Ketosis and Insulin Resistance: How Much is Enough Carbs?
I continue to fuel my body with ketones because of its effect on brain function. Ketosis’ main attraction to most people is its ability to produce smooth, almost effortless weight loss.
Ketosis makes weight loss quicker and easier. In fact, losing weight on a keto diet is a ‘no-brainer’ for many people. How come? It all boils down to insulin. Insulin opens and closes the gates of all of your fat cells.
If there is insulin near a fat storing cell, all fat stays locked inside. If you want to use the energy of your fat cells, insulin must leave the scene. Insulin is also the chemical messenger that allows glucose into the cell. Without insulin, those extra glucose molecules never gain access to your furnaces. They remain in your bloodstream, outside your cells.
Fat Loss and the Role of Insulin
When a patient asks for weight loss help, it often goes without saying that they are asking for help to get rid of their excess fat. No one has ever asked me to help them shed weight by trimming muscle tissue. Weight loss means getting rid of the contents stuffed in your fat-storing cells.
These cells fall under the commanding leadership of a mighty ruler: INSULIN. Keep in mind the following rules. Insulin is King
Insulin controls energy storage. Insulin is the king of hormones. If insulin is present, glucose molecules evacuate from your blood.
‘Be GONE!’ Where do the Glucose Molecules Go?
One of two options:
GLUCOSE AS FUEL: Insulin siphons the glucose from the bloodstream to the inside of your cells. These cells can be in your brain, liver, muscles, skin, or any other tissue. All will use glucose for energy.
GLUCOSE AS STORAGE: Insulin triggers your storage cells to suction any extra glucose from your bloodstream and stores them. Most glucose gets stored as fat. Insulin orders all nearby fat cells to lock all their exits. Insulin orders the fat cells to not release any new energy into the system.
Your fat cells do not care about the origin of glucose in your bloodstream. They only follow their command of their mighty dictator, insulin. Two hours ago, you washed down an apple with some orange juice. Your blood sugar rose, and insulin squirted into your system. Because of that insulin, and sugar found in your system will be suctioned out of the bloodstream and put into the nearest storage cell.
Fat cells cannot empty when insulin is around. You cannot use your stored fat as fuel as long as insulin is present.
This drawing was inspired by an old medical textbook picture showing a man whose body didn’t produce any insulin. Thankfully, he lived during a time where injectable insulin was available.
Ketosis and Insulin Resistance
I talk about insulin being evil. It is not all evil. It plays a necessary role in the healthy, normal operations of your body.
Your body needs a bare minimum of insulin to trade, store, and exchange energy. This hormone is necessary for life. If you don’t produce it, you’re going to die young unless you inject it. This man has two large mounds of fatty tissue on each of his thighs.
He injected insulin into his thighs, in the same spots. Through the years, he injected insulin in the right thigh, then the left thigh-shot after shot after shot. Insulin saved his life.
He did not die from diabetes because he injected insulin. His pancreas failed to produce insulin. Notice what happened in those areas near the injection points? Fat grew. And grew and grew and grew. His thighs’ muscle cells were not designed to store fat. But under the direction of insulin, his nearby fat cells followed orders. They turned on the vacuum and sucked glucose into storage. Those rounded mounds are over-stuffed fat cells.
The injection of insulin changed that area from predominantly muscle cells to all fat. The fat cells in the body were hundreds of times larger than they’re supposed to be because they were influenced continuously by concentrated doses of insulin. Over the course of several decades, insulin locked the fat inside those fat cells. He never went more than 24 hours without giving himself a shot. The fat that stored in those cells remained for decades. This next picture tells a similar story.*Ketosis and Insulin Resistance
This patient injected insulin in the same two spots in his abdomen. Insulin commanded those cells to store fat. After many years of insulin injections, he chemically ordered those cells to overgrow and over-fill with fat.
It is a narrow door unless he runs out of insulin for several days. The only way he will release the fat from those cells is to stop instructing the storage of fat through the injection of insulin. Before insulin injections became available, low carbohydrate diets kept people with type 1 diabetes alive.
Here’s an example of their recommended daily nutrient breakdown from 1915:
- 10 grams of carbohydrates, 40 caloriesKetosis and Insulin Resistance
- 75 grams of protein, 300 calories
- 150 grams fat, 1350 calories.
- 15 grams of alcohol
Almost all calories came from fat. I’m not entirely sure why they added 15 grams of alcohol, but that was also in the diet. It probably was distilled alcohol which has no carbohydrates in it. Alcohol completely stops the production of ketones in the liver. Alcohol, like a ketone, enters your cells without insulin. Without insulin, no glucose enters the cells. Glucose inside the cell stops ketone production. Without insulin to carry the glucose inside their cells, these 1915 diabetics had no ‘brakes’ for their ketone production, except for alcohol. Alcohol’s inclusion in their diet might have prevented the ketoacidosis-that dangerous buildup of excess ketones in the body that can lead to coma and death.
Normally, insulin is secreted from your pancreas every time your guts sense carbohydrates. For example, milk has sugar in it called lactose. As soon as your stomach detects that lactose, it triggers your pancreas to squeeze out some insulin. Insulin then permeates the body, and orders cells to vacuum up sugar out of the blood, causing your blood sugar level to drop. Insulin instructs your cells to soak up sugars. It also flows past fat cells. Insulin commands fat cells to lockdown their exits and sucks in any extra nearby energy. Stored energy can’t leave fat cells. The entrance doors to the fat cells still work; the exits don’t.
If you want to empty your fat cells, you must turn off the vacuum pulling your energy into these cells. The on/off switch for your fat cells’ vacuum is insulin. To empty your body’s fat storage cells, stop making insulin.
How do you stop producing insulin? Stop eating carbohydrates.
Listed below are certain common foods and their impact on ketosis. If you want less fat insulating your body, stop making so much insulin. Less insulin means weight loss-specifically from your fat cells. The following fattening foods lock down your fat cells from releasing any of your stored fat.
Bread: Anything made from wheat flour, white flour, pumpernickel flour, rye flour, tortillas, waffles, rolls, pasta, raisin bread
Cereals and Grains: bran cereals, cooked cereals, stuffing, unsweetened cereals, cornmeal, couscous, granola, grape-nuts, grits, pasta, quinoa, rice, brown rice, shredded wheat, sugar cereals
Fruit Juices: All juices associated with fruit, except lemon or lime juice in small quantities.
Fruit: Apple, applesauce, dried apples, apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, cherries, grapefruit, grapes, Kiwi, honeydew, mangoes, mandarin oranges, nectarines, oranges, Papaya, Peaches, pears, pineapples, raisins, tangerines, dried fruit
Beans, Peas, and Nuts: baked beans, black beans, peas, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, white beans, split beans, black-eyed beans, lima beans, cashew nuts, chestnuts, tofu, soybeans
Milk: nonfat milk, chocolate milk, evaporated milk, skim milk, whole milk, soy milk, nonfat yogurt.
Bad Carb-Vegetables: corn, peas, potatoes, squash, yams, sweet potatoes
Snacks: animal crackers, goldfish crackers, graham crackers, oyster crackers, popped popcorn, pretzels, sandwich crackers, chips, tortilla chips, potato chips, french fries
Sweets: Anything with sugar, honey, or other sweeteners. Cake, biscuits, brownies, candy, chocolate, cookies, sauces, donuts, ice cream, jams, jellies, ketchup, pie, frosting
WEIGHT LOSS FOOD: Eat these for fat loss
Fat: Ironically enough, to lose flab, you need to eat fat. How come? There are no carbs found in fat. There is no insulin produced when you consume fat. Just make sure not to add sugar (or other carbohydrates) to your fat.
Meat: beef, pork, ham, lamb, veal, bacon, pork belly, or any game meat (rabbit, moose, elk, venison)
WARNING: Excess protein trigger insulin production.
Processed Meat: salami, pepperoni, sausage, Spam, liverwurst, bologna, hot dogs, bacon, ham. Make sure these are loaded with fat and not ‘light’ or ‘lean’ versions.
Poultry: chicken, turkey, duck, pheasant or any game birds. [Note: Eat the skin that’s where most of the fat is. Pork rinds are a tremendous carb-free breading!]
Seafood: any fish or shellfish. Here is an incomplete list: salmon, halibut, cod, crab, prawns, clams, oysters, mussels, squid, octopus, smoked fish, dried fish, canned fish /seafood (sardines, tuna)
Eggs: Whole eggs
SALAD/ LEAVES: (range from 0.5–5 carbs per 1 cup) leafy greens, dandelion, beet greens, collards, mustard greens, turnip, arugula, chicory, endive, escarole, fennel, radicchio, romaine lettuce, sorrel, spinach, kale, chard, parsley, lettuce, onion tops, leeks, alfalfa sprouts, seaweed
- Cruciferous vegetables: (ranges 3–6 grams of carbs per 1 cup) Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, garden cress, watercress
- Uncooked vegetables that grow above ground: (2–4 grams of carbs per 1 cup) Celery, cucumber, zucchini, chives, leeks, asparagus, eggplant
- Uncooked vegetables higher in carbs- only in moderation: (3–7 grams of carbs per 1 cup) asparagus, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bell pepper, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, radishes, jicama, green beans, wax beans, tomatoes
- Cooked Vegetables: (15-25 grams of carbs per 1 cup– WARNING: These vegetables throw most people out of ketosis.) Eat once every six weeks. Sweet peas, artichokes, okra, carrots, beets, and parsnips.
Don’t go overboard with vegetables since they contain carbohydrates. Instead, think of them as nutritional ‘vehicles’ that carry fat to your guts. Add olive oil, sour cream, butter or other fats to your vegetables. Make sure you don’t overcook them.
Cheese: Choose full-fat cheeses, not low-fat. The high-fat, hard cheeses have the least carbs.
- Full-fat cheeses: (0.5–1.5 grams carbs per one ounce or about 1/4 cup) Gouda, Brie, Edam, Cheddar, Colby, goat cheese, Swiss, Gruyere and more
- Aged cheeses: Cheddar, Gruyere, Manchego, Gouda and Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano / Grana Padano Such)
- Soft Cheeses: Camembert, Brie, blue, feta, swiss, goat cheese, Monterey jack, mozzarella
- Dairy: Heavy whipping cream, sour cream
If you want to empty your fat cells, change your body’s chemistry to unlock the exit doors. Decrease the insulin first. Insulin blocks weight loss.
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.