Over the last few months I’ve been diving hard into the subject matter of diet and obesity rates. I am intrigued to figure out exactly how America and the world, for that matter, have become so overweight and obese over the last 100 years. My goal here is to make you hungry for answers just as I am. I want to present you facts about ketosis and fasting and let you make your own decision based on what science says.
Recently, I came across a documentary on Netflix and it was pretty eye-opening on several topics for me. From start to finish What’s With Wheat? clearly shows how several factors are effecting our health by directly affecting our food sources globally.
Two Quick Takeaways from WHAT’S WITH WHEAT?
1.) The chemicals being sprayed on our crops and/or GMOs are creating positions where regardless if you are ingesting the crop, itself, you are probably eating it through a secondary source. Example, for dinner you have a hamburger on whole wheat with lettuce and tomato with a side salad. If these crops and meat are not organic, then you’ve just possibly eaten a ton of GMOs and possible “bug killer” pesticide. Even if you go all meat and it’s not organic, the animal was most likely fed some sort of grain before it was turned into meat. What type of grain do you think they feed them? You guessed it!
2.) In the mid 1900’s things like cereal and bread started to become mass produced and processed. The original intention was to help the average person get the correct amount of caloric content he or she needed for the day because at this time not many people were. This is also why these substances are fortified with vitamins and minerals. Over the next several decades, everything from faulty publications to a Food Pyramid which was not actually based on any science at the time shaped our diet into what it is now.
What does this have to do with Ketosis and Fasting? For me, it has everything to do with the subject. If you look back 100 years ago and think what was the typical breakfast of lunch for someone? Now flash to today. What are the major differences you see? Where were the sources of these foods coming from? I think a big answer comes directly from the actual source. There has to have been some sort change in the plants, themselves, causing a disruption in our bodies. Is it chemical based or because scientist have genetically modified them? I’d probably say so.
You also, can’t ignore the abundance of food factor. Every corner is filled with food and drink options that know our weakness — tons of carbohydrates usually in the form of sugar or deep fried in things we shouldn’t be ingesting for the most part. Every time we listen to Pandora, watch YouTube, or turn on the TV, we are constantly being reminded we should be eating or drinking something. Think about it. When’s the last time you went to the movies or watched one at home and didn’t have popcorn or something else to eat or drink? Probably not that often.
We have been led to believe we should be constantly eating. Even in the fitness world it is common knowledge to eat every 3-4 hours to “speed up” metabolism BUT, we now know this to be untrue and doesn’t happen. Just logically think if you are constantly feeding yourself, how does you’re body have time to digest and use the food as fuel. More often then not we end up eating more than we should and the excess food we have eaten becomes stored as fat on our bodies.
WHAT IS KETOSIS?
Ketosis is simply switching your body’s primary source of energy, which is glucose (sugar), to a secondary source of utilizing fat. Fat is stored in adipose tissue and when needed to be mobilized, the triglyceride molecule is broken down into glycerol and free fatty acids in the liver. The breakdown of these fatty acid molecules produces 3 ketone bodies which then can be used for energy by the body, especially the brain. If you are interested in learning more or nerding out on ketosis, read the full article from Dr. Axe.
Putting your body into ketosis allows you to used stored fat as fuel. So, if you have a few extra pounds to lose and really want to lose stored fat, then this may be a viable option for you. Mainstream fitness says you need to lower calories and increase exercise. While simple math can let you figure out calories in should be less than calories out, the problem with this can be several factors. Lowering calories to low for daily caloric expenditure, exercising excessively, and/or maintaining this intense lifestyle once you’ve lost the weight, can be some of the many problems people face.
So, what are the real benefits from a ketogenic lifestyle?
- Weight loss
- Decreased risk for some chronic diseases (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s)
- Increase energy and metal clarity
- Decrease appetite and cravings
- Improvements in blood sugar and heart health
Some studies have even shown promising results using a ketogenic diet to treat certain diseases like seizures in children and neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease in adults. Recent research has also begun using a this type of diet for cancer patients. In theory, fasting and ketones production starve the cancer cells and weaken them. A study by the University of North Carolina compares caloric restriction to fasting and the effect on caner cells. They stated the answers may be found in the specific type of cancers or the stage of the cancer itself for which protocol may be better.
HOW DOES FASTING HELP?
If you are on a ketogenic diet then you’ve probably herd of intermittent fasting or fasting in general. To get to the point fasting is a period of time in which you are not consuming anything other than water for your body to digest. Some people are a little more lenient with this and allow you to have plain caffein in the form of coffee or tea. Others use Bullet Proof coffee to combat their hunger during a fast by adding things like coconut oil.
