Information Acquired from: Michael P. Ciell, Senior Scientific Advisor

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) labels obesity as a primary public enemy. Their studies demonstrate that obese individuals have a higher risk of developing health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, liver problems, diabetes, osteoarthritis, infertility, respiratory problems, etc.

Increased consumption of more energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods with high levels of sugar and saturated fats (empty calories), combined with reduced physical activity and stress contribute to obesity. The World Health Organization has labeled our current state as an obesity epidemic. The good news, obesity is preventable and treatable.

The Basics of Weight Loss: How We Burn Energy/Calories

The body has four compartments of energy from which it draws energy for its metabolic needs.

  1. Blood Glucose (Sugar) – from Carbohydrates
  2. Glycogen Reserves – Stored Glucose/Sugar
  3. Muscle
  4. Fat

The body draws on these reserves in a specific order. First, the body will burn the available glucose in the blood. Once that has been used up, it turns to the glycogen reserves (think of this as drawing from your chequing account). Once the glycogen reserve is exhausted, the body begins to burn muscle and fat (this would be considered your savings account). The body stores approximately three days’ worth of carbohydrates. Simple and complex carbohydrates can prevent weight loss. If glycogen is replenished (sugar/carbs are consumed), the fat burning stops until it is once again depleted.

Insulin Dysfunction

Insulin and glucagon are two metabolic hormones that control how the body shifts from one of these energy reserves to the next. Insulin’s primary function is to regulate blood sugar levels, however it is also the hormone that facilitates the transport of fat (triglycerides) into the fat cells and it locks the fat inside, preventing it to be used as a source of energy. Glucagon has the opposite effect.

According to Medical Professional, Dr. Tran, “the cause of most weight issues in a modern society is insulin dysfunction. A diet grossly disproportionate in its share of saturated fats and sugars… - very much like the North American diet - causes the pancreas to produce an overabundance of insulin, which stays in the system and puts the blood sugar level in a negative balance.” This in turn, induces constant sugar cravings and subsequent weight gain.

The Principles of Ketosis

The idea behind ketosis is to ensure that blood glucose and glycogen stores are not replenished (and so are depleted), to avoid shifting out of fat burning zone. Also, by keeping insulin levels low, the cells are able to regain their sensitivity to insulin and the pancreas' production of insulin returns to normal.

To achieve ketosis, carbohydrate intake is kept to a bare minimum (roughly 30g/day). This intake comes from non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens, providing fibre to ensure adequate elimination. This forces the body into a permanent state of ketosis, where fat is used up for energy instead of glucose. Ketosis simply means the body is using fat as an energy source and is transforming fatty acids into ketonic bodies. This is a normal metabolic function and is totally safe as opposed to the pathological condition of ketoacidosis. Ketosis is essentially what happens when we are asleep as our body goes unnourished for 8+ hours and must dig into our reserves for energy.

Considerations

As previously mentioned, when the body burns fat, it will also break down muscle (by using them to generate glucose -a method called gluconeogenesis). In order to avoid muscle loss, adequate protein must be consumed. As muscle is lost, metabolism slows down. Therefore, it is important to meet a minimum daily protein requirement (roughly 1/2 gram of protein per pound of lean body weight) to spare muscle mass.

It should be noted that Ketosis is a short term weight loss phase and not a permanent lifestyle, there is a beginning and an end. “Think of it as a bridge to a well-balanced diet in which healthy, complex carbohydrates are essential”.

Individuals often experience what is known as “the keto flu”, in the beginning stages of ketosis, as their fuel source shifts from glucose to ketones. Symptoms include fatigue, light headedness, etc. This should pass after a few weeks once the body has adjusted.

Supplementation to consider includes, a multi vitamin, calcium, magnesium, potassium, omega 3 and sea salt to ensure proper electrolyte balance and adequate nutrients commonly attained from eliminated food groups.

It is advised to undergo ketosis with a professional coach and under the supervision of a health care professional to monitor changes and ensure that adequate levels nutrients are consumed to ensure success and reduce risk of relapse and negative side effects.

This column is sponsored by Good ‘n’ Natural in Steinbach.

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Good n’ Natural started as a small-family owned business in 1994. Our team has grown and diversified to include Certified Natural Product Advisers, a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and a part-time Naturopathic Doctor. Our mission is to educate, inspire, and empower our customers to pursue a healthy lifestyle in order to achieve their wellness goals and in turn build a stronger community.

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