When you eat carbohydrate, your body has two ways of processing it:
- You burn it as energy
- Your body stores it away for a ‘rainy day’, by converting it to fat.
Unless we’re incredibly active, the volume of carbs we consume is never feasibly going to be burnt off. Much of it goes straight into the store-cupboard; for that rainy day, which never comes. In this way, we get fatter and fatter.
So if we end up stock-piling all excess carbs as fat; what it is that actually does the piling? Who stocks the larder? Yes, you’ve guessed it; insulin!
Insulin is your body’s OCD housekeeper. It keeps the shelves nice & stacked with flawless efficiency! Every time you eat, it’s ready and waiting; obsessively keen to ‘tidy up’ and pack the glucose away in a never ending spring-clean.
Things might be okay if insulin just left things at that. But no.
Like all good housekeepers, insulin is fanatical about keeping busy. When it’s gainfully employed, it sends the brain a message to say “All’s fine, I’ve got plenty to do. You’re nicely full!” But when it begins to sense a lull in work, it sends the opposite message upwards: “Better eat something! You must be hungry! I need more sugar to clean-up! Eat something quick!”. You then get hunger pangs and reach for the nearest snack.
How many times have you thought to yourself: “How can I be hungry? I only had breakfast an hour ago?” Or equally: “I’m absolutely stuffed, but I suppose I could just squeeze in that one last chocolate!” That’s your brain telling you “I need more fuel!” In actual fact, all that’s happening is your sugar-levels are starting to drop.
Insulin therefore has two functions. First of all, it’s the hormone which prevents fat-burning and promotes fat-storage. And secondly? It is a satiety hormone, sending messages to your brain that you’re either full, or need more glucose!
The truly destructive thing about insulin’s secondary function, is that the message somehow gets lost in translation. The message “you’re full” actually translates to “you have enough fuel, don’t worry” The message “I’m making good progress at stockpiling all this glucose” is interpreted by your brain as “Panic stations! You’re running out of energy!”.
There’s a distinct language-barrier between the two; one that ends up in mixed signals, and leaves you craving sugar, despite the fact you’ve just had lunch!
So how do we get around this confusion in meaning? Is there a way to stop your brain thinking it’s running out of energy as soon as your blood-sugars start to drop?
The answer is ketones and saturated fat.
Your brain can burn either of two fuels: glucose or ketone-bodies (it can even burn both!). Unlike glucose, ketones are a constant source of energy for the brain. They’re produced by the body, so are not dependent on your food-sources to keep the brain happily fueled. Ketones are only produced when glucose is unavailable. Therefore cut your carbs.
Because fat is far slower to metabolise than glucose, it slows down digestion when it enters the intestinal-tract. When you’re busy digesting, your brain knows that you’re full and your appetite is decreased.
This message is fundamentally different from the ‘drama-queen’ signals fired off by your OCD insulin-housekeeper! It’s a reliable message, where both parties speak the same language. To take advantage of this message, eat more fat.
A fat-metabolism prompts you to eat when you’re hungry, then stop when you’re full.
Glucose drives you to eat to when your sugar-levels drop; it has nothing to do with how much you’ve eaten or whether you need food.
In understanding this, lies to key to harnessing your metabolism and regaining control of your relationship with food.
The ketogenic-diet allows you to lose weight with no hunger pangs. There’s no desire to snack, nor do you suffer the roller-coaster ‘highs and lows’ associated with drops & spikes in blood-sugar.
For me, it’s time my OCD housekeeper took a holiday. And I’m going to do all I can to make sure it’s a permanent one.
And no; I don’t need a postcard!
Thank you for reading,