Mounting research suggests nutritional ketosis is the answer to a long list of health problems, starting with obesity.
A ketogenic diet is one that shifts your body’s metabolic engine from burning carbohydrates to burning fats. A ketogenic diet requires that 50 to 70 percent of your food intake come from beneficial fats, such as coconut oil, grass-pastured butter, organic pastured eggs, avocado, and raw nuts such as pecans and macadamia nuts. The carbs are very very minimal so your body burns fat for energy. That means there is little sugar in your system blocking the body from utilizing fat in favor of burning sugar.
During this state, the body produces ketones, made from fats processed in the liver.
The end goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories, but through starvation of carbohydrates. Our bodies are extremely adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn ketones as the main energy source.
This metabolic state not only helps you lose weight, it provides you with many health benefits.
The 3-Week Ketogenic Diet Will Get You Into Fat-Burning Ketosis Faster and Healthier Than Any Other Keto Diet
A Ketogenic Diet Leads to Significant Weight Loss
Cutting carbs is one of the simplest and most effective ways to lose weight.
On a ketogenic diet, dietary carbohydrates are kept very low, protein is moderate and fat consumption is increased, gently encouraging our body to remember how to rely on fat as a primary fuel and to produce ketones from stored body fat.
A recent study testing the long-term effects of a ketogenic diet on obese patients found the following:
“The present study shows the beneficial effects of a long-term ketogenic diet. It significantly reduced the body weight and body mass index of the patients. Furthermore, it decreased the level of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose, and increased the level of HDL cholesterol. Administering a ketogenic diet for a relatively longer period of time did not produce any significant side effects in the patients. Therefore, the present study confirms that it is safe to use a ketogenic diet for a longer period of time than previously demonstrated.”
Cancer cells love sugar! Sugar essentially feeds tumors and encourages cancer growth. This is why a diet that gets rid of sugar and other carbohydrates can be effective in preventing or fighting cancer. The regular cells found in our bodies are able to use fat for energy, but cancer cells cannot metabolically shift to use fat.
One review published in Redox Biology highlighted some of them, indicating promising results for colon, gastric, and prostate cancers. In this paper, Dr. Eugene Fine of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine hypothesizes that ketone bodies stop cancers by changing the availability of energy processes in cancer cells. A preliminary paper from Dr. Fine’s team was published and the summary of results states that “Preliminary data demonstrate that an insulin-inhibiting diet is safe and feasible in selected patients with advanced cancer. The extent of ketosis, but not calorie deficit or weight loss, correlated with stable disease or partial remission.”
Protects your brain
The low-carb, high-fat way of eating has also been linked to helping with other neurological disorders. Research published in Behavioral Pharmacology found ketogenic diets may be effective for minimizing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, Parkinson’s patients who followed a 4-to-1 ketogenic diet experienced, on average, a 43 percent improvement in their symptoms after one month.
Studies also support the benefits of a ketegonic diet for autism. According to one article, “Autism shares some features with epilepsy, and many people with autism experience seizures related to the over-excitement of brain cells.” Research found that a majority of autistic children showed improvement after following a cyclical ketogenic diet for six months.
A High-Fat Diet May Also Lengthen Your Life
Numerous studies have shown that lowering your caloric intake may slow down aging, help prevent age-related chronic diseases, and extend your life. As you age, your levels of glucose, insulin and triglycerides tend to gradually creep upward.
A 2010 study examined the effects of a high-fat diet on typical markers of aging. Study participants were given a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet with adequate protein, and the results were health improvements across the board. Serum leptin decreased by an average of eight percent, insulin by 48 percent, fasting glucose by 40 percent, triglycerides by nearly eight percent, and free T3 (thyroid hormone) by almost six percent.
What we know now about calorie restriction is that, in animals, it reduces metabolic rate and oxidative stress, and it alters neuroendocrine and sympathetic nervous system function. We also know that calorie restriction improves insulin sensitivity, and high insulin levels accelerate aging.
Therefore, it is safe to assume that much of the longevity phenomenon can be attributed to improved insulin signaling. What this means for you is that your longevity depends more on what you eat than on how much you eat.
A Radical Ketogenic Diet Experiment
Now that you have an understanding of how important insulin is to your health and longevity, let’s take a look at Dr. Peter Attia, who presents one of the clearest examples of the effects of diet on overall health markers. Dr. Attia is a Stanford University trained physician with a passion for metabolic science, who decided to use himself as a lab rat—with incredible results.
