Natural Ketosis Blog Archive

January' 2014

Sugar vs Fat - how accurate was the Horizon programme?

With the debate on fat vs sugar gaining momentum, this issue was tackled yesterday by the BBC Two science programme Horizon. Here is our CEO Hannah's response to the programme.


As ever if we rely on BBC for sensible science we are heading up a blind alley. The first challenge on this programme is that we were told that this was a comparison between a  high fat diet compared to a high sugar diet.  The high fat diet shown on the TV was not ketogenic. This meant that the comparison was deeply misleading. To truely use fats as energy without damaging muscle mass you need to be ketogenic and it is almost impossible to be ketogenic on a high dairy diet.  Xand was given unlimited diary by the Dietician Amanda Ursell.  This is no surprise as Ms Ursell  has no expertise in low carb high protein ketogenic diets.

So the starting point was not only wrong but misleading. We were not comparing two bodies being fuelled by different energy sources as Xand was not being properly fuelled by ketones and at the same time, which is critical on a low carb ketogenic diet, you need to keep protein levels high to avoid muscle burn as you become keto adaptive.  This was not being done either.

This fundamental error continued throughout the programme and of course was highlighted in the cycling test. It has been shown many times in clinical trials that for a body, to become ketoadaptive, (ie to perform as well on fats as sugar) it takes 6 weeks and in certain exercise such as sprint – carbs will always be more effective.  Xand had not become ketoadaptive in exercise and therefore was immediately at a disadvantage and of course on sprint exercise , such as up Box Hill, glucose will work faster.  Also the external expert was fundamentally wrong when they said you cannot burn body fat for energy.  Of course this happens when you are in ketosis and my top athletes use fat burn to deliver top results.

As with the rest of the programme most of the tests were simply silly and designed for entertainment which in itself is fine until our presenters attacked Dr Robert Lustig for not having robust science on his side. Frankly putting aside whether we consider the work published by Dr Lustig is strong it will be a lot better than this naff ,poorly constructed and deeply misleading study for the BBC.

Finally the icing on the cake for me was Dr Susan Jebb who was asked to comment as an expert. Using her calm and very assured manner she tells  the audience that her studies have shown that no extreme diet makes any difference and that we should simply eat a little less and do more. Let us be clear at this point, Dr Susan Jebb has never carried out a proper study into a ketogenic diet.  Please also note that this same lady was blaming saturated fats for heart disease in recent years (having not read the science properly). Secondly I have yet to find any published peer reviewed  clinical trial that shows exercise has any influence on serious weight loss. Further there has never been a peer reviewed published clinical trial that shows that eating a bit less will have any real impact on serious weight loss and considering our actual government collected stats, we, as a nation, eat less today and do more exercise today than we did 10 years ago but we are fatter than ever.

What is more frustrating is that eating a spoonful of sugar was deemed impossible to consume at once. Whilst consuming an actual spoonful of sugar at one time may be so, consuming a fizzy drink such as large soft drink, contains 75.9g of sugar. And even if you go for a healthy drink such a smoothie, these contain 34.3g of sugar. A simple spoonful of sugar is 14g.


Gallstones - what are they and can they be prevented?

Gallstones are becoming more prevalent among the population. Some blame the rise of the obesity epidemic as the root of all other diseases. However, research is starting to shed light that the problem with gallstones may be due to us following a low-fat diet.


Research published in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology Journal [1] has shown that individuals who follow a low-fat diet are at a risk of developing gallstones. Following a moderate to high fat diet has been shown to have a preventative effect in the formation of gallstones.


Gallstone formation


The gallbladder is an organ which collects and stores the bile salts produced by the liver. The bile salts are released into the gut to help digest and absorb fat-soluble vitamins, omega-3 fats, CoQ10 and other antioxidants. The amount of bile released depends on the amount of fat consumed in the diet.


When following a low-fat diet, the bile stored in the gallbladder is not used regularly. This leads to the bile salts becoming stagnate and forming crystals and one day gallstones.


Fat & a Healthy Gallbladder


Current dietary guidelines focus on limiting all forms of fat (even the good ones!) from the diet. So following a standard “healthy” meal according to mainstream guidelines may be problematic for your digestive health and gallbladder. The low-fat content of these meals fail to properly activate the gallbladder.


