Have you tried every diet in the book, only to end up back where you started? Are you doing everything “right” but can’t get the scale to budge? Tune in to hear Ali and Becki take on the topic of dieting and explain why they consider themselves “diet-less” dietitians. Learn about the top dieting pitfalls and our approach to sustainable weight loss and lifestyle modification.
In this Episode, Ali and Becki explore modern approaches to dieting and uncover the main mistakes that dieters make that hinder weight loss. Learn about the idea of optimal health at any size, how over-restriction can throw the body out of balance and why Ali does not recommend a cheat day! From mindful indulgence to intermittent fasting and a ketogenic approach, this episode will reframe the way that you think about dieting and help you find freedom in your body with weight loss as merely a pleasant side effect!
Also in this Episode:
- Macronutrient Balance and Busting Diet Myths
- Resources for Getting Started with Sustainable Weight Loss
- Benefits of Intermittent Fasting and Ketosis
- Hormonal Regulation
- Cognitive Function and BDNF
- Autophagy and Regulation of Cancerous Cells
- Improved Digestion
Welcome to the Naturally Nourished podcast, that delivers cutting edge food as medicine solutions for optimum health. Ali Miller is a nutrition expert sought out by the media and America’s top medical institutes for her revolutionary functional medicine interventions. From disease treatment to prevention, every episode will empower you with ways to put yourself back in control of your health. Please note, the topics discussed are for educational purposes only. Now welcome integrative dietitians Ali Miller and her co-host Becki Yoo.
Ali: Welcome to episode 50 of the Naturally Nourished podcast: Why Diets Fail. Woohoo – episode 50. I’m Ali here with Becki.
B: Hey guys.
A: And I am still delightfully overwhelmed with all things ketosis, literally just having returned from KetoCon and next week we launch our Virtual Ketosis Program so, yes, my brain is fueled on ketone bodies and I am thinking all things high fat low carb. But today’s topic really ties really organically into this and is on why diets fail.
B: So before we get into our topic, Ali, let’s just do a little recap of what KetoCon exactly is, what you were doing while you were there, who you met, and what any of the major trends or a-ha moments were for you.
A: Sure so it is a conference, the largest national conference, and maybe largest conference in the world, I’m not sure about that but definitely largest national conference on ketosis and low carb lifestyle, and it was put together by Brian Williamson of the Ketovangelists and Jimmy Moore of Living La Vida Low Carb and his whole other array of different outlets so there were a lot of movers and shakers in the wellness and low carb high fat lifestyle world. Leanne Vogul was there, Maria Emmerich, like I said Jimmy and Brian, Dr. Will Cole and also some really inspirational individuals who have used ketosis to heal a whole gamut of different conditions. So there was a woman who spoke about her bipolar disease and how she’s medication free using ketosis, a man that survived traumatic concussive disorder and people speaking on their successful outcomes in cancer and brain tumors and just the whole array from emotional to physiological how a high fat low carb diet can be very healing.
B: And then, Ali, you were on a couple of panels as well, right?
A: Yes so I was on – it was the 3 day conference and the first day I was on a panel for cancer and neurological health, and then the second day I had my lecture on “food as medicine approaches to ketosis” so I really took things to the 2.0 level of once you’ve adapted to use fat as fuel, how can you pick up other balancing functional medicine mechanisms in the body, and then on the third day I was on a podcast panel with other people that have podcasts and just talking to the audience about what we do here so thank you all for listening and making that a reality.
B: Awesome and I think we’ll have some awesome guests and you’ll be having some guest spots on other podcasts coming out of that synergy.
A: So much fun, synergy, that’s the word and even meeting individuals and people- I loved meeting a lot of listeners and readers of the Naturally Nourished Cookbook and readers of our blog, Becki and listeners of the show so it was just really cool, a lot of hugs and positive vibes and feedback that this buzz of our launch of our program is moving in the right direction and I think we only have about 20 spots left and I’m pretty confident it’s going to fill by the end of the day tomorrow. So all good, exciting things on the horizon.
B: Awesome well I didn’t get to be there this year, I definitely will put it in my calendar very early next year but I was out of town last week for back-to-back weddings and while I was out of town, I was working on our upcoming Ebooks as part of our Virtual Ketosis Platform so Eat Fat Get Skinny is going to be rolling out before this podcast airs.
A: There you go.
B: And then the Ketogenic Kickstart should be very shortly thereafter.
A: So both EBooks will be included for a Bundle pricing with the Virtual Program and that is $99 until 11:59 pm on September 5 so make sure you go to Alimillerrd.com\ketosis-class to get details and snag one of the last couple spots in the program and then after Tuesday night it’s going to go back up to the full price of $199 so $100 off for the next 48 hours.
B: I have to say $199 is still a deal compared to when we used to do the classes in our offices.
A: And this is value packed and I think we have a value of $450 and that’s not super inflated, it’s a pretty direct value and then if you missed the time of the class starting September 12, you can get the Ebooks on their own and they will be available in a bundle price or $19.95 per Ebook so resources regardless of when you’re listening and then we will launch our next program again in January.
B: Perfect so, so much exciting stuff on the horizon and with all of this I want to get into today’s topic of why diets fail. So I know that you really think of yourself, Ali, as a dietless dietitian so let’s start there – why are you anti diet?
A: Yes so I really believe in many ways that health can be at every size, and I look so much more at biochemical markers of disease, inflammatory markers, I look at the structure of the body, the systems of the body and then beyond the systems, what symptoms are being expressed and then even further than that, I like to look, if I’m getting into body composition, I like to look more at the distribution of the composition, of course, over weight on the scale. So there’s other biomarkers to health and wellness and we definitely know that BMI is not the way to track disease risk because that doesn’t distinguish a sumo wrestler from a boxer so the weight on the scale with your height, not the way to go. If anything, composition would supersede but beyond that I like to heal people and then I like to use weight loss as a pleasant side effect so I don’t like people driving focused on a diet. And that’s the reality. Diets don’t work, I mean, the first 3 letters are d-i-e and you often feel like that during the process. I remember in my, I hate to say it but it’s true, my high school days and then definitely early college days, watching calories and doing different kind of tricks with myself and the reality is any form of a diet there’s a timeline associated with it and it’s human nature to look beyond the endpoint. So when I finish this program or whatever this is, I can’t wait to have a pizza or I can’t wait to rebound and have x,y, and z or a cheat day or something like that. So that restrictive, over restriction typically leads to over compensation for sure.
B: And that timeline approach versus something that’s more of a lifestyle that you’re doing for benefits beyond weight loss I think is like where we’re going as well.
A: Absolutely and that’s kind of the mantra of Naturally Nourished is redefine your relationship with food and that’s my whole idea of power the reason behind the change and connecting with our body to experience the change of that pleasant side effect of weight loss so, definitely, it’s this connectivity that’s key for sure.
B: And then beyond that, let’s talk a little bit about why so much rigid structure doesn’t work so even though we’re dietitians and the word ‘diet’ is there too.
A: Yes so I think that it’s important to have some amount of structure with everyone they’re going to define this differently and it’s the same way it goes with accountability but structure is not real life. You can’t have the same amount of exchanges of carbohydrates, fat and protein every day of the week because that’s just not real life on a stressed day, you’re probably going to want to eat a little bit less to give your digestive system a rest and then on a relaxed day you might want to eat a little bit more. You need to understand to get successful outcomes the ‘why’ versus the ‘what’ so why am I choosing certain foods in this method of eating I suppose and how those foods metabolize or respond in my body and then if I’m trying to determine what foods are in those categories, it’s really using more of an exchange list and understanding how foods are categorized than a direct A+B=C meal plan. So I really like to be using an exchange list with clients and then fluctuate ranges more so that the client can be intuitive with what their body needs on those given days.
B: Sure so we know if we don’t have bell peppers on a certain day there’s something else we could exchange it for in a similar amount and it doesn’t need to be this perfect, shiny meal plan where we eat the same thing every day.
A: Totally I think that’s a great example. A lot of us, that’s why we don’t cook, we get tripped up by the ingredients required and if we don’t understand structurally what can be exchanged for something else then we can get into a big issue of finding things that balance in a similar way for a replacement.
B: Sure. So let’s talk about why dieting creates this unhealthy relationship with food and then, beyond that, why you actually don’t recommend having a cheat day.
A: Yeah so I think it comes down to, first, accepting our love for food. That is human nature. Food creates connection with community, food creates connection with the earth, I mean, our cycle of life and that was a big healing process I had becoming an omnivore for sure. But food brings joy, there’s nostalgia within food relationships, it’s used in celebration and in sorrow and I really believe that food shaming and “bad foods” or compartmentalizing things in a “do not eat” creates a root in disordered eating and a foundation for a poor relationships with food. So although I don’t accept food-like substances, that’s kind of in its own world because that’s not food so just to be said, non-food I would categorize as “bad” but I think all real foods do have a place.
B: And then, Ali, let’s talk more about the mind body connection here.
A: Yeah so when we call things “bad” like let’s say chocolate cake I think is a good example, that creates this deviance within consumption and human nature also likes deviance. You often will say “hey don’t look at me I’m changing” and the human reaction is “what?” and you look. Like whenever you’re told not to do something, that creates desire sometimes because of that restriction. So in order to really make harmony with your body and satisfy cravings, you want ot connect with why you have that craving and then you want to satisfy your body with a mindful indulgence. So this is going to be a conscious consumption of a food that may be higher in carbohydrates or calories or sugar, as long as you’re mindful and enjoying the process, and then have a connection with your body of how you responded with that food so by this I mean, if you feel shitty after having a slice of chocolate cake and you have abdominal distention or bloating or you get refractory anxiety or insomnia or joint pain, then it’s good to also connect with your body, make that relationship trend and then potentially give up that ingredient because that’s not honoring your body, that’s harming your body and create and find indulgence that both tastes good, fills that void, and makes your body feel good in the process as well.
