We've all heard the arguments against low carb diets: glucose is the most important fuel of the body, all that fat will give you heart disease, you'll have no energy, any diet that requires you to give up a whole category of food is bad, yadda-yadda-yadda. Among the arguments most commonly trotted out is "It forces the body into "starvation mode," so you're making ketones!" As if this were a bad thing.
Completely ignoring whether ketosis is specifically a state caused by starvation, or rather simply a common fuel pathway characteristic of hunter-gatherers and others who aren't living on grains, and completely ignoring the fact that more therapeutic effects/uses of ketosis and ketones are being discovered every day, I'd like to ask this: If "starvation mode" is so terrible, why do you think I should restrict calories? Eat less? You know, actually slowly starve myself?
Fascinatingly, the only truly effective method of life extension/delaying aging so far identified is serious caloric restriction -- aka controlled starvation. No one is entirely certain why this is so, but it is clear that this controlled starvation creates ketones. Indeed, there is some speculation that one ketone in particular, known as 3-OHB, may have multiple beneficial effects; as I detailed in this week's podcast, a recent mouse study suggests 3-OHB will actually reverse diabetic nephropathy. Too, a restricted calorie diet reduces glycation, the degradation of proteins and fats by the bonding of sugar molecules, an effect also created by simply not eating foods that raise blood sugar.
Why is it that these processes are uncontroversial when they are the result of a diet that even its proponents admit causes loss of muscle and bone mass, reduces capacity to exercise, makes those who follow it cold and hungry all the time, and may even cause a loss of fertility, but are put forward as hazards when they're associated with a low carbohydrate diet?
We're not the ones actually starving here, after all.