“It’s quite a paradigm shift to accept that glucose isn’t the indispensable resource you thought it was. It will make you look back and question everything you were taught about how to eat and who – or what interests – directed your dietary norms.” 1
How do you choose your food? Impulse? Marketing? Government guidelines? What your friends eat? What your family eats?
How is your health? How is that of your family and friends? Is health something you actively choose or something you only think about when it goes wrong?
I’ve sat in both camps: the health aware and the devil may care. It turns out he did, and it has taken me close to four decades to arrive at some solid conclusions about how to look after myself.
The most recent chapter in that lifelong search has been written by powerful speaker and writer and top-level scientist, Nora Gedgaudas whose new book Primal Fat Burner has started to give me answers to questions I’ve been asking for a long time about my own state of health.
Gedgaudas has also managed to answer numerous questions I posed in Nutrient Dense, namely – how it is possible to attain optimal nutrition from compromised, globalised, mass produced food sources (it’s not, and she shows why it isn’t and how we can nourish ourselves like never before).
What’s the secret?
Primal Fat Burner focuses its discussion on a core metabolic secret: we have two fuels and our quality of life and health depends on which fuel we choose. It’s that simple and it’s that challenging.
Yes, you can choose your fuel
We are all primarily either ‘sugar burners’ or ‘fat burners’.
“Your ‘primary fuel’ is, it turns out, dependent on what food source you’ve conditioned your body to use. And the fuel source you choose to exploit has major ramifications for influencing how you feel, think, and function.” 1
It is mostly unquestioned that glucose is the body’s primary fuel; in a ‘developed’ Western setting our diet is based around high carbohydrate, low fat food at every meal; porridge, bread, potatoes, root vegetables, rice, even quinoa. All high carb, low fat foods. Government-issued food pyramids make this diet a prescription for health. It’s so common an equation that the logic feels like common sense: fat makes you fat and a healthy diet is based on a diet high in healthy carbohydrates.
Just. Not. True.
As Gedgaudas notes, “since the very beginning of government efforts to guide the health habits of the nation, the officially sanctioned dietary guidelines have targeted dietary fat as public enemy number one.”1
Bamboozled by the Sugar Industry
“A recent exposé in the New York Times revealed massive and pervasive fraud and collusion between the sugar industry and certain medical authorities in the 1960s designed to erroneously promote saturated fat as the culprit behind heart disease.” comments Gedgaudas in her blog post ‘Low carb on trial, Galileo had it easy’.
The sugar industry paid scientists to play down the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit instead. The consequences of this revelation are staggering: for over 50 years critical discussion of the dangers of sugar was derailed by special interests leading to a fundamentally unhealthy diet that reduced or cut out the dietary fat that is vital to our health.
But they only told lies in the ’60s, right?
“Any medical practitioner deviating from the traditional (low-fat, ‘carbophilic’ dietary recommendation-based) party line on this matter may still— to this very day– be subject to extreme harassment, ridicule, investigation, intimidation, discipline, loss of employment, and even loss of license.”2
But who is benefitting from our dependence on sugar?
Isn’t this just too much like a conspiracy theory? Surely the burgeoning incidence of metabolic disease in Western populations is due to something else? It’s too much to think that vested corporate interests could skew government guidelines and expert opinion to the extent that humanity is facing a health crisis!
“Every one of these multinational corporate interests (and others)*2 would have every profit-based reason to want to see every man woman and child on planet Earth dependent on a carbohydrate-based diet and metabolism. Sugary and starchy foods are, after all, dirt cheap to produce, highly profitable and basically keep the population perpetually hungry.”
Recognise that sugar craving? Who is it serving? Next time you feel it, consider whether you’re willing to pay the highest price of all – your health – to satiate it.
The life of a carbovore is a rollercoaster
In Primal Fat Burner, Gedgaudas describes in detail the body’s response to our typcial carbohydrate-based foods.
“Carbohydrate-laden meals, even healthful-seeming ones like a hearty bowl of oatmeal send blood sugar on a destructive series of swoops up and down. The insulin level rises to clumsily remove the excess sugar from the bloodstream, drastically lowering the blood glucose.”