B: Sure so maybe instead of chocolate cake that contains gluten and a whole bunch of sugar we could do a Chocolate Avocado Mousse. We have a whole section in our book called “mindful indulgences.”
A: Yeah indulgences. They have their place and that’s why I was really focused on putting that as a section of the Naturally Nourished Cookbook. You know, metabolically and hormonally and in different times of our life cycle, we’re going to need more indulgences than others so often if we’re going through ovulation as women that are cycling, or that premenstrual time – a couple days or during the early couple days of our cycle, that’s when we want something like cacao which has more magnesium and we’re going to have a little bit more need for serotonin support and so these are times when it is ok to honor that craving, but find something that nourishes and provides nutritional density and therapeutic compounds versus harmful and deleterious, that’s the goal.
B: So really we’d be looking kind of at the whole picture of what’s going on stressed wise, what’s going on in the gut or state of disease. We’ve been looking at our weight loss and metabolic goals and that’s when we determine whether an indulgence with a natural sweetener would be allowed or not.
A: Yes and different phase of life- a different goal with weight loss, that’s a whole thing to take into account as well. Are you looking to maintain your weight or lose weight and then, absolutely, stress levels, even the temperature outside is going to play a different role in what we crave, you know, we might want more raw, crunchy, salty versus warm, tonifying grounded foods and we want to be able to satisfy that need as that’s what makes this a sustainable transition of redefining a relationship with food versus a crash diet. You can’t out muscle the brain, you need to make peace with what it craves and finds something that works within your current parameters versus have that dangling carrot of “when I finish this program, I get that” whatever that is that you’re salivating that creates that in your current approach and make it work harmoniously.
B: Sure and that’s what really makes it a sustainable approach versus something that you’re going to yo-yo with for the rest of your life.
B: So getting into the meat of today’s discussion, let’s talk about 3 reasons why listeners might not be having success with weight loss. So starting with number 1, and I think this will be a really big hit to many of our listeners. Let’s talk about calories.
A: Yes so it is not about the calories and take us further, it is not always about an energy deficit equation. So you may have heard us going into macronutrients and that’s really the importance of eating ample protein and good fats and the importance of restricting carbs, of course, but it’s not this 1+2=3 type of equation that you may have been told by other people.
B: So we focus on ample protein, good fats and how they function differently in the body. So starting there, Ali, how does the body actually lose weight?
A: Ok so in order to lose weight it has to be catabolic, it has to be in a mode of breakdown so catabolic is breakdown anabolic is building and you can build muscle during weight loss and that’s some really cool advanced approaches so I guess that could be a little misleading to some listeners but basically we do have to be at a deficit to lose weight. So a pound of fat is about 3500 calories and so generally speaking we used to say, if we can figure out your basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of calories that your body burns at reset, so that’s looking at your vital organs and your lean body mass combined, that’s what’s going to determine how many calories you’re going to burn and then there’s your activity factor on top of that. So for most women, their basal metabolic rate is somewhere around 1000 maybe around 1100 maybe 1300 or so if they have a lot of musculature.
And then on top of that, their activity factor could be, whether they’re doing a yoga class or walking or swimming laps, depending on what they’re doing that output or burn would be added on top of that basal metabolic rate and that would be the total metabolic rate so the excessive burn plus the basal function of the body. And in order to lose weight, wheat we would do is take a deficit of 500-1000 calories a day to see either 1-2 pounds because, again, 7 days a week 500 calories a day, that’s your 3500 calories of burning 1 pound of fat.
B: So let’s talk about in our clinic, Ali, how we determine BMR and how this is a little bit different from other conventional approaches.
A: Yes so basal metabolic rate should be determined if you have access to a BIA scan, bioelectrical impedance analysis or a BODPOD would even be better and these are going to look at our body weight of muscle or dry, lean mass and then also taking into account those vital organ tissues and that’s really going to give us what’s burned. So based on the composition of the individual, someone that weighs 130 pounds on a sale, the individual that has more muscle mass is going to have a higher basal metabolic rate, than the individual that has more fat mass. And that with weight loss is really what plays the turnkey with what are sustainable outcomes.
