A month or so ago, I started writing about the ketogenic diet and how, mind-boggling as it is, people – including me – are losing weight on it.
Well, here is an in depth analysis of how the Keto diet works.
Table of Contents
How long can we last without food and water?
It’s a question that has been asked many times over.
We all know that if we totally stop eating, our body gets energy from somewhere.
- It starts getting its energy from the carbs you have stored.
- Then when there are no more carbs, it gets its energy from fat.
- When all these reserves are gone, it gets the protein.
Having water to drink will help increase your chance to survive, until food is available again.
Food is fuel, not a reward.
The point of this information is to get you to start thinking that food is fuel, not a reward for a job well done or something that you turn to when you are upset about something.
When you eat based on what you are feeling, you are doing a tremendous harm to yourself.
How does our body use food?
When we get down to the basics of how your body works and what drives it, we need to start at the cellular level to have a good idea of how that works.
The cells in your body need a constant source of energy unlike a car which requires gas to be fuel injected to operate.
If you don’t use your car for days, it is fine until its next startup.
On the other hand, your body is different.
No matter what you are doing- sleeping, watching TV, posting on Facebook, reading this post – your body is constantly creating energy for your cells! Creating energy requires a combination of carbs, proteins and fats.
I repeat. Your body needs a combination or a ratio of carbs, proteins, and fats. Experts claim that trying to exist on one nutrient alone can put your body into shock. That is why consulting a doctor to make sure the keto plan is right for you based on your medical history is very important.
Are you drinking too much water?
Studies change what we believe all the time. Some studies say that one glass of red wine before bed helps with heart health. Other studies say otherwise. One thing is true, though. Drinking coffee and alcoholic beverages in moderation is most beneficial.
Now, studies day that even water intake can be overdone.
Seriously? They say that flooding the body with water by drinking constantly from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed might damage your body. Your body will not have a chance to absorb and use the water. In other words, you are literally overfilling your cells with water.
It’s much better to look at how much you weigh.
Do you sweat a large amount water out through vigorous exercise? It’s true, if you are not doing something like high intensity workouts or extreme martial arts, you don’t need as much water intake, as someone who is losing vast amounts during their workouts.
You can get water from water-rich plants and vegetables, especially great if your source of water is unavailable. Mix it up and find the right balance for you.
Say no to soda pops and energy drinks.
When it comes to soda pop or energy drinks, you are only damaging your body with sugar and other added ingredients. Everyone knows that soda pops contain high levels of sugar which in turn packs on the type of fat that is not good for you.
And oh, did I mention energy drinks? Well, you can mess up your body system with energy drinks. This is because of caffeine and caffeine-like substances – which can be more harmful – give you that certain energy high.
Sadly, that energy high can be too much for the heart and a trip to the ER is not out of the question.There have been cases of people who consumed 2 to 3 cans of an energy drink, one right after the other that sent their heart rate spiking.
If you are big into toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and pasta for dinner, then carbohydrates are huge in your fuel intake!
Carbs and how long we have been eating them, are a hot topic.
Many people who believe in the paleo diet, say our ancestors did not eat carbs.
Others believe, that in order for our ancestor’s brains to have developed as they did, carbs would have definitely been part of the process. The brain needed the glucose from carbohydrates, in order to develop into the supercomputer, it is today.
The debate will rage on. The brain does not run on glucose only and can obtain what it does need from fats. One only needs to look at the diet of the Inuit’s which is extremely fat based, as they eat seal meat, fish and whale meat/blubber. There are currently people other than native Inuit, that are following a very similar type of eating.
As your cells need energy, one of the first things they do is turn to the glucose that is produced by ingesting carbohydrates. In turn, once the glucose is obtained, then fat storage is turned on in the body.
Once the digestion has taken place in the stomach and the processed food is moved into the lower intestines, glucose goes through the walls of your intestine into the blood stream.
This river of blood is called the blood glucose.
You may have done a blood test before to see just how high your blood glucose is.
Here is how glucose works:
- The moment the glucose hits the blood stream, your pancreas kicks in to do its job of putting out insulin.
- The insulin’s job is to grab the sugar and help carry it to all your cells.
- They in turn process/convert it to energy.
(Those folks with insulin related issues will have blood glucose levels that are completely different than someone whose pancreas is functioning properly.)
Now, you might not realize it, but after a meal and all the processing has been done, your cells can only use so much of the glucose provided.
What happens to the “left-over ” glucose?
The cells turn around and convert the remaining glucose into glycogen.
There are two storage areas available for this glycogen:
- your muscles and
- your liver.
There is one problem, though.
The liver is not that big and has a limited storage capacity. Whatever it can store, it has to turn into triglycerides.
Triglycerides are the storage form of fat, which in its turn, goes into fat cells.
Many things occur in the body which we just don’t think about.
They happen every moment, as you sit reading this. (Don’t worry. We will get into how keto will work for you soon!)
Like ever had those moments when you ate nothing and could eat a horse?
When your blood sugar starts to drop and there is no new food going into your stomach, your body will demand energy and will rely on the glucose that is now stored in your liver and the muscles.
The glucose stored in your liver and muscles will be released for cell energy.
But when dinner time comes and you eat more carbs, you will have ready energy again. This means that the fat stored in the fat cells stays right where it is since it is not needed for energy. When this happens everyday, the fat storage builds up because it is not being burned off.
Before we get into fats, proteins, how and why keto works, it’s important to understand exactly what ketosis is.
We have learned that the carbs are the first thing that your body looks to as fuel and ultimately energy. By the way, you may be surprised to know that protein is number three and fat is number two on the fuel list.
In search for fuel,your body goes to one organ, the liver.
The liver’s job in this process is to break down the fat it has stored and then do a conversion job. It takes the fat and turns it into fatty acids. But it is not done there.
Next up, it converts the fatty acids into ketones. You may have heard this term as some health shows talk about raspberry ketone tablets as a weight loss opportunity.
When ketones are released into the blood, it is called a state of ketosis. It is not a simple process and you are basically drop-kicking your body into a fat burning state.
It does take some time to go into long term ketosis and it is possible, there may be some resistance from your body as it moves into this state.
Your body is always looking for glucose. There are two eating methods of weight loss and overall health attempts that deprive your body of glucose.
- Fasting – You are aware that people do fast for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is for weight loss or trying to rid the body of toxins. Others may be trying fasting for religious ideals or trying to become one with the body and mind.
- Low carb or no-carb diet program.
We have already talked about being in ketosis and having fatty acids produced in the body. Now it goes even further as you stay with this program. Ketone bodies called acetoacetate now form and the muscles in your body do their conversion job. They use the acetoacetate to turn it into beta-hydroxybutyrate. This is known more simply as BHB and it is the type of energy which your brain eagerly uses as energy.
Before we get into fat and its role in this whole new idea of fat burning, let’s have a quick look at protein because a lot of people have tried high protein diets for a variety of reasons.
Protein can be obtained from a variety of food sources. A large portion of the human population are carnivores. They love meat and get most of their protein from that source and a smaller amount from sources like eggs, or nuts and beans..
If you are a heavy meat eater but light on carbs, your body is already used to creating excess protein into glucose. We mention this, just so you are aware that glucose can be created from more than one source. This is important because down the road when you induce ketosis, you do not want to overeat in the meat department because the body will look to turn an excess of protein into glucose, which would interrupt the keto process and perhaps even halt it. We will discuss portions later.
Why is fat a bad word?
When the word fat gets tossed around, it is sometimes used as a negative to describe how someone may look.
We are bombarded in the print media and the internet with various meanings of body size.
Stand at any major store like Walmart while checking out and you are likely to see magazines, happily stating that this movie star has cellulite or became obese because they lost a role or a romantic partner. It lends to the negative thinking of the population, that if a movie start can be overwhelmed by stress and eat everything in sight, well perhaps it is a good enough excuse for the reader.
However, large amounts of fat on the body does not have to be permanent.
It can be burned off!
Attitudes about what a person thinks about themselves and what they choose to eat, can be changed. Being informed and making the best decision for you, is the smart way to live.
When we talk about fat in what we eat, we now know that there are good fats and bad fats.
What about low fat vs high fat diets? It’s a good chance you have heard someone say that they are trying a low-fat diet and immediately you thought that was an awesome idea. The problem is that you are stuck on the word fat.