Although Dr. Attia has always been active and fit, he did not have genetics on his side. His natural tendency was toward metabolic syndrome, in spite of being very diligent about his diet and exercise. So he decided to experiment with a ketogenic diet, to see if he could improve his overall health status. For a period of 10 years, he consumed 80 percent of his calories from fat and continuously monitored his metabolic markers, such as blood sugar levels, percent body fat, blood pressure, lipid levels and others.
He experienced improvement in every measure of health, as you can see in the table below. An MRI confirmed that he had lost not only subcutaneous fat but also visceral fat, which is the type most detrimental. His experiment demonstrates how diet can produce major changes in your body, even if you are starting out relatively fit. And if you’re starting out with a low level of fitness, then the changes you experience may be even more pronounced.
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
Dr. Attia consumed what is known as a ketogenic diet, which is one that shifts your body’s metabolic engine from burning carbohydrates to burning fats. Your cells have the metabolic flexibility to adapt from using glucose for fuel to using ketone bodies, which come from the breakdown of fats—hence the name “ketogenic.” Another term for this is nutritional ketosis. As an aside, many types of cancer cells do NOT have this adaptability and require glucose to thrive, which makes the ketogenic diet an effective therapy for combating cancer.
A ketogenic diet requires that 50 to 70 percent of your food intake come from anti-inflammatory beneficial fats, such as coconut oil, grass-pastured butter, organic pastured eggs, avocado, and raw nuts (raw pecans and macadamia nuts are particularly beneficial). One of the fastest ways to prevent nutritional ketosis is by consuming sugar or refined carbohydrates.
Besides restricting carbs and limiting protein, you can also strengthen your ketone engine with intermittent fasting, which is what Dr. Attia did. He restricted his sugar intake to about five grams per day, which is quite extreme and much lower than I recommend for most people. He consumed a moderate amount of protein, and the rest of his foods—80 percent of them—were fats. But his approach, as radical as it was, really proves that a ketogenic diet can have profound health benefits—not to mention blowing the saturated fats theory of heart disease out of the water, once again.
Before you ditch carbs forever, please be aware I believe that the low carb, low to moderate protein, high healthy fat diet is appropriate for most who are insulin or leptin resistant.
If you need to lose 20 pounds or more, I’m talking to you!
Once that resistance resolves, then it likely becomes counterproductive to maintain a low-carb approach. Once your weight, blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol normalize, you can increase your carbs.
Personally, I now consume several pieces of fruit a day, starches a few times per week, and even GLUTEN (I know, crazy) body weight, body fat percentage, and insulin resistance are all optimized.
The best way to know if you are not insulin resistant is to measure your fasting insulin level. If it is below 3 you are not likely resistant. However you can use clinical parameters that are more convenient.
If you are overweight, have high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer or abnormal cholesterol levels, it is likely that you have some element of insulin/leptin resistance going on and you would likely benefit from continuing to intermittently fast until the conditions resolve.
Your Heart LOVES Ketones
Your heart, as well as other muscles, operates quite efficiently when fueled by ketones. Your muscles can store more glucose (as glycogen) than your brain because they have an enzyme that helps them maintain their glycogen stores. But your brain lacks this enzyme, so it prefers to be fueled by glucose. When your blood glucose levels are falling, your ketone levels are typically rising, and vice versa. You might be wondering, then, how your brain is able to function when you’re in a state of ketosis.
It turns out that your body has a mechanism for providing your brain with a fuel source it CAN use when glucose is in short supply. When your glucose is low, your brain tells your liver to produce a ketone-like compound called beta-hydroxybutyrate (or beta-hydroxybutyric acid). This compound is able to fuel your brain very efficiently, especially with “practice.”
The more efficient your body is at burning fats, the more easily it can move seamlessly between its fat-burning and carbohydrate-burning engines, and the more stable your blood sugar will be. Your body will be able to save its glycogen stores for when they are critically needed, such as when you’re engaged in intense physical activity.
Strategies for Adding Years to Your Life—and Life to Your Years
A key factor in living a long, healthy life is optimizing your insulin, which increasing numbers of scientific studies are proving. But other factors are important as well. The following are my top anti-aging recommendations:
Proper Food Choices. For a complete guide about which foods to eat and which to avoid, see my comprehensive ketogenic nutrition plan. Generally speaking, you should focus your diet on whole, ideally organic, unprocessed foods that come from healthy, sustainable and preferably local sources. For the highest nutritional benefit, eat a good portion of your food raw. This type of diet will naturally optimize your insulin signaling.