So if we’re talking about weight watchers or other programs that have just clear cut points, if you will, or calorie restriction, what they’re looking at doing is putting you at that 500-1000 calorie deficit either a 1200 calorie meal plan or a 800 calories meal plan and the individual will see weight loss, but the reality is, this will only go on for a little. So the first week, second week, third week, maybe even 4th week fi they’re lucky, that person’s going to be losing that pound or 2 pounds per week or so but eventually the body is smart, and the body has survival mechanisms and the body is going to lose from muscle, which is going to bring down that metabolic rate and also lose from water which is neutral. And this is going to reduce that basal metabolic rate as a survival mechanism and plateau our weight loss and then drive regain or increased body fat storage.
B: Got it and then it kind of becomes this vicious cycle where you BMR is lower every time you restart this diet.
A: Right and and so then what you were successfully seeing results at, now you’re starting to gain weight and then you get frustrated and go into full—on screw it mode and then you eat all of those foods that you were restricting yourself from when you were dieting. So it gives this huge boomerang effect that can rebound with weight gain and undesired body composition shift.
B: Sure so let’s bring it back then, Ali, to the role of macros and how that plays a role with sustainable weight loss.
A: Yeah so, you know, macros definitely have a role within this and this is a really big piece of the puzzle. So our general optimal eating, if you’ve seen the Optimal Eating episode on the podcast or you’ve taken my Virtual Optimal Eating Course, you know that we feed the muscle to maintain that basal metabolic rate and then reducing carbohydrates because the carbohydrates are what’s going to dive with a spike of blood sugar, increased body fat storage. So carbohydrates break down to glucose in the body. Glucose signals the release of insulin, and insulin drives body fat storage. So if you think of a diet as adjusting our bank account, if you will, the body is going to know that you’ve budgeted and the body is just going to slow down its burn if that makes sense. So the body adjusts its lifestyle spending as your budget would and so this is the importance of having balanced macros but even further if you’re ding donging further, even going low glycemic but not using full on fat as fuel, then that body may go into that preservation starvation mode and you may get hindrance with your metabolism.
So going higher fat has actually shown can increase metabolic function in the body and have beneficial influence on satiety so satisfaction, less calorie consumption and then if we go super high fat, low carb like ketosis, we actually reduce that insulin response and the body gets to go into the fat as fuel rather than living on a low budget. So the body all of a sudden says “hey man there’s this extra savings account that I can spend so I don’t have to budget my spending” so the basal rate doesn’t lower during the ketogenic diet because the body can use fat as fuel so every pound of fat that you have on your body is an extra 3500 calories that you don’t have to consume but your body can burn in abundance.
B: Got it. So let’s talk, Ali, about the frequency factor here and how that plays a role.
A: Yeah so frequency can be messing up your weight loss so beyond total carbs, frequency can be messing up your weight loss because you’re constantly dinging that insulin response and so this is where we’re starting to see a lot of benefits with fasting or breaking up the timestamps of consumption. So the more frequently you eat, we’ve probably been told that by many people, the more frequently we eat the more we’re dinging that insulin which is telling the body to store that excess fuel as fat and we’re being fed so we can use this food and if we’re served less food, to use that food as fuel.
B: So being told we should eat every 3-4 hours and, I even say that to clients sometimes, might not be the best approach for everyone.
A: Right. It’s my default to tell people to eat frequently and also to break the fast that’s what breakfast is, is to break the fast within the first hour of rise and it still stands true when we’re using glucose as fuel so if we’re using glucose or blood sugar as fuel, which is almost everyone listening unless they are doing ketosis as their approach, when we’re using glucose as fuel we use glycogen in the liver and muscle and go through a process called Gluconeogenesis or basically the liver can make sugar and dump sugar into the blood sugar into the bloodstream if we’re not eating. So in that sense if we’re using glucose as fuel, eating every 3-4 hours can prevent the liver from having to work and dump sugar into the bloodstream. But if we’re able to starve the body of sugar and get into those, that deep freezer of body fat then we don’t have to eat frequently the body is efficient at using fat as fuel and actually eating frequently can hinder our weight loss results.
B: Got it so being able to go much longer stretches if we’re keto adapted and burning fat for fuel versus, still, if we’re doing Optimal Eating kind if 90 grams of carb we’d still want that frequency factor as part of our play.
A: Absolutely and listening to your body is important as well we definitely don’t want to override the signals of the body and our innate hunger response from what we’re looking at mechanically from a diet which is another reason why diets don’t work. You have to listen to your body and the connections of what you need.
B: So let’s delve a little bit deeper into this concept of fasting or intentionally skipping meals. So I’ll list restriction as the first reason why we’re not losing weight. Second reason would be excessive carbohydrate consumption and then I think the 3rd reason is this frequency factor or the frequency is too often.
