Even though New Castle diet helped me reverse diabetes briefly, I was unsatisfied with it during maintenance period (I was adding back a paunch, having difficulty with adding muscle mass) as a tool for beating diabetes, I went looking for a better solution and stumbled on to ketogenic diet.
When I started looking for a better alternative to New Castle diet, I vaguely recalled a TED talk by Peter Attia, wherein he was talking about eating fat rich food and to successfully reverse his pre-diabetes. Back when I heard it first, it sounded too illogical for me to take it seriously. His crying on the stage didn’t help the matter much either!
But desperation is a mother of invention. I went looking for the talk again and googled his name to land up in his blog EatingAcademy. I learnt about the low-carb/high-fat diet, discovered pioneers like Stephen Phinney and the secrets that have been hidden in plain sight for the last 30 years:
- Fat in the blood and stored in the body are produced endogenously. It is not the fat the fat we eat
- In response to the carbs we eat, body produces plenty of insulin. Protein we eat produce some amount of insulin. Whereas, when we eat fat, body doesn’t produce any insulin at all
- Since presence of insulin is required for storing fat, don’t eat insulin causing food and you won’t put on fat
Eat very little carbs
some protein and
lots of fat
The general practice among the low-carb crowd is to consume 10% of daily calorie input from carbs, 20% from protein and 70% from fat.
I went and bought a bunch of Kindle books on ketogenic diet and one of them, The Blood Code, turned out to be a gem. Like Peter Attia, the author of the book, Richard Maurer, is a physician who was diagnosed with diabetes. He adopted ketogenic diet to reverse his diabetes and to help several others to do so. In the book, he presented a simple way to arrive at suggested amount carb intake based on the measure of one’s Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR).
Other than that, Richard Maurer also brings across an important aspect of ketogenic food:
The body stores about 2,000C of glucose in the muscle and liver, largely derived from carbohydrate that we eat. When the body runs on carbohydrate as fuel, the fuel runs out in a day or two.
However, there is 9,000C of stored energy in every kg of body fat. It means that an adult male of about 25BMI stores about 150,000C to 200,000C of energy as fat! That is sufficient to fuel the body for 100 to 200 days!
Ketogenic food came with the added promises of
- No more paunch
- No more diabetes
- No more blood sugar spiking (since one doesn’t eat carbs) and hence there is no risk of microangiopathy
- Eat till satiation kicks in (at this point in time, I am eating about 2,300C and still losing fat)
- Though I am not a foodie, I can’t ignore that the food is delicious
At this point in time, I had been on keto for nearly three months.
- My blood sugar and lipid levels normalized during the first 10 days
- Three months in, my HbA1c is at 5.0%, putting me squarely in non-diabetic range
- My energy levels are up throughout the day
- No incidences of dysthymia that I can think of
- Mind is laser focused most of the time
- My androgen and cortisol levels are better than they used to be
Are there any catches?
- You must expect some ‘mind-fog’ in the first few days after starting keto (to me, it felt like that ‘mind could not breath'; I had to eat something to feel better). But once your body switches to ketones as primary fuel, which happens in a few days/weeks, mind becomes clearer than it was on carb fuel.
- Low carb causes hair fall, at least for a few weeks after starting
- There is no Indian keto recipe that I am aware of
- Carb is everywhere. Cooking low-carb food poses special challenges
- Carb is cheap; packaged food is almost always carb rich
- If you carb-binge, particularly if you were/are diabetic and/or obese, you will have to work the next three to four weeks to reverse the damage
- My low density cholesterol (LDL) level have grown astronomically high; but keto crowd advises us to ignore it and measure LDL-P instead
- Ketogenic food is known to reduce bone density and increase chances of kidney stone; presently, I’m looking for a way to
- This, I think, is the most important of all catches: No one knows what a life-time of ketogenic food will do to the body. After all, it took us world 50 years of indulgence to realize that low-fat food causes obesity, isn’t it!
My wife Ann has done a phenomenal job of putting together a keto menu for the family. Visit her blog at ann.saravanan.org as she plans to share here discoveries.
Visit this link for my other posts on beating diabetes, including my take on diabetic surgery.