Train to Win, Eat to Lose

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Low Carbohydrate Diets and Ketosis

The other day I was advising a new client on adopting a low carbohydrate diet when she became extremely resistant to the idea because, as she said, “Eating low carbohydrate causes your body to create ketones and go into ketosis which is very dangerous”.

Unfortunately, my client is being led astray by misinformation.

Yes, when you eat less than roughly 60 grams of carbohydrates per day your body goes into ketosis, which is the process by which the body shifts from using glucose (carbohydrates) as it’s main energy source to using ketones (fat) as it’s main energy source .  By the way, fat is the body’s preferred energy source, and as Dr. Jeff Volek, PhD, RD, and Adam Campbell mention in their book, Men’s Health TNT Diet: The Explosive New Plan to Blast Fat, Build Muscle, and Get Healthy in 12 Weeks, “National Institute of Health scientist Richard Veech, MD, PhD, has found that ketones may help both your brain and heart run 25 percent more efficiently.”

Ketosis is a perfectly normal and healthy process, and ketones are not bad and are simply a by-product of fat being broken down for energy. In many instances people, and yes, even doctors (as I have seen firsthand), are scared off by low carbohydrate diets because they confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis, which is an abnormal condition seen in uncontrolled diabetes. Ketoacidosis is a serious condition.  Ketosis is, as I already said, a perfectly normal and healthy process.

There are many benefits to being in ketosis including the fact that they prevent protein in your muscles from being broken down so that you are more likely to be burning fat rather than muscle, and they suppress your appetite.

So please, don’t be scared away from low carbohydrate dieting due to misinformation.  You’ll be missing out on being a lean, mean and efficient fat burning machine.

May 30, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dispatching Another Low Carb Mis-truth

One common mis-truth that I hear in regard to switching to a low carbohydrate diet is that it will cause you to suffer from a lack of energy.  This actually came up recently in a consultation I had with a new client.

The truth is that low carb diets bring about many fantastic changes, and one of those changes is having MORE energy.  It is true that if you rapidly switch from a high carbohydrate diet (150 grams or more per day) to a low carbohydrate diet (60 grams or less per day) your body may go through a temporary adjustment period where you feel like your energy is low.  This is due to the fact that your body is switching from using sugar for energy, to using fat and ketone bodies ( ketone bodies are a by-product of the fatty acids  that are broken down for energy) for energy.  The human body is actually extremely efficient at using fat and ketone bodies for energy.

Here is a great excerpt from Gary Taubes’ phenomenal book, Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease:

“Though glucose is a primary fuel for the brain, it is not, however, the only fuel, and dietary carbohydrates are not the only source of that glucose.  If the diet includes less than 130 grams of carbohydrates, the liver increases the synthesis of molecules called ketone bodies, and these supply the necessary fuel for the brain and the central nervous system.  If the diet includes no carbohydrates at all, ketone bodies supply three-quarters of the energy to the brain.  The rest comes from glucose synthesized from the amino acids in protein, either from the diet or from the breakdown of muscle, and from a compound called glycerol that is released when triglycerides in the fat tissue are broken down into their component fatty acids.”

Bottom line?  If you want to have more energy, and a myriad of other benefits including better sleep, the reduction of body fat, lower triglycerides, and normalized blood pressure and blood sugar levels…it’s time to switch to a low carbohydrate diet.

February 19, 2010 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment