbs alone can’t make us fat and just eating fat alone can’t make us fat. It requires both just like fire requires both oxygen and a spark. Oxygen won’t ignite or burn without a spark and a spark without a fuel wont make fire.
Here are some more articles that get deeper into insulin resistance and glycogen storage if you want to read more.
I won’t get into how carbs can be beneficial here as this will be long enough. I will do another blog post on that another day. Just suffice to say that if you are an athlete that does alot of very high intensity training there is no fear of consuming carbs before that training and it can only increase our performance in that high intensity range. Do we need them? No. Can they help performance? Yes.
Now lets talk about protein in excess:
If you want to spot someone who knows nothing about human physiology you can spot them by saying something like “Protein doesn’t turn into cake in your body.” or “Gluconeogenesis is demand driven so protein doesn’t turn to glucose.”
These people have clearly never taken a basic biochemistry or Anatomy and Physiology course. This is like day one stuff. No protein doesn’t turn to cake because cake is a complex mix of fat and carbohydrate. Protein does however, verifiably turn to glucose in the human body.
Here is a study on healthy people where they traced amino acids using isotope tracers and followed them from ingestion all the way to glucose. Just 23g of protein resulted in the creation of 4g of glucose.
It gets higher and higher as the dose gets larger. We can only use so much protein for building and maintaining lean tissue. There is no logical answer to how we could possibly utilize all the protein we eat if we are consuming more than the body needs to maintain. Since we can go days and days without eating and see little to no loss of lean tissue then clearly our need for net new amino acids is not 300g per day. Donald K. Layman is arguably one of the leading experts on protein metabolism in the world. Both he and one of his proteges, Dr. Gabrielle Lyon have both said that if you consume 100g of protein you will get 60g of glucose. This is just a basic fact of human physiology.
Here is a youtube video with Gabrielle Lyon on protein.
Dr. Lyon trained with one of the foremost protein experts today, Donald K. Layman, and is herself a very credible source. At 35:10 she states:
“Out of 100g protein consumed we get 60g of glucose via gluconeogenesis.”
Hmmmmmm………..Protein expert says this. OK. Who says excess protein never gets converted to glucose? Not protein experts that is for sure.
Then again at 1:11:00
Dr. Lyon “A meat based diet is not a low carb diet. For every 100g of protein you get 60g of glucose.”
So yes, protein does get converted to glucose. Basic physiology and biochemistry. The question is does it matter? Yes and no.
For the active person it won’t matter a bit. The little bit of extra protein will get converted in the liver to glucose, that glucose will get shunted into glycogen in the liver and will be easily used when they exercise. Since it doesn’t ever leave the liver and go into circulation it doesn’t raise blood glucose, this is why people argue it doesn’t get converted at all, and it doesn’t spike insulin.
For the sedentary person it will matter. They can have this protein fill up glycogen in the liver and at that point it will start filling up muscle glycogen. The liver glycogen will get used bit by bit all the time but the muscle glycogen is retained for high intensity activity so it will stay there. Eventually they will saturate muscles if they don’t train it out. That leaves them only with liver glycogen which is only 100g. If they then continue with the protein loading they will overfill that at which point this glucose will get converted to fat and stored. This is why there are people every single day complaining of weight gain on the Carnivore diet. They are not training enough to empty out the glycogen made from the excess protein. Then people just tell them that this is “healing” or “muscle gain”. That is bullshit. You do not gain lean mass from just eating more protein. This is like saying that people will gain muscle just by taking steroids without training. You won’t. In order for muscle to grow they have to be trained. Just eating something or just taking drugs is not going to make you grow more muscle. The weight gain is some weight from the glycogen (4-6lbs can be gained from glycogen) and the rest is fat. End of story.
Lastly, lets talk about Calories:
Even I got caught in the trap of saying that calories don’t matter. It is a nice dream but unfortunately that is not reality. They do and keto and carnivore are not magic. The truth is that these diets work in different ways and the meaning of calories changes because hormones also matter. It doesn’t mean that only insulin matters and calories don’t. They both matter.
The problem we get into here is that simply cutting them to lose weight never works long term. This is not because they don’t matter. It is because they do matter. They matter very much. Cutting calories does not work long term because the body adapts to the calories you eat. The body does not want to lose fat. Fat is protective. As you cut calories the body will down regulate it’s energy output to match what you put in. This is why we lose less and less weight week after week on any diet. This is the body protecting itself from starving. So if we cut calories the body just stops using as much.
The problem with this is that people get frustrated when they stop losing weight and go back to eating crap and in large amounts. Because your body is now using less energy it means that you are now in a much larger caloric surplus than you were before. Now you gain weight quickly. This happens in every diet. Even keto and carnivore.
If you try and trick it by going even lower than yes, you will potentially lose more weight. Then you will adapt again and stop. You can’t keep dropping forever. It has to stop somewhere. Then you get frustrated and quit and it is even worse as your metabolism is slower.
It gets even worse if you have lost weight and gained it back. Every time you do this you have taught your body a lesson on how to not lose weight. It now understands the adaptation process and how to lower metabolism faster. Each time you do this lose and gain cycle you make your body better at not losing weight. This is why we have people that can’t lose weight no matter what they do. They have taught their body how to be experts at slowing metabolism and not losing weight.
How do we fix this?
Well if we look at some of the most successful dieters on the planet we would be looking at bodybuilders. They diet down to crazy low body fat and do it repeatedly at least once per year. How do the do it? Well some don’t. Some only get one or two shows then have to drop out because they arrive at the same issue as many people just trying to diet for weight loss and health. The ones that are successful practice metabolism management. It is often referred to as reverse dieting.
Reverse dieting is a controlled increase in caloric intake while keeping weight stable. This will bring the metabolism back up to a normal level so a new diet phase can be done again. The longer you reverse diet the more successful you will be at dieting again. Typically the recommendation is to reverse diet for as long as you did the weight loss diet.
I think that is enough getting real for today. We need to change the conversation. Stop being so dogmatic.
Carbs are not the sole cause of obesity or sickness. This is equally as crazy as vegans saying that fat alone is the sole cause of obesity and sickness. They are both required. The question is what combo is optimal.
Protein does convert to glucose and depending on who you are this may or may not matter.
Calories do matter. They just matter in slightly different ways depending on your bodies hormonal state.
I have started a new facebook group called Common Sense Keto Athlete. This group will be a place for people who don’t need to lose weight or are prioritizing performance over weight loss. The same rules will not apply to this group as in the main group. More open discussion will be allowed when it comes to carbs and protein and basically any other hack for performance.
“In conclusion, one hour of cycling exercise increases phosphorylation of ATG14 at Ser29 in a pattern that mirrors ULK1 phosphorylation at Ser555 (activating site), suggesting that ULK1 serves as an upstream kinase for ATG14 in human skeletal muscle. These effects were independent of high and low insulin levels during exercise.”
Essentially what this says is that exercise causes autophagy regardless of the level of circulating insulin.
It still remains true today that the only real way to measure autophagy in humans has been with exercise and it can be measured in hours. There has yet to be a study in humans measuring autophagy from fasting to the extent it can be measured in just an hour of exercise. Even when insulin might be high.
From what I can tell, Ben’s opinion on autophagy is that it is running when insulin is low and that is happening when you are in ketosis. I don’t think he tells people not to fast but I don’t think he does it personally. He discusses this in this Podcast.
My opinion is that those that are seeking autophagy need not worry so much about fasting and just keep insulin low.
Better yet, seek it through something healthy, like exercise.
Here is another study showing autophagy from exercise regardless of nutritional status.
“Taking into account AMPK-dependent autophagy activation, these findings support the notion that HI is the most potent way to increase autophagic flux during cycling exercise in human skeletal muscle, independent of nutritional condition.“
So I have been fighting the idea that high protein is a good idea for a long time. You don’t need high protein and often high protein is bad if you are sedentary and insulin resistant. If you are lean and fit and very active than high protein is fine. No harm in it at all. The extra protein will be converted to glucose and be stored in glycogen and it won’t even really affect your glucose levels. You will use it in the gym. No big deal.
If you are not fit, not lean and are trying to lose weight then high protein will also turn to glucose and it will get put into glycogen and it will prevent you from being keto adapted as you will just be maintaining a glucose based metabolism.
The higher protein advocates will always pull out studies trying to show how great high protein is. This one is so far my favorite one.
The person who posted it was trying to argue that protein does not turn to glucose and posted this study:
What is really amusing is that this study doesn’t even talk about anything to do with protein turning into glucose. What is more amusing is that the result of this study is not positive towards eating high protein. It is actually case in point why there is zero benefit to eating more protein.
In this study they had 30 young, healthy and well trained individuals eat either their same diet for 8 weeks and do their same workout or had them eat 4.4g per KG of protein per day on top of their regular diet and continue the same training.
Here was the diet info:
The control group ate 138g of protein per day and roughly 2000 calories. They actually lowered their caloric intake and their protein intake during the trial period.
The Experimental group ate 307g of protein per day and roughly 2835 calories. They increased their protein by 47% and increased calories by 38%.