A: Yes so if we’re looking at this idea of fasting or intentionally skipping meals, and what I was trying to get into is the idea that it can dig deeper into your body’s reserves as fuel. So in order to really successfully get outcomes with less frequency it is important, first to be at a very low carbohydrate diet is generally less than 60 grams of carbs and to actually go into ketosis that means less than 30 grams of carbs for most individuals and when we’re able to use body fat as fuel, that budget kind of concept that I referenced is irrelevant so if you think of a refrigerator Dr. Fung uses a really great example of this of this refrigerator and I’ve mentioned the deep freezer. So If you think of a normal 1800 calorie burn and consumption, not losing weight as like 3 rows of your refrigerator full they get consumed every day, they get replaced. If you look at a diet of removing 1 row of foods, so maybe that’s 1200 calorie restriction you’re restricting the 1200 calories, maybe you’re burning at 1800 calories because you’re exercising and such yet your body, as I mentioned, adapts to only 2 rows of food and that’s where that metabolic response reduces.
Beyond the loss of muscle there is hormonal influences that shift for survival to reduce your metabolism with calorie restriction. So that’s where you’re trucking along, burning 3 shelves worth but only eating 2, seeing the weight loss and then all of a sudden the body slows down to only burning the calories that you’re consuming and that’s where you get that plateau. The idea with the fasting and teaching the body to use fat as fuel is going a period of time where the body has to burn through its glycogen or its reserved blood sugar in the liver and muscle, and then it has to go into your body’s fat storage as fuel. So Dr. Fung calls this the deep freezer of the body, I love that analogy. So if you think of opening up that deep freezer, now every pound of fat you have is 3500 calories that you’re adding back onto that refrigerator to be used as fuel. So actually going without food for typically 1 day fast is not successful but if you can go and do more of like a 16/8 or spread your distribution of intake, or time to allow your body to get the fat and use that metabolically, that’s when it doesn’t recognize that restriction and it’s able to tap into your reserves as your fuel sources.
B: So if we had 100 pounds of fat to lose as an example, you could essentially fast for 100 days and survive?
A: Essentially this is true. This is what a lot of the books on fasting are saying. I don’t recommend that clinically speaking and you would have to have a really bad ass electrolyte formula going for you, and definitely be drinking a lot of water, and definitely have an array of micronutrients and that’s when I would say going no longer than my option and I have not seen up-to-date I’m not an expert on fasting but I recommend using fasting as a tool in your day-to-day function, but, yes, in theory that’s true. When you’re practicing fasting in the morning, you can do this by having a fat bomb or if you are fully keto adapted you might just have black coffee and allow your body goes into your fat reserves and you may envision yourself eating steaks, eggs, potatoes and that’s just from your own body fat. Especially for ran individual who has more than 30 pounds of weight to lose they definitely have reserves where their body is able to use their body store as fuel and that goes so much against what we’ve heard for so long with dieting, right? Don’t over restrict, you’re going to slow down your metabolism. The reality is, if you over restrict while you’re using carbs in your diet so a fat restricted, calories restricted diet is not going to be successful because the insulin is constantly going off telling the body you cannot get into using fat as fuel. If you starve yourself of sugar, then you starve the insulin then the body can use the fat as fuel and having infrequency of eating is going to be the best tool to get best weight loss results.
B: Ok that makes a lot of sense and then instead of 100 days without food the more sustainable approach would be something like 3 days of intermittent fasting with a 16 hour window of no food.
A: Right and as people advance and, again, based on the amount of weight they have to lose, I know Dr. Fung does extensive fasting like 5,7 days in his clinic but that’s metabolically monitored and that’s something that could be a tool as opposed to bariatric surgery when we’re talking about significant weight loss but generally speaking for most of our listeners that are looking for just wellness we’re talking about removing food from the diet for a 16 hour window, maybe a 20 hours window would be pretty aggressive and eating only for a 4 hour window and that’ really going to depend on the individual and where they’re at metabolically but definitely teaching the body to use your fat stores as fuel is a turnkey solution for sustainable weight loss success.
B: Ok so let’s just recap on this – is this possible, then, without ketosis to get into this state of intermittent fasting?
A: So you can intermittent fast without ketosis, yes, and you will get some benefits. So the benefits you will get of intermittent fasting not in ketosis is resting your digestive tract so that can be helpful as far as allowing the body to go into this rest and digest mode and not be in this active metabolic breakdown it’s actually stressful on the body to digest food so don’t think about but you can get the benefits there so especially if someone is doing a bacterial cleanse to accelerate their results. Or we also can see some benefits of intermittent fasting as far as regulating leptin, the hormone that creates satiety so that can help to rebound with intermittent fasting but you can’t get into that deep freezer affect, you can’t get into using fat as fuel unless you’re in ketosis so the body metabolically is still going to be reduced in the amount of calories it burns if you’re doing intermittent fasting, non-ketosis. Does that make sense?
A: So you have to be starving the body of glucose as fuel, the using the fat as fuel to keep your metabolism elevated during the fasting period but there can be some benefits to just fasting period.
B: Got it. Ok. So let’s just talk about, since we’re on the topic, of ketosis, some of the other benefits.
