Valid discoveries in medicine depend on the ability of researchers to make accurate observations in relation to the subject they are studying. As the famous French scientific historian Claude Bernard pointed out more than 150 years ago, “To have an idea about a natural phenomenon, we must first of all, observe it. All human knowledge is limited to working back from observed effects to their cause.” Scientists with preconceived notions assume that they already know the cause and this makes it impossible for them to make valid observations. They are only able to see what they expect to see.
FALSE BELIEFS ARE DANGEROUS
This is what has happened to obesity researchers in the past 70 years. They have not diligently searched for and observed what makes us get fat and what to do about it. Instead, virtually all of the research projects that have been carried out since World War II have taken as a given three false notions—all three of which have only contributed to making us fatter and sicker in the Western world:
- That obesity, heart disease and other degenerative conditions are the result of a high fat diet.
- That we need to eat lots of carbohydrates to keep up our energy and stay healthy.
- That weight loss is a simple matter of calories in/calories out—in the words of the Unites States Surgeon General, “overweight and obesity are the result of excess calorie consumption and/or inadequate physical activity.”
These beliefs have continued to prevent us, and the so-called experts, from learning the truth. Happily, this situation is beginning to change, albeit slowly. Such false beliefs still reign supreme amongst most doctors, research scientists, and the media. These mistaken notions (and many more which accompany them) continue to rule scientists, Big Pharma, multinational food corporations and—thanks to television, magazines and newspapers—the great majority of human beings.
If one takes the time to plough through the voluminous research and declarations about obesity, its cause and its cure, a completely different set of conclusions demand to be drawn:
- Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating or lack of exercise.
- Obesity is not caused by gluttony or lack of willpower. This disorder is the result of an as yet unidentified disequilibrium in the hormonal regulation of fat metabolism. This is the major issue that must be addressed if we are to find a cure for chronic overweight.
- Taking in excess calories is not the cause of gaining weight, nor does expending a lot of energy on exercise prevent it.
- As a result of their effect on insulin and blood sugar, refined carbohydrates, sugars and starches are undeniably the dietary culprits in the development of diabetes, coronary heart disease and obesity, as well as the major contributors to other diseases of Western civilization including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Cereal, grain, and sugar-based carbohydrates distort hormonal regulation of homeostasis, fostering obesity as a result of their effect on insulin balance and their ability to bring about insulin resistance syndrome—‘syndrome X’. Because they stimulate insulin secretion, carbohydrates increase hunger and diminish the energy the body expends on metabolism and during exercise.
- With the exception of chemically distorted oils and fats full of trans-fatty acids, the traditional oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, and butter in no way contribute to obesity. Quite the contrary: They can not only prevent it, but enable the body to shed fat and keep it away permanently by supplying the body with ongoing energy for work, athletics, and play.
The most signification change to human diets in two million years began with the agricultural revolution, where man went from a carbohydrate-poor to a carbohydrate-rich diet as cereals and quickly digestible starches entered our foods. The more these carbohydrates became refined in the past three hundred years, the more problems they have caused; not only in terms of burgeoning waistlines worldwide, but in the development of chronic degenerative diseases of civilization. Similarly, the overwhelming increase in sugars and fructose—such as those found in so many convenience foods and in the form of high fructose corn syrup—has to be a major contributor on both counts as well. In the eighteenth century, we ate between 10 and 20 pounds of sugar per person per year. Today, we consume between 150 pounds and 200 pounds of sugar a year per capita. How revolting does this sound? Especially when there are so many delicious, nutritious proteins, vegetables and healthy fats out there that we could—and should—be eating, for better health, looks, and the ability to unlock our full potential.
The standard dietary advice still goes something like this: “We need to eat a minimum of 120 to 130 grams of carbohydrates a day to remain healthy.” This figure, which most nutritionists still propound as though it were a decree from God, was arrived at since researchers supposed this to be the quantity of glucose that the central nervous system and brain makes use of on a carbohydrate-rich diet.
KETONES—NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
Such information is out of date and inaccurate. Even the 2002 Institute of Medicine report Dietary Reference Intakes, which still blindly adheres to the outdated daily recommendation of 120 to 130g of carbohydrates a day, then goes on to acknowledge that the brain can function perfectly well without them. In truth, it often functions far better when carbs and sugars are reduced to a mere 25 to 50g a day. The central nervous system and the brain work great when fueled by ketones.
Ketones are substances produced by the liver from fats—those released from one’s own fat stores and from fats and oils that people eat. A moderate, controlled level of ketones in the bloodstream allows the body to function superbly well on minute quantities of carbohydrate foods. This is called a ‘state of nutritional ketosis’. Energy increases, clarity of thought improves, and cravings for foods vanish as one’s body becomes keto-adapted. The transformation can be life-changing. Yet almost nobody in the medical, scientific or media world is bothering to pay much attention to all this.
By definition, nutritional ketosis is a benign metabolic state that provides the human body with the flexibility enabling us to handle major shifts in available foods. For many years, a ketogenic program has been considered of great value in the treatment of epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and even successful weight loss. I myself wrote a book about it in 2002 called X FACTOR DIET... For Lasting Weight Loss and Vital Health.
Now, suddenly, ketogenic adaptation is being discovered and celebrated by top athletes and fitness experts who find that when the body becomes keto-adapted and is fed on high-fat (60%+), moderate protein (20%+) and very low carbs (primarily taken from green vegetables), the body gets all the energy it needs—and more—from fats. And, unlike relying on carbohydrates or sugars, after a long run or heavy training, the energy in a ketone-adapted body just keeps coming. Of course, the fats one chooses have to be the best—primarily butter from grass-fed beef, organic coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil.
My own experiments on myself and others who are not particularly fitness fanatics is that, after becoming keto-adapted, the body persistently tends to shed unwanted fat deposits. One needs less sleep, skin texture improves, even many chronic aches and pains diminish or disappear completely. It’s early days yet, but the promises of keto-adaptation which I first discovered in the late nineties and then wrote my best-selling book about are beginning to validate themselves. Not only is this fascinating metabolic adaptation changing people’s lives for the better. The latest research appearing from doctors and scientists studying ketone adaptation could dispel all the false beliefs and insane dogma about the causes of obesity and degenerative diseases, replacing them with truths that can transform lives for the better on every level. This is my hope.
For more information read:
Syndrome X has spawned obesity on a scale never seen before. Also known as insulin resistance syndrome, it predisposes us to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and early ageing. Cutting-edge research has recently shown that the major culprit is the high-carb/low-fat diet we have been urged to follow. This regime simply does not suit the way our bodies have evolved. Result: it makes many of us fat. Leslie Kenton's scientifically backed The X Factor Diet provides two fat-loss programmes, together with delicious recipes and easy meal plans to restore normal weight naturally, increase energy levels and make you fitter for life. Join her on a journey towards a leaner, healthier and more beautiful body.
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by Jeff S Volek and Stephen D Phinney
Order Low Carbohydrate Performance
A Revolutionary Program to Extend Your Physical and Mental Performance Envelope. Our recent book 'The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living' was written for health care professionals, championing the benefits of carbohydrate restriction to manage insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type-2 diabetes.
By Jeff S Volek and Stephen D Phinney
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Carbohydrate restricted diets are commonly practiced but seldom taught. As a result, doctors, dietitians, nutritionists, and nurses may have strong opinions about low carbohydrate dieting, but in many if not most cases, these views are not grounded in science.