How To Become A Fat-Burning Machine With The Ketogenic Diet
Perhaps the most immediate and dramatic benefit of ketogenic eating is the opportunity for quick and efficient reduction of excess body fat. This also means easy, long-term maintenance of your ideal body composition. Ketogenic eating can make you an efficient fat-burning machine. When you are in full-blown keto, you enjoy complete dietary satisfaction, rarely feel hungry (even if you skip meals!), and never have to struggle, suffer, restrict calories, or force strenuous workouts in order to burn extra calories. Instead, you allow your body to naturally calibrate you to a healthy composition and weight.
The scientists, medical professionals, and athletes on the ground floor of the keto movement can barely contain their excitement over its power to reliably reduce excess body fat, enhance neurological function, protect against diseases of cognitive decline, and slow the rate of inflammation and oxidative damage that are the essence of the (accelerated) aging process. Research has suggested it's also able to help prevent seizures, halt the growth of cancerous tumors, and improve athletic performance for all types of athletes.1
In essence, ketogenic eating allows you to benefit from the extraordinary (and scientifically validated) metabolic efficiency, general health, and longevity benefits of fasting—without having to starve yourself. When you're starving, engaging in a purposeful fast, or adhering to a nutritional ketosis eating pattern, your cells prefer to burn fat and produce ketones. Ketones burn efficiently and quickly in the body. In fact, they have been the preferred human fuels in our body for 2.5 million years of our hunter-gatherer existence.2
The problem with the SAD diet, carbohydrates, and chronic feeding.
On the other hand, the high-carb, high-insulin-producing Standard American Diet (SAD) causes you to burn glucose (also known as sugar), which has been the primary human fuel since the cultivation of grains and the consequent advent of civilization around 10,000 years ago. Glucose burns quickly and easily, but it also burns dirty via the excessive production of free radicals.3 Free radicals are the driving force behind inflammation, cancer, and accelerated aging. They are an inevitable by-product of living life—burning calories, breathing air, or absorbing sunlight—so you can’t avoid them, but concerns arise when free radical production is excessive. This happens when you introduce stressors like high-carbohydrate eating, excessive exercise, or adverse lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, alcohol or drug use, or having stressful personal relationships.
This concept that your body operates much more efficiently when starving, fasting, or eating keto is critical to consider in today’s age of chronic overfeeding and excess insulin production. It may feel satisfying at some level to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but overfeeding drives accelerated aging and increases disease risk.4 When we have chronic caloric abundance, we not only gain weight, but our bodies also accelerate cell division instead of being frugal and efficient with the cells we have. Why bother being efficient (repairing and recycling existing cells) when more calories (that can help make new cells) are coming down the pipe every few hours? So, what’s the answer? Going keto.
This is what metabolic flexibility really means.
The ultimate objective of the step-by-step plan I’ve developed in my new book The Keto Reset Diet is to build what I like to call metabolic efficiency or metabolic flexibility—being adept at burning stored energy in the form of fat and ketones instead of relying primarily on the carbohydrates you consume at regularly timed meals. The first step in the process is the 21-Day Metabolism Reset to kick your dependence on dietary carbohydrates (which is the essence of metabolic inflexibility) and boost your fat-burning metabolism.
During the first week of the reset, you’ll learn the best way to ditch grains, sugars, and refined vegetable oils, and you’ll also discover the nutrient-dense, high-fat, low-carb primal foods with which to replace them. During the second week, you’ll focus on the supportive lifestyle behaviors that are essential to succeed with dietary transformation. These include optimizing your exercise patterns, dialing in your sleep, and implementing effective stress-management techniques. In your final approach to the 21-day mark, you’ll put it all together—thereby escaping carbohydrate dependency once and for all and plunging headlong into the world of fat adaptation.
Adopting a long-term ketogenic lifestyle is easier than you think.
You will likely notice immediate weight loss, largely due to a reduction in inflammation (and the ensuing fluid retention in cells throughout the body) and also because you will unlock stored body fat to burn for energy around the clock. It’s not uncommon for devoted enthusiasts to drop 10 to 15 pounds total, including 3 to 6 pounds of excess body fat, during a 21-Day Metabolism Reset.
Then, you’ll go keto, dropping your carb consumption to less than 50 grams a day and also likely lowering your protein to less than you typically consume, while also emphasizing nutritious, natural fats as your main calorie source. Your journey into nutritional ketosis should last for at least six weeks. Then, with your newly minted degree in fat- and keto-adaptation, you can consider and experiment with assorted long-term options, including going back into nutritional ketosis any time in the future to shed excess fat, protect against disease, and enhance cognitive and athletic performance.
Being fat- and keto-adapted means that you can veer off the plan now and then and not tailspin into a monthlong sugar binge. When you have this esteemed metabolic flexibility, you can wake up the day after eating cake by the ocean, or even a bunch more stuff on a weeklong cruise, and get right back into the groove—whether through fasting, a string of keto-aligned meals, or even strategic use of ketone supplements. Adopting this lifestyle means freedom from sugar cravings, fatigue, and overstimulation of the fight-or-flight response from excess carbohydrates. What could be better than that?
The Keto Reset Diet by Mark Sisson is available for purchase here.
1. Masino, Susan (ed.). Ketogenic Diet and Metabolic Therapies: Expanded Roles in Health and Disease. Oxford University Press, 2017.
2. Cahill, G.F. (2006). Fuel metabolism in starvation. Annual Review of Nutrition, 26: 1-22.
3. Rattan, S.I.S. (2006). Theories of biological aging: Genes, proteins, and free radicals. Free Radical Research, 40: 1230–1238.
4. Sohal, R.S., & Weindruch, R. (1996). Oxidative Stress, Caloric Restriction, and Aging. Science (New York, N.Y.), 273 (5,271), 59–63.