The Keto Reset Diet
The Keto Reset Diet 101—What, Why, and How
I’ve been familiar with the ketosis aspect of ancestral eating for nearly two decades, but I always considered keto to be an extreme and temporary practice, perhaps suitable only for brief periods of fasting for aggressive fat reduction or as a last-ditch strategy for the obese to right the ship and protect against a medical catastrophe. In the past few years, though, there has been renewed interest in keto, both in the sciences and among the most adventurous in the ancestral health movement, as a strategy with broad application to promote the esteemed goal of metabolic flexibility.
Inspired by the thought leaders whom you’ll meet in this book, I started fooling around with keto several years ago, and I noticed some immediate, discernible benefits, especially increased mental clarity and reduced hunger. As my writing partner, Brad, and I maintained states of nutritional ketosis for sustained periods of time during the research and writing of this book, we both experienced significant health and athletic performance breakthroughs. Indeed, The Keto Reset Diet book is powered by ketones! As I’ll detail throughout the book, regulating appetite and developing the ability to survive—and thrive—on fewer calories is key to optimum health and maximum longevity. Owning this insight, though, requires a massive shift in mindset from the flawed “furnace will burn” thinking that represents one of the most destructive concepts in conventional dietary and exercise wisdom (details in Chapter 2).
What Is Keto?
“Keto” is a catch-all nickname for anything pertaining to the metabolic state of ketosis, the burning of ketones, a.k.a. ketone bodies, or the dietary macronutrient composition (ultra-low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat) that promotes the attainment of this delicate metabolic state. Ketones are a source of caloric energy in the body that are used by the brain, heart, and muscles in the same manner as is glucose (sugar). They are produced in the liver as a by-product of fat metabolism when—owing to extreme restriction of dietary carbohydrates—insulin, blood sugar, and liver glycogen levels are very low. Most people go through life never getting anywhere near this state, and never experiencing the almost magical effects of this natural superfuel. Ketones and fat (since the burning of these two caloric energy sources always go hand in hand) help minimize the inflammation and oxidative damage that come from eating the modern grain-based high-carbohydrate diet. Keto awareness arises from the primal/paleo/low-carb dietary movement that has become wildly popular over the past decade, but it is more specific with respect to required dietary macronutrient ratios; and it can be even more effective for weight loss, disease protection, and peak cognitive and athletic performance than a standard low-carb diet.
By comparison to the Standard American Diet (SAD), the modern ketogenic diet is very high in natural nutritious fats, moderate in protein, and ultra-low in carbohydrates.
Out on the street (which I guess today means the Internet), terms like “keto,” “ketone-burning,” “ketogenic,” and “ketotic” are used indiscriminately to describe the burning of ketones for energy and the pursuit of (or existence in) a fat- and keto-adapted state. You’ll learn about the differences along the way in this book, but it’s particularly important to understand the distinction between ketosis (a metabolic state quantified by blood or breath meter values) and ketoacidosis. The latter is a potentially life-threatening condition that almost always occurs only in Type 1 diabetics who can’t produce insulin or in alcoholics with poorly functioning livers (insulin immediately shuts down ketone production; that’s why a high-carb meal knocks you out of ketosis).
Unfortunately, ketoacidosis is often confused with ketosis, even among nutrition and medical professionals who should know better but have only vague exposure to the concepts related to ketone production in the liver. Owing to this common misconception, you may encounter inaccurate Internet articles from dieticians, and even doctors, who react to anything “keto” with alarm because of the severity of ketoacidosis.
The exact definition of ketosis is that of being in a metabolic state whereby your body is accumulating ketones in the bloodstream faster than they are being burned. Being in ketosis may not be indicative of your ability to burn ketones for fuel, however. People who have an acute illness or who are on calorie-restricted crash diets while carbohydrate dependent can get into a state of ketosis in a few days, but they may not be burning ketones for energy. Instead, they excrete these valuable energy sources in their urine and breath as they remain addicted to carbohydrates.
