In case you’ve been living under a rock, the keto diet means eating a high fat, low carb, low protein intake.
The fats are seriously high and the carbs are wicked low; true keto is less than 20 grams of carbs a day.
It’s working to help a lot of people lose weight, decrease inflammation, think more clearly, and in general feel better. Heck, it may be doing those things for you!
Still, is it really the high fat content that’s doing all that good? I don’t think so.
Now, that’s not to say that high fat is bad. I don’t think it is. I eat a fair amount of fat myself, and if there’s a better cooking medium than pig fat I haven’t found it.
It’s just that from my perspective, having used variants of keto and low carb and having done water fasts and regular testing of my own states of ketosis, the secret of keto isn’t the high fat content.
The secret of keto is that it encourages you to eat less, and the AMOUNT of food most people eat is most of their problem.
Look, once you get seriously keto you’ll usually drop one meal per day. It could be breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Most people skip breakfast, but it doesn’t really matter. The important point is that you’re eating less food.
The biggest reason you’ll eat less food is that by increasing your fat intake you satiate your hunger. Fat lets your body know you’ve got plenty of calories to survive, so you don’t trigger your physiological hunger response as often.
Now, plenty of people eat due to stress or the emotional roller coaster they live on, but that’s another topic. For now, let’s focus on the core of the “keto benefit.”
At the risk of pointing out the obvious, humans have been around for about 2 million years in one form or another. For all but 99% of that history we have not regularly had 3 meals per day. We literally didn’t evolve to eat 3 meals a day.
3 meals comes from the industrialization of the world; if you’re busting your ass in a factory for 8-10 hours a day, you need to eat more food. You also need regular breaks to eat that much food and not burn out.
3 meals a day is NOT how humans are supposed to eat. We evolved to graze and gorge, and routinely fast. Yep, it’s that simple.
When you fast and skip a meal, it’s pretty darn hard to make up all those missed calories at the next meal. Give it a try. Do a 24 hour fast, then try to eat double your regular meals the next day. You can’t do it. Your body will tell you you’re full long before you’ve “made up” all the calories you missed. The longer you fast, the harder it is to make up the lost calories.
When we put together a diet with a high fat content that tells our guts we’re full sooner, we eat less.
When we skip a meal (by fasting), we eat less on a daily basis.
It’s that simple. The benefits of keto, the REAL benefits, come from eating less, less often, not from eating high fat. The higher fat content is a step on the path, it’s not the reason we feel better.
Now, as a teaser, I’ll tell you about the 3 variables you can manipulate that’ll allow you to double your dessert ration without having a negative effect on the rest of your life. Here they are:
WHAT you eat doesn’t matter as much as HOW OFTEN you eat, and HOW MUCH you eat.
I’ll leave you to think about that for a bit. If you’ve ever wondered how people you think of as “healthy” can put down an endless plate of street tacos followed by a pint of ice cream and still stay slender and fit, the secret is in that sentence.
Stay curious & healthy, my friends!
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