When I first started fasting, I used the bullet proof coffee method all the time. Only after thinking on it and doing more research did it become clear, I wasn’t really fasting. Once you take in any other substance other than water you have broke your fast for the day. You’re body isn’t repairing itself anymore at this point because now you have made it start breaking down another substance for fuel again. The point of fasting is to allow your body time to to heal and repair. During the fasted state, your organs are allowed to recover and your digestion system can do others things vs. breaking down the food you are eating every few hours.
If you read last weeks post (Part 1) then you found out what happens to the body as you start to fast. Tinsley et al. found that even with time restricted eating (TRE), the TRE group ate few calories than the non-restricted group and found “No significant changes in body weight or total body composition (i.e. lean soft tissue and body fat) were detected in either group.” The went on to say their study showed strength and endurance increased in both groups, which includes the TRE group.
What is Optimal?
Instead of drowning out the details I will simply say, what is optimal for you is what’s best. To be an actual state of ketosis is dependent on several factors:
- Low carbohydrate intake – as few as 20g/day on some protocols but if your an athlete or highly active this number could be up in the 100s.
- Moderate protein intake – for the same reason if you eat to many carbs, eating to much protein on this diet takes away from the fat sources being utilized.
- High Fats – all the good fats and not as much bacon as you want but things like avocados, coconut oil, and salmon.
- Hormones – if fasting correctly can allow them to correct themselves but can also cause problems especially with insulin levels.
Optimal fasting is a little different but most agree a standard 14 or 16 hour fast and a 10 or 8 hour feeding window, respectively is great. We try and fit all of our food between 11:30am-7:30pm and then start our fast after through sleep and the early morning. Some people switch up from day to day and fast shorter one day and longer others and even add in 24 hour fasts or more 1-2x/month. I have yet to do a 24 hour fast but plan to try one next Saturday, wish me luck.
For the most part you will need to start small with the fasting windows and then add time over time. You may get hunger pains or feel fatigued etc. A key factor to remember is mitochondrial repair doesn’t seem to start really taking affect until after hour 12 so, fasting past this point can be beneficial to 14, 16 or however long you are choosing. Two fantastic recommendations here for fasting are Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s (on The Tim Ferris Show) and Dr. Jason Fung’s (on Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast) podcast links to shows where they specificically speak about fasting and ketosis.
REASONS FOR CONCERNS?
If you have any disorders or diseases like diabetes, you should ABSOLUTELY speak with a health care professional before attempting any new diet or fasting protocol. Serious issues can arise and you need to be under the supervision of a health care professional. If they are familiar with what you are trying to accomplish then find someone who is further qualified.
Side effects of Ketosis: from Dr. Axe
- Feeling tired and having low energy despite sleeping well
- Having trouble sleeping
- Increased cravings, especially for carbs or sugar
- Digestive issues like constipation or bloating due to water retention (especially after higher carb days)
- Feeling weaker during workouts and not recovering well
- Being more moody or irritable
- Losing libido
- Bad breath
The standard term is the “Keto Flu” pertaining to the symptoms above. They can start anytime after the diet changes occur and can become problematic. These symptoms could be coming from carbohydrate withdraw or something more serious so, always use cation. Entering into a ketogenic state can take anywhere from hours to weeks.
*Valuable note here is also to explain the lymphatic system and ducts plays a huge role in this whole process to mobilize fat to the blood stream so they can be broken down. Dr. John Douillard has some great ways to help your lymphatic system on his site!
The point of this is just to make you aware of all the factors we are subjected to each day. Also, I wanted to make you aware of the notion, JUST because something is considered normal today, doesn’t mean it’s 100% accurate for us or our bodies. You have to think, read labels and research for yourself. A big benefit to fasting and/or ketosis can be a decreased appetite from hunger hormone regulation and/or a better satisfaction feeling from eating full fats because you usually don’t feel hungry as often. This can then decrease the amount of calories you eat per day which is great if you are wanting to lose weight.
If you noticed I didn’t include any exact numbers for specific ketone levels. This is because everyone is different and your optimal ketone bodies level can be very different than ours. I didn’t want to get to scientific or get lost in the details, but instead, make you aware of other options that are out there to the problems you may be facing. Changing your lifestyle shouldn’t be something done a whim but instead, do your homework and really see what would be required.
If you think you want to try a ketogenic type diet or simply fasting in general, always check with a qualified professional first, especially if you are on any medication or have any health issues. Tracking your diet becomes key to make sure you are maintaining a proper ketone body levels. To high or to low of a number can cause severe problems.
WHAT TO DO NOW?
Go to pubmed.com and enter in ketosis, intermittent fasting, or anything else you are curious about. This has thousands of articles waiting to be read. If not, at least do a google search and check out some reputable sites. I love Dr. Axe and lifespa.com for actual information and real science. Each diet, lifestyle, or exercise routine isn’t a one size fits all and don’t let anyone tell you different. Do your homework and then let us know what you think!
Leave a comment so we can chat it up. If you have questions we’d be happy to answer them or if nothing else get you in touch with someone who can!
Have a great weekend everyone.