If you have done the work to escape carbohydrate dependency and trend toward fat burning, being in ketosis may indeed be representative of your ability to manufacture and burn ketones for energy. Consequently, fat- and keto-adapted is the best term to describe eating and living in a state where you are enjoying the benefits of burning fat and ketones as your preferred fuel sources. When you are fully adapted, your muscles burn mostly fat for fuel, while the ketones produced by the liver are prioritized for use by the brain. The brain is a huge energy-demand organ (it’s around 2 percent of your total bodyweight, but the brain burns 20 to 25 percent of your daily calories!) that cannot burn fat and must burn either glucose or ketones.
Experts suggest that maintaining a state of nutritional ketosis requires a dietary macronutrient composition of approximately 65 to 75 percent fat, 15 to 25 percent protein, and 5 to 10 percent carbs. With carb intake, experts recommend a hard limit of 50 grams per day for active folks, and 20 grams per day for the inactive. To adhere to the stringent ketogenic carbohydrate intake limit and obtain maximum benefits, you must completely eliminate all forms of sugars, sweetened beverages, and grains from your diet, and even pass on starchy tubers like sweet potatoes. Eating an energy bar or enjoying a fresh-squeezed juice (even a modest 8-ounce glass) can bump you out of ketosis for 24 hours and possibly much longer.
Testing for Ketosis
The metabolic state of ketosis can be quantified with established parameters for blood, breath, or urine testing. Urine test strips are cheap and notoriously inaccurate—don’t bother with them. Someone celebrating the darkening of a urine test strip into ketosis color is likely excreting lots of ketones instead of burning them. Breath test technology came to market in early 2017 and is believed to deliver accurate results with an expensive (about $300 for Ketonix brand made in Sweden) portable and reusable device. Handheld blood meters are also accurate. They work just like the glucose meters (popular with diabetics), whereby you prick your finger and apply a droplet of blood to a test strip. Precision Xtra is a good blood meter you can order online for ~$30; single-use testing strips are $2–$4 each—not cheap!
A blood ketone value of 0.5 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) represents the beginning of a mild state of nutritional ketosis. Therapeutic benefits of ketone burning improve up to a level of 3.0 mmol/L, although most enthusiasts are happy to land in the range of 0.5 to 1.5 mmol/L. It’s pretty difficult to sustain levels higher than 3.0 mmol/L (e.g., you’d have to engage in long-term severe calorie restriction/starvation or slam an excessive amount of exogenous supplemental ketones), and there do not appear to be any additional benefits at higher levels. (Note: Ketoacidosis occurs when blood levels rise to above 10 mmol⁄L— virtually impossible to attain if you have normal liver function.) We’ll discuss testing in later chapters, including the idea that numbers may not be an accurate indicator of your keto fitness. It’s likely that you may be better off with subjective evaluations of how well you can think and perform when you skip a meal or adhere to a moderate-protein, ultra-low-carb keto-style eating pattern; feeling great without regular high-carb meals is a sign of being fat- and keto-adapted, and the ultimate goal of the The Keto Reset Diet journey.
Practically speaking, 50 grams of daily carbs afford substantial consumption of vegetables, along with small amounts of incidental carbohydrates from nuts, seeds, and their butters, high-cacao percentage dark chocolate, and perhaps occasional servings of fresh seasonal berries. If you are a high-calorie–burning athlete or very carefully space your carbohydrate intake to consume no more than 10 to 15 grams (40–60 calories) at any one sitting, experts believe that you may be able to consume a bit more than 50 grams per day and still remain in the metabolic state of nutritional ketosis. By the way, I’m talking gross carbs, not net—mainly for simplification. We’ll discuss the difference in Chapter 6.
If you’re familiar with extreme carb-restriction weight-loss diets like Atkins, The Keto Reset Diet has comparable macronutrient guidelines and a shared goal of lowering insulin to mobilize stored body fat for energy. However, The Keto Reset Diet places greater emphasis on choosing the most nutrient-dense sources of fats, protein, and carbs, as well as avoiding unhealthy processed foods—even if they might meet ketogenic macronutrient standards. On the carbohydrate front, The Keto Reset Diet allows for and encourages varied and abundant intake of fresh, colorful vegetables even during the most hard-core keto phases. Consequently, The Keto Reset Diet should be viewed as a healthy lifelong eating strategy rather than a rigid weight-loss protocol.
