The Ketogenic Diet and Obesity

What if we’ve been looking at Obesity from the wrong angle?

 Is Keto the “Cure” for Obesity?

The fat stigma is so entrenched in our society that many obese people actually start believing they are inferior to others, that they somehow are not worthy of having a healthy looking body. Many blame themselves for being overweight and even give up trying to lose it.

Many are stuck in a cycle of Yo-Yo dieting and lose weight, only to gain it right back. There are also those that are in denial and blame it on things like injuries or genetics. 

Most are stuck in an endless cycle of procrastination, they’ll start dieting next week, or next month as soon as this or that next life event is over. Do we ever consider why it’s so hard for an obese person to reverse his obesity?

We need to rethink how we think of obesity and quit blaming the individual. 

Most people aren’t fat because they don’t have the discipline or are mentally weak. Most just don’t have the knowledge and were never taught as kids how to eat. Many have or had obese parents and are constantly exposed to poor eating habits and most don’t understand how to properly control their blood sugar. 

Most obese individuals have lived most of their life eating unhealthy processed foods.

Let’s put the blame where it belongs. It’s all about the blood sugar (glucose) insulin connection. Sucrose, glucose, fructose, dextrose just to name a few, are similar to many other high glycemic carbohydrates, they are all just forms of sugar and all raise your blood sugar. When your blood sugar becomes elevated, your pancreas releases insulin to utilize that sugar. 

Without insulin, the sugar would quickly poison the body. Type 1 diabetics must inject insulin into their bodies because their pancreas doesn’t produce it. If they don’t they will die from sugar toxicity. 

“When we have a “cheat day” we can quickly get back into ketosis again when we learn to use fat as energy and become keto-adapted.” 

A person that has a functioning pancreas, that eats a high sugar/carbohydrate diet, has a pancreas that must produce excess insulin. That excess insulin over time begins to do damage to the body. The body develops resistance to that insulin and it doesn’t work as efficiently as it should. 

So to compensate the pancreas has to excrete even more insulin and then the cells get even more resistant. It’s a vicious cycle and the only way to reverse it is to reduce the amount of sugar and carbohydrates that you are putting into your body.

It’s the rise and fall of blood sugar that makes us “mentally” unable to stick to a diet.

Sometimes we just can’t control our cravings, and these cravings are real, just like a drug addict that can’t control his addiction. Our blood sugar drops lower than what we are accustomed to, and we actually feel like we really “need” to eat.

 Some, even young, seemingly healthy people actually feel weak and get the shakes in between meals or when they miss a meal.  This is a sign of “metabolic inflexibility” and a marker that could develop into “metabolic syndrome,” then “prediabetes”, and then full-blown “type 2 diabetes.”

keto-and-obesity

So bear with me a minute while I get into the science behind it. The role of mitochondria is to produce the energy (ATP) currency of the cell and to regulate cellular metabolism. The mitochondria primarily use either glucose or ketones for energy. 

Glucose is made from the digestion of ingested carbohydrates, and ketones are made from the breakdown of fatty acids. Your cells need a constant source of carbohydrate/glucose to sustain energy levels, but Ketones can be made from either the fat you ingest or the fat you already have stored, and ketones can be a source of energy also. 

Your body will always use glucose if present before it will break down fat into ketones. Our body has evolved to have that fat preservation function built into it from ancient times. 

In times of fast and famine, our body wants to have a source of energy in reserve so we wouldn’t starve to death. That fat preservation function that kept the human species from going extinct, is unfortunately now making us fat and sick. 

 Why are so many people obese today?

We have lost the ability to use fat as energy!

Here lies the problem, most of us have lost the ability to use fat as energy because we have never lowered our glucose levels enough to force the body to start breaking down fat into ketones to use as energy. This phenomenon is called metabolic inflexibility. Just like anything, if you don’t use it, you lose it. 

So after a workout or when you miss a meal your blood sugar gets low and the metabolically inflexible become hungry, shaky, weak, jittery and even irritable. It’s no coincidence that this year the word “hangry” was added to the Webster’s dictionary. 

Being metabolically inflexible means our mitochondria have never developed the ability to use fat as fuel, so we just can’t cope without a constant source of dietary glucose. 

There’s light at the end of the tunnel, however.

The beauty of the human body is that it is very adaptable and in most cases can heal itself. Our mitochondria can be taught to use fat as energy again. The human race evolved using fat as fuel. 

When your mitochondria adapt to using fat as fuel then it’s very easy to sustain healthy eating because your body can either utilize dietary fat as fuel or when that gets low can easily tap into your stored fat and use that as fuel. 

This is called being metabolically flexible, your mitochondria can seamlessly switch between fat and glucose and you have almost unlimited energy and far fewer cravings with the feeling that you “need” to eat. 

When we can quickly and easily use our own fat as fuel we have developed fat adaptation, or we have become Keto-Adapted.

Depending on our level of mitochondrial dysfunction (metabolic inflexibility), we can adapt our mitochondria in a fairly short time from between 3-6 weeks by simply intermittent fasting and drastically lowering our intake of carbohydrates while raising our ingestion of healthy fats.

As your body gets accustomed to using fat as energy, it gets easier and easier.

Consider these findings from a Yale study that discovered mitochondria adapt their function in response to sugar: “We found that when sugar increases in the body, mitochondria in some brain neurons rapidly change their shape and their function is altered. 

These findings imply that alterations in this mechanism may contribute to the development of metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, in which the body is not able to clear high levels of sugar from the blood.”  

Keto-ribeye-steak

For mitochondrial health, the answer appears to become fat-adapted and minimize our sugar intake. The reality is we should utilize for energy as little sugar as possible over a lifetime as possible.

 The Keto Diet can reverse obesity

I’ve done extensive research into this topic and I was very skeptical myself until I actually tried it and I can attest it actually works very well. The metabolic changes that happen to your body when your mitochondria can efficiently use fat as energy is miraculous, our body is much more adaptable than what people think. 

The science is there, here is a link on PubMed to a scientific study titled, “Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients

Here is the conclusion of the study:

“The data presented in the study showed that a ketogenic diet acted as a natural therapy for weight reduction in obese patients. 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.”

Over 300,000 people die every year from obesity-related diseases!

We can’t change the past, but we are in charge of our own future. 

So don’t get down on yourself, if you’re overweight forget about the past and make a commitment to change your life. Here are 12 steps to get started on a Ketogenic Diet. If you carry a healthy weight and are not obese, don’t blame the obese, it’s really not their fault. 

There is a lot more going on here than just lack of self-control. We are all fighting human evolution and the fact that the standard American diet is much too high in sugar and starches. 

We have to be more supportive and not be scared to have the conversation. We need to be less worried about offending someone and more worried about saving someone’s life. 

We have to work together to end the obesity epidemic. If you want moral support or looking for more knowledge or even Keto recipes head over to the Ketogenicinfo Facebook page with any questions, comments or concerns you might have.

Robert N. Bryant
Ketogenicinfo
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