It is important to remember that fat is not the enemy. Fat plays an essential role in a healthy lifestyle as it provides energy, is involved in vitamin A, D, E and K absorption, as well as being involved in hormone production.




1. Caroline S. Stokes, Lise Lotte Gluud, Markus Casper, Frank Lammert. (2013) Ursodeoxycholic Acid and High-fat Diets Prevent Gallbladder Stones During Weight Loss: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. [online] Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cgh.2013.11.031

Available at:


Is a Calorie a Calorie?

Over the past few weeks there has been a constant stream of news stories all focusing on the amount of sugar in our diet. Stories ranged from monkeys being banned from consuming bananas as these are too high in sugar, through to an expert committee being set up in the UK to try and cut the amount of hidden sugars in our diet. Whilst this is all positive news we here at Natural Ketosis welcome, there is unfortunately still some disagreement regarding the issue of either reducing the amount of sugar in items, or simply reduce the overall number of calories in products.


The term calorie is used both in physics and nutrition where in both cases it is a measure of energy. The nutrition calorie is based on the physics calorie whereby it is the amount of energy needed to increase the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1o Celsius (Kcal). Whilst in an abstract world this form of energy conversion is quite straightforward, it gets quite more complicated when this notion of energy conversion is applied to complex beings such as humans.


In the food manufacturing business, the food used to be placed in a sealed container surrounded by water. The food was then burned completely to raise the water temperature thus resulting in the amount of calories (energy) available in the food. Nowadays however this is no longer done. The total calorie amount of a processed food is determined by taking the individual calorie content of the ingredients and added together [1].


In animal biology, when researchers are the studying calorie intake of animals, the only way to clearly ascertain energy intake and usage is to weigh the food prior to consumption and then weigh and analyse the contents of the animals’ excretion. It is for this very reason that when calories are used to determine energy intake from a human perspective, the concept is wrong and misguided [2].


The way an individual makes use of the calorific energy found in food varies from person to person and is dependent on a number of things such as type of food eaten as well as type of bacteria present in the gut. Processed foods are very easily digested and do not require a lot of effort whilst green vegetables, nuts and meat require a lot more energy to be properly digested and generally provide much better amounts of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, both for your body but also for your gut bacteria [3].


The human digestion process is an intricate mechanism, one which can not be simplified to mere calories in and calories out.




1. Mullan, W.M.A. (2006) . Labelling-Determination of the energy content of food. [On-line]. Available from: . Updated March 2012.


2. Novotny J.A., Gebauer S.K. & Baer D.J. (2012) Discrepancy between the Atwater Factor Predicted and Empirically Measured Energy Values of Almonds in Human Diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol.96, No.2, p296-301  


3. Barr S.B. & Wright J.C. (2010) Postprandial Energy Expenditure in Whole-Food and Processed-Food Meals: Implications for Daily Energy Expenditure . Food & Nutrition Research, Vol.54.


Are Ketostix useful?

The use of ketostix within the diet world was popularised by the Atkins diet and other similar high-fat diets. By limiting carbohydrates in the diet, this induces a metabolic shift in the way the body sources its energy. In other words the body will turn to its fat stores to meet its energy needs. 

What are Ketostix?

Ketostixs are used in modern medicine to rapidly determine the amount of ketones in urine. These are primarily used to check if diabetic individuals have entered into a state of ketoacidosis – a dangerous state and one that requires medical attention. 

Ketostix's level of sensitivity to ketones is not sensitive enough to detect the amount of ketones in the body obtained via dietary methods. The reason being that in dietary ketosis, a low concentration of ketones (as well as a different set of ketones altogether) is generated whilst in the case of diabetic ketoacidosis the concentration of ketones is very high – more than five times as much! Hence this is why ketostixs are not sensitive enough to detect dietary ketosis. It is also worth mentioning that the amount of ketones produced during dietary ketosis varies from person to person making ketostixs’ readings all the more unreliable as a standard way to determine if you are in dietary ketosis.

