How You Can Still Get Fat On Keto-Or Any Diet

The Ketogenic Diet is all the rage right now, but as we've been saying for a while now, there is a principles vs. methods way to look at this:  For those who don't want to read on, the principle of the matter is that everyone's metabolism SHOULD be fat-adapted and thus, metabolically flexible-this means you're adept at using both fat and carbs for energy.  Furthermore, just following a ratio of low carb (or any ratio) isn't going to cut it-you still need to eat nutrient-dense, properly-sourced food.  Unless you're really young or a genetic exception, you cannot follow the low rent science of eating many small, frequent meals.  Less meal frequency is still key.  Yes, some people will do better following a keto approach all the time, but for many of us oscillating between low carb (rest days, oxidative training days aka long-duration cardio) days and carb-containing (glycolytic days aka resistance training) days works best.

One of my clients, Triton, showing what eating with metabolic flexibility can do for you.

Now that we've got the Cliff Notes out of the way, there's been a change in our understanding of metabolic syndrome-the scourge of the modern times-we've become carb-phobic but it isn't that simple.  Overeating fat can also make you fat-yes, even healthy fat.

Check out an excerpt from THIS research:

Insulin resistance, the essential component of metabolic syndrome, has traditionally been defined from a glucocentric viewpoint, with glucotoxicity playing a lead role. However, as overabundant circulating fatty acids are now known to be overt contributors, there is a paradigm shift in the understanding of metabolic syndrome acknowledging the importance of lipotoxicity as a major perpetuator of insulin resistance. Ectopic accumulation of fat in liver, adipose, muscle and pancreatic islets, provokes insulin resistance through various mechanisms. Chronic inflammation/adipocytokine generation, endoplasmic reticulum stress and mitochondrial dysfunction/oxidative stress also contribute significantly towards insulin resistance. Targets that can act as counter regulators/master switches at the converging point of all these metabolic pathways are currently under intense development.

I was never the keto guy-I'm simply an educator on nutrition, which is why Chris and I wrote The Ketogenic Diet book and guide combo.  If you've read it or have been paying attention, our focus on metabolic flexibility that comes from a fat-adapted metabolism is the key factor everyone needs to have-not simply eating low carb all the time.

How Eating Too Much Dietary Fat Can Make You Gain Body Fat

sport science lab

What keto zealots don't understand is that over consumption of fat can lead to a fatty liver and unwanted storage of fat around other organs.

Elevated fatty acids can end up in all kinds of places-muscle, kidneys, liver, brain, etc.  How much is too much?  This will vary, but depends on your overall total intake, total fat utilization via oxidative (fat-using) exercise (i.e. walking), total energy intake and expenditure (calories in vs. out), and how healthy your mitochondria are (your cellular energy batteries that fuel everything you do).

Check out the above study to see an example of how metabolic syndrome can also be lipocentric in addition to glucocentric.  Again, this means you can get metabolic syndrome and get fat eating too much fat the same as you can eating too many carbs.

Does This Mean I Can Switch To High Carb?

nba paleo

Nope-some populations such as youth, student athletes, pro athletes, and bodybuilders are going to do best with high carb DAYS.  Not high carb all the time.

For review, excess carbohydrates at excess carbohydrate feeding frequencies are still going to have the same ill effects on your blood sugar, health, performance, fat gain, etc.  These over consumptions of carbs still tax your insulin receptor sites (how you store carbs) and, like an iPhone battery, get less sensitive over time.  This results in a poor ability to utilize carbs properly and to store them as muscle glycogen.

So...Like....How Should I Eat Then?

marinovich training

I don't want to give you a politican's answer, but it depends.  If you're in an older population, have blood sugar issues, are obese, an endurance athlete, have certain medical conditions, and/or don't do any carb-burning activities, you're better off with some type of ketogenic or modified Atkins diet.

If you're a student athlete, bodybuilder, an athlete in strength sports, perform regular resistance training, have a clean bill of health, are lean (under 15% body fat), or are a professional athlete in a sport that does use fast twitch muscle fibers, you're better off introducing some carbs on a spectrum of moderate to high.

What IS key even if you're eating carbs is to oscillate between low carb days and higher carb days.  Watch out for a future post on metabolic flexibility that explains the importance of this and how to execute.


Proof in the pudding kind of person?  My own results eating this way in a non-lit, non-airbrushed simple phone photo.

Interested in dialing in your nutrition?  Book a consultation.


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