Fat does not make you fat. Sugar is the culprit.
The bad boy of them all is white refined sugar. Even too much sugar from fruits can spike your blood sugar.
Eating too many bananas or overly ripe bananas, for example. Think back to when you ate a banana that you were just able to get the peel off. It tasted different than that spotted banana if you really put your thinking cap on. The reason it tastes different is because the starch in the banana is being converted to simple sugar as the banana gets ripe. Eating one or two of these bananas can cause a spike in blood sugar. This is not good for anyone who is pre-diabetic or has already been diagnosed as diabetic.
So, let’s run through the eating process for a moment.
Pretend you are at the mall and you pass by your favorite burger joint.
You start thinking about eating a juicy burger but start worrying about the fat content. In truth, its not the burger causing the fat storage.
The moment you started thinking about the burger, a reaction occurred in your body. It began to release insulin. In the chain reaction, the insulin sends a message for your body to store fatty acids. While walking in the mall, you’ve been using the fatty acids for energy but now that energy is being cut off and instead you are starting to feel very hungry and you need that juicy burger now to quench the hunger pangs.
Now your body goes to work breaking down the carbs and proteins. If you added cheese, you have some fat but your stomach is going be releasing a lot of different digestive juices to break everything down. You are now getting a high dose of glucose injected into your body as the digestion is finishing and your body knows it needs more insulin to take the glucose and move it from the blood stream to your cells.
This glucose will keep your body happy for awhile but usually two to three hours later, the hunger pangs kick in and the cycle starts over.
So now that you get the idea of how insulin works in the body, you need to fully understand that the more insulin that is created, then the more your body will store fat. Knock the insulin levels down and your body will respond by burning fat.
When it becomes very apparent that carbs are the number one thing that increase insulin levels in the body, then the solution becomes clear as a cloudless sky. Drastically reduce or eliminate carbs and sugars from your food intake and you will lose weight because you won’t be able to store fat. You’ll be a fat burning machine.
Mindset is a very important thing in all you do and especially in losing weight. You need to rid yourself of concepts that are wrong and understand your body and what the different fuels do. Fat is not your enemy and neither is saturated fat or cholesterol.
We all know that our bodies are water-based and some types of water are better for our brains that regular water. Mineral waters can help with brain fog for instance. Perhaps you are not aware that fat is very important to your body, in particular your brain, which is 60% fat and cholesterol.
Yikes! There is another word that has a bad rap.
Fat and Cholesterol
Cholesterol is an important part of your body, yet doctors tend to yap on about “your” cholesterol without really explaining what the issue is. But before we dive into the myths of cholesterol, we should talk about fat and cholesterol, as it pertains to the health of your body.
- Fat and cholesterol stack up a large number of the hormones in your body. These hormones have many jobs. Some regulate your metabolism, while others keep your bone and muscle mass maintained. If your bone and muscle mass start to shrink too much then you have a serious problem with strength, flexibility, and possible injury due to brittle bones for starters.
- Fat and cholesterol also assist in controlling growth and development in the body. You have organs in the body that are protected not only by muscle but fat as well, which provides a cushion when you take a fall or a hit of some sort.
Think of fat as being a nutrient, something you need to ingest, that will keep you healthy. You cannot produce or grow your own fat, you need to ingest it and convert it.
There are two very important fatty acids in the body. You may have heard of them as supplements that you buy at the health food store. But be aware that the fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 are present already and if you are eating the proper amount of fat, you will not require supplements.
Here is a cool fact about fat.
Fat helps absorb and digest nutrients. What about those vitamins from the food you eat? Yes, fat works on those as well. The vitamins A, D, E, K and the beta-carotene in your food, need fat to help absorb and digest and if you are seriously depleted of fat, then you will develop nutritional deficiencies. Think of a lot of the very early explorers of North America and the Artic. If they were unable to catch and consume animals with high fat content, they developed nutritional issues and this is confirmed by the skeletons/teeth left behind when they perished.
As we know, fat is a major source of energy which is required to function throughout the day. Carbs are the go-to source for glucose into energy with fat coming in second. After kick starting your keto program, you are going to fat as your number one source of energy and lose weight in the process.