It was well known in 1944 that caloric restriction was ineffective and dangerous so why is it cool now?

In 1944 our good buddy Ancel Keys actually did something useful. He wanted to see the effects of starvation on healthy individuals. The reason for this was because the war was causing many to suffer from food shortages and he wanted to see what this would look like and what would happen when they were able to feed adequately again.

He took a group of 36 healthy men that were selected for their perceived ability to withstand the physical and mental demands of the study. They were tested mentally and physically prior to the study and all were deemed fit and healthy. The study would be broken down into 3 phases.

Phase 1:

The Control period. This 3 month period all men were fed 3200 calories of a typical european diet. All men maintained their ideal weights with a few exceptions. Several of the men were a few pounds shy of their ideal. They lost weight eating 3200 cals. They were again tested mentally and physically and were deemed fit to continue. During this period the men were given physical jobs and made to walk at least 22 miles per week.

Phase 2:

The Starvation period. This 6 month period involved having the men dramatically reduce their calories to a “starvation level”. I will save the amount of calories they ate until the end for suspense. During the period the men were made made to continue their jobs as well as the 22 miles of walking per week. Their meals were prepared for them and were designed to be carbohydrate rich and protein and fat poor. This would mimic what the post war Europeans would have to deal with.

The effects of the calorie restriction was seen quickly. They had a dramatic reduction of strength and energy and were constantly cold and tired. Keys measured a 21 percent decrease in strength using a back lift dynamometer. Apathy was the next thing to take hold. All the men had strong political views but they no longer had any interest. The only thing they cared about was food. Meal time became the focus of the day and many of them obsessively read and collected recipes. Between meals the men were allowed to chew gun and drink coffee. Some men were noted to chew up to 40 packs of gum a day and down as much as 15 cups of coffee to try to appease their hunger. Even though these men were chosen for their mental fortitude, cheating became a huge issue as all of the men were so obsessed with food. Keys had to implement a buddy system where the men were not allowed to leave the lab without someone with them to ensure they didn’t cheat.

The stress proved too much for one of the men, twenty-four-year-old Franklin Watkins. He began having vivid, disturbing dreams of cannibalism in which he was eating the flesh of an old man. On trips into town (before the buddy system had been implemented), he cheated extravagantly, downing milk shakes and sundaes. Finally Keys confronted him, and Watkins broke down sobbing. Then he grew angry and threatened to kill Keys and take his own life. Keys immediately dismissed Watkins from the experiment and sent him to the psychiatric ward of the university hospital. There, after a few days on a normal diet, Watkins appeared entirely normal again, so the hospital released him. Watkins’ breakdown occurred just a few weeks into the starvation phase of the experiment.

There were many physiological effects besides the psychological effects. Their heart rate slowed dramatically from 55 beats per minute to just 35 as their metabolism slowed. They lost their sex drive. Their blood volume decreased by ten percent and their hearts reduced in size. Despite the amount of water and coffee they were drinking they developed severe edema where their knees, ankles and faces swelled. They would no longer bleed if they cut themselves shaving and the cuts took longer to heal. One of the more startling effects was the whitening of their eyeballs. As the blood volume reduced the veins in the eyes would shrink making the eyes look pearly white and glassy. They looked like the fake eyes of a porcelain doll. I have heard this described by a vegan as a benefit of being vegan. “My eyes are so white and clear because of how clean my food is.” This is not a good thing. It is a reduction of blood flow to the eye which could result in severe issues. One of the few positive reported effects of the starvation was heightened senses. This would be as a result of the cortisol and epinephrine spikes. These are meant to allow a person to be able to hunt to potentially stop starving. It also results in greater lean mass loss due to increased gluconeogenesis. Many of you will recognize this one, hair loss. The men all found that they could pull handfuls of hair out very easily.

All of the men lost weight quickly in the beginning but the weight loss slowed week after week until it came to a complete stop. Some of the men started to regain some weight despite continuing the starvation. Keys was insistent that they were cheating but it could not be proven. The metabolic rates of the men where tested at the end of the study and all of the men had an nearly a 50% reduction in basal metabolic rate. Their metabolisms had adjusted to meet their caloric intake in order to keep them from wasting away to nothing. By the end of the study, even though the men were almost skeletal, they did not find they looked skinny. They actually now thought normal sized people looked fat. This is similar to the mentality of someone afflicted with Anorexia Nervosa.

