I began reading this book over the summer after I went to Low Carb San Diego (see: Adventures at Low Carb San Diego) and saw Jacob and Ryan speak. However, I got side-tracked by another book (Just Read: Tim Noakes and Marika Sboros – Lore of Nutrition: Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs). The books are coming fast and furious…
I was slightly familiar with Dr. Jacob Wilson (@TheMusclePhD, Less twitter, more instagram:TheMusclePhD) and Ryan Lowery, PhD(c), MS (@ryanlowery14, also less twitter, more instagram:ryanplowery) before going to San Diego.
I knew they were doing (and publishing) rigorous research work, especially in the area of athletic performance and new avenues related to ketosis (not to be confused with “keto-acidosis”, the unforuntately too-closely-named medical condition that physicians are trained to never see happen).
A Scientific Approach
Wilson and Lowery are not physicians, which is a plus because the book is written from a scientist’s perspective, tracing the origins of the ketogenic diet, and also covering the place where the medical profession has arrived to today, as many other authors have pointed out. In case you don’t know the history:
In 1977, Dr. Mark Hegsted, a nutrition researcher and huge advocate for Keys’s conclusions, helped persuade Senator George McGovern, chairman of the Senate Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, to include a recommendation for limiting fat intake in that year’s Dietary Goals for the United States. These guidelines, which were based on observational studies, “partial” scientists, and questionable methodologies, had severe limitations. Hegsted, who was named Administrator of Human Nutrition for the Department of Agriculture in 1978, claimed, “Important benefits could be expected from following the low-fat recommendations. And for the risks? None can be identified.”
Wilson, Jacob. The Ketogenic Bible: The Authoritative Guide to Ketosis (p. 31). Victory Belt Publishing. Kindle Edition.
The information within tracks well with other information I’ve reviewed, with probably more information here about the use of exogenous ketones, which to my eyes has more research utility than every day use for populations. I’ve heard Steve Phinney, MD, PhD say that we all have natural ketone factories within our bodies already. The discussion in the book says a lot about where the field is going, though.
Medical and Other Health Applications
The Bible has a pretty exhaustive review of the potential applications of ketogenic dieting in everything from cancer to traumatic brain injury. All of the sections are well referenced for digging in deeper, I can tell they did a lot of work putting this together. As it says throughout, the information contained within should not be interpreted as medical advice for an individual, and I’d defintely recommend speaking with a trusted health professional (maybe asking them to read the research with you) before making changes, especially in the setting of a chronic condition.
The information about application in cancer is especially interesting to me, simply because it’s a paradigm I hadn’t been exposed to before.
Athletic Performance and the Era of the Social Scientist
Wilson and Lowery are experts here and have done quite a bit of peer-reviewed research work themselves, in their own lab. It seems that there still is much to learn about the interaction between diet and and performance, I pulled their recent paper from April 2017 and will post on it next. Some of the things we’ve been taught can’t happen, such as having adequate glycogen stores without high-carbohydrate intake, can happen.
Our lab performed the first-ever well-controlled study looking at high-level resistance-training athletes and long-term body composition and performance (Wilson et al., 2017). We divided twenty-five resistance-trained college males into two groups: one group was put on a ketogenic diet (70 percent fat, 25 percent protein, and 5 percent carbohydrate) and the other continued to eat their traditional carbohydrate-based diet. Both groups ate the same number of calories and the same amount of protein—the only differences between the diets were in the fat and carbohydrate content. We then had these individuals perform a hard resistance-training program. In ten weeks on their respective diets, both groups were able to increase muscle mass to the same extent; however, the ketogenic dieting group lost significantly more fat mass (24 percent versus 13 percent). Interestingly enough, both groups increased strength and power to the same extent. Additionally, we saw no adverse effects on blood lipid profiles and a slight increase in testosterone levels in the ketogenic diet group. This was the first study showing that highly resistance-trained athletes working out several times per week can gain muscle, lose fat, and perform well on a ketogenic diet.
Wilson, Jacob. The Ketogenic Bible: The Authoritative Guide to Ketosis (pp. 145-146). Victory Belt Publishing. Kindle Edition.
It’s up to our profession to examine things and ideas that don’t fit the observations that we’re seeing, in a respectful way.
I still like this quote from Nina Teicholz (@BigFatSurprise) about what our role is to help people be healthy:
What, then, is the response by experts? (To Tim Noakes’ work)’ she asked rhetorically. ‘To deny his work, to make fun of him, to pretend his work is full of errors, instead of reckoning with him and saying: “Okay, here are a number of observations that our hypothesis does not explain. We need to explain it.”’
Noakes, Tim; Sboros, Marika. Lore of Nutrition: Challenging conventional dietary beliefs (Kindle Locations 6943-6945). Penguin Random House South Africa. Kindle Edition.
“Here are a number of observations that our hypothesis does not explain. We need to explain it.”’
It’s great to see that scientists like Wilson and Lowery today are social – ironically to me, the peer-review process tends to strip out important parts of the implications of research, so seeing scientists explaining their work in detail on social media or generally being available makes a big difference. It’s another reason I love this century.
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There’s a good section about how to become fat adapted using diet, with some recipes for people who are used to cooking high carbohydrate. I recently tried one myself…