As a child, I had but one wish and dream: that I could eat nothing but bacon for the rest of my life. Every night, I’d come home from school or a friend’s house with my fingers crossed, hoping that my mother had cooked a big plate of bacon topped with melted butter. I wished upon shooting stars.
Was bacon ever for dinner?
Mom would always insist on a balanced meal—a lean protein like chicken breast, maybe some legumes, or asparagus—and my bacon based begging was met with scorn.
Now, an old dog has a new trick: ketogenic diets.
Ketogenic diets have gotten a lot of hype these days with promises of high fat meals and washboard abs.
- Imagine a huge plate of nachos
- Replace the chips with bacon.
- Heaping portions of cheese.
- Sour cream and heavy guacamole.
- My dreams had finally come true.
High fat and zero carbohydrates is the name of the game. A balanced, healthy meal would look a lot like something my mom would make—even portions of protein, fat, and carbs. A typical American diet is typically equal in fat and carbs, but low in protein. My bacon fantasy diet has no carbs—hence why I took the chips out of my nachos.
How does all this translate into weight-loss? With zero carbs in your diet, the body is tricked into thinking that it’s starving, and ketosis starts.
When fasting, starving, or not taking in any carbs, ketosis begins its work. Fatty acids are released from your body and are chemically transformed into ketones. Ketones are the chemicals acetoacetate and acetone; think of them as energy drinks for microorganisms. These chemicals are then released from the liver and into the blood, where cells can freely take them for a quick pick-me-up. That energy drink in your veins is the ticket to staying alive during starvation—or a way to eat your cake and lose weight too.
The body is starving, so it needs to generate energy somehow. That’s what ketosis is all about. If you want to exploit ketosis, you have three choices: not eating for two to three days, taking ketone supplements, or fully committing to a ketogenic diet.
Starving is not a diet. Don’t even think about it!
And supplements are no fun at all.
Leaving me with my bacon-diet dream come true.
Yet, here I am, still not swole.
Let’s backtrack a little here.
The health benefits of ketosis is nothing new; throughout history, fasting and starvation have been observed to have a noticeable effect on helping with those who are suffering from epilepsy. Fasting was recognized as a treatment for epilepsy and the effects of ketosis drastically reduced seizure episodes in patients.
It wasn’t until the 1920’s that someone thought: is there a way to do this without starving people? The experiments resulted in the ketogenic diet.
By giving patients a high-protein, zero carb diet, doctors noticed the exact same behaviors and improvements in their patients. Clearly, something was going right.
It wasn’t until recently that people speculated this diet could lead to weight-loss…and you can almost see the logic. Your body thinks it is starving, so it burns off stored excess body fat. But it is impossible to build lean mass while in ketosis. While in ketosis, you lose insulin, an anabolic hormone—and one that is essential in building muscle. So try all you want, but you’re not going to be a Greek statue when going on the ketogenic diet.
You may, however, lose weight. Turns out, eating tons of protein and fat fills you up quickly, so when you eat, you’re eating less—and less often. Ketosis itself isn’t an effective weightloss strategy as you are still missing out on balanced nutrients. Your mileage may vary, but you are better off with a high protein diet with equal measure fats and carbs. Looks like my dream of eating bacon for dinner every night will have to remain just that—a dream wrapped in bacon.
- November 27, 2016 Low Carb Diet – 6 Interesting Facts
- October 20, 2016 How High is Too High? No Ceilings for This Protein Diet
- November 20, 2016 How Many Calories Per Day? Losing Weight by Controlling Calories
- March 2, 2017 Interview with Jonah Town