Phase 3:

The Recovery phase. All of the men were very excited for this to come but it was noted that the manic behavior and depression did not stop immediately with the increased food intake. It took a full 3 months for the men to return to “their old selves”. Their calories were gradually increased in order to determine what level they started to feel better. It was found that nearly 4,000 calories were required to recover a man’s vitality and feeling of well being. Even with this many of the men said they never felt satisfied and would later indulge in as much as 11,500 calories a day to feel satiated. All of the men regained all of their weight plus more. What was the most interesting was the body fat of the men that got back to their starting weight was as much as 10% more at the end of recovery. They had all lost significant lean mass that was not regained with the weight. This is the real danger of caloric restriction. With the loss of lean mass comes an even greater reduction in metabolic rate. With that lean mass not coming back you can never fully recover to your original metabolic rate.

It was truly apparent from this study that severe caloric restriction was a truly harmful state in every possible way and should be avoided at all cost. Now as promised I will let you in on how many calories they were actually eating in this starvation study.

It was 1500-1600 calories for a man of an average weight of 152 pounds. They maintained this weight eating 3200 cals a day.

This is why I get so disgusted at the constant recommendations for people to eat 1200 cals a day. In 1944 it was deemed dangerous to eat 1600 cals a day yet today we have doctors and dieticians recommending this like it is a walk in the park. This terrible practice needs to end. I am more than convinced that all of the thyroid, adrenal, chronic fatigue and chronic pain issues like fibromialgia are caused by this chronic state of starvation. Just because we are eating keto does not make us immune to these issues. Just because you are not hungry does not mean you don’t need to provide your body with the fuel it needs. All of the physiological effects are not a result of hunger. They are a result of inadequate nutrition. The loss of hunger is simply a biochemical response to having adequate fat. So long as you have adequate fat you will not feel hunger and the lack of hunger allows you to be clear headed and be a more effective hunger so you can stop starving. Being hungry or not hungry does not determine your nutritional requirements.

Please stop the starvation. Feed your body. Heal your body. Eat sensibly. CommonSensibly. đŸ™‚

Keto ON!

Coach Jack

If you want to get your Ketogenic Diet back to a place of Common Sense and learn how to heal your metabolism you can get personalized coaching from Coach Jack.

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How dramatic is the shift in health when cultures switch to a Westernized Diet – The Tokelau

There was a very interesting long term study done from the 1960s until the late 80s on a population of people living on a small island off of New Zealand.

They were called the Tokelau.

Before they were introduced to any westernized foods they existed on mainly coconut, fish, some small birds, and a bit of starchy fruit similar to plantain. 60% of their diet was Coconut which of course is nearly 90% saturated fat.

Their populations are notable for their low levels of blood pressure, high rates of infectious disease (no antibiotics or sanitation), and low rates of coronary heart disease, obesity and diabetes. At the other end of the spectrum are those Polynesian societies, such as the Hawaiians and the Maori of New Zealand, who were submerged by ‘Western’ settlers and the dominating cultures they brought with them. These populations have inevitably acquired the diseases of the ‘West’, sometimes to an exaggerated degree.

There were a group that migrated to New Zealand and a group that remained. The heath changes in both groups were interesting to say the least.

The group that remained on the island maintained more of a traditional diet but still had access to western foods as they had frequent shipments of sugar, flour, cigarettes and for some time rice. The group that migrated had constant access.

Cardiovascular health:

They used ECG readings to measure the heart rates of the different groups to determine the percent chance that they have had prior cardiac events.

In 1982 native Tokelau were averaged to have had 0.0% chance of prior cardiac events

In 80-81 Native New Zealanders were averaged to have had 1.0% chance

For comparison, in Tecumseh USA in 1965 the average chance was 3.5%



This one is easy to show without saying much. The rates of both the groups rose but the difference between the group that stayed, only getting 5 annual shipments of western food, compared to those that migrated to NZ was dramatically different.



Another easy one. Between 1968 and 1982, Tokelauans in nearly all age groups gained weight, roughly 11 pounds on average. They also became slightly taller, but not enough to offset the gain in weight. By 1980-82, migrants to New Zealand had become especially heavy, with all age groups weighing more than non-migrants by about 11 lb on average, and 22 lb more than Tokelauans did in 1968.


Dental Health

Dental decay increased eight-fold in adolescents and more than four-fold in adults. I don’t know what their dental health was like before 1963, but I can only guess it was better than when this study was conducted, due to the fact that the Tokelauan diet was already partially modernized in 1963. The incidence of dental cavities among the isolated groups living on native foods was 0.6 per cent, while for those around the port living in part on trade foods, it is 33.4 per cent. The effect of the imported food was clearly to be seen on the teeth of the people who were in the growth stage at that time [i.e., they developed crooked teeth].


What happens when the Tokelauans suddenly stop the western Diet?

