Burn Fat for Fuel to Improve Your Longevity
October 22, 2018 | 1,901 views
By Dr. Mercola
If you’ve been following the conventional American diet, then you’re likely eating far too little healthy fats and too much sugar, grains and protein from poor-quality sources. This type of diet could be the reason why there are more people suffering from chronic and debilitating diseases (like cancer and obesity) than ever before.
The key to avoiding these diseases and maintaining optimal well-being is a healthy mitochondrial function, which you can achieve if you consume the proper ratio of net carbs, protein and healthy fats.
Contrary to the popular dietary advice that you need to consume carbs to keep your body going, what your body actually needs are dietary fats.
Healthy fats are a cleaner, more efficient fuel for your body compared to carbs, since they produce less reactive oxygen species and secondary free radicals when burned for energy, which in turn protects your cellular and mitochondrial cell membranes, proteins, and DNA against damage.
One way to help your body have the metabolic flexibility to burn fat as its primary fuel is through fasting and/or adopting a ketogenic diet.
Feast-and-Famine Cycling: A Way to Maximize the Ketogenic Diet
Once you go on a ketogenic diet, your body will eventually reach a state of nutritional ketosis, wherein it uses fat as its primary fuel instead of glucose. However, long-term nutritional ketosis can be bad for you, as it may trigger a rise in blood sugar by driving your insulin levels too low. To avoid this, you have to cycle in and out of the ketogenic diet by fasting only one day per week and then eating two to four times the amount of your usual net carb consumption for two days a week.
This feast-and-famine approach helps return your body’s natural metabolic flexibility to burn fats, which is usually lost when you eat a high-carb diet for long periods of time. To implement a cyclical ketogenic diet, get rid of all grains, sugary foods and processed products from your diet first, and replace them with sources of healthy fats. You should limit your carb intake to 20 to 50 grams or less per day, and reduce your protein intake to 1 gram per kilogram of lean body mass.
Along with adopting a ketogenic diet, you should also avoid eating during periods when your body needs the least amount of energy, like late at night before going to bed, since this makes your cells more susceptible to free radical damage. This is why I recommend you to limit your eating schedule to 16 hours per day — a strategy known as fasting.
How Does Fasting Benefit You?
The benefits of fasting are similar to that of the ketogenic diet — it helps improve glucose metabolism and reduce inflammation linked to chronic illnesses. Fasting also helps eliminate fat deposits around the organs, especially on the pancreas and livers, allowing them to function properly.
A 2017 study shows that the fasting mimicking diet (FMD), may help in the management of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes by regenerating the pancreas. This results in the production of a special type of cells known as beta cells, which release insulin when they detect high levels of sugar in the blood. FMD has also been shown to help:
- Reduce blood pressure
- Reduce weight, visceral fat and waist circumference
- Lower the levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone linked to cancer and aging
- Lower the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker
The Importance of Fiber Carbs and Why Fructose Does Not Deserve a Spot in Your Diet
Fructose plays a role in activation of enzymes that cause your cells to accumulate fat, which is why it’s at the heart of obesity-related problems. To lose weight, you have to remove fructose and harmful carbs from your diet. Keep in mind, though, that harmful carbs refer to the ones you get from grains and sugars, not from vegetables. Vegetables contain fiber carbs, which are essential for good health.
Fiber is the type of carbohydrate that you’ll want to include into your diet. Unlike sugars and starches, your body does not digest fiber. Rather, it acts as food for your gut bacteria. This is why vegetables, despite having small amounts of net carbs, won’t take you out of nutritional ketosis.
Fiber can be divided into two types: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber helps your body absorb nutrients from the foods you eat, controls blood sugar levels and insulin spikes, and makes you feel full. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, curbs your hunger and improves your body’s fat-burning ability.
There’s a third category of fiber that includes both soluble and insoluble fiber, and they’re known as prebiotic fiber and digestive-resistant starches. These nourish the beneficial bacteria in your gut, optimizing your gut health. Check out my article, “Burning Fat for Fuel Increases Quality and Quantity of Life,” for more information about improving health and longevity through a balanced diet.