Is fasting more effective for weight loss than regular dieting and calorie counting? Dr. Cate reviews the most important studies and wraps with her recommendations based on 20 years of experience.
If you are like most Americans, you’ve made plenty of weight-loss resolutions over the years and failed to follow through. It’s probably not that you lack willpower; it’s that you never trained your body to burn fat.
If you know someone who made a resolution last year to lose weight and now, this year, you can see that they look more fit, then this means you likely have an acquaintance who has become a fat-burning master.
You too can learn to train every cell in your body how to burn stored fat—including omental fat and that cellulite you thought you couldn’t get rid of—for fuel.
When your body burns fat for fuel it is said to be in a “ketogenic state.” That’s the key to healthy, lasting weight loss. Let me tell you how it’s done.
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It helped. I feel great.
"It’s helped. I feel great."
NBA baskeball player
This has been life changing
"Let me tell you this has been life-changing. I have all of her books, in audible and ebooks! I have gotten rid of all the hateful 8 oils. I have trained my body to eat its own previously toxic body fat. Download that pod it's a game changer!"
Broadcaster / The Megyn Kelly Show
Deep Nutrition changed my life.
Fox News Primetime host
Saved my life
I would like to thank you for literally saving my life. Back in February, I had to be hospitalized while on vacation in Phoenix with an A1C of 11% and had to start taking 2 types of insulin and 2 other meds. I read the Fatburn Fix in April, and followed the program to a tee, and I’m down by 15 pounds, 6.8 A1C, and only one once weekly diabetes medicine. Prior to reading the book, it was almost impossible for me to lose weight as a diabetic.
I feel free
For the last month, I have really been reading all labels on everything. I have completely remove those 8 oils you talk about. I must tell you, I feel great! I have more energy and I am now 197 lbs (have always been around 205 to 210lbs). I eat potatoes with real butter, grass fed steak, pasta with the right toppings. I eat everything! I seem to crave less sugar. I love it!
I feel so much better
I had terrible aches and pains everywhere in my body, my hands, shoulders and knees. I feel so much better and the way I feel is motivating me every day! Thank you
Mike Deb Wootan Burcin
Better than ever
I am an anesthesiologist in Orlando and a huge fan of both of your books! I have been incorporating your principles for the last 10 months and feel that my health is better than ever.
Marnie Robinson, MD
My allergies disappeared
The biggest difference for me (and a surprising one) is that my allergies have almost completely disappeared! This is a big deal for me, because I’ve had allergies most of my life and they have often affected what I do which is a teaching music in [a public school district]. In general, I feel much better and have more consistent energy throughout the day.
Heart Palpitations have Stopped
I’ve lost 20+ pounds (also fasting 16-24 hours daily) and haven’t had palpitations except for one occasion — I had a mini bag of Fritos for the first time in July. And, I feel better now on a daily basis than I ever did all through college.
Deep Nutrition and Fatburn Fix reader
I’ve lost over 50 pounds
I’ve lost over 50 pounds. I’m 56 years old. Cutting processed food and unhealthy fats from my diet was one of the first things I did on my health recovery journey...I went cold turkey off the bad oils. Emptied my pantry into the trash and just started eating real food
Mitzi Wilkinson Champion
Knowledge I didn’t know I needed
Your Fatburn Fix book is amazing, my friend. Thank you! I’m an Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and I know my stuff. This is the extra layer of knowledge I didn’t know I needed. Well done!
Fatburn Fix reader
Lost a solid 20 lbs and my bloodwork is great
I have lost a solid 20 lbs and my bloodwork (after 3 months of eating your way) was even better! I was metabolically healthy (per your book) before I read your book, but barely. Lowering my weight, sealed the deal! I have been talking about you and your book to anyone who will listen...Thank you for all you’ve done and what you continue to do! You are changing lives for the better!
FatBurn Fix reader
Lost 20 lbs I could never shed
I love your Fatburn Fix! Has helped me so so much! I have had the dreaded weight all my life - 20 or so pounds I could never shed. I have lost that now. I only eat 2 meals a day lunch and dinner with a glass of milk or cappuccino around 4 to hold me over. No snacking and not bad oils. It has been the key to unlocking my fatburn. I work out in the am and believe I am burning fat for energy not from food!
