That’s right - I said it. I hear you. Your mom, sister, friend, boss, SOMEBODY is killing it on KETO. Or so you think. They’re counting their carbs, limiting protein, keeping hydrated and watching pounds drop like leaves in the fall. But… does counting carbs sound familiar to you? Because it should. The reality is that diet fads have been reinventing themselves since the 1970’s via Atkins, Zone, Paleo, and now the disaster know as Keto, plus many more to boot.
Since KETO uses “science” to yield “results,” I’m going to use science to explain why you just don’t want to go there. So bear with me as we dive right into human anatomy and food biology.
Science is Cool
The world of nutrition, exercise, and disease is constantly evolving. Because of this, scientists have discovered the best nutrition and exercise protocols for preventing and treating disease. And they’re fully aware of diet fads that have the potential to seriously harm those that can endure them. Okay okay, on with it.
Humans are What
Geek out with me a minute. Humans are omnivores, which means we can survive off of just about anything. But our anatomy and physiology are closest to an herbivore, or if you want to get really technical, a frugivore. While carnivorous animals thrive on high proteins and fats, we’re on the opposite end of the spectrum. So while eating a ton of meat is all well and good for lions, polar bears, and whales, our bodies operate completely differently when processing protein, fat, carbs, essential nutrients, phytonutrients, and water.
Since our bodies are designed to live off of plants, when we build our food intake around them we feel great. But when we don’t our cells become damaged over time. In addition to cells breaking down because of the food we eat, they can also be negatively impacted by our exercise regimen, toxins in the air, and chemicals we put on our skin or in our mouth. This damage is referred to as free radical damage (r.o.s.).
Cellular Damage Assessment and Prevention
If you’re ready to rebuild your health, the first step is to assess current damage in your body. Then you can make informed decisions about food, exercise and the rest of your health and wellness routine. There are many popular ways to do this.
One way is to test for lipofuscin, a major aging and disease marker in the body. Lipofuscin is a byproduct of excessive fat and protein intake along with a high-calorie diet.
Another option is to test for protein carbonyls which also indicate aging and disease. They’re caused by oxidative stress - when your free radicals and your antioxidants are not balanced properly. Wondering what causes this imbalance? You guessed it! Excessive protein intake and a high-calorie diet.
Alternatively, you could test your main antioxidant enzymes (e.g. - superoxide dismutase and catalase).
Prescription for preventing disease, losing weight and living the highest quality of life (aka Next Steps)
While you’re thinking about how to improve your health, you’ll want to consider supplements. There are nonessential and essential antioxidants that your body needs to protect itself from free radical damage. Your body is already busy producing the nonessential ones, but it can’t make essential antioxidants. This is where supplements come in.
Buuuuut of course you know it’s not as easy as just taking a pill or powder, so here’s a multi-fold approach for preventing further damage:
New Method for Determining Nutrient Needs
Most nutritionists break down macronutrient fats, proteins and carbs into percentages. But this is way too broad because percentages don’t tell you the exact nutrients to eat. Ultimately this leaves too much room for error (does anyone remember the USDA food pyramid??), allowing for nonessential fatty acids - or what I like to call the epicenter for disease - too much high-quality protein, and a lack of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
The exact ratio of fats, proteins, and carbs you should eat depends on so many things, which is why a vague answer just doesn’t cut it. Sadly I can’t just tell you exactly what to eat as it depends on your:
Which is why if you want to get healthy you need to go see a naturopath. But in the meantime, I’ll go ahead and get you started in the right direction.
Monocots vs Dicots Explained
Remember in high school when your teacher talked about monocots and dicots? Haha, me either. I had to re-educate myself later. Thanks for letting me share the wealth now.
So - the difference between monocots and dicots. Broken down to simplest terms, monocots are flowering plants with one seed leaf. Dicots are flowering plants with two seed leaves. Some of these plants yield food while others make flowers and just do their own thing. Some food examples of monocots are onion, garlic, grains, sugarcane or easily said all of your oats, breads, pastas, etc. Popular dicot foods include all your fruits and vegetables!!!!! Potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts, blackberries, and avocados.
How KETO Uses Science To Bypass Our Genomic Blueprint
I believe Mother Nature wants us to be healthy and happy. And she wants us to feel good every day, just like we’re meant to. She also really does not want us to eat monocots.
KETO works by slowing the absorption of monocots in your small intestine by including a low glycemic food like a protein and/or fat. This is CHEATING. And like any cheater, your body will feel it over time, as high levels of protein, fat, and calories lead to accelerated cellular damage. Think advanced aging, cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and so many others.
But really this is a moot point because dicots are a clear winner in micronutrition. Veggies contain far more vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients than grasses do. Without these micronutrients, our immune and cellular systems can’t protect themselves from free radical damage, lipofuscin, protein carbonyls, and tau protein.
These enemies are what cause inflammation, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases. And these enemies are so prevalent in what we eat. I mean think about it - the Standard American Diet is abbreviated s.a.d. It’s no wonder we’re so obese and so sick.
Our best defense is to eat lots of fruits and veggies (15-20 servings) while minimally consuming grass, high-quality protein, caffeine and alcohol (none is best if you’re overweight, take medications, or have any disease). Of course all of that should be accompanied by lots of water - 3/4 oz. per pound of body weight. This does not include water for exercise or to replace the diuretic effect of caffeine or sparkling water.
Eating Habits of our Ancestors
Since everyone is still praising the Gods of Paleo, I’ll take a minute to visit this too. In science, we use animals to study the effects of nutrition, drugs, exercise, and toxins on their bodies. Scientists do this in hopes of learning how the human body will respond. I think it’s an extraordinary idea to see how our closest relatives, monkeys, live in the wild.
In the animal kingdom our closest ancestors are Howler and Spider monkeys. Thanks to the work of Jane Goodall and many other researchers we’ve studied the feeding habits of these amazing animals. These monkeys don’t eat monocots or meat, and instead focus on dicots while consuming a miniscule amount of nuts and eggs. This is despite eggs, nuts, and meat being widely available.
They prefer to eat the eat the end of a leaf which contains a large amount of protein. Otherwise, they mainly depend on fruits (>75%) and grubs. Their low protein diet consists of low-quality protein to defend against disease and to increase their athletic ability to survive in nature.
So if you want to feel good and perform, look and feel your best, focus on upping your dicot intake and minimizing monocots. Remember that every time we eat grass it’s a missed opportunity for a fruit or vegetable.
Ok, So What’s My Take Away?
Stop getting stressed out trying to figure out the latest diet fads. Instead, spend your precious energy focusing on the right way to eat for YOU. Get your labs done people! And in the meantime, focus on your fruits and veggies. Raw if you can, cooked if you can’t, and a combination will do just fine. And remember - dicots are your friends.
If you want to talk more science, or are feeling confused about next steps (isn’t it exhausting seeing 1,000 different BEST WAYS TO EAT and feeling like none of them are right for you??), I’m here for you. Reach out to me.
Just another girl who is trying to inspire others. Passionate about health and fitness. And a love of coffee and peanut butter.