“When the blood sugar goes too low, the body panics, triggering the release of the stress hormone cortisol (or even adrenaline). The presence of cortisol causes your adrenals to send the blood sugar rocketing back up yet again, as the fuel for a potential fight-or-flight scenario. This stimulates the release of insulin again, which then activates cortisol once more…”1
This is a state that is the root cause of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, PCOS, stroke, neurological problems, and cancer.
There is no safe threshold for sugar
But surely it’s just about moderation? Isn’t there a level of carbohydrate (sugar) consumption at which you can avoid the averse ageing, endocrine, metabolic, and glycating effects?
“The data is convincing that no safe threshold exits, as the damaging effects occur across the normal ranges of glucose.” What’s more – it doesn’t matter the source, whether it’s a bowl of rice, a potato, a soda, or a chocolate bar – to the body sugar is sugar.”1
You can choose your fuel. Just don’t choose sugar.
So what do you do if you want to get off the sugar roller coaster? Stop eating it. Start eating fat instead. Just like your ancestors. Your ancestors liked brains a lot, so go for those. I jest but some of the most nutritionally valuable parts of the animal are organ meat – difficult for those of us who have been conditioned to be squeamish about these body parts. But really, if you’re willing to eat muscle, what’s the difference?
Gedgaudas’s book sets out a clear, detailed way to access a state of effective ketogenic adaptation (EKA) – a state where your body shifts from a glucocentric (sugar-based) metabolism to an adipocentric (fat-based) one. A state in which you are burning your own body fat for fuel.
What’s involved? Actually, it’s a complete departure from the way most people I have ever met eat. At the same time, it feels like the way we would be eating if we were living ‘traditional’ lives away from pesticides, GMO, supermarkets – what Gedgaudas calls the ‘Frankenfoods’ of our modern age.
Oversimplified, it’s a diet your great grandmother would have recognised: it’s about cheap cuts of meat used creatively, a lot of green veg, and handfuls of nuts every so often. It’s a focus on quality ingredients sourced judiciously – a grass fed animal has the fat profile you want, a grain fed or grain finished animal (which will represent most of the meat that is easiest to find in supermarkets) has a completely different fat profile and is not what you want.
It’s a diet that’s low in carbohydrates (including starchy root vegetables, I’m afraid, which can kick the body out of ketosis as rapidly as a slice of cake), moderate in protein (there’s a simple calculation Gedgaudas guides you through to work out how many grams of protein is right for your size, age, activity level) with ample dietary fat. It’s a way of eating that will provide you with the nutrition you probably have never experienced before.
What’s so good about being a fat burner?
The benefits of becoming a primary fat burner are striking. I’m at risk of retyping all of Primal Fat Burner in this article, so let an abbreviated list suffice:
- Stablised neurological functioning and cognitively protective
- Stable energy
- Anti-inflammatory effect and dampening of free radical activity
- Protection of lean tissue mass
- Improved sleep
- Increased mitochondrial efficiency and protective of mitochondria
- Improved immune function
- Reduced blood sugar issues
- Improved thyroid efficiency
- Improved cardiovascular markers: a rise in quality HDL, a reduction in small-particle LDL, lower triglycerides
- Anti-ageing effects with improved cellular regeneration and DNA repair
Eat unlike anyone you have ever met
And give yourself a chance to live a healthier life than anyone you’re ever likely to meet.
As Gedgaudas recommends, stay awake, stay healthy.
- Nora Gedgaudas, Primal Fat Burner (2017)
- Nora Gedgaudas, ‘Low-carb on trial, Galileo had it easy’
- “The vested interests of Monsanto and other facets of Big Agribusiness (Big Oil’s #1 customers), the Food Industry (which still includes the nefarious sugar and HFCS industry), various chemical industries (supplying herbicides and pesticides), phosphate strip-mining industries (through which synthetic fertilizers… and unconscionably profitable, “fluoride” (hydrofluorosilicate) are also produced as a toxic waste product of the industry and forcibly sold to municipalities the world over for “water treatment” purposes), Big Pharma, the profit-driven mainstream Medical Industry as a whole, and more.” Nora Gedgaudas, ‘Low-carb on trial, Galileo had it easy’