The Smarter Approach to Ketosis and Why Eating Fat Does Not Make You Fat


Jonathan: Hey, everyone. Jonathan Bailor and Carrie Brown, back with another – dare I say, epic – Smarter Science of Slim show. Carrie, how are you doing today?

Carrie: Well, we should probably leave the designation of epic till the end.

Jonathan: Well, I think this is an epic one because we’re going to talk about fat today. Fat, all sorts of ways to think about fat: burning fat; eating fat, p-h-a-t – no, I’m just kidding. We’re not going to talk about that last one.

Carrie: I love fat. I love eating fat. I think fat’s awesome.

Jonathan: So…

Carrie: I like some kinds of fat more than others. He’s like, oh for goodness’ sake…

Jonathan: What are you favorite fats?

Carrie: Bacon, chocolate…

Jonathan: Okay.

Carrie: …butter.

Jonathan: Okay.

Carrie: Coconut, kind of, getting there on the coconut – kind of. I use to hate coconut, and now I eat it quite a lot.

Jonathan: Yup.

Carrie: Avocado.

Jonathan: Avocado? Yup. That’s good stuff.

Carrie: Yum. Nuts.

Jonathan: Nuts?

Carrie: Love nuts.

Jonathan: I like macadamias.

Carrie: I do too.

Jonathan: Those are my favorite. And those are actually probably the best of the nuts, with the exception of coconut. Very good option for you with a lot of amino unsaturated anti-inflammatory fats. Which otherwise, very hard to find.

Carrie: Eggs.

Jonathan: Eggs are fat.

Carrie: I do love eggs. Do love eggs.

Jonathan: Sixty-five percent of their calories coming from fat makes eggs a fat, which of course, means nothing other than they are a fat, and fortunately they are a high quality fat, so that is good.

Carrie: Whoo-hoo!

Jonathan: So, some other ways to thinks of fat, in addition to just the types of food we eat is we will hear about this term called ketosis.

Carrie: Oh, I’ve heard about that a lot. And I don’t really know what it is.

Jonathan: Yes. So…

Carrie: Help me.

Jonathan: I will help you, and I am going to keep this incredibly high-level because I know the lovely listeners of our wonderful show are much more focused on living their lives and living their lives optimally rather than geeking out like me on nutrition.

Carrie: So when my eyes glaze over, there’s your cue that the listeners are done.

Jonathan: Okay. Well, it’s going to be very, very simple. Ketosis is basically – so first of all, we all experience it every single day.

Carrie: Okay.

Jonathan: So first and foremost, sometimes there are propagandists out there who will equate ketosis with bad. Like ketosis is bad; you don’t want to be in ketosis. So two things…

Carrie: I’ve heard – I’ve kind of skimmed the internet and seen, ketosis bad — blah, blah, blah – and then, ketosis good – blah, blah, blah. So, that’s kind of why I’m confused.

Jonathan: There is something that is really bad. It’s called ketoacidosis. That is a different thing, but as is common with things in the health world, if two words sound alike then people are like, oh well, ketoacidosis is horrible for you. Therefore, ketosis, which sounds like that word, must also be bad; it is not. They are two very, very different things.

So, ketosis – first of all, when you wake up in the morning you are in ketosis, because ketosis, very high level, just means your body is fueling itself using fat rather than sugar. That’s really all it means.

Carrie: How could anyone think that was bad?

Jonathan: Exactly. There is this mythology that your body requires carbohydrate. This is not an episode saying that we should all go on low carb diets; it’s also not an episode saying low carb diets are bad for you. They are absolutely not. In fact, they’re one of the most scientifically valid and studied ways of eating in the world.

But it is to say that this assumption that we have been told for the past forty years that 60-plus percent of our diet – excuse me, 65 percent plus of our diet should be carbohydrate because that’s the optimal fuel for our body is patently false. There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. There is such a thing as an essential amino acid, aka protein, and an essential fatty acid, aka fat. If you never ate a carbohydrate in your entire life, your body could fuel itself just fine via the process known as ketosis, aka burning fat as fuel. And it could also create all the glucose, aka sugar, it needs through a process that we talked about on the show “Gluconeogenesis” whereby protein is converted into sugar.

Carrie: So, we all want to be in ketosis then.

Jonathan: So, we want to be – it is absolutely critical that we give our body the ability to effectively fuel itself using fat. And that sounds obvious, but if our body is not good at using fat for fuel, keeping fat off our body is going to be extremely difficult. And this is why actually eating fat – we talk about it on the show a lot, how things that are intuitive aren’t always true. Right?

It’s intuitive that the earth is flat. Look outside; it looks flat. And if it wasn’t flat wouldn’t the people on the bottom fall off? We know there’s gravity; we know that’s not how the world works. And it’s intuitive that doesn’t eating fat make you fat? It is fat, you put it into your mouth and it just goes and sits on your hips, right? That is intuitive but it is wrong.

Here’s a better and a more scientifically accurate way to think about it. Okay? When you eat your body gets good at fueling itself based on what you eat. Makes sense, right?

Carrie: Right.

Jonathan: The more sugar you eat the better your body’s going to be at running off of sugar.
Because it’s like, this is the normal state for me, I better get used to this. Now think about how this works. If your body is best at burning sugar, meaning sugar is its preferred fuel source, for all intents and purposes your body does not store sugar. The only way to store energy on your body, practically – there is some level of glucose in your muscles and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah – but practically it’s in your fat. So, the way your body stores energy is through fat. But if you eat mostly sugar and your body is good at burning sugar, and prefers to burn sugar, then let’s say you eat breakfast and it’s a Pop Tart and orange juice, very common breakfast here in the States. Sugar, you basically had some sugar for breakfast. Well, in an hour your body has either burned through that sugar or more likely shuttled it off into your fat cells. So there is no sugar around, so your body needs energy. Well there’s no sugar around, so what’s it going to do? It’s going to make you hungry because the only way to get more sugar is to take some through your lips.

Carrie: Okay.

Jonathan: Now, think about if your body’s more accustomed to burning fat for fuel, and let’s say you have a delicious frittata with vegetables for breakfast.

Carrie: That was me today!

Jonathan: Exactly. Right? So you eat mostly fat. Most of your calories are coming from fat. You got some protein and you got some extremely healthy carbohydrate in the form of vegetables.

Carrie: Yum. It was delicious.

Jonathan: It’s delicious, so you get your calories, you get your nutrients, you get your energy and then when you – a few hours later, you’re sitting in the office or you’re sitting at the house, you’re sitting with your family and friends, and there’s no more energy floating around in the blood stream. Your body’s like, I need some more energy, and do you know what I like to use for energy? Fat. Oh hey. Good news; there’s some sitting right here on the hips. Or there’s some sitting right here maybe on the belly a little bit.

So the opposite of eating fat makes you fat; in fact, eating fat, helping your body to become conditioned at fueling itself off of fat, makes you better at burning fat. Because when you get into a state where you have a shortage of exogenous energy your body can just say, well, that’s okay, I don’t need to take any more fat through my lips. I can just eat it off my hips.

Carrie: The compelling reasons for not eating sugar just pile on and pile on. Don’t they?

Jonathan: Well, think about it, Carrie, it’s a, why is it?

Carrie: I can actually visualize what you just said happening in my mind, which is great, right? Because now every time I get that craving for sugar I’m going to go, nope, I don’t do that, because that’s going to help my body to think that sugar’s not the way to go and so I can visualize that; that’s super-helpful for me. Thank you, sir.

Jonathan: My pleasure, madam. The other thing I was going to say is just completely escaping me right now was – I so appreciate that you made that point, but it caused me to lose my train of thoughts. Damn it, Carrie! No, just kidding. Oh, yes, I remember now. Okay. So, again, we do not plan or edit these shows; you get the real thing here, folks. This is uncut, uncensored, real Jonathan and Carrie.

Carrie: Live and direct.

Jonathan: Okay, Carrie, this is just another observation we can all associate with, and I think we can even talk about studies until we’re blue in the face, but give me one personal anecdote that I can relate to experientially and you’ll convince me more than any study in the world. So, think about this: how is it that a person could have fifty pounds of stored energy on their body and be hungry, because energy is available? At the highest of levels, how is it that a person who has hundreds of thousands of calories just sitting on their body can become hungry?

Carrie: I don’t know, but please tell us.

Jonathan: Well, what you’ll notice and one of the reasons that a SANE lifestyle causes people to experience sustained fat loss is, we already talked about hormonal re-regulation and restoring your body’s ability to burn fat and lowering your set point and all that kind of fun stuff. But the other thing is it enables you – it re-enables your body to tap into its fat stores to fuel itself. If you read the first book, The Smarter Science of Slim, or the upcoming – or when this airs it will probably be out which is scary to think about – your ability to burn fat comes back and you will experience what’s called a spontaneous reduction of caloric intake.

