How Eating Fat is Making Me Healthy
In my last post, I discussed how I finally broke free of food addiction.
Well, two months later, and I’m happy to say it’s true. No more food addictions. No more insane cravings. No more guilt because I just couldn’t resist that (pastry, bread roll, waffle, pancake).
So, how did I do it?
Well, I completely eliminated sugar, refined carbs and starchy carbs from my diet.
Instead, I’m eating loads of fat, moderate protein and just a little bit of carbs. And the carbs I do eat, are the good ones (green leafy vegetables, berries, non-starchy vegetables).
Believe it or not, almost 70% of my daily calories come from fat.
I made that pizza above from scratch. No grains, and it tasted pretty good AND was very filling. We eat grass-fed ribeye cooked in grass-fed butter, eggs, bacon, sautéed veggies, sautéed in, well, butter. Avocados, coconut treats, pasture raised chicken thighs sautéed in duck fat and roasted. I eat berries, and when I’m feeling frisky, I add grass-fed heavy whipped cream. I spiralize zucchini and sauté it in garlic and butter and Italian spices and ground grass-fed beef and add fresh basil. I add coconut oil to my tea or coffee, and I feel satisfied, and really have no sugar or carb cravings. And if I need extra fat, I make these yummy fat bombs every now and then with coconut butter, coconut oil, a little Xylitol and some organic cacao (and then I put them in Star Wars molds and turn them into treats because I have to satisfy my inner geek every now and then).
But wait, isn’t all that fat bad for you?
Actually, no. But, I’ll get to that in a minute.
Could it be the sugar, grains and refined carbs that are making so many people fat and sick? Gasp.
Let’s take a look at this sugar, refined-carb situation a little closer first, and see what it actually does to the human body.
USING SUGAR AND CARBS FOR FUEL IS SO LAST YEAR…
When we eat sugar and refined carbs, they are broken down into glucose and used for energy. You’ve probably heard this one before. But what does that actually mean?
Simply put, every cell in our body relies on fuel to function. Makes sense, right?
This extends to our muscles, tissues, nerves, organs and brain. That fuel has been in the form of carbohydrates that are converted to glucose. And glucose is basically sugar. Stay with me, because this is important.
The body uses glucose immediately as available until it has enough to meet current demands, then it stores the excess as glycogen in the muscle and tissues for later. If there’s so much glucose in the bloodstream that it exceeds what can be stored as glycogen, insulin signals the body to store that excess fuel…as fat.
You read that right. Fat.
Straight-up sugar, candy, pastries, etc. are converted into glucose immediately, flooding the body with sugar. Generally, more than the body can use immediately—unless the person is very active.
Then there are grains, and many different vegetables. These take longer to break down and are referred to as complex carbohydrates. But in the end, they all do the same thing: get converted to glucose. And, if the body is already “all full up”, it is stored as fat.
Think of it as saving up for a rainy day…that never comes.
Because carbs are EVERYWHERE in our modern crap diet.
Sure, these carbs provide fuel. You may have even heard of how athletes “carb-up” before exercising. The human body can store about 2000 calories of fuel as readily accessible glycogen, giving an athlete that burst they may need to go that extra mile.
2000, maybe 2,500 calories. That’s roughly the max. Make a note of that figure, because it matters.
Remember all those other carbs converted to glucose, stored as glycogen and then as fat? Well, when a body is adapted to burning glucose for fuel, that fat is not accessible as fuel. No way. No how.
Remember that rainy day I was talking about? This is still not that day.
That stored fat can only be used as fuel if a body is adapted to burn fat as fuel instead of glucose. And that process takes a little more time than an athlete would have in the midsts of a race (like, days).
If you look around any crowded place on any given day, you’ll likely see a lot of people who’ve been storing excess glucose.
I’m one of them. And I’m still waiting on that rainy day…
But what if this isn’t actually the right fuel for our bodies after all?
Mind blowing concept, I know. Hear me out.