Great. So from the way this person was fighting with me I assumed I was going to see some tremendous results in regards to either fat lost or some crazy muscle gains. I was ready to be impressed.
Are you ready? Here is the body composition results from eating 2.22 times the protein.
So needless to say I was less than impressed.
Despite already having a larger lean mass, a lower fat mass and a better body composition than the experimental group, the control group still managed to gain a respectable amount of lean mass and obtained a better change in body composition while reducing their protein and calories.
Control had a 1.3kg gain in fat free mass and an increase in 0.3kg of fat mass. Strange that they gained fat mass when reducing calories but these tests are also not all that accurate so I would call it negligible.
Experimental group had a better change in fat free mass with 1.9kg and a small but insignificant loss in fat mass of -0.2kg.
The end result in body composition change:
Control group – reduced body composition from 15.1% to 14.2% (-0.9%)
Experimental group – Reduced body comp from 16.9 to 16.3% (-0.6%)
Are you impressed? I certainly was. 🙂
The funny part of this is that I have said time and time again, glucose that is made from excess protein is always stored in glycogen anyway and what happens when we store glycogen? For every gram of glycogen you get 4g of water with it. What does that mean? You will see an increase in lean mass with an increase in stored glycogen as lean mass is determined by measuring everything that is not fat. Glycogen is not fat so it will show as a gain in lean mass on a body comp test such as the one they used BodPod. The total amount of lean mass gain from glycogen alone is 2.5kg. Could all of the lean mass gain be from glycogen alone? Possibly LOL.
So my conclusion from this paper:
If you want to waste money you should absolutely consume more than double the amount of protein as you need. You will result in a less desirable body composition change and likely nothing more than an increase in stored glycogen than if you eat an appropriate amount of protein.
How much money in just protein was wasted here? While it didn’t matter here because it was provided by the researchers, imagine if it was you.
145g extra per day for 8 weeks equals 8,120g of protein. They used whey protein.
Even a cheap protein is about $45 for 2.7kg of protein so that means you would have spent $135 in protein powder to have a worse change in body composition than the people who actually ate less protein.
This is not going to be fancy. Just a post that was on the facebook group that I felt should be here for prosperity.
There was a post the other day in the facebook group Common Sense Keto that was deleted and it was talking about reversing diabetes and eating chocolate and how that affected glucose levels.
This post is an explanation of the physiology behind this.
What causes Type 2 diabetesThere are different theories on this but the only one that even makes plausible sense to me is Personal Fat Threshold (PFT).Short story is that everyone has a genetic capacity to store energy as fat and once that level is reached, the cells are full and can no longer take in more energy with the level of insulin that the pancreas is putting out. To get more detailed with the actual process we need to look at energy storage and management in the human body.
Glucose is essential but also dangerous to have in high levels in the blood. The body manages this tightly using insulin. When glucose levels are high insulin rises and puts it away. It first goes to liver and muscle and is stored as glycogen. Glycogen is just long chains of glucose essentially. We can store 500g roughly.
so long as we don’t exceed that 500g we will never have high blood sugar and there can never be T2D.
If we do exceed this amount the body needs to deal with it in another way and since energy is valuable for survival it is never wasted. The body converts it to fat via a process known as de novo lipogenesis (DNL). This simply means creation of new fat. This fat is then packed away into fat cells for later use.
At this point we are still perfectly fine and could live this way forever with no chance of T2D so long as we don’t consume more energy in a day than we use. This is where calories in vs calories out is 100% accurate. If you have full glycogen and you convert all carbs you eat to fat plus you eat a lot of fat you are going to accumulate alot of fat but as long as you use enough energy to empty out the fat you accumulate each day there will be no diabetes.
Now the problem is most people do not empty out glycogen and they certainly don’t empty out all the fat the accumulate each day on a SAD diet. Once the fat cells reach their limit, that is when diabetes starts.
The pancreas will start making more insulin to force the glucose out of the blood. it does this because insulin causes fat cells to grow which allows them to take in more fat which allows the glucose to be cleared from the blood again.
The problem here is that the increased demand on the pancreas also causes it to die. The cells that make insulin actually start to die off. If insulin is prescribed and given this can save the cells somewhat by taking off the pressure. The more you push the limits of storage the more insulin is needed.
Can you reverse Type 2 diabetes?
That depends. We have to separate T2D from insulin resistance (IR). T2D is a chronic issue with blood glucose management while insulin resistance is the inability to clear glucose as a result of the cells not responding to insulin. Very different things.
Insulin resistance is actually not pathological by nature. It happens all the time and for good reason. It can become pathological if not dealt with soon enough but it can always be reversed and pretty easily.
T2D is totally reversible unless you have done too much damage to the pancreas. If you have left it untreated for too long or too poorly managed then the insulin producing beta cells die off and you can no longer produce enough insulin to properly manage glucose levels and this is when it is not reversible.
Now how do we reverse it these things?
All that is required to reverse insulin resistance is to empty glycogen stores. If these are empty then you have at least partially reversed insulin resistance. The reversal will be limited to 500g worth of glucose but for those first 500g you are not going to be insulin resistant and can absolutely have a high carb meal and see normal blood glucose levels.
The problem with this is that it is very temporary and does not empty out as fast as it fills. Once the body gets some glycogen it will hold onto it. It will preferentially run gluconeogenesis and make glucose over using the glycogen so once you have that glycogen it can take days to empty out. To really reverse insulin resistance you have to empty out fat cells. You have to lose weight. Once you have emptied fat cells you have reversed insulin resistance for the most part. There will be lots of room to get glucose out of the blood.
For some people, depending on how long they have been in the IR state, they might still have some higher than normal glucose levels for some time until the body re adapts to not having to operate from a place of chronic IR. The longer you spend with empty glycogen and unfilled fat cells the better your glucose responses will get.
So in closing, if you have been keto for any amount of time you will have empty glycogen. If you have lost weight you will have lots of room to get glucose out of blood and you will have reversed T2D and insulin resistance so long as you have not permanently damaged your pancreas. You have cured it in essence. Until you refill your glycogen stores and fill your fat cells back up again.
Anyone on keto will be able to eat one meal, even a few days of carbs and see normal glucose response times. Because you have empty glycogen. This does not mean you are able to do this long term. it just means that still have empty glycogen and have not yet filled it up. When you do, and you will, you will start gaining weight again. When you gain enough weight you will again, be insulin resistant and will again be diabetic.
There is really no “cure” to T2D because it is not really a “disease” unless you have killed your pancreas. It is just a state where the body is at max storage capacity for energy at which point it starts becoming a disease. You can reverse it and restart it many times over. Until yo have killed your pancreas then it is a disease and reversal is impossible.
This has been a question I have seen passed around for years and nobody seems to have a solid answer. Mostly they just say it is because you are adapted and you don’t need as much so you make less. I have seen one fairly plausible explanation in that the kidneys take up more ketones and retain more in the beginning.
I have never really liked either of those answers and finally, I think I have a very plausible mechanism.
In my last post I discussed the Krebs Cycle and how ketones are made when there is an excess of one of the precursors for it named AcetylCoA. Another thing that influences the amount of ketones is another intermediate of the Krebs Cycle called Oxaloacetate (OA).
We also discussed how OA is necessary in the process of making glucose out of non glucose metabolites known as gluconeogenesis (GNG). We learned that the body reserves alot of OA for this process because it is critical to maintaining glucose levels in the body. Like life or death critical. The liver will always keep it for GNG before letting the krebs cycle use it if it is low supply. So if there is alot of GNG happening it will deplete the levels of OA that is available for the krebs cycle to process AcetylCoA and this will result in higher ketone levels. This can be seen in people who do intense exercise with no available glycogen to supply the exercise. Like in a fasted state or even just in ketosis. The lack of available glucose from glycogen will cause a very high level of gluconeogenesis which will deplete the levels of oxaloacetate. If these folks check ketones shortly after their workout they can see very high levels. I have seen levels well above 8.0 mmol.
With this being said, when we first go keto there is a high rate of GNG happening as our body is still very used to using glucose as a fuel. So at this point we would be using much of the available OA to make glucose. This in turn would decrease the amount of krebs cycle activity and cause an elevated amount of ketones. As we adapt to the ketogenic diet our body slowly starts to need less and less glucose. The brain uses less as it gets used to using ketones and the muscles actually get used to using fatty acids directly. The muscles also develop a type of physiologically normal insulin resistance to keep them from using glucose that could be retained for the parts of the body that absolutely must use glucose like the red blood cells, some parts of the eye and some parts of the brain. As we adapt to use less and less glucose we will see a reduction in the level of GNG. With the reduced GNG we see less utilization of OA. This will leave more available for the krebs cycle which will better be able to empty the AcetylCoA pool. If we empty the AcetylCoA pool we end up with less ketone build up!
Boom. The longer you are adapted to keto and your body needs less glucose the less oaxaloacetate is used for making glucose and the more that is available to process AcetylCoA to energy directly rather than diverting to ketones.
Seems like a very plausible mechanism to me. Let me know what you think.