Keto Delivers Fasting-Like Benefits Without Having to Starve!
Ketogenic eating allows you to benefit from the extraordinary (and long scientifically validated) metabolic efficiency, general health, and longevity benefits of fasting, but without having to actually starve yourself. When you are starving, engaging in a purposeful fast, or adhering to a nutritional ketosis eating pattern, your cells prefer to burn fat and ketones. Fat and ketones burn efficiently and quickly in the body—they have been the preferred human fuels in our body for 2.5 million years of our hunter-gatherer existence.
On the other hand, the high-carb, high-insulin–producing Standard American Diet (SAD) causes you to burn glucose, a.k.a. sugar—the primary human fuel since the cultivation of grains and the consequent advent of civilization around 10,000 years ago. Glucose burns quickly and easily, but it also burns dirty via the excessive production of free radicals. Free radicals are the driving force behind inflammation, cancer, and accelerated aging. They are an inevitable by-product of living life—burning calories, breathing air, or absorbing sunlight—so you can’t avoid them, but concerns arise when free radical production is excessive. This happens when you introduce stressors like high-carbohydrate eating, excessive exercise, or adverse lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, alcohol, drug use, or stressful personal relationships.
The reason glucose burning generates more free radicals is that, unlike fat and ketones, glucose doesn’t require oxygen to burn. When you burn glucose without oxygen, you bypass the protective benefits of mitochondria, the energy-producing power plants located inside each cell. The more mitochondria you have and the better they work, the more protection you have against free radicals when you burn calories. You can consider fat and ketones the big logs in a campfire. Heat them up carefully and they keep you warm for hours—not much smoke. Glucose is like kindling—burning quickly with lots of smoke. Thus, if your metabolic machinery is carbohydrate dependent (because you consume too many carbs and produce too much insulin—which keeps body fat locked away in storage), you don’t have the big logs to burn, instead having to continually stoke your fire with twigs—that is, eating regular high-carbohydrate meals and snacks to prop up sagging blood sugar levels.
This concept that your body operates much more efficiently when starving, fasting, or eating keto is critical to consider in today’s age of chronic overfeeding and excess insulin production (a.k.a. hyperinsulinemia). It may feel satisfying at some level to be a glutton (no offense, but anyone who eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day is a glutton from an evolutionary perspective), but overfeeding drives accelerated aging and increases disease risk. When we have chronic caloric abundance, we not only (most likely) get fat but our bodies also accelerate cell division instead of being frugal and efficient with the cells we have. Why bother being efficient (repairing and recycling existing cells) when more calories (that can help make new cells) are coming down the pipe every few hours?
Accelerated cell division is great for infants trying to triple their bodyweight in one year, adolescents trying to grow to their full height, or bodybuilders trying to develop huge guns. For the rest of us, accelerated cell division is the essence of accelerated aging. Even in people with lucky genetics who are not predisposed to accumulating excess body fat, bad stuff is likely happening inside when you exist in carbohydrate dependency. If you are flaunting your slim figure and thinking you’re immune to the ravages of accelerated aging, you may want to test your blood for signs of metabolic dysfunction and elevated disease risk, like the triglyceride-to-HDL ratio (1:1 is optimal; over 3.5-to-1 is dangerous), inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein and Lp2A, and metabolic markers like fasting blood glucose and fasting blood insulin. In the endurance athletic world, it’s disturbingly common to see elite performers coming up with dysfunction and disease of the cardiovascular system, despite being physical marvels. These are the ravages of oxidation and inflammation from overtraining and overconsumption of carbohydrates.
In contrast to being overfed and inflamed, becoming metabolically efficient (through low-carbohydrate eating in general, and especially through Intermittent Fasting and nutritional ketosis) optimizes autophagy, the natural cellular detoxification process whereby cellular material is recycled, repaired, or destroyed (autophagy means “self-eating”). Dr. Colin Champ, author of Misguided Medicine, explains: “Autophagy makes us more efficient machines to get rid of faulty parts, stop cancerous growths, and stop metabolic dysfunction like obesity and diabetes.” Fasting and ketogenic eating are especially helpful to promote autophagy in the brain, and thus protective against today’s increasingly common conditions of cognitive decline and disease.