Now, ironic – and this is what some people who want to be haters are like, oh, when you eat a SANE lifestyle you end up eating fewer calories, so, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Accidentally putting fewer calories into your mouth because your body automatically supplements that with calories coming off your hips and belly and wherever you’re storing fat…

Carrie: Oh, I like that idea!

Jonathan: Then you’re never hungry and part of the reason you’re not hungry is because despite the fact that you’ve achieved a spontaneous reduction of caloric intake, aka you get more satisfied on fewer calories, you just don’t – if you’re just full after eating 1,600 calories and there’s 1,600 super-high-quality calories that have more nutrition in them than you would have gotten from 5,000 calories in a standard American diet, and you have 50 pounds worth of stored calories sitting on your body, you won’t be hungry. Because your body will just say, wow, I’ve got all this nutrition, so I’m good in terms of nutrition, because your body isn’t storing vitamin C on your hips but it is storing calories on your hips. So it’s just like, uh, I don’t really need all that food through my lips because again, I can just get it off my hips. So that’s why you’re not consuming – it’s not that you’re trying harder. It’s just the opposite; it’s much simpler. But you’ve restored your body’s ability to feed itself.

Carrie: I like that. I like that a lot. The body is an amazing thing.

Jonathan: It is an amazing thing, Carrie.

Carrie: If we just let it.

Jonathan: If, in fact we acknowledge – the default hypothesis for the past forty years is actually that our body is dumb and broken, right? That we need to intervene and count calories and exercise it all over the place. Why? Because the body is inadequate. The assertion at the root of that argument is that the body is inadequate by default. We know that’s not true, as evidenced by every single generation of people that lived up until the current ones. The body is designed and the body evolved depending on your religious beliefs to be healthy and to be fit, as long as we just get out of its way.

So, I also wanted to talk about fat, Carrie. Obviously a SANE lifestyle is not a low fat diet, but if you peruse the internet, and we have covered this a couple of times, but I just want to cover it in a little bit of a different fashion. People will sometimes say that a SANE lifestyle is a low-fat diet. I just want to cover that one more time because obviously in this talk about making your body good at burning fat, and the way you do that is by eating more fat, clearly – I mean even some people who listen to this might think, this is the Atkins diet – well, here is where the confusion comes into play. There are high-fat diets and there are low-fat diets and sometimes the internet likes to be polarizing.

Carrie: Bless its heart.

Jonathan: Bless its heart, right? That’s because moderation generally doesn’t sell very well. It’s usually extremism. So there are high-fat diets. High-fat diets generally recommend you get anywhere from 70-90 percent of your calories from fat. There are amazingly high quality, high-fat diets and there are amazingly low quality, high fat diets.

Then there are low-fat diets. Low-fat diets generally recommend that you get under 15 percent of your calories from fat. You can have a very high quality, low-fat diet and you can have a very low quality, low-fat diet. Then there’s every other way of eating in the world, aka a moderate-fat diet.

Which is, I know, crazy as it seems, just because you do not recommend a low-fat diet doesn’t mean you recommend a high-fat diet, and just because you don’t recommend a high-fat diet doesn’t mean you recommend a low-fat diet. What we generally find is that a lot of people can do really, really well on really any level of fat intake accordingly to their lifestyle as long as they’re getting it from SANE sources.

Carrie: You mean there’s gray?

Jonathan: Shocking, I know. Again, it’s about finding what works for us, and there’s high-fat SANEity, low-fat SANEity, moderate-fat SANEity. It’s about whatever you’re eating; protein; carbohydrate; fat – SANEity, SANEity, SANEity. The rest is up to you; find your SANEity.

Carrie: Quality, people. Quality. That’s what we want. Quality in all things.

Jonathan: And if you can’t be high quality – what do you always say to me? Be careful?

Carrie: Be good. And if you can’t be good, be careful.

Jonathan: Yes, and if you can’t be good, be careful. Well, Carrie, we actually wrapped that podcast up a little bit quicker than I anticipated.

Carrie: Well, do you want us to sing?

Jonathan: Do you want us to tap dance? Well, I think actually a good way to end the podcast would be talking – you already covered a bit about some of your favorite foods that contain fat, but they were more individual ingredients. I say we maybe we close with each one of us giving our two favorite dishes; or the two favorite ways we get healthy fats into our diet.

Carrie: Two!

Jonathan: Just two, your top two.

Carrie: Two?

Jonathan: Your top two.

Carrie: Well, that changes depending on what day of the week it is, what mood I’m in, what time of day it is. I’m a woman, come on.

Jonathan: Speaking of gray. Pick two, woman.

Carrie: Can’t pick two, you start.

Jonathan: Okay, I will start. I will say, my favorite – well first of all, for me, saturated fat is uniquely satisfying, and again saturated fat has been wrongfully demonized as being unhealthy. In fact, coconut is basically pure, saturated fat and I have yet – actually I found one person. There’s one extremely extreme person on the internet who’s like, oh even coconut will kill you, which is obviously false. But coconut is basically pure, saturated fat, and it is what’s called medium-chain triglycerides, which is a saturated fat. To me it just satisfies me in a way that no amount of unsaturated fats could. Cocoa is also a saturated fat, predominately a saturated fat. Again, uniquely satisfying. So I love finding ways to take cocoa and coconut, either alone or together with some natural non-caloric sweeteners. I’m thinking xylitol, stevia, lo han guo, erythritol. And, you know, whether it’s with some eggs or egg whites or some Greek yogurt or some cottage cheese, just finding ways to maybe freeze it, blend it, bake it. It’s good eating.

Also, my number two is going to be macadamia nuts. I really, really like macadamia nuts. To me they’re just little balls of heaven. They make me happy.

Carrie: That’s three.

Jonathan: Well, you know, you’ve done zero so I am trying to pick up the weight.

Carrie: So now I only have to do one? I would say the thing I eat most of – most often of, so I’ll use that as my number one – will be eggs. I love eggs. I never get tired of eating eggs. I typically cook them with veggies, non-starchy veggies. Or I’ll bake them with salmon or turkey or some other protein. But eggs I love.

My second one isn’t actually very SANE so we’ll skip that.

Jonathan: I have a comment about eggs.

Carrie: Oh, okay.

Jonathan: For me, eggs – well let me just say it this way – I don’t like scrambled whole eggs, I like scrambled egg whites. Scrambled whole eggs don’t taste good to me but I like whole hard boiled eggs and whole eggs over easy. Like there’s just…

Carrie: Oh, I love hard boiled eggs.

Jonathan: Yeah. But there’s just something about scrambled – I mean, people always hear, I talk about I use egg whites, and they’re like, argh, you’re afraid of fat. Well, no. I just don’t like the taste of whole scrambled eggs; I like the taste of egg whites. But I very much like to put some coconut oil in the pan and then have my whole eggs with some pepper on top of them. I just think that is absolutely fabulous. Or some hard boiled eggs.

Carrie: I do love hard boiled eggs.

Jonathan: Salt them up. That’s good.

Carrie: My second one would probably be nuts, and I would probably have to go with almonds.

Jonathan: Well, if you’re going to go with nuts and non-macadamias or coconuts, almonds are going to be a good alternative.

Carrie: They’re just so versatile; they go in so many things. I have used them in sweet dishes; I’ve used them in savory dishes. Almonds, I love almonds.

Jonathan: The thing for me is nuts are a great – they’re great especially for kids. Because people always talk about how kids need calories and of course that’s true – this is also a more of a global macro-point – some of these people say, well, it’s all well and good to talk about SANEity, but what about feeding the world? You can’t feed the world on kale and wild cod Alaskan salmon. While that is true, you can feed the world on whole food fats, because they are plants, too. Right? So nuts, seeds, almonds, macadamia, cocoa, coconut – you can produce these things in mass and if you need to get calories into your body, aka you are an endurance athlete, you’re a growing child, or you’re in an impoverished country that just needs the most calories for the buck, you are not going to find a healthier or more abundant or even more cost-effective way of doing that relative to the health implications than you will from whole food fats. So that’s another great argument for not fearing fat and celebrating the SANE-est sources.

Carrie: I love fat.

Jonathan: Folks, in addition…

Carrie: Bacon. That would be my number three. You have three; I got three now.

Jonathan: I was in the process of doing the outro and you said “Bacon.”

Carrie: I know.

Jonathan: Again, uncut, uncensored. You get the real high-quality Jonathan and Carrie, which is good.

Carrie: They were all wanting me to say bacon.

Jonathan: They want so many things, Carrie.

Folks, this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter, bear with us and live better. Chat with you soon.

Carrie: See ya!

This week we debunk myths about ketosis and cover why eating fat enables your body to burn fat.