The idea that you can change your diet to make your body burn fat as its primary fuel is something I first heard about in 2002, when I was introduced to Kat James and her then-radical dietary views.
Having endured a 12-year battle with an eating disorder and near liver failure, James began overhauling her diet. After years of trial and error, she discovered a sustainable way of eating that left her 10 dress sizes smaller, brightened her dark moods, and freed her of food obsession.
Excited by her personal transformation, James gave up a career as a celebrity makeup artist to devote her life to sharing what she’d discovered. After seven years of helping others achieve the same kind of biochemical “flip” she’d experienced, James saw her theories validated by Ron Rosedale, MD, one of the foremost experts on the hormone leptin. Rosedale was so impressed with James’s regimen and outcomes that he directed an audience of diabetes doctors and their patients to follow her protocol. Neurological, functional medicine, fertility, and other clinics around the world have since followed suit.
Today, with a tidal wave of science validating James’s theories—and many formerly fat-shy doctors, authors, and bloggers jumping on the high-fat bandwagon—we sat down with the woman who’s been called the “Jane Goodall of leptin.” We talked about her revolutionary ideas and her 27-year track record of helping people lose weight and regain their health by harnessing the power of this key fat-burning hormone.
How do people become “fat-burners”?
First, we should define “fat-burner,” because that definition is as varied as the guidelines for achieving it. Nature’s most efficient fat-burning state requires the optimal function of leptin, which also affects every other hormonal, neurological, inflammatory, digestive, and immune process in the body. So, merely having the ability to burn off some fat sometimes—or even to get fit and muscular, if you work really hard at it—doesn’t make you a fat-burner. In fact, it all but guarantees that you’re a sugar-burner.
So how do you know if you’re a fat-burner?
When you regain leptin sensitivity, you will experience a pronounced drop in appetite, clearing of brain fog, deeper sleep, unusual calmness with even energy (no more energy dips), loss of excess fluid related to inflammation, digestive correction, improvement or resolution of other health issues, and speedy fat loss and muscle gain, independent of exercise.
With so many dietary guidelines out there now, do you see contradictions in what you’ve observed to be effective at achieving fat-burner status?
Yes. The science supporting high-fat, low-carb diets is generally well covered in most books on the subject. But the practical application for the long-term is a true frontier that can’t easily be studied. It has taken me nearly 30 years of on-site work with people during their entire transition to gradually develop strategies for a successful, long-term lifestyle, not just initial results.
It’s important to understand that the threshold at which a true, leptin-sensitive fat-burning state is achieved differs from person to person, based on heredity, health, and dietary history. I haven’t seen any guidelines out there that identify what I see as “deal-breaker” ingredients that, in my experience, cause setbacks in those with metabolic or food-craving challenges. These include nut milks, nut flours, and nut butters, certain protein powders, alcohol, alcohol-based flavorings and tinctures, certain fruits and vegetables, tomato sauce, coffee, certain bacon and sausage brands, and much more.
But equally destructive to the leptin-conscious fat-burning goal are the consequences of fasting and “carb-cycling” regimens, which have proved disastrous for virtually all of my clients who tried them. One could make strong arguments that they hinder the goal of achieving and maintaining a true fat-burning state, and also undermine the ability to heal one’s relationship with food.
Could you expand on why you believe fasting can be so harmful?
When the body is truly using fat as its primary fuel, the hypothalamus perceives that it is experiencing “times of plenty,” which is why hunger is shut off quickly by the fat-burning master hormone, leptin. Conversely, in a sugar-burning state, one is “wired” for fat storage to deal with a perceived famine. In metabolically challenged people, fasting mimics famine. By the way, you are metabolically challenged if you have gained any weight in your middle since your golden youth, experience energy or mood dips, get up, even once during the night, or use “pick-me-ups” such as juice, smoothies, carbs, or caffeine for energy.
My own first bingeing episodes arose out of periods of fasting and calorie restriction. This may not happen to relatively healthy people when they fast at first, but rodent studies have shown a spike in dopamine levels from a meal after food restriction. This produces a drug-like effect and/or changes in feeding patterns, including overeating at the next meal, which didn’t happen in mice fed at regular intervals. We are also more vulnerable to blood sugar spikes from the first meal of the day than from other meals, because breakfast follows our sleeping fast.
Some experts argue that eating at regular intervals wasn’t possible for primitive man, so it’s not natural for us. But our compromised metabolisms, with major epigenetic changes in our modern metabolic vulnerabilities, were not found in primitive mankind either.
Established fat-burners (by my leptin-functional definition) really don’t do famine well, and part of the function of leptin is to sense the scarcity of food. It’s the sugar-burners, who are primed for famine and fat storage, who do fasting well.
Springtime European Transformation
Join award-winning author Kat James for her Total Transformation Journey (all or part) from Tuscany (shown here) to Venice to Vienna to Salzburg, Prague, Berlin, and the Thermal Waters of Bad Schandau, May 14–29 2018.
Enjoy visits to Florence and other cultural centers, farms, cheesemakers, castles, thermal waters, and famous sites of The Sound of Music—all as your body is transformed at the cellular level and your views of a healthy lifestyle are transformed forever. You’ll gain powerful, proven, long-term tools that will start to transform your body, skin, thinking, and relationship with food even before you get home. Call 877-54-TOTAL or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Why Britt Doesn’t Fast Anymore
These before-and-after photos at right show what happened to 44-year-old Britt McMartin when she stopped skipping meals and started a high-fat, very-low-carb regimen. Here are the thoughts she shared about her experiences with fasting and meal skipping:
“Since high school, I was on a pattern of starve-binge. A roller-coaster. I did not realize that I’d been perpetuating the problem each time I skipped or delayed meals, which just made my rebound eating worse. I could not have escaped the pattern, though, had I not also let go of the myths of calorie-counting and low-fat diets. It’s amazing how misled we can become, and it came to affect every aspect of my life and even my ability to conceive.”
In our June issue, we’ll share Britt’s full story of how she lost 48 lbs., conquered her decades-long eating disorder and social anxiety, and regained her fertility, her full head of hair, and more after attending an online Total Transformation Program and a Kat James retreat in Scotland. There she learned to “read” her body’s signals to maintain a fat-burning mode and enjoy amazing carb-free, high fat foods, while avoiding the hidden pitfalls of typical Paleo and keto diets.
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