Unlike other dietary programmes which induce ketosis via calorie reduction and intermittent fasting, on the Natural Ketosis programme, dietary ketosis is managed via a low-carb, high-protein, moderate fat method. Due to our moderate-fat approach to dieting, this will again impact on ketostix’s readings as carbohydrates are still being provided in the form of dietary fibre which is an important factor in the diet for optimal gut health. Dietary fibre in the diet is provided by green vegetables, fruits such as berries (naturally containing more dietary fibre than natural sugars) as well as nuts and seeds.

So the bottom line is that Ketostix readings are to be taken with a pinch of salt. The only tell-tale signs of being in dietary ketosis are no food cravings in between meals, no more brain fog symptoms - associated with eating too many carbs - and feeling more energetic. 

Gout And How Diet Can Prevent It

Today’s headlines are all about the current Gout epidemic that is gripping the UK population. The culprits, as the media suggest, are the consumption of too much red meat, seafood and alcohol. However, such a statement simply shows the lack of biochemical underpinnings of this condition.


Gout is a form of acute arthritis which causes pain and swelling in the joints. It usually comes on suddenly and goes away after 5-10 days, however in some cases it can keep recurring. Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood which then settles as urate crystals in the joints tissue.

A buildup of uric acid is caused by the overconsumption of a variety of things ranging from too much seafood to too much sugar in the diet in the form of fructose. A little known biochemical fact is that excess fructose in the diet is converted into uric acid in the bloodstream [1]. Excess fructose in the diet is also associated with a number of other health conditions such as obesity [2], diabetes [3] and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease [4].

Due to gout being a condition brought on mostly by diet, traditionally it used to be viewed as a disease affecting the rich as sugar-sweetened items were a luxury and not within the financial reach of the majority.

The recent surge in gout cases in modern day society is due to a variety of factors, however one important factor that is constantly overlooked is the copious amounts of hidden sugars found in our food. High-Fructose Corn Syrup manages to find its way in the most unlikely of places coupled with the consumption of fruits which have been bred to contain more sugar than nutrients, its no wonder we are suffering from chronic disease epidemics.

We are however hopeful that the current surge in public consciousness regarding sugar in the food environment is the first of many steps to be taken to restore the public’s health.


1. Lanaspa M.A. et al. (2012). Uric Acid Stimulates Fructokinase and Accelerates Fructose Metabolism in the Development of Fatty Liver. PLoS ONE. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047948

2. Nakagawa T, Hu H, Zharikov S, Tuttle KR, Short RA, et al. (2006) A causal role for uric acid in fructose-induced metabolic syndrome. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 290: F625–631. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00140.2005

3. Johnson RJ, Perez-Pozo SE, Sautin YY, Manitius J, Sanchez-Lozada LG, et al. (2009) Hypothesis: could excessive fructose intake and uric acid cause type 2 diabetes? Endocr Rev 30: 96–116. doi: 10.1210/er.2008-0033

4. Wanless IR, Lentz JS (1990) Fatty liver hepatitis (steatohepatitis) and obesity: an autopsy study with analysis of risk factors. Hepatology 12: 1106–1110. doi: 10.1002/hep.1840120505


Should you too be banned from eating bananas?

An interesting piece of news emerged today that zoo keepers in Devon have banned their monkeys from consuming bananas.


The reason? Bananas have been grown to become so sugary that their consumption poses a risk to the monkeys of developing chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

Whilst to some this will come to no surprise, it is a less known fact that fruit and vegetables over the course of the last few decades have been bred to contain a higher sugar content to reflect the consumer’s want of sugary items. This increase in sugar has come at the cost of the nutritional value traditionally associated with consuming such items. Hence, so called hidden sugars extend beyond the High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) found in processed foods.

Although visitors at this zoo will no longer see the monkeys tossing down bananas, the sad part of the story is that the dangers of sugar in fruit consumption are being noticed in animals and action is being taken to change their diet. Yet such attention is not being given to fruit sugar consumption in humans.


What’s your 2014 resolution?

As the decorations fade and the weather gets colder, we all start looking into ways of enforcing that New Year resolution of being a healthier better version of ourselves over the coming months. So, what are the options available for you this January 2014?


Over the past few weeks, there has been an increasing interest in the health benefits associated with a whole foods approach to dieting and lifestyle. This has also been aided by the ‘revelation/revolution’ of the fact that sugar is the enemy - something we here at Natural Ketosis have always sustained to be the case.  