The human body is amazing and complex, and brilliant and simple. And nature always provides a path that leads to greater survival. Always.
Did you know that it’s actually possible to survive without food for days, and even weeks?
It’s true. As long as there is adequate water, the body can survive.
I should know because I water-fasted for 40 days.
Yep. I said 40.
I lived on plain old water for 40 days. No supplements. Just water.
Don’t freak out.
I did this at the direction of a medical doctor, in a facility where I was closely monitored by qualified staff to address a very specific medical situation. But that’s not what this post is about…
But why didn’t I starve to death and die?
Well, that’s because the body is designed to deal with situations like that. And it does a pretty good job of it, too.
When you water fast, it takes about 3 days for the glucose and glycogen stores to get exhausted from the body’s system. After that, the body switches to a different fuel source: FAT.
This would be that rainy day I mentioned earlier.
Fat is used by those cells and tissues that can easily use fat as a fuel. And for those cells that don’t—like the brain, fat is broken down in the liver and converted into molecules called ketones. The brain actually does great on ketones, and some studies suggest that it’s a preferred fuel source.¹
This means that all that stored up fat is used for fuel first.
In the case of water fasting, this can be an amazing method of healing because the body will eat up the abnormal fats first (like the dangerous visceral fats that surround organs and accumulate in the stomach area, even tumors, or in some cases, uterine fibroids, or any diseased fat—like the kind that was harming my body at the time).
After all my research, I have my own theory on this now.
What if our bodies were actually designed to run primarily on ketones and fat, and only on glucose for short periods of time?
There’s lots of evidence to support this.
Think about it.
We’ve only had grains and legumes as food for the past 10,000 years or so. A drop in the bucket compared to the estimated 2.5 million years we’ve been around. And these highly processed grains are just in the past century—most of them since the 1950’s. That’s only 1-2 generations.
But we’ve had long periods of little rations, hunting, gathering of foods that are not at all like what we have now—which are mostly hybrids of earlier fruits and vegetables. We’ve had winters with only accessible foods that could store well like meats, saturated fats, nuts and seeds.
And remember that athlete I talked about earlier? The one with the capacity to store about 2000 additional calories in glucose and glycogen?
If that same athlete were ketogenically adapted and able to use fat and ketones for fuel instead of glucose, he’d have an excess of 50,000 calories available in reserve.
Which one sounds more efficient to you?
At the end of the day, I think it’s brilliant that the body is adaptable enough to switch metabolic pathways based on the circumstances and the body’s needs.
I also think there’s a time when burning carbs for fuel can be efficient, but I strongly believe that fat and ketones are better for the body as a whole.
Diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, systemic inflammation, and many allergies and digestive issues, and, according to some studies, even dementia are rooted in the body’s inability to cope with these refined carbs.
And you know what? According to a number of studies, switching to a nutritionally ketogenic diet has been shown in many cases to eliminate these conditions.
Last point, and then I’ll leave you to check out the resources I’ve included below if you’re interested.
There’s a very powerful hormone called Leptin.
It’s considered one of the great regulators within our bodies because it is responsible for signaling our brain when we are satiated with food.
It also does something else that is awesome.
Once it sends the “all full” signal, it sends another signal letting us know that it’s time to move our body so we can utilize some of that energy we just consumed.
You might recognize this as a desire to get out there and move your body. Or to go ahead and tackle that monster to-do list you’ve been dreading. Or to spontaneously build not just one, but two outdoor picnic tables for Thanksgiving dinner. Imagine the possibilities…
But you know what else? Leptin signals get muted out when there is a lot of insulin in the blood. And there’s a lot of insulin in the blood when there’s more carbs than the body can manage efficiently.
From what I’ve heard, it takes a few weeks to wake up that Leptin response. That’s about what I experienced last November.
It can take from 3-6 weeks for the body to become fully keto-adapted, but after that, all this stuff normalizes, and the body stabilizes, as do the blood sugars.