Interestingly when the ship that was bringing the western food supplies to the island was damaged and stop shipments for 5 months the situation changed pretty quickly. There was no sugar, flour, tobacco and starch foods consumed and the island hospitals reported a shortage of business during the shortage. It was reported that the Tokelauans had been very healthy during that time and had returned to the pre-European diet of coconuts and fish. Many people lost weight and felt very much better including some of the diabetics.

Very interesting. Too bad they didn’t learn from this and too bad we had not learned from this. The data is right in front of our eyes and so many will dismiss it. Does this not sound pretty much like an open and shut case? If this was a trail to determine who is the culprit of all of these diseases does it not look pretty damning for the western diet and pretty liberating for Saturated fat and fat in general?

When will the world see the western diet for what it is? Hopefully soon.

Keto ON!

Coach Jack

If you want to get your Ketogenic Diet back to a place of Common Sense and learn how to heal your metabolism you can get personalized coaching from Coach Jack.

Check the details here:

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Genetic adaptation to a chronic high fat diet – The Inuit situation

I was recently advised that 80% of the Inuit population was incapable of producing ketones. This intrigued me as the traditional Inuit diet has always been touted as being ketogenic. I started scouring research papers trying to find any link to this “fact”. What I found was nothing stating that Inuits cannot go into ketosis but that they have a gene mutation that inhibits quick transition to ketosis in a fasted state:

CPT1A mutation in Arctic population

This was a sweep of the Arctic population to to determine how much of the population have this gene mutation that seems to inhibit ketogenesis. The reason they where doing the sweep is because there were a large number of infants deaths as a result of hypoketotic hypoglycemia. This is when blood glucose drops and there is inadequate ketone production to sustain brain activity. The result is a coma and death. The hypothesis for the reason for this variant was evolutionary adaptation to chronic levels of high ketones due to their very high fat intake. Wether it was higher in fat or higher in protein or even 50/50 they would have eaten at least 300g of fat a day and no matter how much protein you eat, in the absence of any carb intake, that is going to make ketones. We will get to how shortly. First we need to add some common sense to the issue of macro composition of the Inuit diet.

When researching what the macronutrient composition of the traditional inuit diet was, I found numbers ranging anywhere from 40% fat to 90% fat and from 10% protein to 60% protein. Going by the rule that the truth lies somewhere in the middle it was likely it was in the range of 65-75% fat and would vary from day to day from the lower end to the higher end. If we think about this in a common sense way it would make logical sense that it would be higher in fat. Why? The one thing all studies/articles agree on is that the Inuit would eat between 4-6lbs of meat a day. Even at the lower end of the scale, 40% fat, 4 pounds of meat would be 2500 cals and 400g of protein. Can you imagine eating 400g of protein a day? It would be physically impossible from my experience. Not to mention this doesn’t take into account another bit of info every study agrees with, that the Inuit gorged on and prized the fat of seal, whale and walrus

This is an excerpt from one study describing the eating practices of the Inuit:

The seal is cut in a specific way directly after a hunt. BorrĂ© explains the cutting of the seal is this way “one of the hunters slits the abdomen laterally, exposing the internal organs. Hunters first eat pieces of liver or they use a tea cup to gather some blood to drink.” At this time, hunters also chop up pieces of fat and the brain to mix together and eat with meat.

Women and children are accustomed to eating different parts of the seal because they wait until the hunters are done eating. Intestines are the first thing to be chosen and then any leftover pieces of the liver are consumed. Finally, ribs and backbone are eaten and any remaining meat is distributed among the camp.

If you look at the order in which they ate the animal, liver, blood, chopped up fat and brain mixed with the meat, intestines, ribs and backbone (marrow), you can see that the fat content is high in just this one meal. This does not take into account a favoured staple of the Inuit, whale blubber cured with salt. It is very evident that this diet could not have been less than 60% fat. I still lean towards 70% but even at 60%, it is totally possible to maintain ketogenesis at 60% fat. That would still be a ketogenic ratio of roughly 1:1 which is considered enough to maintain ketosis. Now at 4lbs of meat at a 60% fat ratio that is 4900 calories, 450g of protein and 345g of fat. Still sounds unlikely to me that anyone could eat 450g of protein but this is the most conservative estimate I can use while still using any common sense.

