Far too many dieters trudge into weeks or months of sorrowful yearning for delicious pork chops, succulent steaks and crispy bacon strips with farm-fresh eggs cooked lightly to golden perfection in rendered bacon fat. Oddly enough, desperately hungry dieters rarely seem to wonder to wonder why their bodies crave fatty goodness. Is the root cause merely an empty stomach begging to be stuffed, or is a deeper mystery waiting to be solved?
In recent years, researchers have unearthed a shocking body of evidence that a misguided public-policy campaign dating from the 1950s actively sought to bypass a small but compelling set of research studies that strongly supported ketogenesis as a far healthier alternative to massive consumption of carbohydrates. As with several other public-health tragedies, a few well-placed individuals exerted disproportionate influence on government public-health policies. Their inexplicable obsession with increasing carbohydrate consumption ran counter to centuries of folk wisdom, repeated observations by respected physicians and careful studies by medical researchers. Judging by sky-high rates of obesity, adult-onset diabetes and cardiovascular disease across the Western world, the damage subsequently inflicted on public health over the past fifty to sixty years has been enormous.
An early pioneer in the modern resurrection of ketogenesis as a compelling approach to vastly improved public health, Gary Taubes, posits that fat cells in humans and many other mammals act much like a form of cancer when repeatedly exposed to blood-sugar spikes that encourage a destructive cycle of immediate conversion of excess blood sugar into stored fat. A sharp drop in blood sugar levels not long after after slamming down a large load of carbohydrates triggers uncontrollable hunger, which then typically drives its clueless victim into cramming still more carbohydrates into an insulin-shocked digestive system. This school of thought, slowly adopted by an expanding number of reputable scientists at leading universities and medical research centers, holds that incessant consumption of carbohydrates distorts the natural cycles of insulin and growth hormone into an engine for endlessly feeding fat cells at the expense of other body tissues. Such peculiar behavior seems to account for the widespread and perverse phenomenon of seriously malnourished individuals who nonetheless waddle wearily through life with rolls of fat hanging from their tubby bodies.
Fortunately, the ketogenic way of life has been slowly reemerging from the shadows of purposeful ignorance into the dawning sunlight of acceptance. Faster public acceptance of persistent ketosis as the foundation for resisting the destructive encroachments of cardiovascular disease, obesity, adult-onset diabetes and metabolic syndrome has been hindered in large part by widespread misunderstandings over the alleged dangers of heavy fat consumption. Admittedly, it’s easy enough to fall into the trap of thinking that freely consuming fats and oils necessarily will make you as fat as a walrus, but the human body isn’t that simplistic. Decades of government-encouraged hysteria over the supposed evils of fat stand in stark contrast to the well-established merits of consuming almost exclusively fats and oils for energy while ingesting just enough daily protein to meet the body’s requirements for maintaining lean body mass, repairing damaged tissues and possibly beefing up muscle mass through weight lifting and other physical activities.
Celebrities That Swear By Keto
In the summer of 2015, a trim, fit Lindsey Vonn hotted up the red carpet at the ESPY Awards after having made a remarkable comeback from two severe injuries, including a broken right leg, and subsequent major surgeries to repair her damaged knees. She added to the heat by beating out Ronda Rousey, the brutal MMA fighter, Breanna Stewart, the energetic Seattle Storm basketball player, and Serena Williams, the superstar tennis player, for the title of Best Female Athlete. Vonn also picked up an uncontested Best Comeback Athlete award in the women’s category.
While talking with Enews, Lindsey Vonn understandably soft-shoed her way past the inevitable questions about her relationship with ex-boyfriend Tiger Woods before getting down to the meat of the matter, which was how she had recovered from her knee problems with the utmost in flair. She said, “I eat bacon and avocados, and I own butter. You know, just eat a lot of fat.” At the risk of annoying women everywhere who struggle daily with stubborn flab, she expressed a desire to add a little weight after having dropped to 160 pounds, less than she weighed before her injuries sidelined her skiing career. She admitted, “I am trying to eat as much as I can.” Regardless, the 31-year-old beauty’s stunning figure continues to give hosannas to the power of fat to banish flab.
Mick Jagger, the immortal Rolling Stones star, rolls on without a pause as he awaits yet another child at the age of 72, this time from his hookup with American beauty Melanie Hamrick, a 29-year-old ballerina. Jagger maintains his youthful energy and shockingly trim figure with an unwavering determination to reap the health and longevity benefits of a ketogenic-style diet and an accompanying habit of regular exercise that includes running and resistance training.
Despite having arrived late in life to the ketogenic scene, Mick Jagger’s obvious vigor promises to strut its stuff into the next twenty years. As the rock star said of his eternal career in a brief 2015 interview with The Columbus Dispatch, “It’s always a real, huge adrenaline rush every time you walk out there. … I don’t think the thrill of that ever goes away.”
Kim Kardashian rapidly dropped her post-baby pudge after a second pregnancy with her Atkins diet, a ketogenic-style approach popular with many celebrities. In an August 2016 post from her subscription-only app, Kardashian admitted that a six-month struggle with dropping 50 pounds after her first child led her to rely on a ketogenic approach for shedding flab after her second child left her staggering under 70 pounds of unwanted tubbiness.
“It isn’t easy to just bounce back,” Kardashian wrote in her post. Still, the summer of 2016 saw her post-baby body looking like a million bucks. “Having a positive self-image has always been important to me because it affects so many aspects of my life,” Kim Kardashian said, displaying her trademark enthusiasm for all that life holds.
Brian Cushing, the handsome linebacker known for adding Hulk-like power to the Houston Texans lineup, regularly starts his mornings by slamming down a non-nonsense cup of strong coffee fortified with a half-stick of butter. The rest of his day meets with a similar devotion to carnivorous meals that seem only to have increased his Wolverine-like muscularity. Opposing teams battered by the Houston Texans undoubtedly have been giving a closer look at the merits of a ketogenic diet for beefing up their savage soldiers of the football field.
Alyssa Milano, the pixie-faced actress who has charmed America and much of the rest of the world since co-starring with Tony Danza in the 1984–1992 sitcom “Who’s the Boss?” and movies such as “Dance ’til Dawn,” released in 1988 to a warm reception, recently recruited the ketogenic-style Atkins diet into helping her dump 46 pounds in her quest to return to a svelte 126 pounds from a depressing 172 pounds. The new weight accentuates her classic features and athletic body. In an interview with Celebrity Health Fitness, she remarked, “I feel so much better than I did before!” Commenting on the Atkins diet, Milano said, “You know that feeling … where your stomach’s growling and you’re angry and moody? There’s none of that because you’re getting fats and proteins.”
Nor is the appeal of a ketogenic approach limited to a few well-known personalities. Gossip rags and popular social media websites have regularly implicated the ketogenic diet and its close cousins, including the Atkins diet, the Paleo diet and the Bulletproof diet, as having slimmed down celebrities such as Megan Fox, LeBron James, David Pocock, Alec Baldwin, Göran Persson and innumerable others.
Jumping into Ketogenic Magic
Vigorously adopting persistent ketosis as the golden path to health and fitness is as simple as abandoning consumption of any carbohydrates other than the few grams found in very low-carbohydrate foods such as almonds or other nuts and many vegetables. Existing stores of flour, sugar, potatoes and other unwelcome reminders of a tubby past can be donated to food pantries or dumped into the compost heap for the worms. In the wonderful world of ketosis, carbohydrates recede into near irrelevancy as unavoidable byproducts of consuming rich sources of essential vitamins and minerals such as nuts and leafy green vegetables, including phytochemical-laden broccoli, kale, beet greens and spinach. The canard that humans require significant daily amounts of vitamin C from fruits and from certain vegetables such as potatoes is bluntly contradicted by a compelling study of the Inuit, natives of Greenland and Arctic regions of the North American continent, that conclusively established that their traditional winter diets of almost exclusively whale blubber and modest amounts of protein from dried fish did not result in scurvy or other measurable vitamin deficiencies.
A ketogenic diet represents nothing more than a long-overdue return to the ancient knowledge that our bodies crave and need fat for energy while demanding only enough protein to maintain and rebuild body tissues. While an explosion of public interest in the concepts underlying the ketogenic diet has resulted in schismatic movements such as the Paleo diet and the Bulletproof diet, strictly ketogenic diets probably remain the best acknowledgment of fundamental biological processes that demand fat as the body’s primary energy source. Indeed, the most important organ in the human body, the brain, will happily hum along on an exclusive diet of ketone bodies, and more than a few fans of the ketogenic diet have reported an enduring state of mental clarity and wakefulness after having fully adjusted to pure ketogenesis over a few weeks or months.
The most startling aspect of the ketogenic approach for many novices is a weird disappearance of physical hunger after the first four days or so of kicking carbohydrates to the curb. This unexpected but highly welcome development probably accounts for the bulk of the powerful ability of ketosis to encourage a gradual but relentless loss of unneeded body fat. Overeating rich foods still can contribute to persistent obesity or at least seriously slow the disappearance of excessive adipose tissue, but moving beyond the agonizing pangs of carbohydrate-fueled hunger is a great leap forward for many failed dieters resigned to the inevitability of surrendering to the siren song of frosted donuts, buttered slabs of French bread, deep-fried hush puppies and other minions of the evil empire of sugar and starches. Ketogenesis-focused social media groups have seen a remarkable stream of anecdotal reports from extremely obese individuals who systematically shed up to half of their former body weights, often also achieving startling improvements in common markers of health such as increased blood levels of high-density cholesterol.
Adapting fully to ketosis isn’t properly understood as a quick fad diet to be abandoned after dropping a few meaningless pounds. Accepting the supremacy of marbled beef steaks, roasted chickens covered in their crisp, fatty skins, richly larded pork chops, tender fish fillets fried in olive oil and other wolfish delicacies is in truth a deeply satisfying way of life. Once your body reverts to a natural state of relying on a steady supply of ketone bodies rather than a damaging cycle of blood-sugar spikes, there’s little reason to ever return to worshiping the mean-spirited god of carbohydrates and its giggling cherubs of flab, sugar and starch. In fact, the ascendancy of the genial god of fat means that formerly greedy fat cells will shrink from the burly return of growth hormone as the primary enforcer of equality between all body tissues, leading to irresistible raids on stored body fat to feed a human body no longer accustomed to desperately grasping at phantom surges of blood sugar.
Still, extended ketosis does produce some changes. Sudden water loss is an inevitable side effect of almost any diet, and long-term ketosis tends to induce the body into persistently discarding excess fluids. A common side effect of rigorous adherence to ketogenic food choices is the occasional eruption of debilitating leg and hand cramps, headaches and constipation stemming from loss of electrolytes including magnesium, sodium and potassium, so you’ll probably want to protect yourself with an inexpensive daily multivitamin tablet and a magnesium supplement such as magnesium citrate. Sodium and potassium deficiencies, which can occur with alarming frequency in summertime or under other circumstances that evoke significant sweating, are best addressed with sports drinks like Gatorade. A dirt-cheap substitute for commercial sports drinks can be created with Morton Lite Salt, an artificial sweetener such as saccharin and tap water.
Helpful Books and Products
The growing popularity of the ketogenic way of life has encouraged a beefy supply of supporting books and useful products, a few of which appear below.
Morton Lite Salt, widely available from grocery stores and supermarkets, serves as an inexpensive and popular electrolyte supplement for dedicated ketogenic disciples, providing 290 milligrams of sodium and 350 milligrams of potassium per 1/4-teaspoon measure.
Low-cost Necta Sweet saccharin tablets kick up the sweetness for inventive ketogenic desserts designed to coldly ignore the absence of sugars and starches. Some ketogenic fans create an ultra-cheap sports drink by mixing a full teaspoon of Morton Lite Salt and three to four 1/2-grain saccharin tablets into two to three liters of water.
Inexpensive test strips for detecting ketone bodies in your urine are widely available from pharmacies and some mass-market chain stores such as Walmart. While not strictly necessary, they’re favored by many novices at ketogenic dieting for initially measuring idiosyncratic personal responses to varying levels of carbohydrate consumption. Walmart offers its own brand of ReliOn ketone-body test strips at a somewhat lower cost than name-brand versions. True cheapskates can even carefully slice a few test strips at a time in half along the length with a sharp pair of scissors and a steady hand, but the strips have a severely limited shelf life after exposure to air and moisture and must be used before long.
Needless to say, a good bathroom scale will help with tracking the inevitable ups and downs that occur even with the remarkable ability of a ketogenic diet to body-slam formerly arrogant deposits of self-satisfied fat cells into slinking away in despair. The Eatsmart Precision Plus electronic bathroom scale has proven to be a reasonably priced and fairly reliable choice for hefty owners who may require its ample weight range and extra-wide platform.
Gary Taubes’ popular treatment of ketogenesis, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, has become almost a mandatory read for those who wish to thoroughly understand the rationale behind the ketogenic diet and the sordid history surrounding its virtual disappearance for over half a century.
Those who want to dive deeper into the arcana of ketogenesis may find fascinating reading in a windily named The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable, which brings a cornucopia of observations and clinical details from physician Stephen D. Phinney.
Obviously, exploring the richly flavored delights of a ketogenic lifestyle calls for a reasonable stockpile of cooking fats and oils. Discerning cooks probably will want a decent supply of extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil for very low-heat cooking and for dribbling over steamed vegetables while light olive oil performs well for medium-heat baking, frying, sautéing and grilling. Peanut oil or cheap corn oil performs nicely for high-heat applications such as deep-frying, and cold-pressed canola oil brings a reasonable lipid profile to most cooking applications. Butter will easily find employment as a tasty, healthy ingredient in many ketogenic dishes, and virgin coconut oil such as Trader Joe’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil has seen considerable popularity for high-heat cooking and as a major ingredient in the internet sensation ketogenic coffee, sometimes called bulletproof coffee.
Furthermore, fiber-rich nutritional powerhouses such as broccoli and asparagus are best when bought fresh, but frozen broccoli or asparagus keeps nicely in the freezer and steams quickly into delicious accompaniments for meals featuring pork, chicken and fish. Canned kale and spinach will do in a pinch, but nearly anyone with functioning taste buds will prefer the wonderful flavor and texture of lightly steamed, fresh leafy green vegetables.