The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
“Right now, skeptics are looking at keto and calling it the latest fad diet that will likely fade over time. From an evolutionary perspective, this observation is objectionable. Robb Wolf, former research biochemist and author of the bestselling The Paleo Solution and Wired to Eat, makes the observation that keto is very likely the default Homo sapiens factory setting. This is because a steady supply of food—especially a high-carbohydrate load—was not part of our experience until civilized times. At the same time, the complex and rapidly evolving human brain desperately needed a massive percentage of our daily calories (20-25 percent) in the form of glucose or the glucose-like substitute of ketones. If we didn’t evolve to make ketones, we would have been forced to resort to the highly inefficient process of gluconeogenesis every time our brains ran short of fuel. Stripping down lean muscle to fuel brain function is no fun when you trigger fight-or-flight reactions during the afternoon blues, but it’s really no fun when you are starving with no guarantee of your next meal.”
From The Keto Reset Diet
If you think of Type 2 diabetes as carbohydrate intolerance, the natural dietary response should be to restrict the offending dietary component. And when this occurs—when diabetic patients restrict carbs—their symptoms improve, often to a greater degree than diabetic patients on other diets. Keto restricts more carbs than even other low-carb diets, so on the face of things, keto seems great for diabetes.
Let’s take a closer look.
It’s impossible to talk about using food as a drug without looking at the genuine neurological and hormonal impacts it has on the body. The fact is, certain foods affect us more like drugs than others.
With actual drug use, we’re not operating with innate satiation signaling. But with food, our bodies have a built-in system for telling us when to eat, how much to eat and when to stop.
In our paleolithic ancestors’ time, it worked great. Today, we’ve become our own saboteurs. We’ve known for years that sugary and processed foods (those that strategically combine sugar, salt and certain fats into a triple crown disaster) are intentionally designed to override our inherent satiation signals and hyper-trip our reward systems.
Keto may not be for everyone, and low-carb is not the only way to eat well, but most would agree that people in the modern world tend to eat way too many carbohydrates—far more than their lifestyles and activity levels warrant. Along with some other big factors, excessive intake of refined carbohydrates is a major player in the modern epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other disorders. This is no longer controversial. Reducing carbs is a good move for most folks.
The majority of my readers are on some kind of low carb diet. Maybe they’re not fully keto. But they all tend to acknowledge the utility of limiting one’s carbs to only those they need. One of the more common questions I receive from this group concerns carb cycling—periodically adding more carbs to an otherwise low-carb diet.
Most discussion of chronically-elevated insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia) and insulin resistance revolves around their relationship to bodyweight. This is unsurprising. Bodyweight’s what “sells tickets.” It’s why most people get interested in diet, health, fitness, and nutrition—to lose weight or avoid gaining it.
But improving insulin sensitivity and reducing fasting insulin levels have major ramifications for your health, longevity, and resistance to disease. And it’s not just because “weight gain is unhealthy.” Insulin itself, in excess, exerts seriously damaging effects. Today, I want to impress upon you the importance of controlling your insulin response by laying out some of the health problems that stem from not controlling it.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering some questions about keto (hey, you folks keep asking!). First, is being on a ketogenic diet actually congruent with our ancestry? Is there historical precedent? Next, is bad breath really a reliable indication of being in ketosis? And finally, could going keto help treat the autoimmune disease lupus?
Let’s take a look: