Here is a little talked about, but critical issue for people aiming to reduce weight. To do so one has to burn or use up the fat stores in the body. The standard mantra (which I also have believed in the past) is a straight energy equation of calories in versus calories out. Create an energy deficit and lose weight.
Real world experience has found this to not work as well in practice than in theory. Why is this?
In simplest terms, the body is not a machine and has options as to which fuel it burns.
Keep in mind too that even a car will burn more or less fuel depending on driving conditions. This is why fuel economy varies and why how far a tank gets you is not identical.
The two main fuels for the body are fat and glucose. To be technical, the ultimate fuel of the cell is glucose. The question is how that glucose gets to the cell. Does it come from the breakdown of fat, from what we are eating or from glycogen (stored glucose)?
The body is actually designed to burn fat. In turn this liberates ketones into the blood stream. This, in turn means that being in a mild ketosis is actually a good thing. A mild state of ketosis is in no way to be confused with keto acidosis (or diabetic keto acidosis) which is a serious condition needing urgent medical care.
Yet dieticians in particular pedal the notion that ketosis is to be feared.
The other critical part is the hormone insulin. This is released from the pancreas in response to glucose or sugar entering the blood stream. Its role is to get glucose out of the blood and either into cells for usage or to the liver to be made into fat for storage. Meals with carbohydrates stimulate the most insulin production, followed by protein and then fats which stimulate very little insulin.
Insulin puts the body into fat storage mode. It is going to be difficult to burn fat when the body is actively seeking to store it rather than burn it.
As I have written may times, the increase in obesity (and type two diabetes) has paralleled the introduction and promotion of low fat dietary guidelines and the push to eat more grains. Whilst sugar is the “bad boy” grains are treated the same way by the body.
So as we have eaten more grains and cut down on dietary fats, our insulin production has increased. This leads to fat storage, and over time to insulin resistance (the body is not designed for the constant battering of insulin) and ultimately type two diabetes. This is also independent of weight gain.
The increasing popularity of low carbohydrate diets comes from the success people have with them. Whether it is Paleo, Keto, Banting, South Beach or a host of others including your own variation, they all work by putting the body into ketosis and reducing insulin and thus fat storage.
This is further supported by intermittent fasting (for as little as 12-16 hours) which also puts the body into ketosis.
These principals are all simple and fit with basic human physiology. They do not fit so well with public health ideology. Hence this approach is not only rejected by big public health – they call it dangerous. Indeed, how dare anyone improve their health by doing the opposite of what the grand pooh-bahs of public health decree is good for you.
A new study has shown that sugar control in children with Type one diabetes improved on a low carb diet. This is seen as radical. Yet in reality it makes perfect sense that less carbs will mean less glucose entering the body and possibly less need for injected insulin. This is what was found. A larger trial is now planned.
Interestingly the findings were dismissed as being observational. Yet all nutrition studies are this way including the ones on which our current problems are based.
We have endured close to four decades of what is essentially junk science. The cracks are appearing and genuine science is pushing its way through them. In a decade or so we will wonder how we ever bought the low fat mantra.
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases.