There is a new fad out there that alternates between fat and carbs burning diets with cheat days. Let me try to post the video here that is trying to do a great explanation about what it is. Below the video I posted a long response but there is no guarantee that such will remain… so I post it in the open as well. In case that does not work, here is the link to the video as well.
There are some major errors in the explanation provided. The explanation certainly sounds good. So let me explain some of the problems:
1) We cannot burn fat for energy unless we are in ketosis. To get into ketosis (the low carbs phase only lower carbs) takes several days to weeks.
2) One of the things that happen while converting into the fat burning mode is that all glucose storage gets emptied. This increases glucose in the blood for a few days until it can leave since insulin at that point is not using glucose but is starting to modulate ketones (it cannot do both). This has been tested by me several times as I was coming in and out of ketosis on purpose to see what happens to glucose. Each time glucose went up (not unreasonably up but out of the normal range). So glucose is floating in your blood, creating the suspicion of insulin resistance in your body, since glucose has not picked it up. This is a bad sign and is best to go through this only very seldom.
3) After your body emptied all glucose, it turns into a fat burning machine. Fat burning is called ketogenic mode of fuel burning (I am not using the diet word since it is really not meant for diet albeit many people use it for that. It coincidentally burns all fat your body does not need–the ones that are around your organs, such as visceral fat–and the fat you eat).
4) Your body actually does not need carbs–look into the diets of those aboriginals living in Nordic locations living off fatty sea food such as whales and walrus blubber. Once the body is a fat burning body, it burns only fat.
5) Low carbs diets (under 50 grams but over some “magic gram” to be calculated based on body mass and caloric goal) the body goes into starvation mode and hence leptin ( hormone) slows the metabolic process so that your body can get through the starving period and survive on less food. If you are only reducing carbs and do nothing else, indeed, you will start gaining weight from a single grape. Your metabolism is tinkered with the wrong way. Watch this video by Dr. Lustig to understand the role of leptin and what it does as it reduces your metabolism and why.
6) If you have your body calibrated (by a specialist) to ideal carbs intake such that you remain in ketosis (fat burning) your metabolism does not slow down. It becomes a different metabolism. Ask an Inuit how often they go the gym to work out and when they had their last Starbucks latte… They may have them now but they sure did not 50 years ago. At that time they were healthy.. not so much today with the arrival of carbs! The Inuit only ate fatty meat and nothing else. They used salty water to cook soups and gave the lean meats to their dogs…
7) Because it is such an incredibly difficult task for the body to get into the state of ketosis where you burn fat instead of sugar, and because it alters what your insulin does, a so-called “cheat day” knocks you out of ketosis completely–recall it takes several days to weeks of getting back into ketosis… so a single cheat day means several days to several weeks of getting back!
8) On a cheat day, insulin has to change over and start recepting glucose instead of fat… great! It takes 2-3 days to several weeks for it to be able to do that. So now your body is getting the message that you have insulin resistance; again! So when is your next cheat day? If the following week or month, you are teetering between two metabolic processes with neither getting a chance of working–now we are talking metabolic problems!
9) If you keep on repeating this regularly, you may just end up with insulin resistance! For those who don’t realize, that is called type 2 diabetes.
In conclusion, if you want a weight loss diet, go for a weight loss diet. If you want to change how your body functions and how your body uses energy, get on the ketogenic diet and STAY there for a longer period of time. Do not go in and out. That will land you in the world of diabetes even if you ate no sugar in your entire life.
I have been doing a lot of studying up on these various diets, not for the sake of losing weight but for their therapeutic purposes. Ketogenic diet is tested now for seizures, MS, Parkinson’s, autism, and a lot of brain damage conditions because glucose damages neuron’s myelin (insulation) and fat is needed to repair it.
However, fat can not be used in our metabolic processes unless we get into ketosis… so ketogenic diets, while they are low carbs diets, they are used as medicinal options for treating diseases and is not primarily used for diets albeit if done right you will lose weight. However, unless you are calibrated by a professional to know how much carbs and protein and fat you should consume, you may indeed mess up your metabolism. So don’t do it alone! Talk to an expert.
One additional important thing the author of the video is not talking about: protein. If you increase your protein, you are doing a tremendous disservice to your ambition in both endurance sports and in diet. That is because the body converts proteins to glucose via a process called gluconeogenesis. This is a very difficult process and causes what is called the “stinky diet” because of the enzyme the liver creates in processing all that protein.
So going low carbs will not get you anywhere healthy or thin unless you also lower your protein and increase your fat intake. If you increase your protein while lowering your carbs, your body will convert protein to carbs and then later your muscles are the next food item–self cannibalism. That is the nature of gluconeogenesis.
So if you want to lose fat, lose fat the right way and talk to an expert to find out what is YOUR best way of losing fat. Everybody is different, plus you may have health conditions that reduce your options.
And lastly and most importantly, if you have diabetes 2 or 1 or 1.5, do not attempt low carbs diets without the aid of a doctor who monitors your health and insulin levels. Both carbs and fat digestion needs insulin. Thus having limited (type 2) or not having any (types 1 and 1.5) and stopping carbs does not mean you can live without insulin in the fat burning world and you may get hurt! You still need insulin only different amount. So before you jump, discuss with your healthcare provider and don’t be surprised if they have no idea what you are talking about.
Although ketogenic diet is over 2000 years old, modern medicines kicked it out-of-the-way (no pharma money in eating fat) so they replaced it with voltage gated calcium blocking medicines, that kill children… one just died last week, a daughter of a friend of a friend.
This is serious stuff and not for “everyday” challenge of your body.
Comments are welcome as always!