I feel great
My waist is four inches smaller. I feel great and many of the minor aches and pains that I had (knees and lower back) are gone. Also, my muscle tone is amazing, even though I have not increased my workout routine.
Completed Dr Cate's online course
The go-to for strength and conditioning coaches
Whenever I advise my clients about eating to perform I go straight to what I have learned from Dr. Cate. Her book Deep Nutrition has become the go-to for strength and conditioning coaches across the country.
Major League Baseball Agent with WME Sports
Dismantles the lie
Dr. Cate dismantles the lie that seed oils are healthy, which may the biggest lie about nutrition and health because it’s so insidious.
Ken D Berry, MD
Author of Lies My Doctor Told Me
She knows the chemistry
Dr. Cate alerts us to the harms of seed oils and she’s convincing because she knows the chemistry better than anyone.
Dr. Drew Pinskey, MD
Globally recognized internal medicine and addiction medicine specialist, media personality, LoveLine Host, and New York Times bestselling author
No one is better at communicating nutritional truth
Dr. Cate has had the single greatest impact on how we talk to people about fueling for both performance or durability. While we all are a little unique, the foundational principles of human nutrition are immutable. If you are looking to create a more durable, resilient body, no one is better at communicating nutritional truth than Dr. Cate.
Dr. Kelly Starrett
Physiotherapist coach and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author
Highly recommend The Fatburn Fix
Dr. Shanahan has had a significant impact on my practice of medicine. I am known as a Low Carb Doctor, but I never really appreciated the negative effects of processed seed oils on the health of my patients. I highly recommend The Fatburn Fix to my patients and have a loaner copy in my waiting room. It is amazing how quickly blood sugars and overall health improves with cutting seed oils. It is not just about the carbs!
Dr. Brian Lenkzes, MD
CEO of LowCarbMD San Diego, co-host of Low Carb MD Podcast and host of Life's Best Medicine Podcast
Respected in the sports world
Dr. Cate reordered my diet when I was with the L.A. Lakers, and the benefits, for me personally, were felt immediately and have served me to this day. I’ve come to take real food so seriously I started a small family farm. I know of no M.D./nutritionist more respected in the sports world than Dr. Cate Shanahan.
Brought seed oil issue front and center
Cate brought the seed oil issue front and center. Healthy fats matter. So much so that I created an entire product line to swap out bad fats with good.
Founding Father of the Primal/Paleo Movement
Optimal health starts with food
If you want to understand how optimal health starts with food, start with Dr. Cate. Her book Deep Nutrition leaves you with an appreciation of the profound relationship between our genes and the planet, inspiring us to be good shepherds of both.
Attribution author of The Whole 30
Helped me with endurance
Deep Nutrition really helped me with endurance. I started to feel better as a player. I was able to run more, I was able to be more active …and I just decided to keep going with it to this day.
Silver bullet for me
Dr Cate’s teachings helped me lose 60 pounds like it was nothing. It was like a silver bullet for me.
Paul Grewal, MD
Dr Grewal Internal Medicine, MD, author of Genius Foods
Radically improve your health…
Dr. Shanahan has provided a solid reference that deserves a place in the library of anyone who is seriously interested in nutrition. Her perspective on the vital role that healthy fat has in our diet is novel and, if implemented, can radically improve your health.
Dr. Joseph Mercola
Author of Fat for Fuel and Founder of Mercola.com
Pull up a chair…
I have based my work on the idea that getting the right kinds of healthy fats into your body and avoiding the worst fats is essential to optimal health. I've interviewed dozens of the world's top experts about this, and I know of no one who speaks more eloquently on this topic than Dr Cate. If she’s talking fats, pull up a chair. Take notes.
Author of the Bulletproof Diet
The key to unlocking my fatburn
I love your Fatburn Fix! Has helped me so so much! I have had the dreaded weight all my life - 20 or so pounds I could never shed. I have lost that now. I only eat 2 meals a day lunch and dinner with a glass of milk or cappuccino around 4 to hold me over. No snacking and not bad oils. It has been the key to unlocking my fatburn.
Saved my life
I would like to thank you for literally saving my life. Back in February, I had to be hospitalized while on vacation in Phoenix with an A1C of 11% and had to start taking 2 types of insulin and 2 other meds. I read the Fatburn Fix in April, and followed the program to a tee, and I’m down by 15 pounds, 6.8 A1C, and only one once weekly diabetes medicine.
