My Response to Jillian Michaels on Keto
I actually love that Jillian went the route of cellular health in her objection to the ketogenic diet.
Because cellular health is actually one of the main benefits of keto.
Jillian says, "Your cells, your macromolecules, are literally made up of protein, fat, carbohydrates, nucleic acids. When you do not eat one of those macronutrients, you're STARVING your cells."
Let’s take a look at some science before we get our nutrition advice from a trainer who basically broke people’s metabolisms on The Biggest Loser. 😬
Here are 3 reasons keto is amazing for your cells:
1. Keto enhances mitochondrial health.
Listen, I'm going to tell you why your cells aren't "starving" on keto in just a minute, but at the risk of you navigating away from this post, I'm putting this first. You need to know this.
Mitochondrial health is why I think everyone should go through a phase of the ketogenic diet. You don't have to do it forever, but check this out:
Remember the mitochondria from high school science class? It’s the powerhouse of the cell, right? And unlike your homework assignment, there isn't just one per cell. Depending on the location in your body, you can have THOUSANDS of mitochondria per cell.
Keto enhances mitochondrial biogenesis, which is a fancy way of saying you make more mitochondria in your cells when you do keto (1).
The higher the mitochondrial mass of a cell, the more energy (ATP) in that cell. No wonder everyone’s raving about increased, sustained energy levels on keto. Their cells are literally increasing their capacity to make energy.
And before we move on, if you haven't heard of BROWN FAT (brown adipose tissue), it's fat in your body that is actually metabolically active- it makes your metabolism faster. And why is it brown? Because it's full of mitochondria.
Keto increases the amount of brown fat in the body, enhancing your metabolism and fat burning ability. All while increasing the energy potential of every cell in your body. #winning
2. Your cells are designed to run off fat.
Your cells are not starving on keto.
Your cells can use fat or carbs for fuel.
And in fact, when we restrict carbohydrates and use fat for fuel, we experience LESS oxidative stress (2). Think of rust on a pipe. That's oxidation. It's aging. The less we create in our bodies, the less we have to combat with antioxidants.
This is why keto is amazing for combating inflammation system-wide (3).
Fatty acids from either stored body fat or dietary fat are converted into ketones in the liver. Those ketones are then released into our bloodstream to fuel our cells. Fatty acids can also go straight into our mitochondria intact with the help of L-Carnitine (found in many ketogenic foods like red meat, fish and poultry. Wait, WHAT?? Animal protein is good for you? Omg!). 😉
3. Carbohydrate restriction triggers cellular autophagy.
Autophagy is, in a nutshell, cellular cleanup.
When you fast, restrict carbohydrates or adhere to a ketogenic diet, you stimulate cellular autophagy. In this process, your body gets rid of old, damaged proteins in cells by breaking them down into free fatty acids/amino acids that are used for energy. It also helps rid your cells of microbes that put you at risk for disease.
Autophagy is like the fountain of youth. It is extremely anti-aging and anti-cancer. It clears out the junk in your cells and stimulates the production of new, healthy cells.
What about insulin?
Jillian says you can just get more insulin sensitive through exercise and calorie restriction. That is absolutely true.
The problem is, people aren't doing it. They just don't get to that level. But they are doing it with keto.
Keto is helping people in a way “eat less and exercise more” has failed miserably.
And unlike "crash diets" like, I don't know, The Biggest Loser? Severely limiting calories to the point you slow people's metabolisms so much they can hardly eat anything at all and still gain weight? Keto will actually ENHANCE their metabolisms. Even if only done for a few months.
Ok. All this being said, I want to be clear on one thing: I am NOT anti-carbohydrate.
I am not in ketosis all the time. I go in and out. And I advocate this.
I use keto as a tool in my tool belt. Keto is a biohack. It can give you some amazing benefits. But it isn't necessary to be keto ALL THE TIME unless you have a medical reason for it or you just plain feel better on keto.
Do keto strict for at least 2 months. Get the benefits. Then bring healthy carbs back in and see how you feel.