November 1st begins Protea’s first annual Ketosis Challenge – a way to jumpstart your metabolism to enter the holiday season on top. I consider Halloween the beginning of the Holidaze, when we are constantly bombarded by stress, activities, and sweets. We see food we don’t normally eat all year  everywhere. from doctor’s offices to Target as we run from one errand to the next.

We grab a handful or two of Halloween candy from our kid’s stash; we eat Thanksgiving leftovers with its mashed potatoes and stuffing for days; cookies start appearing as December marches on with its school parties and work functions. Then comes New Year’s Eve with champagne and finger foods, when we squeeze into a party dress that fit great a few weeks before.

Keeping with healthy eating habits pose a real challenge these last two months of the year. I know many people stress about holiday weight gain well before the first Christmas carol plays on a loud speaker, which takes away some of the joy of the season and can create mild depression come January 2nd.

Ketosis can be the answer to reset your metabolism so you don’t feel as tempted by every green and red M-n-M bowl and cookie you see.

What is Ketosis, anyway? Medical News Today defines it as “a metabolic condition that occurs when the body does not have enough glucose for energy. Stored fats are broken down instead, resulting in a build-up of acids called ketones within the body.” When in ketosis your body, through a careful ratio of daily macronutrient intake, burns fat instead of sugar as a main source of fuel.

The result? Your cravings reset, inflammatory responses to excess carbs may lessen, you will lose weight and burn fat, and you may feel more energetic and clear-headed.keto

Ketosis targets the stubborn belly fat area, where fat cells form an intricate communication pathway between cortisol, the stress hormone, insulin, the storage hormone, and others.

When people hear the terms “insulin resistance” and “pre-diabetic,” they tend to panic. How does this happen? We may avoid all processed sweets and eat a ton of vegetables but still be in a state of carb overload and / or insulin resistance.

Why are the most health conscious of us susceptible to this condition? Because those of us in our 30s and up are products of the great American diet. We were taught it in every doctor’s office as kids via the Food Pyramid chart. Growing up following these guidelines, consuming 40-50% of daily calories from carbohydrates, our bodies slowly became insulin-inundated. For many of us, this heavy consumption of sugar created a metabolic burden and addiction to carbs.

Carbs don’t all come from cakes and chips: complex carbs full of fiber and micronutrients such as vegetables and quinoa can also be recognized as sugar by your insulin receptors if you suffer from insulin resistance. Restricting calories won’t work if the macronutrients are top loaded for carbs. Insulin can be greedy and store sugar for itself rather than let glucose follow its normal course.

Ketosis resets your metabolism. Many of our patients feel great eating more fats after they’ve learned to tweak the diet to meet their particular needs. They learn how to cook and what to eat when, keeping close to their original macros well after the corrective phase . Most don’t want to go back to their previous way of eating. Following a keto diet, they feel more in control of their food, and love their new energy and pants size.

By depleting the body of its excess insulin stores, the body burns fat as energy. Without carbs, an easier source of fuel to metabolize, the body has no choice but to target fat when we feed it enough healthy fat. Luckily for our waistlines, it starts to loosen up the belly area where nothing else seems to work, especially since stress exacerbates our best attempts.

Think of the last time you were at a Chinese food restaurant: all those delicious, sugar-heavy sauces and dishes with steaming rice and noodles. Our brains turn off the satiation response and we over eat, only to feel overly stuffed. Within a few hours though, we feel hungry again and crave sugar, even though we consumed a meal with 50% of calories coming from carbs.

We shouldn’t logically experience hunger so soon, but our brain triggers the addiction response. Sugar (because that’s all that carbs are) is all we think about until we find a bag of chips or a cookie, which may cause a crash within an hour as the quick surge of sugar leaves our blood streams.

Consider what happens when you eat a meal heavy with healthy fat instead. The satiation response is activated while the addiction sensation isn’t triggered in your brain. Muscles and cells absorb nutrients and fuel from the fat, and we find ourselves eating less and feeling satisfied. Within an hour, we still feel full. We are more clear-headed and don’t experience the yo-yo sensation of sugar craving then crashing, or sudden and sometimes irrational hunger.

Providing our bodies with healthy sources of fat as its primary macronutrient facilitates a ketogenic shift. It can be tricky to begin a major dietary change, especially when our brains trigger the “want and need” response to sugar. This is where we come in to help the process along.

We carefully moderate each person on a keto diet to ensure he or she gets enough micronutrients and fiber, acting as guides regarding the possible effects of rapid fat loss. We monitor and tweak macros and calories. We celebrate your success and brainstorm any stalls or roadblocks.

We have seen great success with patients on the program. One patient just beginning the diet plan lost 4 pounds of fat mass in one week; another at week six consistently loses 1 pound of fat per week. Her pants fit better and she knows exactly what treats to make when she craves something sweet, and how to modify recipes to enjoy a variety of foods.

Two patients in one year have lost 30 and 40 pounds respectively from refining and tweaking their original ketosis diets. We love to help facilitate real and lasting change for our clients on their journey towards wellness.

Try Ketosis yourself this November with our three week challenge. The holiday season can lose some of its stress if you feel in control of the temptations around you, with a little wiggle room for the occasional treat.

With the challenge ending right before Thanksgiving, you may find yourself not over-indulging on the holiday because your body simply can’t absorb that many carbs. Three weeks gives you enough time to play around with modifications and flavors so you don’t feel deprived.

All you have to lose is some stubborn belly fat, extra stress, a few pieces of pie, and maybe a dress size or two.