The Toronto Star Featuring Raj “Keto Coach”

 

Today is an exciting day for me. I got onto the cover of the Life section of The Toronto Star newspaper where I discussed the benefits of ketosis, and the ketogenic diet for health, weight-loss, diabetes control and more with reporter Zoe McKnight of the Toronto Star. So glad a large paper like them is taking notice of the keto diet, and helping spread the word of the benefits. We need more large voices like this to speak up and educate our society!

Here is a link to the original article: https://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/2016/12/05/can-a-bacon-butter-ball-diet-actually-work.html 

The below content is owned by the Toronto Star.

Bacon and eggs rolled into a ball with mayonnaise. Bacon, avocado and butter balls. Peanut butter, cocoa and butter balls.

Those three recipes might sound like the nutritional fantasies of an adolescent or Homer Simpson, but they are a few examples of “fat bombs,” permitted on the latest trendy weight-loss diet that even a few years ago might have seemed outrageous.

But as experts debate whether carbohydrates or calories, sugar or fat are the true enemy of maintaining a healthy weight, the Ketogenic diet — basically an amped-up Paleo or Atkins diet — has moved into the realm of reasonable. Fat bombs are a preferred snack for followers of this low-carb, high fat plan.

The basic principle is simple: the body burns carbohydrates as its primary source of fuel and denying it those carbs forces the body to burn fat. This is achieved by eating a diet that’s mostly fat.

the-toronto-star-newspaper-features-ketosis-diet-raj-patel-keto-coachTo function properly the human brain is dependent on glucose, derived from sugars. When that’s unavailable, the liver will break down fat instead, producing molecules called ketones as an alternate energy source. This metabolic state, known as ketosis, keeps the brain working normally even during times of starvation.

Ketosis is a normal process though people eating a balanced diet may never experience it. The keto diet has been attributed to rapid and dramatic weight loss though some experts question whether eating a maximum of 50 grams of carbohydrates a day — the equivalent of a cup of oatmeal, or two slices of bread and an apple — is sustainable. Many followers consume much less. Many also test their ketones with a urine test.

Raj Patel, 40, has limited his carbs to 30 grams daily for six years. He’s now a self-taught keto coach who helps design meal plans for his clients, many of whom want to lose weight or manage their diabetes. Patel was 35 when he first read about keto on a bodybuilding website. He was pumping iron but getting nowhere and weighed more than he wanted to. After adopting a keto diet, he dropped from 240 to 175 pounds in two years.

Now, he’ll eat eggs, bacon, coconut oil, avocado and spinach for breakfast; chicken legs with skin and salad with olive oil for lunch; full-fat ground beef, avocado and broccoli for dinner. No fruit, no dairy, no alcohol and no starchy carbs.

“I look younger now than I did then,” Patel said. He branded My Keto Coach to help others navigate the complex meal requirements and has even designed a vegetarian version of the meat-heavy menu.

Kim Kardashian is a de facto follower of the keto diet. She’s a celebrity spokesmodel for the Atkins Diet and credited her post-baby weight loss to that regimen, which helped launch the low-carb craze of two decades ago. The keto diet is similar to the Atkins “induction phase,” which allows about 20 grams of carbs per day. That’s two or three carrots or a cup of acorn squash.

The Atkins diet had its moment in the late 1990s and the early 2000s and fell out of vogue after its champion, Dr. Robert Atkins, suffered a cardiac arrest in 2002 and died the following year.

It was debated at the time whether his heart problems were related to his high-fat diet, but more recent studies have shown that fat, even saturated fat from red meat, cheese and coconut oil, are probably no worse for your heart than carbohydrates.

In fact, some experts now believe sugar and carbs may be the real cause of obesity.

“The thing is, your body doesn’t care about calories. It doesn’t measure calories and has no idea what calories are. If you take 100 calories of chocolate chip cookies or 100 calories of salad, the metabolic effect is totally different,” said Dr. Jason Fung, a kidney expert at Scarborough General Hospital and author of the 2016 book The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss. In it, he argues the real culprit is too much insulin, which tells the body to store energy.

“If the problem is too much insulin, we need to lower insulin,” said Fung, director of the Intensive Dietary Management Program clinic.

Dietary fat has almost no insulin response, he said. Hence the butter-bacon balls.

Some elite athletes, such as NBA stars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, Tour de France winner Chris Froome and the Australian cricket team have attributed high-profile weight loss to very low-carb diets.

A transition period may result in what’s known as the keto flu, a feeling of lethargy, nausea and mental fog. Once in ketosis, which can be measured with urine testing strips, many people report weird-smelling breath and urine, but also feeling less hunger and more energy.

It may be effective, but the nature of dieting predicts a high risk of failure, said obesity expert Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, assistant professor at the University of Ottawa and medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute.

To remain in ketosis, followers have to avoid “a huge swath of our modern day food environment,” Freedhoff said, adding there is no long-term data on the diet.

“Ketosis isn’t particularly dangerous or magical. It’s another one of a thousand ways a person might try to control their dietary intake … it still does come down to energy intake and output.”

Nicole Bourgeois maintained it for more than two years, but fell off after trying to incorporate dairy back into her diet. Between 2012 and 2014, she lost more than 65 pounds in six months.

The former vegetarian had relied on breads and pasta to feel full but didn’t like how the future looked at 210 pounds. Her keto diet, at 3,000 calories a day, changed her relationship with food.

“You are not wearing the ball and chain of sugar,” said Bourgeois, 41, who works in administration in Toronto. “My life is simpler when I’m living this lifestyle.”

She’s trying to return to ketosis but the adjustment period is rough.

“One foot in and one foot out is the worst possible place to be,” Bourgeois said.

Even a little cheating can sideline the diet’s effects, said Toronto registered dietitian Abby Langer.

“You have to maintain ketosis. It’s not a diet you can step out of on the weekends and step back into. You have to maintain it to use the fat as energy.”

If someone cheated and ate pizza, the body would switch back to using the carbs as energy, she said. Add that onto a day of chicken skin and fat bombs, and you could be in trouble.

“Most dietitians will say it’s not healthy,” Langer says, but she disagrees. If weight loss is the primary goal, it’s effective, but she warns having a social life or running long distances without carbs could be tough.

In the 1920s, doctors in the U.S. started to investigate a starvation diet as a treatment for epilepsy, according to the journal Epilepsia. The absence of carbohydrates appeared to force the body to burn fat.

Starvation being unsustainable, doctors then developed a strict 4:1 fat to protein and carbohydrate ratio to reduce seizure activity in children, which remains a recognized treatment today.

Some studies have suggested the diet can potentially play a role in the treatment of other illnesses such as diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, acne, neurological diseases, even cancer and cardiovascular disease, according to a 2013 report in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

But not everyone is convinced.

“It has kind of a science-y background that may make it seem like it has more legitimacy as a diet for all of us than it really does,” said Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta and author of Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash.

“For most human beings, there’s nothing special about this diet,” he said.

In general, most diets work when people pay attention to what they’re eating, which is often for only a short period of time, he said. When it comes to healthy weight loss, a diet has to be maintained forever.

“We always see these different macronutrients getting emphasized,” he said, referring to the carbohydrates, fats and proteins that make up the building blocks of food.

“Look at the different diets throughout history, and there are literally hundreds. Name one that, over the long term, has turned out to work. You can’t. They all perform about the same, regardless of the macronutrient being emphasized.”

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