Updated: Jan 18
I’ve worked for over twenty years in the health industry. I’ve worked in hospitals, private health practices, with individuals from all walks of life and all demographics and the one thing I have seen in common with everyone over the span of my career is this one misconceptions when is comes to weight loss.
There is a long-standing belief, stemming from some poor research conducted back in the fifties, that fat is bad for us and a diet rich in wholegrains is the way to a slim, healthy, long life. This is far from the truth when it comes to human health. In fact it is a diet high in carbohydrates combined with inflammatory fats and processed food that is causing our weight to sky-rocket and our energy and health to plummet.
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What is the number one mistake we make when it comes to how we eat?!
We are in essence duel-fuel burners, a human energy hybrid. A sophisticated, survive-at-all-costs species evolved to adapt to our changing environment. We are wired to eat in certain ways, ways that allow us to optimise the potential of our brain and effectively fuel the powerhouse of our physical body. As humans we have an edge when it comes to ensuring our long-term survival. We have evolved to be able to burn two types of fuel to produce the energy needed to drive our incredible body. One, an emergency fuel that burns hot and fast, with little regard for by-product or efficiency, carbohydrates. The other, a much more stable, efficient, sustainable source of fuel, fat.
Having two forms of fuel that we can use to produce energy provides us with an evolutionary advantage. It enables us to survive for long periods of time without having to eat…yes, I did just say that we are designed to go for quite some time without food! That sounds crazy when resisting the mid-morning oat bar calling from our bag ten minutes after plonking ourselves at our desk at 9am is hard enough! The hold food has over us has much more to do with our genetic biochemistry, disrupted metabolic hormones, our mismatched gut bacteria and roller-coasting blood sugars than will power and discipline. We are overfed and undernourished and our biochemical signalling becomes so disrupted that the predominant message from our brain is…eat like your life depends on it!
So, forgive yourself, that constant drive to eat has far more to do with your survival genes kicking in than being greedy. We must stabilise our biochemistry, balance out the metabolic hormones and start working with our body’s blueprint for survival…but how?!
Fat for Fuel
Energy is needed by the body for two functions, to drive cellular function and to repair and replenish cells. Poor energy production will therefore result in either poor cellular function and premature aging or both. Our currency of energy (ATP), is produced by minute energy-producing power-houses called mitochondria. These mighty mitochondria create the energy our hugely hungry brains require to function, they fuel our skeletal muscles, pump our heart and are essential to life. In order to create energy, the mitochondria combine oxygen from the air you breathe, with fuel from the food you eat. Our energy-producing mitochondria will dutifully produce energy based upon what we feed them.
For a long time, it was the common belief by science boffins that our mitochondria were fuelled by glucose and glucose alone. Glucose is produced when carbohydrates are broken down by the body. Therefore, the belief was that energy came from eating carbohydrate-rich foods.
We now know that the body uses an alternative source of fuel, a cleaner, longer lasting fuel that the brain and heart prefer, the breakdown of healthy fats produces ketones. The more scientists discover about ketones, the more we understand the anti-inflammatory, regenerative power of these mighty metabolic molecules.
When we continuously consume carbs, we are essentially training our bodies to become resistant to burning our own stored source of fat. As we consume more and more wholegrain carbs, brown breads, pastas and cereals, we lay down a pathway of burning glucose or sugar for fuel. Leaving our body with stubborn body fat that doesn’t want to shift.
Many people then resort to a low fat, high carb diet…
This only serves to make us feel hungry, deprived and can even lower your metabolic rate. One of the reasons it is thought that most individuals who lose weight from a calorie restricted diet end up gaining more weight than they originally lost.
So how can we shift the resistant weight…gain health and reduce inflammation in our body?!
· Reduce your carbohydrate intake, ideally to 50g or under per day. Wheat and wheat products and sugar is a great place to start. Swap your daily wheat loaf for a grain-free alternative (see the recipe below)
· Intermittent fasting. When you give your body a period of time without eating, it will turn to its own reserve of stored fuel. Fat. This comes with time, initially it can feel a little difficult as your blood sugars maybe up and down like a yoyo as your trained your body to be a professional sugar burner! As you start burning your own fat reserves for fuel your blood sugars stabilse and hunger levels reduce.
· Don’t go low calorie! Eat plenty of low-carb veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, green leafy veg and colourful vegetables. Eat healthy fats such as avocados, olives, eggs, nuts, seeds, fatty fish and fatty meats, avoiding processed meats and processed meals which contain unhealthy trans fats, additives and preservatives.
· Go with your gut. Improving gut health will see your happy hormones increase, your digestive health improve and your good gut bacteria will help drive fat burning instead of bad gut bacteria instructing your body to store fat. Health promoting foods such as sauerkraut, live yoghurt and kefir are all great for boosting gut health.
Remember, it is not the healthy fats in our diet that is making us fat…it is the carbohydrates. Don’t blame the fat for what carbs did!
To learn more about how to follow an anti-inflammatory, low-carb, healthy ketogenic lifestyle, we are running a series of courses, from our beginners evening, to our four-week programme and for those who have been following a keto diet for a while but your weight may have plateaued and you want to learn more, we have some news coming soon!!
Keto Bread rolls
These bread rolls are my lifesaver! I adore them and eat them regularly. I slice them and freeze them so that I have them to hand at he pop of a toaster! The psyllium husk is a fantastic source of fibre for your friendly gut bacteria. The sesame, chia and other wonderful ingredients make these rolls a real nutrient-dense hit!
Makes: 15 rolls
Cooking time: 45 mins
150g psyllium husk
150g coconut flour
100g almond flour
30g chia seed (ground)
30g linseed (ground)
30g sesame seed (ground)
5tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp salt
2 caps apple cider vinegar
60g coconut oil
Lets do this
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. I use my hands and just rub all of the ingredients together until it resembles an evenly coloured sand. Mix all of the wet ingredients together. Combine the wet mixture with dry. Work it all together into a nice dough. It will look very odd when you initially add all of the liquid to the dry! It will very quickly absorb the moisture and turn into a rather interesting Play Doh consistency! Weight out 100g portions (or eye ball it!) Pour a little melted coconut oil into your hands and work each portion into a smooth ball. Place on baking sheet lined parchment paper. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Bake for 45 minutes.
Let them cool and then slice and freeze or store in the fridge for 4 days.
For more recipes and information on living a healthy keto lifestyle see Primal Living in a Modern World.