I have a lot of reasons to be excited about this lifestyle switch because I have loads of awesome to tend to, and can’t afford to be in a carb-induced fog anymore.
It’s been two months and I’ve lost weight, and feel firmer. I’ve juggled 3 events in the past month alone, started an Etsy Store, have been making good art, and refining as I go.
All I keep thinking is, what would it be like to have a body that feels right on me? To not worry about food, or calories? To not have guilt after so many meals? To have the energy to tackle all the things I have on my bucket list? What will it feel like to finally be at the right size for me? To want to be active?
I can hardly imagine it–yet I can.
Every year on New Year’s eve, my husband and I review our accomplishments for the year, and then list out our goals for the coming year.
What will it be like to finally scratch that weight loss goal off the list for good? What will it be like to plan activities that I only ever dreamed of before because my body is finally at a place where I can do them?
It’s thrilling; the idea that I can be free of this for the rest of my life.
Care to join me?
Obviously, I’m not a doctor. Just a girl who researches and shares what I find. Here are some resources to help you figure out if this is something that is right for you.
Here is a very simple article that explains what happens when a body switches fuels from carbohydrates to fat and ketones: //www.ruled.me/ketosis-ketones-and-how-it-works/
Here’s an easy to follow article from Science Daily that talks about the difference between high-level endurance athletes who used carbs for fuel, and those who used fat for fuel:
IMPORTANT NOTE ON THE KETOGENIC DIET
I think it’s important to say right here, that if you’re interested in perhaps switching to a keto-adapted lifestyle, that you really should do at least some basic homework before starting. I’m not a doctor, and this is all based on my own research. I will do my best to share these resources, but you should be prudent with your own personal health.
It’s important to understand that this is NOT a high fat, high protein diet. My protein intake is about 15% and only 10% of that is animal products. The other 5% are nuts, seeds, and vegetables (yes, there’s protein in veggies).
I’ve curated some great info below to make sure you have what you need to get started and do this right. Once you understand this way of eating, you can play with it a little. But in starting, you should have a clear understanding of the basics.
So, if you’re ready to learn more about following a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet, these resources will hopefully help you start off on the right foot.
GETTING STARTED ON A KETO-ADAPTED DIET
This is a great article that covers exactly what nutritional ketosis is. They provide a link to a calculator to find your correct macros, but I found it more complicated than the one I provided a link to further down.
Here’s a great article that explains what a keto-adapted diet is and how it works:
To keep it dead simple, I recommend DietDoctor.com.
I know, I know. It sounds so commercial, but it’s actually run by a real doctor who knows the ins and outs of this lifestyle. He has tons of videos, a basic plan complete with loads of recipes, and even a challenge to get you started for free. He has a paid section, too, which we actually signed up for (and no, I get no compensation for promoting this), but the membership is $9/mo and the first month was free. He exchanges in abundance in the member site (in my opinion) as he has a huge video library (including movies you usually have to pay for), and if you’re a nerdy researcher like me, it’s awesome. Plus, you can even “Ask the doctor”, which I’ve done. I also find the guy entertaining to watch.
Another resource with lots of information and delicious recipes is ruled.me (that’s where I got that low carb pizza recipe from, actually).
Don’t miss a single post!
Subscribe to the 365 Days of Awesome Blog and get notified when there’s a new bit of awesome added. —-> Look for the subscribe form on the right. It’s as easy as that!
Julie R Lahm
This is all awesome!
Thanks, Julie 🙂
HI, I am 35, and started to gain a lot of weight after I gave birth. I couldn’t try any diet, since I was nursing my son, I was told by many to eat a lot, for the sake of my child. Yeah, I know being a mom is a sacrifice, but no regrets, I love every moment of it. Though, my son will be turning 2, and I’ve decided to stop breastfeeding,. Now, I guess it’s time for me to bring back the body I missed, and your post inspires me. I will try this diet, and hope it works!! Thanks 🙂
Eating fat definitely a good way to become healthy!