One of the most difficult aspects of following a new diet plan is the uncertainty of whether or not you’re doing it correctly. Am I eating too much? Too little? Am I eating the right kinds of foods? How do I know if all of this effort and stress is paying off?
Many of these plans require that the dieter keep track of dizzying amounts of information on a daily basis, such as fat grams, sodium, total calories, calories from fat, servings of fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. The dieter may be tasked with measuring portions of food for each meal or snack. Some programs suggest to cook all of your food ahead of time and to allot yourself a precise amount of calories spread throughout the day.
This keen attention to dietary detail often proves frustrating and can leave the dieter overwhelmed enough to throw in the towel. But what if there was another approach? A simpler, stress-free way of eating that not only resulted in substantial weight loss, but that was so straightforward that one quick test would let you know if you were doing it right?
This method is the Adapt Your Life program. Backed by a growing body of peer-reviewed scientific research, low carbohydrate diets have been utilized in clinics such as Dr. Westman’s Lifestyle Medicine Clinic for decades. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost weight and improved their health by following an approach so simple and so manageable that it’s hard to believe that there still exists a debate on what to eat to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
One unique aspect of Adapt Your Life is that the program will induce a metabolic state within the body called “nutritional ketosis.” To understand what ketosis is, we must first understand what happens physiologically (in the body) when a person starts an eating plan that is very low in carbohydrates.
First off, insulin levels drop significantly. Insulin is a hormone that is released by the pancreas in response to the rising blood sugar levels that occur after eating. Its job is to lower blood sugar (known as glucose) by storing it in one of three tissues within the body: the liver, skeletal muscle, or adipose tissue, otherwise known as body fat.
A typical American diet is comprised mainly of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates cause blood sugar, or glucose, to rise rapidly. Following a high-carbohydrate meal, the body is suddenly inundated by elevated glucose levels and the resulting cascade of insulin. Since chronically elevated glucose can cause blood vessel damage, the body wants to normalize glucose levels by converting it to a substance called glycogen and then storing it quickly. The liver is a perfect storage depot for glucose; the problem is that it can store only a very limited quantity.
Skeletal muscle can also store glucose but only under the optimal circumstances. Like the liver, the body’s muscle tissue is not an especially large reservoir for glycogen. And skeletal muscle must have a need to replenish its supply; that is, a person must exercise, or at least do some form of activity, in order to create a deficit of glycogen in the muscle. This activity stimulates and fatigues the muscle fibers, which in turn drains the muscles’ glycogen stores. The body’s natural response is to increase the insulin sensitivity of the muscle cells in order to replenish glycogen. Remember that insulin is the storage hormone: the more sensitive the cells are to the actions of insulin, the wider the highway is, so to speak, for insulin to convert glucose to glycogen and store it in those cells.
But let’s say that you’ve been particularly sedentary lately. You haven’t gotten to the gym in months and you’ve had little time to be physically active. Right now, your skeletal muscle cells are not particularly insulin-sensitive; they do not want to attract any extra glucose because, still fully stocked with glycogen, they haven’t been recruited for any strenuous activity and thus don’t need to replenish glycogen stores. Skeletal muscle cells (along with the liver) will reject the actions of insulin in this situation, which is known as insulin resistance.
So the adipose tissue is the only remaining reservoir for insulin to create and store glycogen. And fortunately (or unfortunately), it is potentially limitless in its capacity to do this job. This is how we gain weight. Our bodies learn, through years of high-carbohydrate eating and physical inactivity, that body fat is the most accommodating storage depot for persistently high levels of blood sugar.
Soon we find that we’re getting fatter and heavier and the reason why is that, by eating a high amount of carbohydrates, we have changed our metabolism to store glycogen directly into the adipose cells of our fat tissue. We gain weight because our body fat will continually store this glycogen, the product of excessive carbohydrates that we do not need, when the liver cells and muscle tissue cells will not.
This is where Adapt Your Life has such a profound and immediate impact. By replacing carbohydrates with fat, glucose levels rise slowly and are never anywhere near as high as they would be following a high-carbohydrate meal. This results in a measured release of insulin, a much smaller amount compared to what the pancreas would secrete after a meal of mostly carbohydrate. This part is crucial. Low levels of insulin result mean two very beneficial things are occurring.