> Tears of joy
I'm crying tears of joy and appreciation for all you've done for me and my health! Without Deep Nutrition and Fatburn Fix, I would literally still be in the vicious cycle I'd been fighting all my life! In a nutshell - I am no longer a compulsive overeating addict suffering under the crushing 'thumb' of all food and alcohol.
Ketogenic versus Carbogenic
A low-carb diet switches on dormant fat-burning enzymes that high-carb diets switch off. That’s why high-carb diets fail in the long term. But even when high-carb diets show some success in the short term, they still promote unhealthy weight loss.
On a high-carb diet, you are burning sugar for energy, not fat. That’s why these diets often involve either calorie restriction, excessive exercise, or both. Do enough of that, and you might experience weight loss. But this begs the questions: Where is this weight coming from? The answer might surprise you: Studies show that people who lose weight following low-fat, high-carb diets are also losing muscle and bone mass, and even vital organs can shrink.
We all know that sugar can provide a quick burst of energy. In fact, if your metabolism is carbogenic, you often need that burst of sugar energy just to get through the day. This isn’t normal. Your body is engineered to run on fat, not sugar, most of the time. We can store roughly 2000 calories in the form of starch. Compare that to the virtually unlimited number of calories in the form of fat. The average 5 foot 5, 120-pound woman with 20% body fat carries about 36,000 calories worth of energy in storage, and bigger people carry much more.
There is a growing number of researchers studying the benefits of ketogenesis, sometimes called nutritional ketosis (not to be confused with diabetic ketoacidosis, which can be dangerous). They’ve discovered that ketosis can boost athletic performance, reduce epileptics’ seizures, and prevent cancer (learn more from the Nutrition and Metabolism Society, see link on right sidebar).
Why You Aren’t Ketogenic Right Now
Your cells would rather burn fat, but they can be trained to depend on sugar. If you’ve been eating a low-fat, high-carb diet for years, by now you have down-regulated your fat-burning enzymes for so long, they may have completely shut down. Your cells may now be so dependent on sugar they will make your body produce it any which way it can.
If so required, your cells can convert protein into sugar. Can they also convert fat into sugar? Unfortunately, no. For this reason, sugar-hungry cells go on the hunt in muscle and bone, not your extra fat. I’ve had patients hunched over from premature osteoporotic fractures after following a high-carb (and low-protein) diet for several years.
Perhaps we should be thankful that cells aren’t that proficient in turning these good tissues into sugar. That’s why sugar burners can’t rely on these tissues to sustain them between meals.
Your Ketogenic Year Starts Today
I could go on about how high-carb diets do all kinds of other terrible things to your metabolism, like coating cell membranes, stiffening joints, and blocking hormonal signals. But I don’t want you to have to wait another minute (besides, I discuss all that in my books). Right now, I just want to it as easy as possible for you to come on over and join the ketogenic tribe.
Here are five simple things you can do starting now to make sure your resolution sticks.
Jumpstart your fat-burning enzymes for the day with a balanced breakfast.
In general, I recommend starting your day with a meal that provides roughly equal parts protein and fat, and no more than about 10gm of carb, and I would stick to real food, not powdered supplements. For example, I drink a cup of raw, whole milk with about two ounces of fresh cream in my coffee, and twice a week or so that lasts me all the way to dinner. See recipes tab/breakfast for more ideas.
Keep daily carb totals under 100 gm, and between 30 and 70 gm for faster results.
Because of sugar’s toxic effects on your body, when you eat anything with enough carb to cause a blood sugar bump, the sugar triggers a phalanx of hormones designed to turn off your fat-burning enzymes and turn on sugar-burning and fat-making enzymes. Depending on your activity level and other hormonal factors, the per-meal maximum varies between 10-30 grams, and above that, your fat-burning enzymes may be switched off all day.
Eat more fat.
If you’ve been drinking skim milk, eating low-fat cheeses and fake-butter spreads, avoiding egg-yolks, and trimming the fat from your cuts of meat, you’ve deprived your body of nutrients your need for tissue regeneration and optimal health.
