When we fast, we lose weight right?
Well yes, you will weigh less on the scale. Your body weight can drop by up to 3kg’s in one day! It isn’t weight that is of any health benefit though. The only time weight loss is beneficial is when the loss is body fat.
We are losing mostly water when we fast and when we lose this much water, we also lose valuable electrolytes. The loss of electrolytes is the cause of muscle weakness and cramps commonly experienced when following a Ketogenic diet. The water weight is back on in a flash when the carbs are reintroduced.
When we fast, we force our body to use fat as energy because there is no available glucose. Our brain function requires a quarter of the energy needed by our bodies daily just to do normal tasks. In order to sustain your brain, your liver turns fat into ketones, the ketones are able to cross the blood-brain barrier and continue to nourish the brain. This is a natural process and our bodies adapt to using ketones instead of glucose during times of famine to sustain us.
People hear this and all they hear is “Wow, burn my excess body fat as fuel”, sounds amazing. The result is the ever so popular ketogenic diet. Also commonly referred to as a fasting mimicking diet. Reducing the carbohydrate consumption so low that the body thinks you are fasting and it pumps out ketones.
We are however not designed to stay permanently in a state of ketosis. Our primary fuel is glucose. While a short fast can be beneficial for our health, I don’t believe a permanent state of ketosis is healthy.
Of course when you “fast” or go on the ketogenic diet for long enough, you will lose fat and not just water. Is this extreme type of diet necessary? Is it healthy? Definitely not.
Let us look at a typical example.
Susan is overweight. She eats take away meals, big bowls of pasta, white bread, cakes, pastries and cookies and plenty white rice sushi. Finally she becomes fed up and decides to go keto. The excess weight starts decreasing, she continues to lose weight and maybe even reaches her goal weight. Susan is happy but can she can keep the weight off? Sure but only if she can live permanently on this type of diet. If she goes back to her old way of eating, all the kg’s will return and often bring a few friends with them.
If she lost all her weight and if she can keep it off by continuing to eat this way, then why do I say that keto isn’t the answer? Well, Susan didn’t lose all the weight because she was in ketosis for 3 months. She lost the weight because she cut out so many junk, processed and unhealthy foods. She wasn’t going to get a take away and order a burger and not eat the roll. And she wasn’t eating carbs so no fried chips. No pastries, no cakes, no sushi. That is why she lost weight, not because she was in ketosis.
Is Susan better off now?
Would she be healthier now compared to three months ago – of course. Excess body fat is not just a bit of extra flab on your body. Body fat behaves like an endocrine organ, excreting a number of bioactive hormones and the reason for many chronic diseases. Would she be healthier in a few months if she continued to stay on a ketogenic diet to maintain her weight loss long term. No, she will not.
There are certain people who are better off on a ketogenic diet, like people who have seizures or other forms of brain overactivity. Just because it is beneficial for some, does not mean it is beneficial for all. A cancer patient might benefit from chemo and it could save his/her life – does that mean we should all have chemo – of course not!
This is why most diets fail.
The reason all diets fail really is because people go on them and off them. The secret to healthy weight loss is finding a lifestyle you are able to start and stay on for life. Going on and off fad diets is harmful to your body.
The solution is to change your diet. Give up all the refined junk foods, all the pizza, pastries and hamburgers and replace them with real food. With plenty of healthy plant based carbohydrates. To fuel your body on glucose as it has been designed. This is a way you can eat for life. This is the way to lose weight and keep it off. Lots and lots of nutritionally dense whole plant based foods. If you eat animal proteins and fats, this should be a small portion of your meal, not 90% of it.
“Does this make sense?”
I think sometimes we just got to ask ourselves if something makes sense. If an extra 100g of baby marrow throws you out of ketosis and causes you to gain weight, does this sound like the right way of eating to you? Can you live your life never eating a banana or a big juicy melon or mango?
It certainly isn’t for me.