Overfeeding is the essence of accelerated aging; metabolic efficiency is the essence of longevity.
The scientists, medical professionals, and athletes on the ground floor of the keto movement can barely contain their excitement: the research continues to validate the theory that ketogenic eating offers everything from the most reliable way to reduce excess body fat; enhance neurological function and protect against diseases of cognitive decline; slow the rate of inflammation and oxidative damage that represent the essence of the (accelerated) aging process; help prevent seizures and halt the growth of cancerous tumors; and improve athletic performance for both strength/power athletes and endurance athletes.
The Keto Reset Diet Is Not a Shortcut Program
While rapid weight loss can be easily achieved with an extreme and regimented program, the goal with the more deliberate process outlined in The Keto Reset Diet is to make sure that you don’t fail or backslide after three days, 30 days, three months, or 30 months. The speed of your progression toward full-blown keto depends upon your current personal starting point with your health and fitness, and how well you respond to the dietary and lifestyle recommendations. One thing is for sure: you’re not going to fail from lack of preparation. If you’re not ready, you’ll know why you’re not, and you’ll learn exactly what action to take to get ready. We’re in this together for the long haul, and you’ll have an understanding, supportive, patient, and focused coach in your corner the entire time.
What’s more, nothing here is going to be a struggle, because that’s a sure setup for failure. Unlike so many programs that shove a rigid agenda down your throat and disregard intangibles like “Are we having fun yet?,” The Keto Reset Diet will feel like fun, it will be sensible, and it will be doable at all times. To succeed with long-term diet and lifestyle transformation, it’s essential to enjoy every step of your journey, and to never struggle or suffer in the name of health. Suffering is as unhealthy to your psyche as junk food is to your body.
This is one way that The Keto Reset Diet differs from the all-too-popular “hack” approach—where results are obtained via enticing shortcuts instead of honoring the laws of nature, the realities of hectic modern life, and the long-term consequences of a shortcut strategy. My 21-Day Metabolism Reset will ease you into an effective plan that will help transform your body naturally. If you are able to lose weight following one of those typical ill-prepared, poorly designed keto shortcut plans, it will largely come from an extreme overstimulation of fight-or-flight hormones. Pumped up for your challenge (perhaps fueled by anger, frustration, desperation, vanity, or other tenuous extrinsic motivators), you can restrict carbs and total calories with tremendous willpower, exercise like crazy at those 6 a.m. workouts, and temporarily feel pumped full of extra energy thanks to a cocktail of powerful adrenaline-like adaptive (conferring a fitness or metabolic benefit) hormones, especially cortisol.
You can perform like a champ to meet extreme demands and “watch the fat melt away” for a few weeks or a few months, if you are particularly bull-headed and lucky enough to not fall apart sooner. Then one day the buzz wears off and you wake up and realize, “This sucks. I’m fried.” The fight-or-flight hormonal processes that you’ve egregiously abused become exhausted, and you have arrived at the familiar destination of burnout.
Regardless of your impressive willpower and type-A personality gold-level membership card, you start producing lower than healthy baseline levels of these important endocrine hormones, and you find yourself in a PTSD-like haze: your appetite goes haywire and all the fat you lost—and then some—comes back quickly. You wake up feeling unmotivated, lethargic, and craving sugar, and you go to bed the same way. These are the laws of nature, balance, and karma kicking in.
This disturbingly familiar story is the dirty little secret of the diet and fitness industry. The popularity of clean eating and active living is at an all-time high, but if you look more closely, you’ll see massive attrition and turnover rates with gym memberships, personal trainer clientele, and on the starting lines of endurance events. The chaos, confusion, and dead ends in the diet and fitness game are such that the average fitness enthusiast’s dusty bookshelf is a graveyard of false hopes and false promises.
This will not happen with The Keto Reset Diet. What we are going for here is not a quick-fix cleanse or detox, but something much deeper: a reprogramming of your genes and a long-term recalibration of your appetite and metabolic hormones in the direction of fat- and ketone-burning and away from carbohydrate dependency. The rebuilding of your metabolic machinery is no small task; it requires a broader approach than just modifying the macronutrient content of your diet. I don’t even like the word diet or the mentality that goes along with it. Hence, throughout the book, you’ll see “eating pattern” or “eating strategy” in place of the four-letter word. Being a fat- and ketone-burning beast (which is who you will be at the end of this journey) requires a big-picture approach of optimal eating, exercise, movement, sleep, and stress-management practices. That’s why you will be introduced to supportive lifestyle elements in week 2 of your 21-Day Metabolism Reset (exercise, sleep, and stress management), and emphasize them in concert with your dietary transformation.
One of the important, key aspects of this plan that differs from shortcut programs is that you’ll build the metabolic machinery to become fat- and keto-adapted. While other programs might offer you short-term results by getting you into ketosis, they won’t have the long-term benefits that come with being fat- and keto-adapted, and they can come with elevated risk of fight-or-flight burnout. We’ll be discussing cortisol and the stress response in relation to diet, exercise, and lifestyle factors frequently throughout the book, so please absorb the message in the sidebar!
The Rise and Fall of Cortisol
Cortisol—the most prominent fight-or-flight hormone—is secreted by the adrenal glands in response to environmental stimulation (a.k.a. stress) perceived by the brain. One of these stressors is low blood sugar, a fundamental problem for people who are not fat- and keto-adapted. When you sugar-crash, the brain frantically tells the adrenals to secrete cortisol, which prompts the conversion of lean muscle tissue into glucose to keep you humming along until you find some carbs to slam down. Cortisol’s prominent role in regulating blood sugar is just one of its many critical functions. It influences a full 20 percent of the human genome, including profoundly impacting immune function, inflammatory processes, metabolism, and cognitive function. Optimal cortisol production helps you optimize all of the aforementioned mechanisms. However, when you chronically overproduce cortisol due to incessant high levels of stress, including sugar-crash urgencies, chronic training patterns, insufficient sleep, hectic daily schedules, or difficult personal or work relationships, you are headed toward the uniquely modern affliction of burnout. Having so abused your delicate and powerful fight-or-flight mechanisms, your adrenal glands are no longer able to keep up with your bare minimum energy and metabolic requirements.
When the fight-or-flight response wears out, you feel exhausted waking up, have difficulty controlling blood sugar, mood, and energy levels throughout the day, experience drastically diminished workout performance and immune function, suffer from system-wide inflammation, have diminished cognitive function and elevated risk of cognitive decline, have dysregulated appetite and fat-storage hormones, and display a generally very poor tolerance for all forms of life stress. You go from wired—for weeks or months on a tenuous cortisol high—to fried, often in a disturbingly abrupt manner. Burnout is a bummer when you are trying to shake a lingering illness or improve your performance as an athlete, but is also a fundamental driver of accelerated aging in general in today’s overstressed, carbohydrate-dependent society.
When you become fat- and keto-adapted, the stress of having to constantly balance blood sugar goes away. Then, you can optimize your production of cortisol to support stable energy levels and have a ready reserve of cortisol for those brief fight-or-flight peak performance efforts that your genes are designed to deliver.
Going Keto the Right Way
Regardless of how unfortunate your current starting point is, going keto is within your reach, and it can happen quickly—if you commit to the correct approach from the outset. You may have heard some buzz about how strict and difficult keto is, and how many people try and fail. I contend that these complaints and fallout are largely due to a flawed approach by people who are ill-prepared. Many fail because they rush through the progression away from carb dependency; they don’t actually cut carbs enough to produce ketones; they exercise in chronic patterns while they are not yet fat-adapted and run out of energy; or they don’t adequately increase intake of water, sodium, and other important minerals and electrolytes (because—seriously—you become less bloated and inflamed when you go keto; more on this later). In these unfortunately common follies, people have trouble stabilizing energy, mood, concentration, and appetite, and they bail out before the true metabolic flexibility benefits of keto kick in.
When you transition away from carb dependency toward fat- and keto-adaptation, you are rarely hungry. This could be the most life-altering benefit of going keto.
