What in the heck is the Ketogenic Diet? (Part 2 of 6)


So last week we talked about how as humans we have two primary sources of fuel, sugars and fats. We used the analogy that being a sugar burner is like trying to use sticks and twigs in your fireplace to heat your house, as opposed to becoming a fat burner, and putting a log on the fireplace as an alternative way to heat your home. The log (fat) is more efficient, burns cleaner, lasts longer, and is a more consistent source of fuel. Think about eating a meal high in carbohydrates or eating a candy bar to get a quick burst of energy. What usually happens is about two hours after ingesting the meal or the candy bar, you get sluggish. The initial burst of energy is gone, and you get the inevitable “carbohydrate crash” that we’ve all experienced. Conversely, eating meals with a high fat content, have the opposite effect, they give you more energy and keep your hunger satiated.

Now we need to differentiate between a low carbohydrate lifestyle, and the no carbohydrate lifestyle some people have gotten themselves into. Carbohydrates are not evil, it’s the eating of too many carbohydrates that causes problems. To continue our analogy, carbohydrates should be looked at as kindling. In the fireplace. You use kindling to help get the log to ignite. Get the kindling burning, and eventually the log starts burning too. When it comes to energy production, it’s the same mechanism. The carbohydrates act like kindling, they get the entire process started. It would be just as silly to try to heat your house with all kindling as it is to try and provide fuel for your body by eating mostly carbohydrates. It’s why people get so hungry when they burn sugar for energy. The carbohydrates burn quickly, provide a quick burst of energy, and then a brief time later send us out looking for more carbohydrates to consume, to keep the “fire” burning.

This process is one of the major causes of obesity in our country. Because we get quick bursts of energy from sugar consumption, our bodies are always in sugar craving mode. Once the initial burst wears off, we needto go looking for more. The problem is that there is only a finite amount of sugar our bodies require, and anything above that limit gets stored as body fat. This craving for sugar/energy is more addictive than cocaine, which is why so many people give in to the craving and are ultimately obese. It is a self-replicating cycle, that over time can make people sicker and sicker as they get heavier and heavier. Why is burning fat so much better? We’ll talk about it next week.

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