So now that we have the macros worked out, lets talk about how ketones are made in relation to what the Inuit were eating. Recent studies done by Benjamin Bikman show that in a low carb environment, protein ingestion causes a very low insulin to glucagon ratio and therefore does not produce any significant insulin spike.  Since this diet is ultra low carb, their insulin levels would be low enough that fat would not likely be stored. During times of aerobic activity, anything besides fast running essentially, uses some fat and some glucose to run the Krebs cycle which produces ATP. ATP is the energy for the body. Since the Inuit ate no glucose, the only way they could get the inputs for the Krebs cycle is by converting protein and fat. Protein breaks down into amino acids. Some amino acids are glucogenic (can be converted to glucose) and some amino acids are ketogenic (can be converted to ketones) and some are both. Automatically the breakdown of ketogenic amino acids will contribute some ketones. When fat is broken down it converts to a chemical called Acetyl-CoA. This fuels the Krebs cycle as well as the glucose from the converted amino acids. When you eat alot of fat like they were it produces alot of Acetyl-CoA. Here is where automatic ketones come in to the Inuit diet. The Krebs cycle can only take so much input. When the limit is exceeded all the left over Acetyl-CoA goes to the liver and gets converted to ketones. With the amount of fat and the amount of excess protein they ate, there would be way too much Acetyl-CoA to get used.  Here is where the gene mutation from the beginning of this comes in and why it is important.

Don’t worry, we are getting to the point. đŸ˜‰

If these people are eating this much fat and this much protein there is a chance that there will be an opportunity for high ketones and high glucose all at the same time. The actual protein need in a man is about 40g a day so the majority of the extra will be converted to either ketones or glucose. Only so much glucose can be used to fuel the Krebs cycle so that will leave a surplus of glucose and some ketones. All of the fat eaten will get converted to Acetyl-CoA, and since only so much can be used, the surplus that will get converted to ketones. When I was eating 5,000 cals a day my ketones where reaching in excess of 8.0 mmol/L. How much higher I don’t know as that is as high as the meter goes. If ketones are high and glucose is also high there is a chance of ketoacidosis. Even if the glucose was not high enough to cause ketoacidosis, who knows the possible risks of having chronically elevated ketone levels long term? So the evolutionary response to avoid this seems to be this gene mutation that prevents ketone levels from reaching high levels. The flip side is that the mutation does not allow the quick flip into ketosis that infants without the mutation experience. Without the protection of ketogenesis, a period of hypoglycaemia would be fatal for an infant.

This does not mean they didn’t eat a ketogenic diet or that they couldn’t make ketones, it is just an evolutionary adaptation that is no longer working due to dietary changes in long lived populations. I am sure there are other yet to be discovered evolutionary gene mutations that allow some cultures to thrive eating much higher carb content in the diet without experiencing the same issues as those who get sick eating a similar amount.

Keto ON!

Coach Jack

If you want to get your Ketogenic Diet back to a place of Common Sense and learn how to heal your metabolism you can get personalized coaching from Coach Jack.

Check the details here:

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Intermittent Fasting is misinterpreted and misunderstood

IF (intermittent Fasting) as people refer to it today is a misinterpretation. Skipping breakfast is not IF. It is time resticted feeding and doing it at the least optimal time. Eating within a smaller window is proven to have benefits but those benefits are better ustilized when you eat according to the natural circadian clock that we have been eveolved to follow. Light and dark cycles. Our insulin sensitivity is highest in the morning. We better absorb nutrients and see a dramatic increase in the ability to metabolize food if we at this time. As the day grows on we become more and more insulin resistant and prone to store fat rather than use it. This makes evolutionary sense as we would have spent long dark hours in caves waiting for light to come so we could go hunt again. Our lean ancestors would have needed to store extra fat daily for the long nightly fast. They would not have had much stored body fat on a regular basis as we do today.

Actual IF is fasting for a complete day or number of days then eating for a number of days. Intermittent fasting. If you just skip a meal that is not anything other than the normal everyday fast that people do anyway.

I believe in time resticted feeding done at the right time. I also believe IF can be used as a tool for healing certain things like insulin resitance but it has a dangerous side that people do not know about. If you don’t understand it and don’t fuel for it approapriately you can land in the hospital. I have several case studies showing this. It is often mistaken for ketoacidosis but is actually metabolic acidosis due to dehydration and electrolyte depletion. There are ketones present in low levels so they incorrectly call it ketoacidosis. Fasting is also not sustainable for weight loss unless you keep upping the length and frequency of the fasts and that, like caloric restriction is not going to work long term. This will all come to light in the next few years when all these long term fasters start gaining all their weight back. This is the experience I have had in myself when fasting extensively for a full year and it is the experience I have seen in my clients.

Keto ON!

Coach Jack

If you want to get your Ketogenic Diet back to a place of Common Sense and learn how to heal your metabolism you can get personalized coaching from Coach Jack.

Check the details here:

Personalized Coaching with Coach Jack