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Understanding the Keto Food Pyramid



keto diet and exercise

I live in South Dakota.  Born and raised. The only person to run for president from South Dakota was Senator George McGovern. His constituents were farmers and ranchers that dominate the legacy found in my family tree. He chaired a Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs whose 1977 report gave rise to the first diet guidelines, in 1980. This guideline is better known as the keto food pyramid. My son went to a middle school name George McGovern Middle School. George McGovern left more of a legacy with his dietary guidelines than had he gone on to be president.

One single study did not support the committee that recommended the change to the food pyramid. Not ONE! A diet high in grains and low in fat became our recommendation in large part because of George McGovern. Their committee recommended change even though none of the six randomized control trials studying nutrition supported their advice. The corn oil study said, “We don’t think corn oil particularly is going to be beneficial and it could be harmful.”

My favorite recommendation came from the low-fat diet where the 1965 research committee’s verbatim conclusion said, “A low-fat diet has no place in the treatment of myocardial infarction.”

In 1992, the USDA, United States Department of Agriculture, proposed the food pyramid which standardized the government’s policy for food paid for by the government. These recommendations would guide nutrition plans for veterans, public schools, and welfare subsidies. The menus for soldiers and students birthed from this food pyramid policy.

Like many government policies, this advice trickled into the rest of the community. Churches, daycares, private schools and cafeterias across college campuses followed suit. Before long other countries adopted these same recommendations–most never knowing the advice was not based upon science. High on grains, low on fat. That was the model.

This policy from the Department of Agriculture promoted the livelihood of farmers in my home state, represented by Senator George McGovern. It was not public health. The policy subsidized crops.

The food pyramid abounds with carbohydrate filling up the bottom half of the pyramid. They recommended low fat or nonfat milk. When you take the fat out of milk, you are left with a little bit of protein and a lot of lactose, the sugar found in milk.

The doctors told patients, “You’re eating too much fat. You need to cut back on fat. You’re not following the guidelines.”  Dietician taught patients using these guidelines. USDA food pyramid was not founded upon science.
understanding keto food pyramid I recommend the KETO food pyramid.

The keto food pyramid builds upon fat-burning choices. The pyramid helps to visualize what foods keep you using ketones, and which ones you can sprinkle into your menu.

Let’s start learning the basics of the pyramid.

The keto food pyramid starts with fats on the bottom. Fats of all types provide the foundation of this diet. The concept often blows the minds of most of my patients at first. They often look at animal fats with disgust or revulsion. They don’t really want to eat fats … and many times don’t know which foods even have high fat. The pyramid overflows with oils, fatty-meat, oily fish, and eggs. The vegetables low in starches and carbs make up the next layer.  Full-fat dairy such as butter, cream, and hard cheeses fit the requirements for keto. Finally, high-fat nuts and a sprinkle of berries top the pyramid.


Categories of the keto food pyramid

There are five categories of the keto food pyramid. These are:

  1. Fats: 70-90% of the foods are fat.
  2. Protein: 5-20% of the nutrition comes from protein. This is not a high protein diet.
  3. Low Starch Vegetables.
  4. Dairy and Nuts: be sure these are not “low fat”
  5. A sprinkle of berries.  I tell my patients this is a treat for a few times a year.   Not a few times a week.


FAT: Here is a list to get your mind around the most abundant part of this diet.keto diet and exercise

  • Grass-fed butter
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Fish and krill oil
  • Lard (Fat from Pigs)
  • Beef Tallow
  • Sesame oil
  • Avocado oil
  • MCT oil
  • Ghee
  • Coconut oil

Proteins in the ketogenic food pyramid


This is not a high protein diet. The classic mistake on a keto diet is the patient that presents to the clinic failing to make the first ketone. Upon careful study of what she is eating, the protein supplement in her morning shake has enough grams of protein for three days.

“Doc, how much protein should I eat?”

The answer begins with finding your ideal body weight. I am 5’3” tall.

I know these BMI charts get a bad rap but hang in there with me for the calculation.

understanding keto food pyramid

At 5’3” my ideal body weight ranges from 110 to 130. Personally, 125 pounds is my goal. If you look at the little grey numbers under the pounds on that chart, you will see the kilogram weight.  If you want to do the math, divide your pounds by 2.2 to get the kilograms. Either way, that number is an excellent target for the grams of protein you should limit yourself to on a ketogenic diet.

Protein items for your ketogenic are filled with fat.  Think of proteins as fatty-proteins. This will keep you keto most of the time.  Don’t choose the chicken breast if you can have the leg with the skin on it.  That has much better fat content and will keep you burning ketones.

  • Bacon
  • Pork Belly
  • Roast Beef
  • Brisket
  • Shrimps
  • Liver
  • Scallops
  • Oysters
  • Clams
  • Crab
  • Cod
  • Halibut
  • Mahi
  • Lobster
  • Mussels
  • Eggs
  • Cold cuts
  • Chicken WITH THE SKIN.
  • Salmon

Dairy items

The dairy items in a keto food pyramid include:

  • Heavy cream
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Mozzarella cheese, brie, Monterey Jack
  • Parmesan cheese, gouda, blue cheese
  • Greek yogurt, kefir
  • Ghee
  • Full fat sour cream

Nuts and Fruits

Nuts and fruits are at the top of the keto food pyramid. Keep an eye on how many of these you eat.  With a few handfuls of a high-carb peanut and you will stop all ketones from flowing.

PILI NUTS are the most favored nut in the keto food pyramid. They are high in fat and low in carbs. They taste almost like butter!  So yummy. Those PILI nuts can be hard to find.  Reach for Macadamia nuts as an excellent second option.


Keto friendly nuts include:

  • Pili nuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Almonds

Fruit is evil.  Please see my post on that.  For real.  This little sin of an item gets more of my patients into trouble than you’d ever believe. If you can’t pick it yourself, don’t eat it. The fruits today are filled with enhanced sweetness. Oh, my. are they tasty!  Just like any sin, fruits are juicy and delicious. But those fellows will get you into trouble. Limited your quantity of fruit to one time a year for each fruit you like. The advertisers will tease you that natural sugar is safe. Not on keto. Stay away. If you need a fix, use blackberries. They are the lowest sugar content.


To keep the carb content low, select only those vegetables that crunch and that grow above the ground.  This is a general rule-of-thumb that helps you pick keto-friendly vegetables.  It is not a perfect rule, but it works a lot of the time.

My favorite vegetables are cabbage, spinach, and broccoli.

Your individual needs

Your body is unique. This way of eating rocks because you can measure. You check the numbers to see if you are eating right.

Ketones or no ketones?

Measure it.

Get those keto strips out and measure your success.  Some of my patients can have as many as 40 carbs per day and still produce good ketones.  Others can’t have more than 15.  How do they know?  THEY MEASURE.  Arm yourself with evidence about YOU.

If you are on a keto diet, these are the macronutrients which you require:

80% of the fats

5-20% of the protein

0-15% of the carbs

What to avoid on a keto diet

Processed foods are your enemy.  Hidden deep inside that long list of ingredients are carbs, carbs, carbs.


understanding the Keto food pyramid


The Keto food pyramid helps out quite a bit for the basic understanding of this way of eating.

I made this food guide to help my patients gradually move along the path of progress.  The food guide has many foods that fit the bill for keto.


Foods are rated as GOOD, BETTER, & BEST for a keto diet. When you start, set a goal of just selecting foods that are in the GOOD column.  This is a huge win to meet that goal. The food guide is meant to go on your fridge in hopes to be a timely reminder about what to grab when you head to the fridge.  Second, use the flipchart to take to the grocery store. The isles at the food mart are filled with the temptations of old habits. Use this guide to help ping your brain for better choices.


Learn more about which foods are Good. Better. & Best – through my favorite FOOD GUIDE.  I recommend this for beginners or folks that keep falling off that keto-bandwagon. Check out to stay updated on our latest blog posts!

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Autophagy and Fasting: The Mystery Behind It.



autophagy and fasting

Autophagy. The literal translation of this word: ‘to eat thyself.’

Autophagy is a hot topic. Yoshinori Ohsumi’s 2016 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine converted the medical world’s previous whispers and murmurings about Autophagy and fasting into a full-blown conversation. Ohsumi discovered how our body degrades and recycles its cellular components. Autophagy for short. 

Why should you care? Isn’t this a keto-focused site?

Well, it turns out ketones and autophagy are linked.  

Baby Boomers: please pay attention.

You endured the most abuse from the medical establishment over the last 40 years. Before it’s too late, we in the medical establishment might have a few years to redeem some of the atrocious recommendations that your generation lived were given. The science of how your body eats itself is something you should pay attention to and master.

It may sound weird, but this process of autophagy might be the saving grace to medical advice for your era. The science of autophagy surfaced in the nick of time for Boomers.

Autophagy removes debris found inside your body’s cells. All those years of poorly fed brain cells, sleep deprived hearts, smoking in your early years, and becoming fatter than any generation before has left you with lots of crusty cells. The debris within your tissue has been there for years. If you are overweight, this debris has been around for as long as those extra pounds have insulated you. PLUS ten years.  Brain autopsies tell the tale.

Proteins build up in a damaged brain. This damaged brain leads to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The beginning of these problems don’t start with your genetics; they begin with inflammation.

After ten years of constant inflammation, your gray matter’s genetics can trigger all sorts of brain diseases. The chemistry produced by the combination of fasting and high ketones reverses the inflammatory grime afflicting most Baby Boomers’ brains. In fact, this chemistry decreases the swelling of the brain. Fasting and high ketones trigger your cells to start eating the ‘junk’ that has been messing up your brain’s electrical signals and activity for years.  

Brains destined for dementia have been squirreling away extra proteins for years before you experience your first memory glitch. If you could take a virtual tour around your brain the year before your memory starts to go, you would see lots of these crusty, extra proteins also known as plaques or neurofibril tangles.

Are you already experiencing memory problems? Start eating up plaque! Stimulate autophagy by adopting a keto lifestyle with intermittent fasting.

Hopefully, I have your attention! That strange word with a comical definition should interest every Baby Boomer.

How do you switch on your autophagy processes? Thankfully, Nobel laureate Ohsumi’s research sheds light on this science. Autophagy is a very regulated process where your cells break down components and then use those parts as nutrition.

Our cells are programmed to die. When will your cells die?

That depends on how well you’ve taken care of them.

Apoptosis (pre-programmed death) is triggered when cells become old and worn down. Different cells in the body live longer than others, but they all have an end date – a predestined date that they will die. That date comes quicker if they are poorly built or inflamed continuously.

A similar process happens on the subcellular level. Instead of throwing out the whole cell via apoptosis, autophagy replaces just a section of the cell. This process doesn’t kill the entire cell.  

  • APOPTOSIS says, “This cell is crap. Time is up. Throw it all away.”
  • AUTOPHAGY says, “This section of the cell is crap. Let’s break it down and use it as fuel for the rest of the cell.”

Autophagy describes your cells’ internal housekeeping processes. Your cells vacuum up debris and recycle these parts as fuel. Cells clean up the old worn out or defective proteins inside them and toss them into the furnace, the mitochondria. Thankfully, those burning flames of the mitochondria are right there inside the cell too.

Why should you care? Answers: Flabby skin after weight loss.

It is embarrassing to share how many Boomer patients have said these words to me, “Doc, I don’t want to lose that weight. It will leave me with too many wrinkles.”  

I’ve got some great news for you. If you lose weight while stimulating autophagy, your body will ‘eat’ those deformed skin cells that caused your wrinkles. You will ‘eat’ those extra blood vessels, fat cells, and connecting cells as you lose weight. Without that left-over, unneeded tissue, your skin connects tightly to the overlying tissue. It results in tight, toned skin. No batty arm wings for you!

Take a trip through history. Lookup Holocaust victims in World War II concentration camps. The photos of these people show tight skin and no flabby or wavy folds of skin.

Some were overweight when they entered those camps. Sadly, they lost lots of weight during their months or even years of imprisonment. These individuals were in a state of ketosis with intermittent fasting for most, if not all, of their confinement.

A Tale of Two People who Lost 100 Pounds:

One loses 100 pounds while stimulating autophagy. The other woman used a low-calorie (a.k.a.torture) diet to lose the same amount of weight. No autophagy involved.

The autophagy patient’s body successfully absorbed all of her flabby skin cells and used the cellular parts as fuel. Additionally, there is no extra flesh in her arms, butt, or abdomen. Her body used that protein- and fat-filled tissue to feed her system during her fasting period. She saved herself the pain and expense of having to go under a plastic surgeon’s knife just to cut those ‘wings’ of flab off.  

In the medical field, these leftover tissues are collectively called a ‘curtain of skin.’ Removing all this excess tissue by way of surgery carries a massive risk of blood loss. Until I saw this with my own eyes, I underestimated how many blood vessels remained in that tissue after tremendous weight loss.

The restricted-calorie patient also lost weight and got skinnier. No doubt about that. But her weight loss program left behind thousands of blood vessels, connective tissue cells, skin cells, fat cells and more.

Patients who choose to cut that curtain of skin off after their weight loss suffer from large rope-like scars where the surgeon connected the remaining skin back together. They are not soft and flexible scars-they are keloid roadmaps.



Nothing says inflammation like blood when it is outside of your blood vessels. Thousands and thousands of little threads of blood vessels remain in that curtain of skin. Without the help of autophagy, there is no process to remove the leftover blood vessels and tissues that used to hold, feed and support those layers of fat. Regardless of how skilled your plastic surgeon may be, shutting down every tiny blood vessel before stitching the edges of the skin closed leaves some gnarly-looking scars.

The imagery unsettles my patients and me as I tell them of their options. However, it is inspiring to see folks lose 100 pounds and NOT have this ‘flabby arm-wings’ problem. People do manage to lose weight and avoid flabby skin-only if they trigger the process called autophagy. By activating the recycling process of the energy found in the leftover flabby skin, your body can eat itself into a tighter, firmer, and better-looking form.

How do you trigger autophagy?  

This answer involves complicated biochemistry. Thankfully, the cliff notes can be summed up in one word: FASTING.

As previously mentioned, your body chemistry during times of no eating is an enhanced version of the same chemistry you have during ketone production. By achieving ketosis before you fast, you set the stage for faster autophagy activation. Your ketone-burning cells can start ‘recycling’ their crusty parts in as little as 12 hours from the start of your fast. On the other hand, if carbs are your cells’ primary fuel source, autophagy kicks in several days after you stop eating.

Good news: When patients are keto-adapted you don’t have to fast as long as Grandma Rose did. She fasted for over forty days.  You don’t even have to fast 24 hours. By establishing a ‘fasting window’ of 12 hours every day (this includes 8 hours while you sleep), you benefit from your body’s recycling system. In fact, fasting can change the way you age.

Fasting’s anti-aging benefits come directly from the autophagy triggered when people stop eating for longer blocks of time. Fasting triggers two reactions. First, your body finds nutrition although you haven’t consumed any calories. Where? Your body converts old junky proteins from within your cells into energy. Second, your cells experience a burst in growth hormone production. Human growth hormone promotes muscle and bone growth. This compound also pushes your body to empty its fat cells.

As I write this post, I am on my fifth day of fasting. My average blood sugars hover in the 50-80s and my ketones have steadily risen to the 4.0-5.5 range. Because this fast occurred after months of ketosis, the transition was not difficult. In fact, I would agree with the literature that the first two days are the hardest. After that, each day seems to produce a higher level of energy and clearer thinking. Two of my patients in their 80s have recently fasted for seven days.

 IN THEIR 80s! They attend my weekly keto-support-group and shared their experience with all of us. They choose to fast this long after reading and learning about autophagy. For several months prior they had been in ketosis with pockets of intermittent fasting. Most of their fasts lasted 24 to 48 hours. A few times they did 72 hours. This week-long fast pushed them to a new level. I don’t recommend this long of a for most people … especially in their 80s.

However, these folks were very good at monitoring their biometrics of blood pressure and blood sugars and blood ketones.  They also had quick access to me if anything went awry. But it didn’t. They reached their goal of seven days with only salt, water, and tea. This fast certainly boosted their growth hormone, sparked their metabolism, and ignited autophagy deep inside their cells.

How do you stop autophagy?

Just start eating again. When your body gets glucose from your food, insulin production is triggered. Insulin slams the brakes on autophagy. Even the smallest amount of insulin can stop ‘energy recycling’ in its tracks. Autophagy is only possible through fasting. A ketogenic diet allows you to slide back into a fasting state much more comfortable and faster compared to multiple days needed with a carb-heavy diet.


If you want to learn more about the ketogenic diet, check out the book ANYWAY YOU CAN on Amazon or Audible by Annette Bosworth, MD.


  1. Nobel Prize Honors Autophagy Discovery.” Cancer Discovery, vol. 6, no. 12, 2016, pp. 1298–1299., doi:10.1158/
  2. Ogawa, Chikako, et al. “Autopsy Findings of a Patient with Acute Encephalitis and Refractory, Repetitive Partial Seizures.” Seizure, vol. 35, 2016, pp. 80–82., doi:10.1016/j.seizure.2016.01.005.
  3. Kerndt, Peter R., et al. “Fasting: The History, Pathophysiology and Complications.” THE WESTERN JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, vol. 137, no. 5, Nov. 1982, pp. 379–399.
  4. Fung, Jason. “Blog.” Intensive Dietary Management (IDM),

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Ketosis vs Ketoacidosis: Separating Benefits from Danger.



keto diet and cancer

Ketosis vs Ketoacidosis is only a great discussion because they are two separate things. Gives you a chance to kill two birds with one stone! 

“Isn’t Ketosis the same as Ketoacidosis?”

No. Truth be told, I only hear this question from healthcare professionals that didn’t slow down enough to carefully think about that question. Like me, their brain jumped to the near-death scenario of ketoacidosis when they heard the word ketosis. Most of my patients have never heard of either of these words.

Before you present this idea to your doctor, read this blog.  Print it out and take it along on your doctor visit. 

Ketosis vs Ketoacidosis

Ketoacidosis = DANGEROUS

This is a life-threatening condition. This deadly chemistry shift happens to Type 1 diabetics.  Remember, Type 1 Diabetics are those people who cannot produce insulin. Their pancreas does not squirt out this sugar-handling hormone when their blood sugars rise.  

Since 1922, these patients have the privilege of surviving without a functional pancreas because of insulin. Insulin injections allow the entrance of those glucose molecules into the cell.  Once inside, they are burned as fuel.

Without the injection of insulin, Type 1 diabetics can’t use blood sugar as fuel.

Insulin triggers your body’s cells to capture the sugar in the blood and deliver it to your furnaces. Only then can your cells burn it as fuel. Without insulin, sugars circulate continually and never enter cells. Insulin is the chemical key that allows glucose to enter your cells. Once inside, mitochondria burn this sugar compound for energy.

Without insulin, the sugar in your bloodstream rises and rises.  It entered the system and there is no way to get rid of it as fuel.  

What Happens When Mitochondriaa Don’t Get What They Want?

When mitochondria can’t access sugar fuel from your bloodstream, your body switches over to ketones. As previously stated, the enemy of ketones is insulin. When there is no insulin in your body, ketone production has no limit.  

Ketosis vs KetoacidosisKetones, as fuel, work just dandy for Type 1 diabetics. Unlike glucose, ketones need no help getting from your blood to the furnaces insides of your cells. Ketones slip right through your cell walls and straight to your mitochondria for energy production. Ketones ARE usable to a diabetic. Without insulin shots, Type I diabetics switch each and every cell to a ketone-burning furnace.

Before long all furnaces are churning through the ketones. Massive ketones churn out of their liver. Excessive ketones burn within their mitochondria in their tissues. With every cell in the body burning ketones for fuel, a tremendous amount of energy swelters the system.  Remember that each ketone delivers 32 units of energy as compared to 2 units produced by each glucose molecule. While all the engines burn through ketones, the glucose molecules are stuck outside the cell and walled off from the furnaces. This causes the blood sugars to rise and rise while the system burns more and more fuel.

With every cell glowing hot with ketone fuel, what is the problem?  

As the Type 1 diabetic fuels the whole system on ketones, their body’s chemistry becomes overheated and acidic. Couple the intense energy production with the very high blood sugars and these patients can die from this situation. Heavy ketone buildup creates an acidic environment: ketoACIDosis.

Ketosis vs Ketoacidosis

For those of us that normally produce insulin, even after months of cranking out ketones, we will never have 100% of our furnaces burning ketones. Many of our cells use ketones for fuel, but some cells still use glucose. Glucose always outranks fats for fuel, as long as the fuel can get to the furnaces.  

Insulin assists the glucose with entrance into the cell. If glucose floats by, insulin triggers the cell to grab glucose and pull it in. In that situation, the cell burns glucose while ketone fuel is halted. Normally cells constantly change back and forth between using ketones and glucose.

If you look at 100 cells you will find the ratio of those using glucose versus ketones will fluctuation based on how much glucose gets funneled into the furnaces. Once all the glucose is used up, the furnaces switch back to ketones.  If you spread a sprinkle of glucose, a few cells with gobble up that glucose and flip back the other way.


Ketosis =  NOT DANGEROUS  

Nutritional ketosis refers to the steady production of ketones which are then converted by your mitochondria into energy. Ketosis is triggered by a sharp drop in blood sugar inside the cell.

This low glucose is made possible by fasting or cutting out your carbs. Without insulin, Type 1 diabetics have low blood glucose inside the cells because they have no insulin ‘keys’ that allow entrance.

Here’s how it normally plays out: once you stop eating so many carbs, your body uses up its stored sugar.

Ketosis vs Ketoacidosis

For those of us with insulin, our body burns the glucose fuel circulating in your blood. Next, it empties your stored fuel in your liver. When all that‘s used up, your insulin and sugars drop continuously. Finally, insulin all but disappears.  

One by one, your mitochondria switch from glucose to ketones for fuel. They keep the fire burning, but transition from the fast-burning sugars to slow-burning fat. Not every mitochondrion makes the switch, but more and more of them transition to burning fat. A few sugars enter your system and quickly get burned as the mitochondria switch back and forth.

When you eat mostly fats, your mitochondria become efficient at using either option for energy. A few are switching over to sugar and back again to fat when all the sugar is gone. This fat/sugar blend keeps ketone levels within a safe range. Without insulin, close to 100% of your cells burn ketones. This creates the life-threatening situation of KetoACIDosis.

For further information about this check out the book, ANYWAY YOU CAN: A Beginners Guide to Ketosis. Visit our site today!


  1. Kelley, Sarah Aminoff, and Eric Heath Kossoff. “How Effective Is the Ketogenic Diet for Electrical Status Epilepticus of Sleep?” Epilepsy Research, vol. 127, 2016, pp. 339–343., doi:10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2016.09.018.
  2. Nuttall, F. Q., and M. C. Gannon. “Plasma Glucose and Insulin Response to Macronutrients in Nondiabetic and NIDDM Subjects.” Diabetes Care, vol. 14, no. 9, Jan. 1991, pp. 824–838., doi:10.2337/diacare.14.9.824
  3. Scott AR1; Joint British Diabetes Societies (JBDS) for Inpatient Care; JBDS hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic guidelines group; Management of hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state in adults with diabetes; Diabet Med. 2015 Jun;32(6):714-24. PMID:25980647  DOI:10.1111/dme.12757

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Keto Diet Health Benefits: Differences in Fuel Sources.



Learning the differences between your fuel sources and how they are used in your body can help you reap all the keto diet health benefits.

Look at what you had for your first meal today. No matter what time you first ate today, that first meal broke your overnight fast. Hence the name, ‘break fast’ or breakfast. Now, sort your first meal’s items into these three categories:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Fat

That’s it. These are the only options in life that we have. Three types of food. If you had two eggs and buttered toast for breakfast, you would have eaten all three nutrient categories:

  • keto diet health benefitsEggs = protein and fat.
  • Butter= fat.
  • Toast= carbohydrates.

When thinking about eating a food item, think of these three options and see which category your meal fits in. For example, if you had a bowl of oatmeal with milk, you ate mostly carbohydrates with a splash of protein.  There is no fat in that meal.

  • Is it a carbohydrate?
  • Is it fat?
  • Or is it protein?  

These three categories fuel our bodies. There’s a whole bunch of geeky science that I can go into to try and explain this. But I’m keeping this simple. All food falls in one of these three buckets.

Differences in Fuel Sources

Let’s begin with the easiest buckets: carbohydrates and fats.


Let’s begin with the most simple buckets: carbohydrates and fats. Referred to as carbs most of the time, are foods that turn into sugar inside your body. Sugar in the blood is called glucose or fructose.

Your daily energy depends on:

  1. What type of fuel do you put into your body?
  2. What chemistry was happening inside your body before you added that fuel?

My Campfire Analogy Explaining How Different Food Choices Result in Different Energy Types

After you rake a season of pine needles together, put them into a pile. You barely need to add a flame to watch the whole mound ignite. The dead pine needles and leaves curl from the nearby heat and burst into flames. Some even fly into the air because the process happens so quickly. And then it’s over. The fuel is gone.

That’s how carbohydrates fuel your body. They shoot up quickly without much trouble. The energy burns intensely but doesn’t last very long. We call this a sugar rush.

keto diet health benefits

What does this feel like? A sugar rush? What does a sugar rush feel like? This sounds like a silly question, right?  

Yes, it may seem silly until you spend time in a clinic with patients who are unaware of their high sugar levels. These patients can drink or eat a tremendous amount of sugar without experiencing a rush. Are you one of these patients?

You may be unaware of your chronically elevated blood sugars. A sugar rush should be felt quickly. Tomorrow morning, after no food or drink for 12 hours, gulp down one cup of orange juice. This should send your sugars soaring. It is like drinking a cup of sugar water. When your blood sugar peaks you should feel a surge of energy. If you are unaware of your consistently high blood sugar, you won’t notice much. Your glucose levels were already high to start with, and that juice added only a tiny fraction to your total.

The price you pay for this cheap, quick fuel is the energy crash you suffer when it runs out.


Fat also fuels your body.

Fat fuels your body the same way a brick or a stable, dense, log feeds a fire. If you’ve ever tried to start a campfire with a thick log as your fuel, you probably spent the night staring at a dark fire pit in the cold. Before the log would burn, it needed the correct environment in the fire pit.  

The hard part about using the log is getting it started. Once you finally ignite it, you get a steady source of heat, light, and energy for the rest of the night. That is how stored fat works inside your body.

Fat, like the log, can be a tricky bugger to get going. But once your body starts burning fat for fuel, you get steady, sustainable, and solid energy. The heat from one burning log can spread to the next log releasing even more fuel. Fat provides a constant long-lasting source of energy for your body which is one of hte main keto diet health benefits.

How Does Fat Energy Feel?   

When you send fat to fuel the body, it transforms into glistening compounds called ketones. Once this fuel begins to burn within your cells’ mitochondria, much like burning logs in a campfire, your fuel source becomes steady and abundant. Over the course of two weeks, your body ads more and more logs to your energy production.  


Protein-energy acts like a campfire that uses twigs. The twigs produce enough of a flame to help the log or the brick churn out heat.

Without the log, the sticks quit burning. Fuel from twigs lasts longer than pine needles, but cannot sustain the fire without a log. Sticks need a consistent renewal of pine needles or a continuous supply of heat from a log to keep the fire going.

If sticks burn without a log present, or without repeatedly adding kindling, the fire runs out. When your protein powers the body without fat as your primary fuel, your energy runs out. If protein molecules are burned without fat the energy runs out.

When you compare the pine needles [carbs] to the sticks [protein], the pine needles and sticks both burn easily but don’t last very long. The fire from the pine needles bursts much higher and faster than fire fueled by sticks, but neither burns for long without help.

When you compare carb fuel to protein fuel, both delivery energy rapidly to the body, but the energy runs out. Both carb and protein fuels crash after their peak-with carbs crashing a lot sooner and harder. The sticks [protein] wear out if there isn’t a log [fat] around to sustain the fire.

What Does Any of This Have to do With a Keto Diet Health Benefits?

If your fuel comes from fat, your body makes molecules called ketones. A chain of fat goes into our cells’ furnace. This cellular fuel house is called the mitochondria. It spits ketones out when fed fat. When the ketones swim throughout the body and your bloodstream, it fuels your cells with a source of energy that is steady, strong, and reliable. Ketones show up in your system when your cells use fat, in the absence of carbohydrates, for energy.

keto diet health benefits

When you eat carbohydrates, glucose and other sugar molecules appear in your blood. After eating carbs, glucose, and fructose flow through your bloodstream where mitochondria suck them into their furnaces. These molecules line up in front of your mitochondria [furnace] and burn rapidly. Glucose, like pine needles in a fire, deliver fast, quick energy. Your cells’ furnaces burn hot and fast when using glucose. This glucose-based energy reaches the highest heat level your body can produce-only to crash when your glucose runs out.

One more time. Carbs go into your body, and mitochondria gobble their fast-burning, pine-needle-like energy, only to leave the system fatigued and tired after the crash. Fat goes into the body and ketones fuel mitochondria producing a steady, strong source of energy-just like campfire logs.

Tips How to Maintain the Keto Diet Health Benefits

Knowing which foods assist in entering and maintaining ketosis is essential. The MeTone Life Pocket Guide & Fridge Chart will lead you step-by-step through this process as you discover how to fit keto-friendly foods into your everyday life. At the grocery store or dining out, these tips will ensure you are making the best choices possible for a new you.

Learn more about what foods to eat through our FOOD GUIDE teaching you the good – better – and best options for ketosis eating.  


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