All animal fat from pastured animals is chock-full of nutrients including phospholipids, choline, and biotin, all of which have been used as weight-loss supplements. Dairy from pastured cows contains Conjugated Linoleic acid, another fatty acid that is sold for both weight loss and cancer prevention. All such fats are generally not used for fuel but rather for constructing cell membranes, especially in your skin and nervous system. So as you put that pastured butter in the pan before frying up a couple of free-range eggs, don’t think of what you’re doing as burdening your body with calories you’ll be carrying around or fuel you’ll need to burn. Instead, realize you are about to enjoy a meal that your DNA will use to create a stronger, healthier, thinner you.
Another reason you need fat is that your digestive system is incapable of absorbing fat-soluble antioxidants and vitamins A, D, E, and K without fat to facilitate the process. This means if you’ve been eating low-fat dressings on low-fat salads for lunch, most of the vitamins in those veggies have been passing right through you.
Get plenty of protein.
Now that you’re not tied to low-fat versions of protein-rich foods, you can go ahead and enjoy truly nourishing, protein-rich foods like eggs, cheese, hamburger, and shellfish. Gauge the amount of protein you need in this protein matrix, below.
Stop snacking. Seriously.
If you want to lose weight, there is no such thing as a healthy snack. Why? Because snacking provides you with sugar and/or protein to burn for fuel, the body never had to dip into its fat reserves to keep you going. A few other reasons to quit snacking:
Isn’t it hard enough to plan 3 healthy meals a day? Do you really want to plan for a healthy snack on top of all that? After all, when you’re really in a rush, foods that might seem like a snack could serve as a meal, and seem more like a real, planned-out meal if you don’t ever snack. For instance, sometimes I just have a couple of handfuls of nuts and a slice of cheese, or a small pile of sauerkraut. For me, that’s a light lunch.
If you avoid snacks then by the time you finally get to eat you are more likely to actually be hungry. The hungrier you are, the better food tastes. Enjoying the taste of REAL food (carb-y and sweet foods don’t count as real food for reasons described elsewhere) is key to health and lasting weight loss success.
Your GI tract needs to rest. If you are eating every three to four hours, your intestinal system is always working and it’s just not designed for that. For one thing, when you eat, your GI tract is forced to draw several liters of fluid from your bloodstream, and interstitial tissues. This drops your blood pressure and can also make you feel tired, cold, or both. If you snack and then have to be up and rushing around, your body now has to route blood to your legs that your GI tract could really use. This is a setup for all sorts of digestive misfortune from GERD to irritable bowel and inflammatory conditions.
For best results, find an ally.
If you’ve been programmed by the government, high-school health class, and college nutrition courses to fear fat and find the opposite information presented here confusing, join the club.
We all heard low fat is healthy growing up and only the wisest among us could consciously reject it. I was programmed too, and spend many years in Hawaii trying to sort through conflicting technical science before I could, with confidence, give my patients this kind of new advice. The real boost to my confidence only came when I joined the Nutrition and Metabolism Society and met other like-minded health professionals all using a ketogenic diet to produce similar amazing results. My point is, I know how hard it is to go against the mainstream idea on your own. So to that end, I encourage you to find an ally, ideally in your family or among friends, but if not, there are tons of online meeting places to help you.
One of my favorite resources is plain-talking, down-to-earth exercise-kinesiologist, and weight-loss expert Sean Croxton. His Undergroundwellness website and podcasts will introduce you to lots of people who are using low-carb, high fat, high protein diets to help their patients see amazing health transformations, and his book is a fun read and offers lots of delicious recipes with links to detailed video instructions.
A few more great support-education sites:
and for delicious recipes:
So if you’ve resolved to lose weight in the past and failed, 2012 is a fresh year. If you get serious about traditional food and healthy sources, 2012 could be the best year of your life.
If you have questions like What kinds of fats are good? or What kind of meat should I eat? I have answered most such questions elsewhere, and encourage further reading around the website.
If you would like to read one of my books and are not sure which one to read first, here’s what I usually advise. For those who have not read many nutrition books and don’t really enjoy knowing the full story but just want to cut to the instructions, I recommend you read Food Rules. For those of you who have a good background in nutrition or love science, I recommend Deep Nutrition first. Of course, many people end up reading both because the information in each is meant to complement, not replace, the other.