Why Do Keto, Intermittent Fasting and Tracking Macros Work?

Back in my day, Paleo was the answer to everything. Now it seems Keto and intermittent fasting are the go-to diet fads. Personally, I like butter as much as the next guy – but I’d rather not put a whole stick in my coffee every morning. And I’m definitely not waiting all day to eat, Brooke and the girls will be the first to tell you Daddy turns into a scary monster when he’s hungry.

Macro tracking is a functional lifestyle, it requires some planning and commitment but most things in life do. You put the work in to learn a new skill, you master the skill, and suddenly that new skill is just another part of your life. Kind of like having a kid, and I’m willing to bet tracking macros is much less work than having three kids… but I’ll let you know here soon.

I’m sure you’re wondering which one is best, why do these very different diets work, and how do they achieve the amazing results you keep hearing about? It comes down to one very simple thing – insulin.

For the sake of time, here’s a video of someone who can explain it better than me in full details. I’ll give an excellent review for those who don’t watch the video, but it’s pretty interesting so you should watch the video too.

Insulin regulates the body’s fat metabolism preventing your body from using fat stores for energy. Basically it’s the party pooper of the body, like when Nate keeps telling you to stop talking and actually listen to the workout explanation. If you want to catch up on the latest House of Dragons episode from last night, you gotta get Nate out from your area. And if you want to pull fat out of fat tissue, you have to get insulin out.

Nate means well and has his uses, and so does insulin. Insulin controls blood-sugar levels,  helps your body use the sugar for energy as it enters the bloodstream, and store extra in case you need it later. Where does this energy and increased blood sugar come from? Carbohydrates.

You know carbs, all the good delicious things you keep hearing are bad for you and to stay away from yet make up the largest part of the food pyramid you had drilled into your head in elementary school. That food pyramid was introduced to the US in 1992. That decade also saw the largest increases in chronic disease, childhood diabetes/obesity, and adult obesity in both men and women in the US. But that’s another story for a different time. Back to the task at hand – fad diets and when the next trend will start and I will have something new to roll my eyes at. I mean… why they work…

Keto.  Carbs are bad, protein and fat is good. Keeping carbs to 30g or less a day forces you to eat more protein and fat, keeping blood sugar levels down, requiring less insulin to manage blood sugar. 

Intermittent fasting. 16 hours of the day you get a prison diet of water and bread minus the bread, then for 8 hours you get to actually eat. If you can’t eat, you can’t eat carbs – once again managing blood-sugar levels and making your body use fat for energy. 

Tracking macros. Involves a lot of, you guessed it, tracking. Made popular by the MyFitnessPal app and nutritional coaches across the country, tracking macros is basically getting you to realize what you eat in a day and how much of it is probably junk. The goal is then to balance your diet better, bringing carbs down to a healthier level and therefore increasing protein and fat intake for a more balanced diet. This is by far the most manageable diet, and in my professional opinion, a basic life skill everyone should learn in elementary school – understand what you are eating, what different types of macros do for your body, and how your body reacts. 

And there you have it. My quick takes on some diet clickbaits and why they work, but also why they aren’t the end all be all answer to how to lose weight. Calories matter, but more importantly the type of calories make the difference. There isn’t one iron diet to bend the knee to. You need to understand what you are eating, how your body reacts, and how to make it fit your lifestyle. And yes this will involve eating less Sour Patch Kids and more vegetables, as much as I wish it didn’t have to.

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Inspiration provided by Coty Bradburn at CrossFit Mountain Island.

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