When I released this video explaining how long term keto and fasting (and exercising fasted) negatively impacted my thyroid and metabolism, it kicked off a deep dive into the nutritional science I had just accepted. I accepted what the science taught me because the experts who had authority in the subject said so. The sad truth is that the experts we trusted lied to us about carbs.
It’s a perfectly natural, life saving mechanism, in response to low calorie and nutrition intake. If you are an expert dieter, you know that you can spend many years in a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit puts pressure on all of your body’s systems. When I started to look at the studies, I saw that we were lied to about carbs. The entire basis of the keto diet was these studies^at are the basis of the entire keto diet. All of the science that was used to show how keto was the elixir, the magic pill, was based on mice studies or studies done on healthy young men on keto for just 6 weeks. One of the studies was done for ELEVEN DAYS.
The price of weight loss by any means
I know that if I had known that the price of my 100lb weight loss would be metabolic slow down, to the point that I was losing my hair, I had no energy WHAT? How are they reputable studies? Where are the women? The women with metabolic syndrome and years of disordered eating and dieting experience? Where are the studies on the ones who are already stressed with life admin and the mental load of taking care of families? Where are the studies done on women like me? Like you?
There are none. NONE. ZERO. Women are not just smaller men, yet that is how we are treated in studies, especially studies on pharmaceuticals and nutrition. If you doubt what I am saying, I recommend you read this book Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Pérez. In her book, Pérez documents how women are routinely left out of studies that contribute to government decisions. These decisions are on everything from nutrition, safety, public transport and practically all other policies.
Everywhere I turned I found evidence that we need carbs for thyroid health, hormone balance, gut health and brain function. Yet again we were lied to about nutrition. This time we were lied to about carbs.
We were lied to about carbs
In my keto training (I am a certified keto nutrition specialist) I learned that there are no essential carbohydrates. This statement seems easy to validate. If you don’t eat carbs (zero carb/carnivore), your body can create all of the glucose you need to stay alive. Your body does this in your liver through a metabolic process called gluconeogenesis.
However what is missing from this, is the fact that gluconeogenesis keeps you alive but it cannot keep you in optimum health. This is because you need stress hormones for gluconeogenesis. Cortisol has inverse relationships (opposites) with many hormones. For example if you are using cortisol to create glucose, you can’t produce healthy levels of melatonin. Melatonin is your circadian hormone that helps regulate sleep.
If you are suffering from bad sleep quality, insomnia, or broken sleep on keto/carnivore/zero carb this is why. No amount of magnesium is going to help because lack of magnesium is not the problem.
Inuit and Maasai peoples thrive on zero carb diets
Have you heard this? If you are a member of any keto communities you probably have. If you take a high level look at the Inuit and Maasai diets you can conclude this pretty easily. Both peoples eat mainly animal products with some occasional carbs from fruit and vegetables. The Inuit people eat mainly meat, organs, fish and fat. The Maasai eat meat and organs and drink blood and milk.
It’s pretty easy to pick this apart and show that they do, actually, eat carbs! When you eat carbs, you burn some and store some. Glycogen is how your body stores carbs. The stored carbs are in muscles and in the liver. When these tribes eat meat, they are also getting glycogen from the muscles and the organs they eat. They also drink the blood. There is glucose in your blood always, otherwise you would die!
Ok so you might be thinking about the meat you get in the supermarket. Why are there no carbs on the label? When rigor mortis starts, after the animal is slaughtered, the glycogen in the muscles is broken down, taking all of the carbs out of the meat. This means that by the time the meat gets to your oven, the glycogen is practically gone.
Inuit and Massai tribes eat the meat quickly after the animal is killed. They eat the liver and drink the blood first while the animal is still warm! They are getting plenty of carbs from glycogen, in the muscles and organs and glucose from the blood. The evidence shows just how much we were lied to about carbs.
Why we can’t get carbs from meat
In Western societies, when an animal is slaughtered for human consumption, the slaughterhouse will hang the animal for ten days, sometimes more! This is because the carcasses themselves take a few days just to get down to the proper chilling temperature. This is why our carbs don’t come from meat.
Nutritionist Nadja Knoll from Friedrich Schiller University in Germany studied the Maasai diet. She reports “the Maasai have strongly sweetened milk tea for breakfast. Some Maasai eat a kind of “porridge” in the morning, a liquid mixture of cornmeal, water, some milk and sugar”. They also eat meat. So we can clearly see that they eat a balance of carbs, fats and proteins.
Nobody eats zero carb traditionally
Arctic Peoples tribes participated in a study to see if they were in ketosis.
SPOILER – they were not in ketosis.
Arctic Peoples actually consume more carbohydrates than most scientists assumed. Because Arctic Peoples mostly eat their meat raw and frozen, they take in more glycogen than we do eating meat with a lower glycogen content from a grocery store. The Arctic Peoples practice of preserving a whole seal or bird carcass under an intact whole skin with a thick layer of blubber also means that some proteins ferment into carbohydrates. When you see the evidence pile up, it’s clear we were lied to about carbs.
There are no essential carbohydrates
“There are no essential carbohydrates”. Yes this statement is technically correct, in that no specific carbohydrate is essential. BUT, the entire MACRO of carbohydrates is! We need carbs because we need glucose and we need insulin. Insulin has an inverse relationship with the stress hormone cortisol. Your body will raise cortisol to to make ketones and glucose when we eat very low or zero carb. So insulin will help to reduce cortisol because eating glucose stops ketone production and slows down gluoconeogenesis.
We need carbs to keep hormones in balance. Thyroid health requires carbohydrates because cortisol blocks the conversion of T4 to T3 in your liver and slows down TSH production. Cortisol is bad for your thyroid. What lowers cortisol? Well let’s take a look at that.
Cortisol is the key
I’ve been told repeatedly that being in ketosis doesn’t require your body to have high cortisol levels. However studies show that even in these healthy men, studied for a hot second, showed raised cortisol levels. Now imagine the following scenario.
You are a woman. Chances are you, like most other women, do 75% of the unpaid care work for your family. Maybe you are also holding down a full time job. You’re overweight or obese and you have been for a long time. You’ve tried every diet under the sun and you’re feeling tired. You’re physically and mentally exhausted with everything. Your cortisol is already running high with general life stress.
Now let’s go zero carb because you’ve heard it’s great for weight loss and it helps with all of the aches and pains you are experiencing. When your carb storage runs low, your body raises cortisol to start producing ketones and new glucose from the fats and proteins you are eating. You feel great and you lose weight.
Then you hear about fasting. More weight loss tools. Great, let’s do that! So you start to skip breakfast because that’s easy. To make sure you have enough fuel, your body raises cortisol again to fill in the gap where breakfast used to be. Bulletproof coffee? Let’s do that so we can fast longer!! Or black coffee will get you through. Guess what caffeine does? Yep, it stimulates cortisol.
Imagine getting up in the morning, continuing your fast, having a black coffee and then going for a fasted workout does to your cortisol levels. Yep, through the roof.
You might feel good doing this for 6 months, a year and even lose a lot of weight but it comes at a huge cost.
The cost of cortisol
For decades healthcare experts have been telling us we need to reduce cortisol. There are good reasons why. Stress hormones are destructive. They have a huge negative effect on practically all systems of your body. Adding keto/carnivore, fasting, fasted exercise on top of already high stress levels and you’ve got a recipe for metabolic disaster.
As cortisol stays high it starts to have a cascading effect on all health markers. You feel cold all the time, you can’t sleep well or for long enough, your workouts are exhausting, you have no energy or motivation and you feel your mood start to decline. If you are a woman you might even find your periods stop or become very heavy. If we see all of these things happening, why do we continue? Chances are you are seeing weight loss on the scale and that is enough motivation to continue, despite feeling worse and worse.
What is the answer?
This is easy. Eat more carbs. How many and how quickly do you increase them? That is the harder part. In the Protein Priority Diet, I have released the Metabolic Recovery Plan which details how to do this process. It’s an 8 week long journey to begin with. It might take you months to improve your metabolism and health markers. Your recovery time is depending on how long your cortisol was high.
The Protein Priority Diet has a Metabolic Recovery Plan, so you can start your metabolic recovery today. If you would rather not pay for the proven roadmap, you can come join my free Facebook community for people who are facing the same metabolic issues. You can find that here – https://www.facebook.com/groups/ketofastingrecovery