In mid-2012, on her now defunct blog “Weight Maven,” Beth Mazur introduced me to Lucas Tafur whose domain has also since expired. Lucas Tafur is an interesting story. Before he created the Lucas Tafur site, his blog was called, ahead of its time, “Ketogenic Nutrition.” It provided me with a nostalgic look back at what proved for me to be a very effective way to lose 170 pounds. Tafur quotes one of the world’s leading experts on ketone bodies, Dr. Richard L. Veech of the National Institutes of Health: "Doctors are scared of ketosis. They're always worried about diabetic ketoacidosis. But ketosis is a normal physiologic state. I would argue it is the normal state of man.”
Put into context, in the continuum of our day-to-day existence, we’re either in a fed or a fasting state. The fed state begins with eating and continues until the food has been digested and absorbed. The fasting state then begins and continues until we eat again. When fasting, the body is said to be in ketosis, a normal physiological state.
When we are in a fed state, we derive our energy largely from glucose. This is called a glycogenic state. When we are in a fasting state, the body derives its energy from our fat stores from our adipose (fat) tissue, which breaks down by lipolysis. Who can doubt that it has been that way for thousands of generations? We were hunters and gatherers, not grazers. That is the way we were “designed” and evolved until, with the “invention” of agriculture about 500 generations ago, and domestication of animals, and foods that could be stored, we became Neolithic.
In just the last few few generations, we have gone further astray, with disastrous consequences. Of course, what has happened in these last few generations is not an evolutionary adaption; it is but an aberration. It is also a completely reversible change once we come to see and accept what “we” (complicit with our agricultural/industrial enterprise and the associated medical, “public health” and media establishments) have done to ourselves. We can return to a fed and then fasting Way of Eating in which ketosis is once again “the normal state of man.”
The old scenario: We hunted, we ate and we were satisfied. After our meal was digested and absorbed, we entered a fasting period, a period of ketosis, as Dr. Veech said, “the normal state of man.” The body used its fat stores, broken down to fatty acids, a glycerol molecule, and ketone bodies, for energy. But, as Tafur then points out, ketosis can “either be triggered by fasting or by diet.” Therein lies the point to which Lucas Tafur was leading us.
The rest of this column is excerpted from Lucas Tafur’s defunct “Ketogenic Nutrition website. “Fasting ketosis develops after a few days of fasting, when liver glycogen stores are depleted. The body, as an acquired evolutionary mechanism, shifts from a glucose-based metabolism to a fat-based one.” “Studies have shown that the adaptive response to fasting is regulated not by energy restrictions per se, but by carbohydrate restriction. This is because the rate limiting enzyme of ketogenesis…is controlled by insulin levels.” (Emphases added by me.)
“The body’s main energy store is adipose tissue. Fat is more calorie-dense, meaning that it yields more energy per gram than glucose. Fat is the body’s preferred fuel, ketones being a “super fuel” that can be used by some tissues that haven’t evolved to use free fatty acids (FFA) such as the brain. Ketone bodies help the body spare amino acids by reducing the need for glucose. This way muscle mass is maintained…. Without ketosis, body protein stores would be cannibalized…. “
“The body stores fat primarily as saturated fat because it is metabolically more efficient than glucose and produces less toxic residue when metabolized. Exogenous glucose is the first substrate to be used because it is toxic to the body. It produces metabolic disregulation caused by hyperglycemia, which triggers an inflammatory and autoimmune response. Ketosis represents the opposite scenario; it protects the body during a life-threatening situation like starvation.” (end quote)Lucas Tafur, and Beth Mazur, and Kurt Harris (see Retrospectives #18 & #19), were all ahead of their time and have all since disappeared from the scene. They all made contributions to my understanding of nutrition and human metabolism, including Tafur’s description of fasting ketosis. But what is dietary ketosis? See the next Retrospective.