Since its known as the storage hormone, consistently low levels of insulin mean that less glycogen is being stored in the adipose cells. Instead of a six-lane freeway for glycogen to travel quickly into our body fat, a low carbohydrate diet reduces the glycogen-to-fat pathway to a two-way dirt road. Far less glucose is ending up as the fat in our love handles or underneath our arms as a result of eating much more dietary fat and a miniscule amount of carbohydrate.
This is the first benefit of reduced insulin levels. Your body will no longer shuttle the calories you eat directly into your body fat unencumbered.
The second benefit is even more exciting: you will lose weight. When insulin levels are elevated, our body fat is essentially under lock and key. It cannot escape the adipose cells because high insulin is giving the signal to store fat, not burn it. So a high-carbohydrate diet not only causes weight gain, it actively inhibits fat loss.
When you cut the carbs and replace them with dietary fat, this signaling is reversed. In other words, Adapt Your Life, if done correctly, will turn on the mechanisms that lead to a mass exodus of stored fat from the adipose tissue, allowing it to be used for fuel for the body’s multitude of cellular processes. You will be using your own body fat for energy. And this will be quickly evident by your looser fitting clothes and a more pleasing number on the scale.
Stick to this very low carbohydrate, high-fat eating plan and you will soon be in what’s called “nutritional ketosis.” One side effect of catabolizing (tearing down) stored body fat and using it for energy is that the liver produces and excretes into the bloodstream ketone bodies, which are used as fuel. Very low- or no-carbohydrate eating plans change metabolism so that the body’s myriad cellular processes are fueled by fat oxidation (burning) instead of carbohydrate oxidation. Your body is now being powered by ketone bodies, the products of depleting of body fat. Excess ketone bodies that are not needed to power cellular actions are typically filtered by the kidneys to be released with urine, or, to a much lesser extent, with the carbon dioxide that we exhale with each breath.
Nutritional ketosis is the primary indicator that we’re not currently storing fat and that we’re burning our own stored fat for energy. Is it a safe and completely healthy way to fuel every cellular mechanism in the human body. People can live in nutritional ketosis for their entire lifetime and be in perfect health. And it is extraordinarily difficult to gain weight while in ketosis; body fat accumulation simply is not happening.
One of the exciting things about the Adapt Your Life program is that it is extremely easy to determine whether or not you are in nutritional ketosis while you follow the low-carb, high-fat eating plan. Ketone testing strips are available at most pharmacies and health stores. These strips measure the level of ketones in the body via urinalysis, so you must use them in the bathroom. The presence of ketones can also detected by your breath; analyzers can be purchased online and most are known to be accurate. One advantage of breath ketone testing is that the analyzers are reusable and there are no disposable strips to purchase.
Another testing mode that will quickly tell you if you’re in ketosis is a fingerstick blood meter. With only a tiny drop of blood, these analyzers can measure your ketone level as well as your blood sugar. With three quick and efficient means of testing your ketone level, you will have the comfort of being able to choose how you measure your progress. There is no right or wrong choice; just whatever works for you.
These three modes of testing will tell you instantly if you’re in nutritional ketosis. If so, you’re burning fat. Simple as that.
If you’re not in ketosis, it may be time to make a few tweaks to your eating plan. Or, even better, consult with one of Adapt Your Life’s experienced nutrition coaches on strategies to better follow the program. With the help of Adapt Your Life’s team of experts, you will quickly be on your way to virtually effortless weight loss, backed by the peer-reviewed results of dozens of clinical research trials and by the most preeminent weight loss physician in the country, Dr. Westman.
Forget diets that leave you hungry, forget incessant measuring of your food, forget complicated recipes and expensive meal delivery programs. You have the ability to change your body’s metabolism so that you burn fat 24/7. And you have the ability to do so by following a simple eating plan and by easily checking your ketone level.
With Adapt Your Life, you can change your metabolism, lose weight, and change your life.