Thursday, October 31, 2013


Do you remember the first time when you read about low carb diet and its “metabolic advantage’? Wasn’t it exciting to discover limiting your carbohydrate intake would help you to burn down around 20% of your calorie intake “effortlesly”? Well I thought it would be amusing, and interesting, to know what the recent studies are saying about it.

What is astonishing to discover is it seems the question has not been addressed sufficiently with properly controlled trials and most of what can be said about it is still a sort of guess or, at least, an approximate deduction. Still, one thing that seems to be constant is someone needs to produce some ketones to get the effect. Because, as you know, many diets considered low carb are not restricting enough the said carb and these folk never gets in real ketosis. It seems now that to get this “metabolic advantage” is all about how deep you go into ketosis. 
Talking about ketosis, it is interesting to note to differentiate “diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)”, which requires levels of ketone over 3 mmol/l AND hyperglycemia over 300 mg/dl, we are now using the term “nutritional ketosis” for the healthy state in which your body produces ketones from fat to be burned as a fuel source.
So the highest quantity of ketones you will produce, the more this “metabolic advantage” will be high. The reason being there is an energy cost of making ketones from fat.
One study showed that if you get into significant ketosis on a LC diet your body will consume 139 cal extra per day, compare to burning only 86 calories extra a LC diet with no ketosis.
It seems that the effect of ketosis on increasing fuel expenditure is caused by an increase of liposis in adipose tissue and a subsequent intake of the released fatty acids by the liver having, as an effect, further increase of production of ketones.
The other question is how these produced ketones do increase your metabolism? Well it seems using ketones as a source of energy increase the your aerobic capacities, which means you ability of burning compounds using oxygen. One study showed when using ketones instead of glucose, the hearth increases its output. And associating this augmentation in aerobic capacities and cardiac output will have, as a final effect, an increase in performance especially an in muscle performance. So even it is said using ketones as a source of energy is not as efficient as glucose “calorie wise” still, the effect on the body performance capacities largely compensate for the loss of efficiency in production.
Maybe I already said it in other post, but I will repeat myself: glucose is only useful for immediate muscle contraction “without oxygen” and to red blood cells + a few cells in the eye and in the brain, cells that have a metabolism not compatible with the presence of oxygen. Not more.
All this being said, it comes out clear ketones offer an enormous thermodynamic advantage that may go up, according to one study, to 28%. Yes, 28 % of the fat you eat or burn from your reserves will be use extra to keep your body working!!!
Which explains nicely why many folks may eat extra calories on a VLCD in the form of fat, much higher then there body needs. Of course, this metabolic advantage comes only when the extra calories are NOT from protein, because the said protein would not lead to more ketone production, but will be transformed into glucose by neoglucogenesis.
The last question, which is not the least, and that do come up in many studies is if there would be an increase in “production performance” of ketones on a long term ketogenic diet, which would be translated on a lower caloric expenditure to produce the said ketones? If yes, could this explain why some folks do stop loosing weight after a long period on a seriously restricted carb diet even if they continue eating the same quantity of food? But I am not sure we are going to have an answer to this question in any soon future because nobody is interested to finance such as study as there is no money to make here…

Saturday, October 26, 2013


If you are a fervent reader on LC websites, you probably already have heard of this Swedish guy, Tommy Runesson, who has lost 200 lbs in only 2 years doing a LowCarbHighFat (LCHF) diet.

As a well-trained chef, he describes his new way of eating as “going back to real food in the old traditional style”. Adding that the TRICK with a LCHF diet is that fat keeps you satiated, especially saturated fats. He does recommend not going overboard with proteins, which brought the acronym of “LCHF” which is, by the way, a 100% Swedish invention.
Everyday, he publishes pictures of his dinner plate with the macronutrients analysis. Sometimes I am under shock when I see the hugeness of his meat portions he has as a meal, especially when I see them floating in a creamy sauce made of over 1 cup of heavy cream. As a Zero Carbers since so many years, I shouln't be impress but, still, I am...
To make it brief, his story is fascinating and he is the living proof a low carb diet is more then recommendable. So recommendable, he has become a trained diet counselor and gives lectures.
All his health markers, including his lipid profile just keep improving and are exemplary. His blood sugar is more the stable, “flat” as he describes it, and his diabetes nurse is astonished each time she reviews his results. 
So, as Zero Carbers, I will certainly not loose time arguing with this man as his results do talk for themselves.
But if you visit his website, you will find some details about his vision of this LCHF diet, details that I really enjoyed reading.
One question that comes up is how much carbs should one eats on this diet, per day. According to him, the level depends on the numbers of grams that will enable your body to loose weight and/or get health benefits. The goal he recommends is to go below 20g per day for weight loss, and maybe a little more when doing this diet only for health purpose.
But when he coaches people on LCHF diet, he ALWAYS START THEM as low as possible, which is a level that can be set at 5 g of carbs per day. I do not like to argue for nothing but this is the average carbs one gets on a Zero Carb diet per day if it includes a few eggs and maybe some cheese + cream…
He recommends this low content of carbs because, in his experience, if his allows 10g or 15g per day, folks can easily go off track and get to high even at levels above 50g a day.
Anyway, in the first months of his own journey, he admit having an average of 2-5g of carbs per day and most of the days, close to ZERO…!!!
I do really appreciate the way he describe this low level of carbs: “It’s kind of CLEANER to go really low”. Which means, logically, that eating more carbs is “going DIRTIER”...
Finally one man is using the good words…
Interestingly, he allows some very low carb vegetables but when you go through the “photos of his dinner plates”, very often the vegetables are missing… So, and it was not a surprise for me, when he gives a recipe, very often, when his meat is cooked and served on the plate, he adds “vegetable as a decoration”. Which gives you an idea of the quantity of the said vegetables…
All this being said, he never mention the existence of a Zero Carb diet as an option. But, still, he talks about a “no carb approach”.
So let’s not play with word and be honest, the success of this guy is based on the fact he is doing a Zero Carb diet, because te 3g-4g of carbs that decorate his plate certainly keep his insulin levels as low as anyone doing a Zero Carb approach. And, of course, with all the same health benefits…
Anyway, and I largely agree with him, the vegetables, as any other carb sources like bread, pasta or rice, are only in people plates to “cheapen” their meals…
Finally, and I have to be honest here, this guy also did more then a HCLF diet to explain his success: many times per week, he only eats one meal at around 6:00 pm which is made of 300-400 g meat, chicken or fish, with a nice 100 g of butter or mayonnaise which brings in around 1,800-2,000 calories. Of course, this is also an INTERMITTENT FASTING approach which will, on the long run, bring his insulin level even lower then with any other approach.
At the end, what he did is recreated they way human being used to feed themselves for thousands of years: having big meals because when an animal was caught, it had to be eaten as quick as possible, so the flesh do not spoil due to the lack of refrigeration, and favor the fatty parts, because this is what brought energy in and cutter down hunger until the next hunt…
Congratulations Tommy Runesson, you have made my day!!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


I just finish reading an article published 3 days ago in “Nutrition & Metabolism” by Joseph McInnes, a German scientist. It was difficult to read by moments but some parts were very exciting for me and since I think they could also be of interest for anyone on a Zero Carb diet, I decided to bring you here a resume of the highlights. 

In the last ten years, research has revolutionized the way in which we view mitochondria. They are no longer viewed solely as cellular powerhouses; rather, mitochondria are now understood to be astonishing structures, constantly undergoing fusion and fission, and engaging in intimate interactions with other cellular structures.

Studies have implicated mitochondria in a wide variety of cellular processes, such as lipid flux, and intracellular signaling. It does not come as a surprise that an increasing number of human pathologies have been associated with functional defects in mitochondria.
The difficulty in understanding and treating human pathologies caused by mitochondrial dysfunction arises from the complex relationships between mitochondria and other cellular processes, as well as the genetic background of such diseases.
What is interesting to us, Zero-Carbers, is how all this new knowledge available nowadays help us to understand why our diet is so efficient in helping to regain health losses associated with metabolic diseases which are, as you will see, “mitochondrial-associated”.
Mitochondria are defined as energy-generating organelle of the cell, responsible for the final steps of metabolizing organic substances to produce energy (ATP). I will voluntarily omit all the scientific explanation of how the said ATP molecules are produced and concentrate on the consequences of dietary sources of energy on mitochondria functioning.
It is generally understood mitochondria produce ATP from the breakdown of sugar such as glucose. Sadly, and often omitted, is the second energy source for mitochondria: the degradation of fatty acids, which, as you know, originate from our diet or from our reserve in the adipocytes.
Fatty acids IS THE MAJOR ENERGY SOURCE in humans and this process relies on beta-oxidation in the mitochondria. Let's never forget glucose levels in our blood at any moment are very limited and our glycogen reserves are not much better for special needs.
Many defect of “burning glucose” in our mitochondria cause diseases that are, even if rare, quite serious. They have names like “mitochondrial myopathy” or “glutaric acidemia type 2” or “respiratory complex deficiency”. At the end, they have all the same origin: a genetic defect of glucose mitochondrial metabolism.
And as our cells cannot synthesize mitochondria, they have to multiply by division from old ones, a process named “fission”. They also go into a process of “fusion” when 2 mitochondria “fuse” together. This way, through the life cycle of a cell, “fusion and fission” allows the body to adjust to create to the adequate balance of the energy producing structures.
Throughout its lifetime, mitochondria can accumulate damage and debris, characterized by excessive amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS) especially from burning sugar. One way mitochondria can dispose of such molecular debris is by segregating that part of the mitochondrion by fission, followed by the “digestion” process of “mitophagy”.
Interestingly, this process of “mitophagy” is believe to be a vital mechanism have been linked to human pathologies associated with metabolism such as ageing, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and tissue injury and repair.
So you can understand how maintaining our mitochondria in good shape is essential for metabolic function but this process may vary among tissues because there metabolism in the liver, for example, is quite different from the one in the hearth.
So how can we maintain our mitochondria happy? With diet and nutrition. But not any diet and nutrition…
Food items have the ability to influence mitochondrial function, and in turn the effects of mitochondrial-associated diseases. As discussed, energy sources provided by diet include carbohydrates and fats. Carbohydrates are broken down by the glycolysis. Fats, on the other hand, are broken down by β-oxidation. Additionally, in the liver and kidneys, ketone bodies can be produced as a byproduct of fatty acid β-oxidation. Ketone bodies are high-energy compounds, which are transported via the blood to other tissues. Thus, they have the ability to serve as an alternative energy source for tissues in situations of impaired glucose oxidation.
Though clinical data investigating how diet influences mitochondrial function is currently quite limited, one well-studied diet associated with influencing mitochondrial function is the ketogenic diet.
As many defects in mitochondrial pathologies arise from defects in mitochondrial metabolism, especially mutations affecting proteins required for glucose oxidation, the use of ketones originating from fat oxidation have been quite useful. This process bypasses the glucose oxidation pathway and provides a glucose-independent energy source. For example, the use of ketone diet for treating epilepsy is quite effective, as this disease is known to be a defect of mitochondria in the hippocampal neurons. Sadly, many doctors still talk about “idiopathic epilepsy” meaning they have no idea of the cause of the said epilepsy…
In a mouse model of a mitochondrial myopathy, it was shown that a ketogenic diet positively affects mitochondrial function and partially relieves some effects of mitochondrial myopathies. More recently, some laboratory studies have focused on how diet composition in terms of protein, fat and carbohydrate amounts influence mitochondrial function. For example, in a Drosophila model, a high carbohydrate to protein ratio triggered the appearance of mitochondrial defects.
Therefore, by developing a diet regiment, which increases metabolic function in cases of defects in mitochondrial function, one single diet plan may have the ability to treat a wide range of mitochondrial pathologies and the ketone diet is the best example. I hope I do not have to explain to you all a ketone diet is a HIGH FAT diet…
Mitochondrial myopathies are difficult to detect, as clinical symptoms of mitochondrial disorders often present with many other effects, such as liver failure, stroke-like symptoms, diabetes or other symptoms. Some therapies to treat mitochondrial myopathies have been clinically investigated, and one treatment possibilities, such as switching to a ketogenic diet to suppress the effects of myopathies, is currently being investigated.
Type 2 diabetes arises from a complex set of factors including genetic predisposition and lifestyle and, interestingly, mitochondrial dysfunction has recently been identified within various aspects in the pathogenesis of this disease. When target cells no longer respond to insulin signals to take up glucose from the blood, it results in high blood glucose and energy-deprived tissues. Do I need to add how a ketogenic diet comes in quite useful here???
Therefore, ongoing research into therapies for other mitochondrial-associated diseases is also likely to have implications for treating certain aspects of type 2 diabetes, and vice versa.
Mitochondrial activity is also affected in cancer patients. Tumor progression is associated with increased mitochondrial respiration (due to rapidly growing cells) and therefore increased ROS production from burning glucose. With increased ROS production comes an increased risk of mutations. Again here, many research are under way using a ketogenic diet as a treatment option, especially for brain cancer.
What I found interesting here is this mitochondria dysfunction goes further in explaining the pathology of so many diseases, many of them part of the Metabolic Syndrome. It is certainly a step further then simply stating diabetes comes from insulin resistance. And when you go down and observe what is happening in the said mitochondria, there is not much more going on other then burning sugar or fat.
And it seems burning sugar in there brings up many problems while burning fat brings back everything to normal…

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Today’s post is about a recent experience I had eating heavy cream, a lot of heavy cream…

We know dairy products can be a trap for some folks doing a modified carb diet, and even a larger trap for many of us on Zero Carb. Of course, I was aware about this but, still, I wanted to give it a try even if I had experienced some problems in the past with this pure delicacy.

