Everyone thinks that losing your hunger on Keto is some magic benefit so the can eat less and therefore lose weight. Or that you aren’t hungry because you are “Eating your body fat” as those other Keto “Experts” would have you believe. This one is by far the stupidest of the theories which unfortunately has been pushed by some of the leaders in the KetoSphere. It is very unfortunate.
There is actually a very logical and Common Sense reason as to why you stop being hungry and rest assured it is not nearly as non scientific as those reasons the other guys would have you believe.
Lack of hunger is a survival response to starvation. In hunter gather times there were many scenarios where food was simply unavailable. If we were to get more and more hungry as time goes by it would make us crazy and not very effective at hunting. If all you can think about is eating, you won’t be a very effective hunter and you would likely perish without being able to get food. This has to do with leptin and insulin.
There are 2 specific states you tend to lose hunger Fasting and Ketogenic diets:
Lets look at what is happening in Fasting:
1.You have low insulin making Leptin easy to hear
2. You are running on fat (because there is nothing else to run on)
3. Ketones rise in order to feed your brain and keep you alert
4. You lose weight
5. Finally, you aren’t hungry
Now lets look at what happens when we eat a Ketogenic Diet:
1. You have low insulin so Leptin is easy to hear
2. You are running on fat (because that is what you are eating)
3. Ketones rise in order to feed your brain (in the absence of glucose)
4. You lose weight
5. Finally, you aren’t hungry!!!!
Now don’t those scenarios sound familiar. So no, not being hungry while on Keto is not some magic way to make sure you are eating at a deficit without trying. It is a malfunction of a basic survival instinct. Basically we are hacking our body to think it is starving and in order to survive and get food it allows us to go without hunger pangs that would make us crazy and gives us focus to properly hunt our next meal.
What losing your hunger while eating Keto actually does is cause people to unintentionally enter into a severe calorically restricted state for a prolonged amount of time. This can cause adrenal issues, hair loss, Amenorrhea (loss of menstrual cycle), thyroid issues and a severely damaged metabolism making it much harder to lose weight. Part of the reason some of the Keto “Experts” advocate a “Carb-up” or “Re-Feed” is because they don’t understand that their “Eat only when you are hungry” philosophy is actually causing a starvation survival response that isn’t supposed to happen and the “Carb-up” only works because it resets this process. The leptin signal is restored again by the increased insulin levels and the person starts to eat somewhat normally again for a time and this tends to reverse some of the adverse effects of the chronic low caloric state. If we just ate adequately to begin with none of these issues would actually happen.
So next time some tells you “One of the major benefits of the ketogenic diet is that it controls hunger.” You can tell them no sir. My body thinks I am starving.