A: Yeah so we can definitely see improved HGH so our human growth hormone which plays a big role in increase of muscle and then, in turn, increase of metabolism. Also rebounding our hormone building blocks so helping with testosterone rebound in the body or balancing out sexual hormones in the body. We can see, definitely, a reduction in dysbiosis so whether we’re talking about yeast or pathogens, different forms of bad bacteria overgrowing in the body, this can be very compliant the ketogenic diet is compliant with the specific carbohydrate diet so we’re already following that protocol for Crohn’s ulcerative colitis and going beyond that less than 60 grams of carbs for a meal. So definitely therapeutic for the GI tract especially for a focused period of time. We can see improved LDL cholesterol levels and distributions so more of the large, buoyant LDL less of the small dense. Within that we can see reduced metabolic disease so reduction of triglycerides increase of HDL that good cholesterol value, we can see absolutely a reduction of blood sugar levels and insulin levels which then means reduced inflammation and reduced belly fat. So really cool thing sand then beyond the cardio metabolic and body composition changes, we can see reduction in inflammation with markers like our C reactive protein and even autoimmune disease markers because generally speaking, insulin reactivity in the body drives inflammatory cascades and that’s, as we know, the root cause of many different forms of chronic illness.
B: And then, Ali, let’s talk about leptin and ghrelin so those hunger-satiety hormones as well and how ketosis influences them.
A: Yes so beyond the ketogenic diet being therapeutic as far as disease state, it also plays a huge role with regulation of appetite and reduction of cravings. In fact, it may seem restrictive to some listeners but I use it very successfully with many of my clients that do nocturnal cycles or have addictive eating tendencies or binge eating because we can get very healthy neurohormone response when we go into a ketogenic state. Knowing that the brain is 70 plus perfect fat in its makeup, a high fat diet tends to work really well with our neurological response and we see a big improvement with the 2 primary hormones of hunger so ghrelin so I think of as the gremlin of the appetite and it drives appetite. Ghrelin does peak with stimulation of imagery with food, meal time, so it’s lunch time in your office, ghrelin is going to go up because it’s the Pavlov dog effect of “ok it’s time to eat” but we have seen in research, metabolically speaking, that ghrelin after it cascades does go back down 30-60 minutes so sometimes just waiting that out if we’re truly not hungry if it’s a possibility. Leptin is the satiety hormone and this tends to be improved with a high fat diet, especially a ketogenic diet so this actually not only influences less ghrelin release, but it also helps to provide satiation and provide this steady, grounded mentality which is really freeing from food addiction so you get this food freedom within that which really helps metabolically but also emotionally in cravings.
B: Ok and then let’s talk beyond benefits of keto other benefits of fasting other than the weight loss piece and that concept of autophagy.
A: Yes so this is where we’re speaking is fasting helpful keto or non keto and the reality is, yes, there’s many benefits to fasting when we’re talking about autophagy which literally means the cells eating themselves so it’s an intracellular degradation system that basically is like the recycling system of our body so it delivers the healthy cytoplasmic compounds to the lysosome and the body upregulates and is autophagy response, this macrophage ability to eat itself, eats away at the dysfunctional or old compounds and regenerates new building blocks and so this cell recycling is definitely something we see successful with oncology, definitely cancer care especially post treatment of chemotherapy or radiation. It allows the recognition of cancerous growth and it helps the immune system in its reset. With that being said, though, this fasting is still seen in those types of influences when the body is starved of sugar so typically this means a fast for more than 24 hours when we’re talking about clinics using this in post cancer treatment care so we’re still starving the body of sugar and likely that person is still ketogenic even though they’re not following a ketosis diet.
B: Sure because they’ve been fasted for 24 hours plus.
A: Yes so that’s still starving the body from sugar so they’re still using fat as fuel but definitely we see calorie restriction during the fasting period, driving that cellular recycling system and that’s something that you wouldn’t get just following keto if you’re not doing the fasting part. So it’s kind of this not mutually inclusive exclusive thing, it’s if all of the pieces lining up favorably to work in your favor.
B: Got it. And what about digestion – let’s reemphasize that for listeners how fasting can improve our digestion.
A: Yes so I think this is something that is not recognized or talked about enough but when we get bloating or distention it’s definitely helpful to take digestive enzymes prior to meals, but when we get bloating and distension, we often because the body is having some form of bacterial response and that bacteria is eating what we just ate, and releasing carbon dioxide, methane gases, and that’s creating that bloat or that distention and so feeding our bacteria is not a good thing when we’re looking at resetting ore gut microbiome. So that’s one thing to consider – fasting can actually weaken add starve that bad bacteria overgrowth especially if we’re doing this in conjunction with a cleanse so something to consider. And then also the body when the GI tract is rested, the body is more efficient at other processes like thermogenesis or caloric burn, the body is metabolically more active and so this is important to allow the body to rest from that digestion mode because excessive consumption of food actually generates more free radicals and that cannot allow us the benefits of the digestive and anti-aging influence of that resting and fasting so both the starving off the bacteria and allowing the system to focus on other processes beyond digestion is where we can connect the dots.
