While bears have evolved to survive periods of food scarcity by relying on ketosis (using stored fat as their energy source), humans are obsessed with sugary snacks and carbohydrates, and so we mostly get our energy from glycogen stores, meaning we seldom enjoy the benefits of ketosis, so what’s going on here exactly?!
In simple terms, Humans have two ways to make energy in our bodies, glycogenic (from carbohydrates) and ketogenic (from fat), glycogenic is better for when we need quick bursts of energy. However, the bitter irony is that whilst eating sugary donuts may set us up for ‘fight or flight’, many of us are too portly to out run a sloth … Imagine a chimp in a fig tree tree, with no threats.. just figs.. they would get chubby too of course…
Perhaps nature intended us to have some dangers and threats in our lives to keep us lean, and to keep us sharp? But that’s another whole story! The main point is that our primal ancestors didn’t have access to the abundance of sugar that we have in modern times – and if they did, perhaps they would have all passed away from diabetes and heart disease by now and the world would be run by Dolphins instead?
Back to bears, bears have developed a special mechanism to survive periods of food scarcity. During hibernation, their bodies shift to using stored fat as their primary source of energy, leading to increased ketone production that puts them in a state of ketosis. This adaptation is essential for bears because it allows them to survive for months without food. However, we share this same natural ability as bears do, but we don’t tend to use it so much – maybe we should?
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that has gained popularity in recent years for its health benefits, including weight loss, improved mental clarity, and improved blood sugar control. By following a ketogenic diet, we can shift our bodies to rely more on fat as a source of energy and operate in a state of ketosis. But we don’t have to go full bear mode. Simply reducing our carb intake and increasing our fat consumption can help us achieve a mild state of ketosis. Some people find that adding intermittent fasting, which encourages the body to tap into stored fat for energy, is another effective way to embrace ketosis. I’ve started intermittent fasting and lost a stone (6.5kg) in about a month, I’m also sleeping better and feel sharper all round too – last week I even took a dump in the woods (just kidding)
The bottom line is that humans can learn something from the bears, and we should try to be in a state of ketosis more often. There is little or no benefit to eating sugar, or processed foods, so my advice to you, before you get bogged down in too much science is to cut that out for starters .. unless you’re incredibly active, you’ll get chubby, but also it will cause insulin spikes and other issues.
King Loui, the King of the Swingers in the Jungle Book wanted to be more like Mowgli, the human (“I want to be like you ooh hoo, dodoobedoo”).. but we should probably be looking at nature more often for our inspiration and guidance i reckon – we’ve essentially lost our way, and the answer is not in a McDonald wrapper. So in short, be more bear. Where you chose to defecate however, will be the subject of my next blog (just kidding, use a loo for goodness sake!!).