So, if you are still unsure as to what approach you should be taking towards a healthier you, here are some points you might want to consider:


1. Suitability


At this time of year there are many weight loss companies fighting for your attention whether it be on the radio or on those annoying adverts posted on your Facebook feed. They all state to be the answer to your problems. However, dig a little deeper and you see that they offer a solution either based on shakes or based on pills. So ask yourself if you really want to start your health transformation by ingesting man-made chemicals?


2. Sustainability


Whilst going on a “detox” for a couple of weeks will help you shed those few extra pounds due to a happy festive period, have you ever wondered if there was something out there to help you maintain the new you throughout the year without the yo-yoing weight side effect? Studies continue to show that nutrition coming from real food together with a re-adjustment of the macronutrient content, weight maintenance and health can be achieved [1,2,3].


3. No Pain, No Gain


Whilst this is a common phrase heard throughout the year with regards to weight loss, starving yourself of food is not the answer. Again it is all about making the right food choices and by correctly addressing the macronutrient content of your diet. By minimising the amount of carbohydrates and increasing the amount of protein and good fat in your diet, weight loss and maintenance can be achieved long term [4] - not to mention that you will feel fuller [5] and have better energy levels as your system is not suffering from “sugar-crashes” all the time.


So, are you curious as to how all this macronutrient re-arrangement actually helps you lose weight and maintain it?


Well the answer is simple. Weight loss and maintenance is not about eating less and moving more, but rather it is about maintaining your hormones balanced, especially insulin. Insulin levels fluctuate depending on the amount of carbohydrates you consume. The more you consume, the higher your insulin levels will be. High insulin levels turn off your fat burning capacity and induce your fat cells to take up all the extra carbohydrates i.e. your fat cells get bigger.


To make sure that you are using your stored fat for energy, you need to ensure that your insulin levels are stable. This is simply done by minimising the amount of carbohydrates in your diet. It is at this point that people think all carbohydrates are bad and created equally. However stabilising insulin levels is about choosing the right types of carbohydrates NOT avoiding them.


Once insulin is stabilised, the body will turn on its fat burning capabilities thereby meeting its energy requirements from stored fat rather than carbohydrates. By utilising fat for energy you will realise your appetite diminishes, your energy levels increase and your mood improves.


So what are you waiting for? Why not make 2014 the year you decided to go low-carb?




1. Boden G, Sargrad K, Homko C, Mozzoli M, Stein TP. 2005. Effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on appetite, blood glucose levels, and insulin resistance in obese patients with type 2 diabetes. Annals of Internal Medicine. 142: 403–411


2. Daly M.E, Paisey R, Millward B.A et al. 2006. Short-term effects of severe dietary carbohydrate-restriction advice in type 2 diabetes-a randomized controlled trial. Diabetic Medicine. 23: 15-20.


3. Dyson P.A., Beatty S., & Matthews D.R. 2007. A low-carbohydrate diet is more effective in reducing body weight than healthy eating in both diabetic and non-diabetic subjects. Diabetic Medicine. 24: 1430-1435.


4. Gardner C.D., Kiazand A., Alhassan S., Kim S., Stafford R.S., Balise R.R., Kraemer H.C. & King A.C. 2007. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial. The Journal of the American Medical Association. 297 (7): 969-977.


5. Halton T.L. & Hu F.B. 2004. The Effects of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety and Weight Loss: A Critical Review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 23 (5): 373-385.


Smart Swap for Health - But Is It?

After the excess of the holidays comes the moment where we all have to re-evaluate our health. It’s a time to see what plans need to be put in place so as to ditch the extra weight and be fit for the rest of the year.

Everyone knows this, and so do health agencies who are keen to get into the population’s mind-set of a starting a new healthy year. There are new non-smoking TV adverts and plenty of newspaper adverts and stories all advocating some new way of losing weight and regaining your health back after the excess of the festive period.

Public Health England has launched their yearly Smart Swap campaign. Unfortunately however, a closer look at the items they are suggesting to swap will not contribute to an increase in health, but rather the opposite and here’s why:



Change4Life Smart Swap Suggestion

Why it’s wrong

Natural Ketosis Suggestion

Substitute sugary drinks for sugar-free drinks

Whilst reducing the amount of sugar in your diet is always good, it’s important to stress that not all sweeteners are the same.

Sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose still trigger an insulin response resulting in a blood sugar dip, which will in turn cause cravings for sweet foods to normalise blood levels again.

Moving away from sugar and re-addressing your palate’s sweet sensitivity is crucial for long term weight sustainability.

Cutting sugar out completely at once may not be an option for some. By using sweeteners such as sucralose and stevia, you are still getting the sweetness without the insulin spike. Studies [1,2] have shown that such sweeteners do not trigger an insulin response thereby ensuring blood sugar levels remain stable.

Change from sugary cereal to plain cereal

Once again steps taken to reduce sugar are always beneficial. However there is not much choice when it comes to the amount of sugar found in cereals. Here’s two well-known cereals and their corresponding carbohydrate per 100g:

Weetabix ®  = 68.6g

Weetabix Chocolate Chip ®  = 70.9g

As you can see switching to less sugary option only reduces your total carb intake 2.3g.

Carbohydrates, both simple and complex, contribute to a rise in blood sugar levels as they are easily absorbed through the gut. Dividing them between total carbohydrates and sugar content of a food item has no scientific basis behind it. Both are digested in exactly the same way as complex carbohydrates are simple carbohydrates linked together [3].

Our alternative suggestion is to either swap cereal for   eggs in the morning or use the Natural Ketosis granola which contains only 14.6g of carbohydrates per 100g - a whopping 54g of sugar less than Weetabix®

Substitute whole milk for semi-skimmed milk or semi-skimmed to skimmed milk.

Semi-skimmed milk has had some of its fat content removed, this thereby decreases the amount of vitamins A, D, E & K made available to your body.

Skimmed milk has the majority of the fat reduced thereby drastically reducing the amount of these vitamins available for absorption.

When you decrease fat you increase sugar – so less fat is equal to more sugar. That cannot be right.

Here at Natural Ketosis we promote the use of full fat dairy. Not only because they are richer in vitamins but also because fat promotes satiety and ensures optimum absorption of fat-soluble vitamins [4].

Substitute butter for low-fat butter and spreads.

Once again it’s about the beneficial qualities of fat. Not to mention that low-fat butter products are made using vegetable oils which an increasing number of studies is linking to heart disease [5]

At Natural Ketosis we ask that people consume only butter. Not only will this provide beneficial vitamins and nutrients but also will reduce the amount of artificial fats consumed.

Substitute cheese to reduced-fat cheese.

The reason behind advocating low-fat cheese is the fear of increased cholesterol intake.

However, studies continue to show that dietary cholesterol is not linked to blood serum cholesterol. The UK Government also acknowledges this in the 1991 COMA report page 46. (This is the most updated version of the UK’s Department of Health report on food and nutrition).

The Natural Ketosis counter-suggestion to this is to swap to real cheese. Avoid overly-processed cheese as this will have the majority of its vitamins and nutrients removed.



So what will your new year’s resolution for 2014 be? Will you follow Smart Swap’s advice or will you be different and start following a low-carb approach to health?




1. Jing Ma, Max Bellon, Judith M. Wishart, Richard Young, L. Ashley Blackshaw,Karen L. Jones, Michael Horowitz, Christopher K. Rayner. Effect of the artificial sweetener, sucralose, on gastric emptying and incretin hormone release in healthy subjects. American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver PhysiologyApr 2009,296(4)G735-G739;

2. Stephen D. Anton, Corby K. Martin, Hongmei Han, Sandra Coulon, William T. Cefalu, Paula Geiselman, Donald A. Williamson, Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels, Appetite, Volume 55, Issue 1, August 2010, Pages 37-43.

3. Monireh Dashty, A quick look at biochemistry: Carbohydrate metabolism, Clinical Biochemistry, Volume 46, Issue 15, October 2013, Pages 1339-1352,

4. Jahangir Iqbal , M. Mahmood Hussain. Intestinal lipid absorption. American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism. Published 1 June 2009. Vol. 296, no. E1183-E1194

5. Lands, William E.M. Dietary Fat and Health: The Evidence and the Politics of Prevention: Careful Use of Dietary Fats Can Improve Life and Prevent Disease. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2005. Vol. 1055 p 179-192.