While the benefits of being fat- and keto-adapted are life-changing, it’s important to respect the seriousness of your decades-long existence in carbohydrate dependency. It started from the moment you were weaned off breast milk (the healthiest food in the history of humanity—and high in fat, by the way!) and started on the Standard American Diet (SAD). A high-carbohydrate/high-insulin–producing SAD diet shuts off fat burning and creates a dependency on regular carbohydrate-based feedings for energy. Before you mess around with keto or any other dietary transformation, you have to ditch all foods containing grains (yes, even whole grains!), sugars, and refined vegetable oils.
Ditching grains, sugars, and refined vegetable oils is no small task, because decades of SAD eating has likely resulted in mild to extreme metabolic damage in your body—especially if you’ve engaged in yo-yo dieting, followed extreme fitness pursuits, or have familial genes that predispose you to fat storage. Metabolic damage is evidenced by difficulty getting rid of excess body fat even when you cut calories; leaky gut syndrome and related digestive and/or autoimmune conditions (traced strongly to grain consumption); thyroid or adrenal dysfunction; metabolic syndrome blood markers (especially high triglycerides); other blood risk factors for diabetes or cardiac disease; or generally feeling hungry, moody, fatigued, or fried too often in daily life. If these symptoms hit home, your initial 21-Day Metabolism Reset out of carb dependency and into fat- and keto-adaptation might take a bit longer than 21 days, requiring you to exercise some patience and extend your timeline. Becoming fat- and keto-adapted is also more difficult the older you get, because the negative effects of high-carbohydrate intake worsen with age.
If you’ve sustained metabolic damage from decades of high-carb eating, your initial 21-day transformation out of carb dependency and into fat- and keto-adaptation might take a bit longer.
If you are already lean and fit and eat a nutritious low-carb diet, or are willing to really work hard to optimize diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management during your 21-Day Metabolism Reset, you can expect your transition to keto to be smooth and graceful. The great thing about The Keto Reset Diet approach is that each step leverages your success in previous steps. You’ll know when you’re ready to proceed and when you aren’t (yep, you’ll have an actual midterm exam to take along the way!), and you won’t ever try something that you are not ready for. Furthermore, you never have to struggle or suffer in the name of going keto, never have to eat any foods you don’t like, and can emphasize the foods that you enjoy most—within the parameters for fat- and keto-adapted eating, of course.
I especially appreciate the dynamics of keto because I’m a guy who loves to eat, loves to enjoy my life, and hates to be a slave to food or clockwork meals to fuel my busy days. I can’t be bothered following a regimented diet, and I never eat anything I don’t absolutely love—seriously! If I’m traveling and am faced with airport or roadside junk, I prefer to engage in Intermittent Fasting (IF); this affords a great opportunity to fine-tune my fat- and keto-adapted metabolic machinery. By the way, fasting and ketone burning help me completely eliminate jet lag from my travel experience; I travel a ton and I’m not kidding, it really works—if you have the right metabolic machinery.
Whatever pitfalls and detours you’ve had on your journey toward healthy eating and healthy living, you can put your fears aside and jump in with full enthusiasm and commitment to The Keto Reset Diet; that’s because this really is the original human eating strategy. It is your destiny and your birthright to burn fat and ketones, and kick sugar once and for all. While it might take a bit of discipline and discomfort to wean yourself off carbs at the outset, you will build momentum with every single keto-aligned meal, every skipped meal, and every lifestyle behavior you exhibit in the name of health and balance.
This momentum will come in the form of immediate, discernible benefits of becoming fat- and keto-adapted. Mainly, you’ll notice a regulation of your appetite such that you feel alert, well nourished, and rarely hungry—and rarely bothered by the strict keto standards. This insight can be comforting if you’re worried about whether you have enough willpower to adhere to keto. Honestly, it’s best to forget about such nonsense! Lindsay Taylor, Ph.D., a behavioral psychologist and keto enthusiast who did much of the recipe preparation and testing in this book, reminds us that willpower is a fragile and easily depleted resource. “The more you enlist willpower to regulate your behavior, the more likely you will drain the tank and succumb to temptation,” explains Taylor. This concept is highly validated by respected studies in behavioral psychology. Besides, major dietary overhaul is such a big-ticket item (often loaded with emotional baggage like the scars of past failures, negative self-talk, peer pressures and judgments—and gosh knows what else) that willpower is not a strong enough weapon to win the battle.
Instead, with The Keto Reset Diet you are going to let success come to you naturally, by reaping the hormonal, cognitive, and metabolic benefits of fat- and keto-adapted eating patterns. Before you get flustered about this sounding too good to be true, let’s admit that we are getting into some tricky business here with this keto thing. For starters, keto has reached crazy-fad status, and with that distinction comes a lot of baggage and potential pitfalls. If you google “keto diet,” you’ll get bombarded with a dizzying amount of multimedia information, some of it excellent (we’ll introduce you to some of the most respected thought leaders shortly) and some of it highly questionable.
Simply exposing yourself to this information overload can create stress, anxiety, and potential booby traps. Consequently, my goal with this book is to help guide you in the manner of a personal coach. While I have a strong understanding of the health sciences, have been deep in the trenches of the evolutionary health scene since the very beginning, and have consulted the world’s leading scientists and medical experts extensively to prepare this book, at my core I’m a competitor and a coach. This is great, because no one can smell bullshit or hype better than a high-level competitor; athletes know that there is no substitute for hard work and that the hack mentality is for posers.
I’ll navigate you away from ill-advised hacks and shortcuts, point out potential hazards before they take you down, and encourage you to trust yourself, believe in yourself, and treat yourself with kindness so that you not only succeed from a metabolic and body composition perspective but also learn and grow as a person from the experience of taking on a challenge, carrying out the necessary commitments, and transforming your health.
True self-satisfaction comes from pursuing life goals that are natural, enjoyable, and easy to maintain.
Before you jump into your 21-Day Metabolism Reset, I want you to gain a full understanding of the scientific and evolutionary underpinnings of keto, and contrast our genetic factory setting with the disastrously flawed and dangerous approach that is the Standard American Diet. I want you to get excited about and deeply committed to this journey by learning of the assorted life-altering benefits of keto for weight loss, brain function, immune function, disease protection, and athletic performance. We’ll cover these topics in the next two chapters, and then proceed to hit the ground running with your 21-Day Metabolism Reset in Chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7. After your 21-Day Reset, you will turn a page in the book, and in your life, and go keto in the final section of the book.
A Kinder, Gentler Approach to Diet and Lifestyle Transformation
I’m all about taking action and generating results, whether with fitness, business, or personal life goals. However, as I reflect on my life journey to date, I’ve only achieved true self-satisfaction—the only kind of success that matters—when my approach has been natural, enjoyable, and easy to maintain (shout-out to my friend Johnny G, creator of the Spinning indoor cycling program, for creating this definition—and living by it!). Under no circumstances should your keto journey turn into a high-stress rush job, nor entail any form of struggling or suffering.
If you’re impatient to succeed and think that you can force progress through the application of type-A focus and discipline, you may in fact succeed in the short term (like millions of ill-fated dieters), but you may suffer and struggle too much from fluctuating energy, appetite, and mood. Over time, this will erode your resolve, not to mention your enjoyment of life. Consequently, you will be at high risk of backsliding at some future date. I can’t count the number of ambitious peak performers I’ve counseled who plunge with great energy and enthusiasm into a dietary transformation and adhere for a period of days or weeks. After a while, things get a little quieter from their emails, texts, and Instagram meal photos. Eventually, I’m compelled to reach out to them and hear about the hot fudge sundaes and wet burritos that have returned to the scene.
I prefer that you view this keto journey as a lifestyle modification and gene reprogramming exercise that will last forever, and that you be kind and patient with yourself along the way. If you have a fair measure of metabolic fitness, you can make phenomenal progress during your initial 21-Day Metabolism Reset, and then experience truly life-changing breakthroughs from nutritional ketosis, whether you use it as an occasional tool for targeted benefits or implement keto as long-term dietary baseline.
If you have to take longer than 21 days to repair metabolic damage and really, truly ditch a carb dependency once and for all, rejoice that you are making progress each day—even if it’s taking longer than you hoped. If you experience minor setbacks or even major backslides, have some compassion for yourself. I’m talking real compassion, which is radically different from having ready-made excuses and rationalizations. Accept your imperfections, let go of what’s happened in the past, and don’t worry about the future. Just do the best you can each day and enjoy the heck out of the journey.