Dr L: What is Ketosis?
Jimmy Moore: Put simply, ketosis is a metabolic state that happens when you consume a customized low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet that causes your body to switch from using glucose as its primary source of fuel to running mostly on ketones and fatty acids. Ketones themselves are produced when the body burns fat, and they’re used as an alternative fuel source when glucose isn’t available. In other words, your body changes from being a sugar-burner to a fat-burner. It’s a completely normal and natural state that happens within a few days to a few weeks in most people who reduce their carbohydrate intake, moderate their protein consumption, and consume dietary fat, especially saturated fat, to satiety.
Dr L: What is a ketogenic diet all about and how can ketosis be used to deal with many chronic health problems?
Jimmy Moore: Traditionally people have looked at the ketogenic diet in one of two ways–a natural therapy for treating epileptic seizures or for weight loss. However, there are so many more conditions that a low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat, ketogenic diet can help with. Shifting the body from relying on glucose as the major fuel source to one that uses fat and ketones for fuel has been shown in solid research over one year in length to help not just with epilepsy and weight loss, but also Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), GERD and heartburn, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). There’s good evidence of less than one year that this way of eating is beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, dementia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, mental illness, narcolepsy and other sleep disorders, and even exercise performance. Finally, there’s emerging evidence where we have seen anecdotal stories of improvement for conditions like cancer, autism, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, migraines, traumatic brain injury and stroke, gum disease and tooth decay, acne, eyesight issues, Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, aging, kidney disease, restless leg syndrome, arthritis, alopecia and hair loss, and more. Modern medicine is currently prescribing some very powerful drugs with risky side effects attempting to deal with these things in their patients. So if there is a chance that a natural dietary solution can be as effective or better than these medications with no downsides, then why wouldn’t doctors want to try it?
Dr L: How did the principles of ketosis impact your own health?
Jimmy Moore: When I made the decision to start eating a low-carb, high-fat diet as my New Year’s resolution in 2004, I was frustrated by the failure of the conventional advice to cut your fat, reduce your calories, and exercise until you drop. That would work for a while, but I’d end up hungry, moody, and ultimately yet another failed experience. But at the age of 32, I had to do something since I weighed 410 pounds, was on three prescription medications, and was on a one-way ticket to an early grave. While it was very difficult in those early days switching over from being a sugar-burner to a fat-burner, the results were nearly instantaneous–100 pounds lost in 100 days, robust energy, clearer thinking, losing my cravings and desire for processed garbage, and completely off of all my medications in less than nine months. By the end of that year I had lost 180 pounds, but the changes in my mindset about food and the improvements in my health that results are much more interesting to me. I’ve beat back the genetic hand that gave my dad two heart attacks before the age of 50 and that killed my full-blooded brother Kevin at the age of 41. Ketosis saved me from that inevitable fate.
Dr L: How is your plan different from a low-carb diet or an Atkins type diet for weight loss?
Jimmy Moore: Excellent question and we address this one squarely in Chapter 2 of Keto Clarity. While I have the utmost respect for the work of the late, great Dr. Robert C. Atkins because he laid the foundation for interest in the ketogenic diet, he didn’t really communicate any concrete, practical advice for getting there and the technology for measuring for ketones has gotten a lot more sophisticated and precise in recent years. That’s why the concept of “nutritional ketosis” is a much better way of framing the idea of becoming keto-adapted or fat-adapted through the use of a well-formulated high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet. It helps us move away from fears of diabetic ketoacidosis and focus more on how we can control ketosis through nutrition. Simply eating a low-carb diet doesn’t mean you are in ketosis and that’s what makes keto different from Atkins. We include an acronym for KETO in the book to help people know what it takes to get into a state of ketosis: Keep carb low, Eat more fat, Test ketones often, and Overdoing protein is bad. We dedicate an entire chapter to each of these concepts with practical information about how to individualize the plan to your own carbohydrate tolerance and protein threshold to produce therapeutic levels of ketones.
Dr L: How is the “high fat” part of your diet significant?
Jimmy Moore: Consuming a high-fat diet is critical to making ketones happen. Make no mistake about it—a ketogenic diet is a fatty diet! Why is consuming more fat, especially saturated fat (found in butter, meat, cheese, and similar whole foods, for example), such an important part of a ketogenic diet?When you cut down on your carbohydrate consumption and moderate your protein intake, you need to replace the carbohydrate and protein with something. And that something is the only thing that is left—dietary fat. Saturated fat is basically safe for consumption in terms of your health. They don’t raise your blood sugar, and they don’t cause any harm when eaten to satiety. In fact, they are quite beneficial: they are anti-inflammatory, raise HDL cholesterol, help you feel full, and they help you create ketones. It might sound strange, but you need to eat fat in order to burn fat and you’ll feel the difference when you don’t consume enough fat. Because of our culture’s fat-phobia, I contend we have a saturated fat deficiency that is leading to more harm than good. So eat up on the butter, coconut oil, and full-fat meats and cheeses.