Just before we were to leave the house to spend the weekend with our in-laws my wife got a phone call from one of her sisters. The purpose of the call? To make sure that we were bringing the correct food items for our small gathering.
We had everything on the list but before my wife hung up the phone, she asked, “What about you?” And then, “With your special diet,” she clarified.
“I’m not on a special diet,” I shot back. “They are.” I said. “I am eating the same diet that humans have been eating for 2.5 million years.”
My wife laughed and repeated what I had said into the phone. My family, it seemed, were amused.
But seriously, folks!
It’s time to call the Standard American Diet (SAD) for what it is: a metabolic nightmare, a diabetic and obesity phenomenon. The SAD, high in carbohydrates, has driven a world wide epidemic in diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Based on a recent study only about 12% of the US population is metabolically healthy.
And yet, when I talk about the benefits of the keto diet in public—namely that the low carb diet heals chronic disease—the push back usually includes the following six reasons why people tell me the diet is not safe, or at least, a risk in some fundamental way:
- Carbs are essential in humans. We can’t live without them!
- Cholesterol will kill you!
- We need fruit for “good” carbs and vitamins!
- All that fat makes you fat!
- The keto diet is bland and redundant!
- Keto has too much meat in it!
Meanwhile the carboholics lather on the sugar, pile drive the carb heavy oats, shovel down cakes, cookies, ice cream, rice, potatoes, bananas, apples, bread, fries, and on-and-on.
Everyday they crush the carbs and peg their insulin through the roof. Year-after-year their weight increases, the diabetes epidemic soars and cardiovascular disease wraps its cold fingers around the hearts of about half of our population.
It’s the fat they say!
It’s the lack of exercise they say!
And they pile on the carbs while their triglycerides rise and the HDL goes down and the doctor says, “No worries. Just eat better and walk more.” Then come the statins and stents and not long down the road the insulin and/or other meds while they hammer another piece of their favorite pie—the SAD; a truly special diet.
So let’s set the record straight about the low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet called the keto diet—I offer a rebuttal for each of the six complaints listed above:
- Carbohydrates are NOT essential nutrients. Our bodies make them just fine.
- Cholesterol does not cause heart disease. The science actually exonerated cholesterol a while ago.
- We don’t need fruit for carbs—again, for the record: carbs are not essential; Additionally, there is no such thing as good carbs or bad carbs. When broken down they all raise blood sugar and insulin and should be restricted because high insulin drives chronic disease. Lastly, high quality, nutrient dense meats have plenty of minerals and vitamins—we don’t need fruit for that.
- Fat doesn’t make you fat! Carbs do! Carbs raise insulin and insulin is the primary driver of fat storage.
- The keto diet is diverse, rich, and highly satiating.
- The keto diet has the same amount of meat as the SAD. We are NOT overeating protein.
Now that we have stripped away the common myths concerning the keto diet let us consider the reasons why you should eat low carb:
One reason is to achieve optimum body weight and composition. This happens because you satiate early in the meal because protein and fat are highly satiating and you stop eating earlier than you would if you were eating a high carb meal—so you do not overeat calories. This happens because insulin has been lowered and the hunger/satiation hormones are working properly.
I should emphasize that this process of weight loss happens without the nagging hunger issues of a true calorie restricted diet. Low carb people typically lose about 12% of their body weight in the first year on the keto diet. I lost about thirty pounds during my first year in the lifestyle.
You have more energy on the low carb diet. No more post-meal fatigue—you know what I mean, right? That overwhelming urge to sleep after lunch. The late afternoon feeling that there is a cliff between you and whatever needs doing. Say good buy to fatigue because in the keto lifestyle you feel great throughout the day. No more hitting the wall—it just doesn’t happen on the keto diet.
And inflammation? Joint pain? Nope! Most of that business disappears within weeks of changing to the low carb lifestyle. Overall fitness improves with faster recovery after exercise and better performance no matter the activity.
Think about this: The human body can store about 2000 calories of carbs (glycogen) in contrast to between 20,000-40,000 calories (depends on body composition) in fat calories. And get this, the carboholics can only access their carb calories (fat to a small extent) because of the high insulin which is a powerful inhibitor of fat metabolism.
In contrast, if you are keto-adapted you have access to a much larger gas tank—all 20,000-40,000 calories in addition to the partitioned use of the glycogen tank—keto adapted athletes are glucose sparing because of the increased efficiency in their fat burning capabilities.
And last, but definitely not least, the low carb lifestyle improves your metabolic health. The keto diet has been shown to reverse diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease—yea, that’s a fact!
What more could you want?
A body to kill for! Energy and vitality! No more inflammation or joint pain! And to top it all off, no chronic disease!
Yea! I’ll take that any day over the SAD!
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