Ketosis

Posted by Kyle

Something Bonnie and I have practiced and been advocates of over the last 13 or so years is living a low carb lifestyle. We both notice a huge difference in the way we feel when we eat this way and strive to be as consistent as possible. Having said that, we aren’t perfect because there are two things I know for a fact. Life can be very stressful and cinnamon buns are delicious.

the canada food guide with different foods on a rainbow
Canada’s largest commodity crops are grains. Any wonder why they are so prominently featured on Canada’s Food Guide?

Let me back up a bit and give a quick explainer for those of you out there that may not be nutritional scientists. Human diets are made up of the 3 different macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Essentially everything you consume falls into one of these buckets. Generally speaking – meats are your proteins, grains are your carbohydrates and foods like butter or olive oil are your fats.

We have all heard the dangers of eating too much sugar. It can cause a whole host of issues including weight gain, metabolic syndrome and if left unchecked can lead to Type II diabetes. While sugary drinks and desserts often take the brunt of the blame, what most people don’t realize is that all carbohydrates at their core, are just sugar. When you eat a starchy vegetable like a potato your body breaks down all of those carbohydrates in to their simplest form. Sugar. Delicious apple with lunch? Sugar. Dense whole grain bread for your sandwich? Sugar. Your body treats all of these foods in exactly the same way.

Every time you eat carbs (read: sugar) your body produces insulin in response. Insulin is the molecule that helps ferry sugar out of the blood stream and in to your cells so it can be used for energy (or stored up for energy in the future). Over time, if eaten in excess, your body can develop resistance to insulin which means it takes more and more insulin to manage the same quantity of sugar. If this gets bad enough it can manifest as Type II Diabetes which forces you to constantly check your blood sugar level and manage with medication or insulin injections.

When you eat a low-carb diet because you don’t intake any sugar, your body does not have an insulin response. Instead your body shifts into ketosis; a state where you burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. When fat is broken down it turns in to a molecule known as a ketone. Ketones are your body’s other favourite fuel type. Think of ketones as ethanol and sugars as fossil fuels; ethanol is cleaner burning and you get better mileage.  Eating mostly fats and protein will keep you more full then eating carbohydrates as they are slower burning. This means you automatically start to eat less (reducing overall calorie intake) which allows your body to go to town on those love handles. There are a number of versions of this diet out there: Atkins, Paleo, South Beach and Primal to name a few. There are subtle differences to all of these but the premise is the same… Reduce carbohydrates and eat more vegetables and fat. Personally, we tend to lean towards the Atkins way but all are a great way to eat. Check out the book, New Atkins for a New You if you are interested in the specifics.

Now I am by no means an expert in this field but I do have a degree in science, specifically toxicology, so I do have a bit of a pretty solid understanding of the underlying science. We have been eating this way for a number of years now and I can guarantee that you will feel more focused, have more energy and feel way less hungry then eating a standard Western diet (a la Canada Food guide for example). You won’t even notice if you skip a meal and can go 8 hours+ without eating. When Bonnie and I are fully committed we almost never eat lunch. We usually start the day with a hearty breakfast of eggs and sausage and then a protein and vegetable for dinner. I will be honest, there is an adjustment period that you need to suffer through. Your body takes on average about 3 weeks to make the transition so be prepared to feel a little worse for a little while. Trust me though when I say that it is well worth the effort, particularly once the pounds start falling off.

I want to state for the record that Low Carb ≠ healthy. You still MUST eat a balanced diet. You will see lots and lots of people out there who eat nothing but bacon and are losing tons of weight. While this is technically possible it is not at all advisable as you are missing out on almost all the nutrients you need to live a healthy life. Green vegetables should be your foundation and then you can build around that. Something else to keep in mind is that you need to drink A LOT of water when eating this way which as we have learned is not always be easy to do. But this is very important as your body needs it to help metabolize all of that stored up fat.

Now if you have made it to this part of the article, first off, thank you… I know it has been a bit boring. Secondly you’re probably thinking “well if I can’t eat bread then what’s the point of eating at all?” And trust me, I get it. I too was once a carbivore. But you can make AMAZING meals sans carbs. Here are just a couple examples (I will save the recipes for a future blog post, or if you can’t wait just shoot me an email):

 

sausage, lettue, and broccoli on a green plate with a white background
A typical dinner for us. Note the emphasis on green vegetables.

 

bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers on a plate with a knife and fork
Homemade Bacon-Wrapped Jalepeno Poppers
homemade crab cakes on a white plate beside a green bottle in the fridge
Made from scratch crab cakes.. A personal fave of mine.

Thanks for sticking around until the end. I thought it was important to give you the reasons why we eat this way before posting any recipes on how to eat this way. If you want more info about this I highly encourage you check out a site called Mark’s Daily Apple. He is what I consider to be the keto guru and I thoroughly enjoy his writing. If you decide to give this way of life a shot just remember that no one is perfect and you can fall off the wagon and still get back on. It sounds cliche but this really isn’t a diet, it is a new new way to eat. This is how your body evolved too it – we as a society have just lost our way. Try it out, you won’t regret it.

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