This experiment began after I recently discovered a source of “organic double heavy cream” and that I decided to give it a try. The product is astonishing, very thick with a divine taste. I began eating it with a small spoon just as others would eat any pudding. It was extremely satisfying and a small quantity would cut any hunger for many hours. Great. Great until…

Until I began slowly allowing my daily quantity of cream to go up. I will immediately say that I did not eat more because I NEEDED to eat more, BUT simply because my weight was NOT going up. I was saying to myself: “What a great surprise! Now I can have a treat with this highly satisfying food item without worrying about the impact on my body”.

These were wonderful days. Imagine: I could dig into these double cream containers with no guilt or worries and, knowing I was indulging into an organic product, this only reinforced my impression of wellness. Until…

Until about after 10 days when I began to felt more thirsty and had to urinate more. I knew these could be symptoms of high blood sugar but I could not believe this could be true. I very rarely control my blood sugar as being on Zero carb diet since more then 3 years, it is always, but always, normal.

But the thirst not going away, I had to proceed. What a shock. My blood sugar was high; not at excessive levels but high enough to be into the “diabetic zone”. I controlled in the morning, I controlled before eating, I controlled 2 hours after meals, and my blood sugar was always high.

My first reaction was to stop immediately indulging in heavy cream. But, still, 24 hours later, my blood would refuse to go lower.

So I sat down and begin to review my eating menu of the last 10 days. What I discovered was astonishing. Because I was eating a lot of this cream, I had eaten less during my 2 daily Zero Carb meals. I thought that eating according to my appetite was “the way to go”.

Then I went on and calculated my daily calories and food macronutrients  composition. The calories were higher from my usual with all that cream but I didn’t care because the weight was stable. But then, I observed my protein intake was lower (but still acceptable), while my fat intake was extremely high, well much higher then my regular diet. Still, I could not understand why this would impact my blood sugar.

Until I calculated my carbohydrates intake…

Yes, I knew heavy cream does contain carbohydrates even if not that much. And double heavy cream contains even less. So where was the problem? Well, when you eat “a lot of heavy cream”, the numbers goes up quite fast. But certainly not enough to explain this increase in blood sugar…

Then the explanation became obvious: as my metabolism in running on fats, and I was eating a lot of fats without gaining weight, I was surely burning a lot of fats. But fats are the source of compounds from which our minimal needs for glucose are met by neoglucogenesis. So each time triglycerides are broken down, 10 % by weight goes to produce glucose. So if one ingest 100 g of fat per day, here comes 10 g of carbohydrates. But I was eating about 300 g of fat per day…, which means 30 g of glucose right there.

I added these 30 g to the carbohydrates coming from the cream and I estimated my daily carb intake was more then 50 g !!! And this did not consider the eventual proteins that could have been transformed into glucose but since I had no way to evaluate this, I did not consider it in my calculations…

So here I was on a Zero Carb diet eating more then 50 g of carbohydrate by day… and having my blood sugar going up. 

What a sad story, yes, very sad story…

But I did some readings because, still, I could not believe that all this fat could have such an impact on my blood sugar.

What I discovered is fat from dairy products have much more impact on our body metabolism then fat from meat origin. "Fats were not equal" and this is another good example. The explanation being fats from dairy comes along with a lot of hormones, especially estrogens and, surely, IGF (insulin growth factor), which has a terrible impact on blood sugar… These are anabolic compounds and this is the last thing our body needs to ingest. I know, milk was created for calves and not to feed human being... And separating the cream from the milk do concentrate the fats, and as the hormones also concentrate in the same fats, my double heavy cream was a time bomb...

So here I am now back on my “all fatty meat diet” with no organic double cream as a treat… very glad I could stop checking my blood sugar all the time… and also very glad I could stop drinking and peeing all the time… as this was the scary part of all this story!!!

I hope I have learned something…


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