There are two important components to the science behind keto. First, how the metabolic transformation occurs within your body simply by changing your diet, and second, the history of misinformation we’ve been fed about the dangers of fat under the guise of scientific study.
It all starts with that first bite. Food is energy. We all know that, nothing new here. But how does that jumbo-sized number 5 burger and fry meal with extra sauce become the fuel that keeps us moving?
Once that big meal hits your stomach, it’s time for your metabolism to get to work. Using acid and enzymes your stomach breaks your food down to a molecular level and converts all of those carbohydrates into glucose, a sugar. Glucose is easy to make and use immediately so your body says, great, put it to work. Call the pancreas and tell it to release insulin.
Insulin is the chauffeur that carries glucose sugars through the blood. Insulin also regulates the amount of sugar in the blood and if you’ve eaten more sugar that you can use for energy at the moment, insulin will store the glucose in your fat cells for later use.
This storage of glucose is where sugar can become dangerous. If your glucose stores keep getting larger as you eat more and more carbs and starches, you gain weight and can’t burn off the stored fats that your burns only after the glucose is used up. And when your cells reach their threshold and can no longer hold any more glucose, the glucose is forced to stay in your blood stream and the insulin whose job it is to park the excess glucose can’t do what it was designed to do and your body is now in an insulin resistant state that leads to diabetes.
Now, imagine instead of the jumbo number 5 burger and fry combo, you eat a piece of meat, some cheese, and a little sour cream: a meal with very few carbs and high percentage of healthy fats. Now imagine you ate this way, not giving your body any new glucose, until all of your overcrowded glucose stores were completely empty and your insulin was given a chance to recover.
This is the state of Ketogenesis and you’ve just switched your human engine from a low-grade, quick-burn fuel to a more efficient and longer lasting one.
Metaphors are great, but what on Earth does that mean in practical terms? What’s happening in the body now that keto is the boss?
Recognizing that all of your glucose is gone and there’s no more quick fuel for energy left, your liver takes over and creates molecules called ketones (specifically acetoacetate, acetone, and beta-hydroxybutyrate) from fatty acids (fat) that can be converted into the energy that runs our cells.
The one nice thing about glucose being such a wham-bam, quick energy burn is that it only takes a matter of days to rid your system of years’ worth of stored sugar. This period of depletion where you specifically get rid of all remaining glucose stores is known by keteors as getting into ketosis on transitioning to keto.
Once you hit keto your liver begins happily cranking out ketones and your energy source, using the fat you eat in combination with the stored fat that glucose was forcing to the side.
The reason people have so much weight loss success on keto is that keto skips the insulin step. Ketones don’t need to be usher around by insulin which keeps your pancreas from over producing and stops your body from resisting it’s insulin system. It also takes longer for your body to break down the complex fats you eat which leaves you feeling fuller for longer, preventing you from binging and consumer excess calories. Because ketosis uses fat for fuel, if you haven’t eaten recently and there isn’t new fat for your body to metabolize into ketones, your body will use it’s fat stores to keep the ketones rolling.
As you can see, dietary fat and eating fat are not the enemy we’ve been taught to believe for our entire lives.
No doubt we’ve all had a food package in our cupboards or fridge with one of these claims plastered on the side, usually in a bright color and big letters.
If fat is a great source of energy, and it’s sugar that’s the real harm in the American diet, why do we all have this misconception about fat making us fat?
Marketing and a campaign of misinformation. Basically, lies for profit.
The truth about how fat got it’s bad rep seems, on the surface, like a page right out of conspiracy theory for dummies. But it really is a sordid tale that we encourage you to look up on your own.
Start with typing “sugar report on fat” into a search engine and you’ll see that in the 1960s a group called the Sugar Research Foundation paid three Harvard scientists the modern day equivalent of $50,000 to publish a study finding that sugar has little to no ill health effects in the U.S. diet. Keep reading and you’ll see that just saying sugar isn’t bad wasn’t enough. If sugar wasn’t to blame, what was? The Sugar Research Foundation –now known as the Sugar Association since they’ve dropped all pretenses about doing actual research- decided that dietary fat was a good scape goat.
This is where another false scientific report comes into play in the war against fat. The Sugar Research foundation and the Harvard researchers decided that fat would be a villain based on Dr. Ancel Keys’ study of cholesterol and fat’s relation to raising cholesterol in the blood.
Dr. Keys gather information about diets from 22 different countries in support of his theory that fat was unhealthy. Keys’ report influenced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and had a direct effect on the creation of the now debunked food pyramid.
The problem with Key’s report? It was later discovered that when the data from his research didn’t support his theory, Dr. Keys decided to ignore the facts and evidence that proved his theory false. He only included the observations that slightly supported his argument.
Using this manipulated study, it wasn’t really that difficult to get people to associate eating fat with getting fat. Suddenly, fat was being removed from foods, taking the flavor with it and leaving dinner tasting like wet shoelaces smell.
So how do you get the flavor back that left with the fat? Sugar!
Is it a coincidence that the report was commissioned in the mid-1960s and the national obesity rate has steadily risen ever since?
We at niKETO encourage you to do your own research and see for yourself how the false vilification of fat snaked it’s way into our collective psyche.