B: Let’s talk about the cognitive influence and the BDNF output.
A: Yeah so on a cellular level, we get that autophagy and that reset and then beyond cellular reset and cleansing effect, we see influence in the production of a protein called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor so BDNF and we have seen in research that fasting bumps up the BDNF which activates the brain stem cells to convert new neurons and this triggers new chemicals and prevents neuroplasticity and improves neurological health so this protein is the one that protects our brain cells from changes that we’ve seen in research with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s’ disease so definitely giving, again, that rest from constant digestion and allowing the cellular reset but also allowing that fasting period of time for this neuroplasticity and that BDNF to peak is going to help with cognition and neurological conditions.
B: Ok and then I think fasting, Ali, is kind of shamed in a way, if you will, just because of concerns with disordered eating, people are like “oh you’re not eating I don’t understand it’s meal time why are you skipping a meal?” But beyond weight loss I think that some of the other influences that we discuss would be more of a reason to fast. There are so many more benefits beyond the weight loss.
A: Right so you can still practice the benefits of fasting and actually maintain your weight, so you can eat higher amounts of fat during your window of eating to keep your calories up so that you’re not losing weight and that’s especially important when we’re talking about post cancer care. A lot of their bodies have taken a beating a lot of them experience cachexia or muscle wasting which is another benefit of going ketogenic because they are muscle sparing but beyond that, we can really see with fasting that that allows for this reset and we want to support their body amply calorically so it’s’ not necessarily- it can be used for weight loss success, absolutely, but it doesn’t have to mean weight loss and it doesn’t have to mean disordered eating and I think that is a shame. I think for so long, when I see clients and I’m in a really busy state of the day, I will do bone broth sometimes that’s all I have during the day and I used to say I eat like bookends, I eat a really nourishing breakfast and then I may skip lunch and then I have a really nourishing evening meal and I think I used to be really embarrassed about this because my brand is about nourishing your body but maybe I’m not taking in enough or I might have a smoothie at lunch because I thought that was a good way to take in nourishment when my body didn’t want to be digestively stressed because I’m constantly talking and moving at many miles a minute but the more I read about fasting and the more I read about this influence, I’ve been slower with my body of doing maybe just a fat bomb or doing a Matcha Keto Tea during the middle of the fast, maybe I’ll add a little bit of collagen if I feel that my muscles need a little bit of support, but it’s really been working really nicely for myself and it’s something that organically I was kind of drawn to behavior wise but felt I shouldn’t do because of that demonization in our culture and thinking of what’s been ingrained in me of that old thing that we talked about the frequency, the every 3-4 hours needing fuel and that’s just not true.
B: Sure so even when we think about if animals are sick or under stress, they’re not eating.
A: Right and I think that’s a great way to look back on the decisions we make and the food industry and our nutrition industry, we’re just learning and we can never outsmart nature and nature knows. That’s when the immune system is stressed or injured we need to reset cellularly so this is going to reset our body’s ability to fight the virus and an animal will spend 3 days without food and the animal will go into a bush and just hunker down and they’re allowing that cellular reset and their immune system to upregulate so I definitely want to hopefully today, make peace with that separation from fasting, having this guilt, shame and famine mentality in Americans and I think that maybe this is Great Depression derived, but I think that that unfortunately drives a lot of obesity of these time stamps of “it’s meal time what’s your breakfast, what’s your lunch, what’s your dinner?” versus listening to the body.
B: Sure and I really think we need a whole other episode on fasting there’s just so much here. But let’s real quick before we wrap up, talk about what intermittent fasting- how it differs from a fast per say and what a typical layout in terms of hours and even what the food would look like.
A: Sure so fasting, the term fasting could be any period of time without food and in the medical field we’ve been sign fasting as far as when we take fasting blood to look at lipids, we’ve been using that to look at the chemistry of the body but, often again, that American mentality that we need things structured breakfast, lunch, and dinner hasn’t left much to be seen on a positive light. But fasting for spiritual or religious reasons has been done forever. I don’t know an accurate date but I just know it’s been practiced forever. So this would be typically in religions like a 12 -36 hour period of time so for some religions, they even go upwards of 72 hours or 3 days with just doing water and for some different religions, they even do no water during 12 hour windows and such. So the pros and cons of this if it’s just a 12 hour fast and you’re using a lot of carbohydrates leading up to that often a lot of fasts are broken with foods like dates, which wouldn’t be my favorite because you’re getting a really high blood sugar spike, and that’s just some Middle Eastern cultures and what have you, but we can get blood sugar regulators with fasting especially within the first 12 hours as a fast.
