I feel the need to dispel one of the biggest myths about LCHF (low carb, high fat) diets after reading the latest article about the new book Don’t Quit Sugar.
This book is a direct attack on Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar, and the author claims that she is simply saying “that natural sources of sugar—fruit, honey, sweet root vegetables —need to be incorporated into the diet.” Firstly, Sarah Wilson does not even advocate a diet without natural sugars. In fact, she eats raw honey and fruit and uses other natural sweeteners.
But, this nutritionist also said, “Sugar is our cells’ preferred source of energy and is absolutely critical to proper metabolic function. Eliminating it from the diet will do you harm.” This is the common myth I want to dispel.
Before I do, let me just say that I too consume small amounts of natural sugars. I love my fruit with large dollops of whipped cream. I use stevia regularly (although this doesn’t count as a sugar because it doesn’t act like a sugar in the body).
However, it is a huge myth that sugar, in any form, is essential. It is a myth that sugar is our cells preferred energy source. It is a also myth that we need to consume glucose for good brain function.
Firstly, our body’s preferred energy source is fat. We are natural fat burners. We only resort to sugar burning when we consume too much of it, and our body becomes acidic. Our body sees this as a health crisis, so it tries to burn the sugar to get rid of it. Unfortunately, these days, we keep dumping more and more in, so it never has a chance to get out of the sugar burning state.
Secondly, when we do consume a more natural diet, low in sugars and carbs and high in fats, fatty acids are converted into ketones, which cells also love using as an energy source, particularly the brain. In fact, the brain’s preferred energy source is a mixture of glucose and ketones. A brain running on glucose alone is running sub-optimally!
But yes, you read that right, I did say ‘glucose’ too. Even though I don’t advocate a no carbohydrate diet, those including no carbohydrates in their diet, like the Inuit back in the day, still supplied glucose to their brain. In this situation, the liver converts amino acids to glucose.
There is only one situation where we will NOT get glucose to our brain. And that is when we eat too much sugar! Eventually, once insulin resistance is bad enough, it is increases our risk of no longer being able to supply glucose to brain cells and they can start to die (Alzheimer’s). This is why Alzheimer’s is now often referred to as Type 3 diabetes.
But even in this situation, it has been shown in the literature that if the brain is offered another fuel source, cell function can start improving again. The other fuel source the brain can use is ketones! Ketones can be produced either with a ketogenic diet (low carb, high fat diet that is very strict in carbs) or with coconut oil (which stimulates the production of ketones), or even better, with both.
Sugar is in no way an essential part of our diet.
Note: The pic is a chocolate flan from The Fat Revolution Cookbook, which is a LCHF (low carb, high fat) cookbook, perfect for families and for those who don’t need to be super low in carbs. If you are looking for strict keto recipes (no root vegetables, fruit, nuts etc), use the Easy Keto Cookbook.