Most people (although there are clearly individual differences) should strive for a diet high in healthful fats (as high as 50-70 percent of the calories you eat), moderate amounts of high-quality protein, and abundant vegetables. Non-vegetable carbohydrates should be a fairly minimal part of your diet. Sugar, and fructose in particular, can act as a toxin when consumed in excess, driving multiple disease processes in your body including insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and systemic inflammation—any of which can shorten your life.
Comprehensive Exercise Program, Including High-Intensity Exercise. Even if you’re eating the best diet in the world, you still need to exercise—and exercise effectively—if you wish to optimize your health. You should include core-strengthening exercises, strength training, and the right kind of stretching, as well as high-intensity “metabolic” type activities. Consider combining this with intermittent fasting to supercharge your metabolism.
Reduce Your Stress. Your emotional state plays a role in nearly every physical disease, from heart disease to depression to cancer, and yet it’s the factor most often neglected. Stress has a direct impact on inflammation, which underlies many of the chronic diseases that kill people prematurely every day. Meditation, prayer, and yoga are all viable options that can help you relieve stress and clear out hidden emotional blocks.
Optimize Your Vitamin D. The important factor when it comes to vitamin D is your serum level, which should ideally be between 50-70 ng/ml year-round, and the only way to determine this is with a blood test. Sun exposure or a safe tanning bed is the preferred method, but a vitamin D3 supplement can be used when necessary. Most adults need about 8,000 IUs of vitamin D per day to achieve optimal serum levels.
If you take supplemental vitamin D, you also need to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin K2, as discussed above. Fermented vegetables can be a great source of vitamin K2 if you ferment your own using the proper starter culture. Gouda and Edam cheese are also good sources.
Avoid as Many Chemicals, Toxins, and Pollutants as Possible. This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives. Avoid prescription drugs in favor of more natural approaches, whenever possible.
Are You ‘Bonking’?
The problem is that most Westerners, whose diets are typically heavy in sugars and carbs, have lost their ability to burn ketones efficiently. If this is you, then carbohydrates are ever-present and your liver can’t remember how to produce ketones because it hasn’t needed to. Your fat-burning engine has been switched off. If you eat the standard American diet, chances are you’ve lost your ability to burn body fat, despite carrying around an enormous supply of it!
I don’t say this to be mean or negative, I say that because I want to help YOU!
Dr. Attia uses the analogy of a huge petroleum truck that runs out of gas on the highway—in spite of having thousands of gallons of fuel on board, the truck can’t access it and stops dead in its tracks. When this happens in your body, he calls it “bonking.” Everyone is born with their own set of genetics that influences their metabolic tendencies. If you didn’t hit the “genetic jackpot,” then you may have to work a bit harder to restart your fat-burning engine.
How is this accomplished?
For starters, eliminating excess sugar and grains from your diet will help you “retrain” your body how to burn fat for fuel. Typically, restricting your carbohydrates to 30 or 40 grams per day, along with an appropriate amount of protein, is enough to “starve” your brain into ketosis. Exercising, particularly while fasting, is also very effective at jump starting your fat-burning engine. The more consistently you exercise, the better your body will be at using your own fat stores for energy.
In summary, when it comes to your ketogenic engine, you either “use it or lose it.” And as you saw by Dr. Attia’s results, using it can have a profound impact on your health and longevity:
How To Get Started On The Ketogenic Diet
I’ve worked with over 10,000 clients over my 11 years as a Holistic Nutritionist and I start all of them on a ketogenic friendly diet for the first 2-4 weeks, which is why I decided on 21 days for the program.
A ketogenic diet will help you:
- shed weight fast and in a healthy way, between 7-19 pounds on average
- give you more energy and dramatically reduce fatigue
- improve your mood and fight depression
- decrease inflammation and eliminate hormonal imbalances
If that doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what will!
The 3-Week Ketogenic Diet provides you with a 3-week comprehensive meal plan with over 70 keto-friendly recipes, a complete metabolic exercise plan with over 12 personal-trainer guided videos, and a motivation and accountability guide to keep you on track and measuring your progress.