If someone goes beyond that in a fast, even if they were eating carbohydrates, they’re probably going to strain their body of the glycogen within that 24 hour period and then they will be making ketones so their blood sugar irregularities should be stabilized but it should cause blood sugar regularities if you’re going an extended period of time, so a couple of days, and your body is not adapted to know how to use fat as fuel so that’s definitely a con. I think we’ve named enough pros so I won’t go into that. And then so when we’re talking about an intermittent fast, this is typically cycling in the body so you can do an intermittent fast the most popular I think is the 16/8 where you go from 8pm until noon the following day, so that would be 16 hours, 8pm to 8am is 12 and then add 4 onto that. 8pm to noon the following day without food and then you would have a lunch and then a protein and then a dinner.
That’s how we start in our ketosis program to give people a taste for the rhythm for what fasting feels like and in that program we do use a fat bomb in that morning period of time so they’ll do a keto coffee or tea where they’ll add coconut oil or fat to a non-calorie liquid, so that they’re better able to get into the fat stores as fuel and get fat into their body to help with satiety and help with hunger. So a 16/8 could be done with a fat bomb or without, but basically that 16 hours without food, 8 with. You could take that a step further and go to an 18/6 where you do 18 hours without food, 6 hours with so that would just be a tighter window where you would eat maybe from noon to 6pm and then start your fast again. And then you can even intermittent fast for 24 hour cycles so some people that are doing keto will do Sundays as their full day of intermittent fasting and then they eat regularly for an 8 hour window for the rest of the week. So it’s really different strokes for different folks, it depends on your body composition, what your body’s doing as far as its production of ketones, if you’re even in ketosis, and all of those things are taken into consideration of what type of fasting we would use.
B: Sure and I think part foo is it just figuring out what works for you and having guidance of a practitioner or a program to help you structure that.
A: And listen to your body over the rigidity so going back to that first idea of why diets don’t work, if you’re starving on a fast, don’t do it. The idea is not to white knuckle it the idea is to have the cellular reset and to actually get into the diet state where you have that food freedom where maybe you truly don’t have a hunger response and it feels very natural to do this so I generally, when I’m doing my ketosis program I have people wait until week 2 to jump into that intermittent fasting even at 16/8 just because I want their body to find their rhythm and not find this restriction right off the bat.
B: Sure that makes sense. Alright so I think we’ve covered a lot today and I just want to wrap things up and talk about the 3 reasons to summarize why diets don’t work so we talked first about this diet mentality versus saving a cheat day and that over restriction. We also talked about imbalanced macros or too many carbs and too much of that insulin signaling. And then we talked about excessive frequency and this fear of going more than a few hours without food.
A: And that opened Pandora’s box on fasting, which we’ll do another episode on but I think that these three are big barriers to weight loss and I think the issue with all of these three reasons is that they may be recommended to you to lose weight, right? So definitely things to be mindful of as you jump into weight loss and not a diet with us at Naturally Nourished but a lifestyle change that helps you find peace with your body, honors your body, and allows yourself to nourish your body while still making improvements and dynamic changes in your body’s composition.
B: Awesome so more details about our Virtual Ketosis Program. Again, you can find that at Alimillerrd.com\ketosis-class and that’s where you would be able to purchase that virtual class for the $99 deal up until Tuesday 11:59pm and then also included would be both Ebooks in that bundle. Beyond that time stamp we’re looking at $199 which is still a really good value and just for listener to reemphasize so this includes a 12 week program that includes 6 live webinars, our supportive handout sand worksheets, our customizable ketosis protocol, access to our private Facebook group where Ali and I will both be interacting with all of our participants, as well as the Eat Fat Get Skinny with 50 ketogenic recipes and the Ketogenic Kickstart Ebook where our ketogenic protocol lives.
A: And I was asked by a coupe people at KetoCon, because our cookbook Naturally Nourished does have ketosis friendly as guidance, if you have that cookbook and you want to get a taste of things, all of the recipes I believe except we use that caritas as a base in our carnita’s bowl, but all of the recipes in Eat Fat Get Skinny are unique so it’s 50 new ketosis recipes so super excited, beautiful photos by Becki and I think that you all will have a hard time finding restriction when you’re following this type of a diet.
B: There’s some really good stuff in there.
A: Awesome well thanks so much for listening and thanks you guys for bringing us to our 50th episode of the Naturally Nourished podcast. Please tune in next time and we will be happy to continue to share food as medicine and functional medicine with you for you to share for you to share with your family and friends. As always check out alimillerrd.com to stay up-to-date with recipes, tips and tricks to continue to redefine your relationship with food.
Thank you for listening to the Naturally Nourished Podcast. Visit our blog at Alimillerrd.com for recipes, wellness tips, and food as medicine meal plans. Connect with Ali at Becki at AliMillerRD on InstaGram or Twitter and Facebook. Until next time, stay nourished and be well.