On the clinical and laboratory experimental end, we still do not know whether the demonstrably positive effects of dietary carbohydrate restriction are continuous with ketogenic effects, or even how they relate to calorie restriction. The effectiveness of a low-carbohydrate diet and, especially, the ability of a high-carbohydrate diet to exacerbate rather than help metabolic disease, suggest that there is little risk in experimenting with a ketogenic diet.
– Dr. Richard Feinman
Melbourne, Australia – Age 21
Like most of the other people in this chapter, Lawrence found himself overweight despite restricting calories, cutting the amount of fat he was eating, and engaging in hours of cardiovascular exercise each week. He said this routine “never worked” for him, no matter how hard he tried. Then he heard about the Paleo diet, which “worked well for while” to make him feel better.
But when his weight loss stalled, he began lifting weights at the gym and started consuming more protein. Because of the gluconeogenesis effect discussed in chapter 6, in which excess protein is converted to glucose, this made Lawrence hungry and he began to binge eat, which packed on the pounds again. Attempting to get to the bottom of why this happened to him on what was supposed to be a healthy diet, he learned about the ketogenic diet and began following it immediately. The results were swift and stunning.
“Within two weeks I had lost the seven pounds I had put on, and I continued to lose weight as well as build muscle,” Lawrence said.
He said the ketogenic diet gave him the best results he’s ever seen with his strength training and he has never felt better in his life. The best part about ketosis, Lawrence says, is that he’s not hungry even while he’s losing weight and it’s easy to engage in regular bouts of intermittent fasting.
“Over the Christmas holidays I didn’t fast and I overate on many foods, but I didn’t put on weight,” Lawrence noted. “I just stayed the same, which is crazy since I was eating at least 1,000 calories per day more than usual.”
Most of the time, though, Lawrence sticks with the highest-quality low-carb, high-fat foods he can find, such as organ meats, which nourish his body, control his hunger, and help his body run the way it was intended to.
Cumberland, British Columbia – Age 52
Alice was not doing very well as 2012 began. She was feeling bloated, achy, moody, and anxious pretty much all the time. There were moments when she felt dizzy, nauseated, and on the verge of passing out. At forty-nine, she had noticed her weight going steadily up while she dealt with sleep apnea, nightmares, and waking up feeling tired every single day. It was a living hell. Needless to say she was quite scared and desperate to figure out what was wrong with her.
One of the first things she tried to turn her health around was quitting smoking, which she did successfully in February 2012. But when she passed out one day and went to see the doctor, her fasting blood sugar level came back at 126 mg/dl. Alice knew she needed to shift away from her high-sugar, grain-based, low-fat diet because it obviously wasn’t helping her get healthy.
In May 2012, she visited her local library to search for books on nutrition and health, and the librarian suggested she read Protein Power by Dr. Michael Eades and Dr. Mary Dan Eades. Alice recalled learning about the low-carb, high-fat Atkins diet many years before, but this time the message seemed to click for her.
“I had worked as a cook in a hospital for a long time and I could see that the food pyramid wasn’t working,” Alice noted. “I was sick and so were lots of other people. We were becoming a fat and unhealthy society.”
When she spoke with her husband about going on a low-carb diet with fresh meats and vegetables, they both decided to commit to it as a genuine lifestyle change. The impact was immediate as Alice lost weight, started exercising, and ate much more fat than she had ever consumed before.
“I did not let the fat scare me,” she said. “I enjoyed consuming butter, coconut oil, cheese, eggs, meat, and cream in my coffee.”
Like most people who are just finding out about low-carb and ketogenic diets, Alice continued to educate herself. She watched lectures on YouTube, listened to nutritional health podcasts, and soaked up all the wisdom of the doctors and authors who share online about the benefits of healthy low-carb, high-fat living.
In December 2012, she got serious about getting into a state of nutritional ketosis to help her deal with the lingering dizziness, lack of energy, and unstable moods brought on by erratic blood sugar levels. She cut her carbs down to just 20 grams a day while continuing to consume all the delicious, healthy fats she had grown accustomed to eating. The effect on her health could not be ignored.
“I felt the high,” Alice said. “I had an edge that wasn’t there before that gave me steady energy, robust strength, and a very natural ability to go about sixteen hours between meals.”
When she attempted to add some fruit and root vegetables back into her diet in the summer of 2013, the positive effects she was seeing from being in ketosis stopped and the familiar issues with dizziness, anxiety, and mood swings returned with a vengeance.
“I was feeling dizzy even before I was hungry,” Alice recalled regarding her bouts with hypoglycemia. “I was feeling my blood sugar levels drop and would have to consume an apple to feel well enough to eat my meal.”
Alice realized she was super sensitive to carbohydrates and needed to get them back down to much lower levels to put herself into a ketogenic state. In November 2013, she dropped her carbohydrate intake back down to 20 grams a day, and the problems she was having with dizziness, anxiety, and mood swings all cleared up as she entered ketosis again.
“My moods are more stable now,” Alice remarked. “I am no longer dizzy or anxious, I don’t suffer from bloating or gas, I sleep very well with very few dreams, and my sleep apnea is completely gone.”
Plus, the weight loss has remained, giving her confidence that the ketogenic lifestyle is the right path for her.
“I don’t know if everyone would be willing to live in a keto-adapted state. But I do know that this is my preferred fueling mode,” Alice concluded.
She added that while “not everyone is as carbohydrate intolerant as I am,” it is important for people to be aware of the amount of sugar and starch they are consuming.
“People, sugar is bad for you,” she warned. “It is not a secret.”