Part III–Putting All The Pieces In Place
If you’ve read this far, God bless you. If you’ve read this far and you’re excited about all this information, God bless you. And if you’ve read this far and are already experiencing carbohydrate withdrawal symptoms, God bless you, too. As a healthcare practitioner, it’s important to me to provide you with the information, education, support and the guidance you need to become healthy once and for all. And a big big part of this comes down to sourcing accurate information.
One of the scourges of the modern world is information overload. There’s so much information out there today that we spend a lot of time trying to figure out fact from fiction. It’s not easy to do. Part of what I do is provide people with the information they need to make informed decisions about their health, and we’ve already covered a ton of information in this series of posts. If you take the time to absorb all the information in this series, I promise that you’ll know more about these subject than 95% of all healthcare providers. Pretty cool!
Opinions Are Opinions, Facts Are Facts
When it comes to diet and nutrition, people tend to have very strong opinions, though relatively few people really know why they believe the things they believe. I’ve certainly been in this category myself. I’ve been vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, you name it, and I had plenty of opinions which masqueraded for facts along the way.
Before learning all the ins and outs of the information contained in this series of posts, I was gaining weight that was getting hard to drop. I did my best to manage it with exercise, but when you’re becoming insulin resistant, it’s darn near impossible to burn your body fat as fuel. Exercise only makes you hungrier, and because you’re insulin resistant you crave carbs, and the exercise doesn’t wind up solving the underlying issues, and you don’t lose much weight. I’ve since developed the opposite problem, which I’ll take any day of the week: I now have a hard time keep weight on. And trust me when I say I don’t starve myself, because that’s a silly way to live.
By eating the right combination of macronutrients, I’ve learned how to tap into the fat stores in my body so my cells can use it as fuel. I’m kind of a freak about what I eat and don’t eat, but when I exist on grass fed beef, pasture-raised eggs, bacon, raw cream, raw grass fed cheeses and such every day…all the while healing the underlying health issues we’ve been learning about…and having even less body fat than when I was into triathlons and mountain biking…let’s just say that I don’t miss the carbs.
Back in the stone age when I began wondering what the heck to eat, the internet didn’t exist, meat was evil and dangerous, and I did what everyone who was trying to be healthy did back then: I lived on carrot juice, believed that being vegan was the way to go, did my best with food combining to get enough protein (which never, ever worked) and made bread every week—the bread I made was so dense that my classmates in chiropractic college used a loaf of it to prop a door open one day, and from then on it was affectionately known as “doorstop”.
And after 10 years of eating that way, I was…sore. I was skinny. And I longed for a big, juicy steak. I mean I craved it. Looking back, I sowed the seeds of fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome and impaired cellular metabolism, not to mention starving myself of macro and micronutrients alike.
Back in the day when I was fumbling around in the dark for dietary nirvana, the information I’ve contained in this blog was nowhere to be found. Grass fed beef and dairy products weren’t the rage, and it was darned hard to know fact from fiction. Fast forward 25 years, and there’s a wealth of information out there in the scientific literature, and anyone can dig through it and see for themselves what it’s all about.
All this information is a dream come true for a geek like me, and all the hours I’ve spent geeking out in the scientific literature has made it abundantly clear that:
- Once you’re insulin resistant, once you’ve developed fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome, once you’ve put on weight you can’t lose and have other health issues, it’s impossible to get out of where you’re at without restricting or even eliminating carbohydrates entirely from your diet.
It’s a brave new world today, and we don’t have to take things on opinion. I know all about the opinions we have about our diets that pretend to be well-reasoned facts; I know this because I once had them, too.
The Image That Forms When All The Puzzle Pieces Are In Place
Goodbye Carbs, Hello Fat (And Moderate Protein, Too)
The title of this section sums up one of the most important things I’ve learned over the last 25 years of tinkering with various dietary approaches: ditch the carbs and praise the lard. This series of posts is already way too long, so I’ll do my best to cover the basics of which macronutrients to eat while keeping it as brief as possible, but there’s still a huge amount of territory to cover.
How Much Of Which Macronutrients To Eat
I’ve belabored the point about which macronutrients to eat and which to avoid, so let’s jump right into how you go about reorganizing your macronutrient intake.
Here’s a really good guide that’ll get you quite a ways down the road: get about 80% of your calories from fat and the rest from protein. Limit your carbohydrate intake to 20 grams per day, and don’t eat those carbs at once. Spread them throughout the day. Spread your protein and fat intake over the course of your day as well. You don’t have to decrease you overall caloric intake, you’re just going to be eating fat and protein instead.
If you’re in the process of switching over to a very low carb or a no carb diet, beware the temptation to overeat. Fatty foods contain a lot of calories, and you won’t need to eat as much quantity as before to get the same amount of calories. An avocado has 230 calories, 1/2 pound of grass fed beef has 430 calories, a large egg has about 80 calories, and a tablespoon of grass fed butter has 100 calories. In other words, fatty foods pack a punch, and you may feel like you’re eating a lot less than before, even though you’re getting the same amount of calories.
Get Your Fat And Protein From Natural Sources
Things like grass fed beef, pasture-raised eggs and bacon contain more fat than protein. Other sources of high-quality fats are grass fed butter, raw cream and avocados. Knowing a “good” fat from a “bad” one is an entire post in and of itself, so I’ll just stay with the basics for now. As we’ve learned, knowing exactly what to eat is pretty serious business, and the consequences are serious, too. The overarching point here is eat in a very specific way so as to heal your underlying metabolic issues, fatty liver disease, insulin resistance and optimize your cellular metabolism.
With this in mind, here’s an otherworldly important point to keep in mind: food is medicine. Only in this case, we’re learning to use food in such a way that it’s not poison, which medicines are by definition: poison. In other words, food is one of the true medicines necessary for life.
One of the things I hear a lot when people begin to switch to a high-fat low-carb diet is their lamenting all the things they’re going to have to “give up.” While I’m understanding of this predicament, I’m far more interested in having you give up metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease and insulin resistance. Once you’ve retrained your tastebuds, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to give up the things you once associated with pleasure that were nothing more than poisons you used to keep yourself sick.
Ketogenesis: What Happens When You Finally Kick The Carbs
We’re finally at the point I’ve been driving toward since the beginning of this series of posts: ketogenesis. Many have heard of it, but surprisingly few really know what it is. Furthermore, there’s a great deal of misunderstanding in the medical community (and the alternative community too) about ketogenesis. It’s not bad, it’s not harmful, and ketogenesis won’t turn you into a zombie or Dracula or anything like that. What it will do is solve your health and weight issues, and that’s why I’m such a big fan of it.
What is ketogenesis? Breaking the word down, ketogenesis is the creation (genesis) of ketones. What are ketones? They’re…wait a minute. Before I tell you what they are, I’ve got to tie this into insulin. Yep, our old nemesis, insulin. So long as insulin levels remain high, your body, specifically your liver, can’t manufacture many ketones. Once again, we see the deleterious effects of insulin resistance on our health. The connection between ketogenesis and insulin is a vital one, and it’s one we’ll come back to after we introduce a little more information.
Ketones are a fuel source manufactured by the liver. Remember how I described that the liver produces blood sugar & how hyperinsulinemia (too much dastardly insulin) shuts this process down? Well the liver also produces ketones, which are derived from fats via a process known as beta oxidation. It’s pretty complicated stuff, and we’ll keep it simple at this point.
Here’s the deal: when you were born, you were in ketosis, meaning that the cells in your body were eating ketones for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Darn near every cell in your body can eat ketones instead of glucose. In fact, they’d prefer to eat ketones because it’s a more efficient fuel source for them to metabolize, i.e., convert into energy.
Ketones are cool. They’re your friend, and you can make them. Specifically, your liver can make them once you do a few things:
- Lower your insulin levels
- Stop eating carbs
When this happens, your liver naturally begins producing them. As your liver produces more and more of them and less and less blood sugar, your muscles and fat cells begin taking up ketones as fuel, and they do so preferentially over glucose. In other words, given the choice, your cells will upregulate their ketone receptors and burn ketones for fuel rather than glucose. Congratulations, you’ve just taken an enormous step toward optimizing your cellular metabolism: you’re providing your cells with their preferred fuel. Extremely cool!
As your body adapts to burning ketones, more and more cells convert to using ketones for fuel, including large portions of your brain. And when this happens, there’s this groovy sort of clarity that happens. I’ve read far too much scientific literature on ketogenesis and ketoadaptation, and they don’t use words like groovy and cool, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence from those who’ve switched to ketogenesis to suggest an improvement in mental clarity when you ditch the carbs and praise the lard. And that’s groovy and cool.
I’m leaving out large sections of real estate about ketogenesis, and I’m doing so on purpose. Again, I’ve laboriously laid down the rationale as to why you’d want to make the leap to ketoadaptation, which is to heal our underlying health issues and make it possible to once and for all manage our weight. These are unspeakably huge benefits, which makes it surprising that ketogenesis is still a relative unknown in both the conventional and alternative worlds. Be that as it may, ketogenesis solves a great many problems and creates none in the process, something that’s both refreshing and almost unheard of.
It all comes down to very, very careful macronutrient selection. I’m off-the-charts persnickety about teaching my clients exactly how much fat and protein to eat in order to optimize their cellular metabolism and how to heal their insulin resistance, fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome. I’m giving you a pretty good overview of the process, but keep in mind that converting to ketogenesis takes place in phases, and it takes between several months to a few years to fully accomplish.
Why Becoming Ketoadapted Is A Process
Remember our old friend insulin? You can only become as ketoadapted as your insulin levels will allow; the lower your insulin levels become, the greater your capacity for ketoadaptation. What is ketoadaptation? It’s when an ever-increasing number of your cells learn to rely on ketones as their source of fuel instead of glucose. It’s when your liver learns to produce ketones and blood sugar in the exact right amounts. It’s when you learn exactly what to and what not to eat to maintain a state of ketoadaptation.
I’m going to stress that this is a process, not an event. It requires patience and a lot of willingness. You have to listen to your body and learn to interpret what it’s telling you. You have to become a big participant in the process and be openminded along the way because remaining in ketosis will require modifications along the way.
One more enormously important point: once you convert to a diet containing less than 20g of carbs per day, do not delude yourself into thinking that it’s okay to just have carbs every now and then and it’ll be okay. It won’t be okay, and you’ll blow yourself up if you do. There are exceptions to this rule, but the only real exception comes into play when you’re an endurance athlete and you’re already requiring 3,500 + calories a day to maintain your weight. And even if that is you, splurging on a piece of cake or a stack of pancakes will send your blood sugar through the stratosphere once your body adapts to not using carbs for fuel.
Why? This is such a critical point: when you cut carbs from your diet, your insulin level drops! And I mean your insulin level will really, really drop. And when it does, all of your underlying health issues can begin to heal, because high insulin levels are associated with all of them. And if your insulin levels are low and you throw a 50 gram sugar bomb into your stomach, your body won’t be able to make enough insulin to clear your blood sugar, and you’ll wind up with sky high blood sugar that will have to be converted into the very fat that you’re trying to lose. So once you make the switch, take it seriously or you’ll end up with the same problems you’re solving.
Summing It All Up
I began these post by stating that focusing on weight loss never works, because it doesn’t address the underlying health issues which cause weight gain in the first place. Rather than just shortcutting right to the solution, I instead wanted to paint the entire picture for you and introduce all the characters to allow you to fully appreciate the following points:
- The overweight/healthcare problem is way bigger than you think it is
- The solution is readily available
- The solution is surprisingly easy
- The solution is buried beneath an avalanche of misinformation
- 70% of Americans are either overweight or obese
- Weight and health issues are preventable
- Losing weight means dealing with underlying health issues
- Losing weight requires healing NAFLD, MS & insulin resistance
- Losing weight means changing your macronutrient intake
- Changing your macronutrient intake can heal NAFLD and MS
- Being chronically overweight predisposes us to every disease there is
- Losing weight without addressing underlying issues is next to impossible
- You don’t have to be overweight to have NAFLD and MS
- NAFLD, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance are enormous health issues that are synonymous with weight issues. If you can’t lose weight, you’re dealing with NAFLD, MS & insulin resistance
- NAFLD is indistinguishable from alcohol-induced liver damage: it’s serious damage
- NAFLD & MS are associated with hypothyroidism, diabetes, cancer, etc
- NAFLD & metabolic syndrome will bankrupt healthcare delivery systems
- Hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin) has to be dealt with to work through your underlying health issues
- Healing your underlying health issues means optimizing cellular metabolism
- Becoming ketoadapted optimizes your cellular metabolism
- We’ve been educated and marketed to our entire lives to accept a poisonous diet: dietary guidelines are propaganda for themselves
- Mixing fat, protein and carbs together is disaster in the making
- Stress is a major contributor to all these conditions, a point I’ll explore in detail in coming posts
- The world has been trained to eat carbohydrates with every meal by special interest groups that dictate nutritional policy. Dietary guidelines continue to be manipulated for monetary gain. An essential part of regaining health and losing weight is re-educating ourselves about the macronutrients we consume. It’s crucial to ingest only the essential macronutrients on an as-needed basis
Regardless of what anyone tells you, the facts are the facts: as long as what you eat contributes to NAFLD, MS and insulin resistance, your underlying health issues will continually worsen and losing weight remains impossible. To finally lose weight, you have to heal fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.
To read Part II of this series, click here.
If you’d like to chat with me about your health, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org