Ketogenic diet is optimal, says Dr. Philip Blair

Photo by Darrell Woehler

Fat is where it’s at, says physician and retired U.S. Army colonel Dr. Philip Blair. The long-time fighter against chronic disease in 2011 founded Pro Health Advisor, a disease management company that helps patients surmount challenges that keep them from getting well.

A former Army physician, Blair graduated from West Point and attended the University of Miami School of Medicine. He delivered primary care at far-flung locations that include Kodiak Island, the Middle East, Korea, Italy and Germany.

According to Blair, the United States’ epidemic of chronic disorders can be attributed to the dismal diet most Americans consume. Today’s eating habits, with emphasis on convenience over nutritional value, are killing us, he says. Carbohydrates are often the main culprits.

“Man was designed to live and thrive on fat,” the Indian River Colony Club resident said.

“It gave him energy and kept him supplied during periods of non-eating.”

Blair is a huge fan of the ketogenic diet, a high-fat, low-carb diet that forces the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates. The diet succeeds despite conventional wisdom that the best way to lose weight is to eat less fat.

“With a ketogenic diet, the extra weight just drops off,” Blair said.

Similar to the Atkins diet, the ketogenic diet aims to induce ketosis, the state in which the body, without enough glucose from carbs, switches to generating molecules called ketones, which can be used for energy throughout the body, including the brain.

A 2013 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted that in addition to weight loss, the ketogenic diet could possibly be beneficial for individuals with Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors. The diet has already been proven beneficial in the treatment of epilepsy.

Although the diet can be extremely effective, it is not for the uninitiated. 

“You have to find your carb threshold, and everyone has a different threshold,” said Blair, who recommends patients read Why We Get Fat and Good Calories, Bad Calories, both by Gary Taubes, as a good introduction.

Less than 50 to 60 daily grams of net carbs is considered ketogenic, but individuals with healthy metabolism may consume more carbs and still maintain ketosis levels, while older, sedentary folks may have to eat less than 30 grams to remain at the same level.

The amount of protein consumed is also important, for as individuals remain on the diet, their bodies seem to convert protein into glucose and disrupt ketosis.

Because as much as 90 percent of the calories in a ketogenic diet is derived from fat, the types of fat consumed play a critical part in the diet’s success. There are good fats, and then there are fats that are not good for  you at all.

“Your body was not designed for large amounts of unsaturated fats,” Blair said.

However, coconut and olive oils are great, as is butter.

“Butter from pastured animals is almost a miracle food,” Blair said.

“Eat your veggies, too, and buy the best cuts of meat you can afford.

“Eat whole, fresh foods, get away from the packaging and cut out the whites, the rice, the flour, the pasta and the sugar,” Blair said. 

Blair walks the walk — or, actually, eats the food — when it comes to the ketogenic diet. He fasts until 10 or 11 in the morning before preparing his version of Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof coffee (page 18), which consists of coffee, coconut oil, butter and cream blended together for 10 seconds in a Mason jar using an immersion blender (though a Cuisinart works just as well).

“It’s the richest, smoothest coffee,” Blair said.

At 1 p.m., the lunch menu may include poached eggs, bacon and butternut squash with a homemade Hollandaise sauce prepared with coconut oil mayo. Dinner includes a meat, veggie and salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado.

“We do whatever we can to buy meat from pastured, grass-fed animals and we buy organic produce from the market at Rockledge Gardens or from the Brevard Farmers Market at Wickham Park,” he said.

On the rare occasions he craves dessert, he might opt for a piece of brie or gouda or perhaps Blair’s own take on a cheese Danish, made with whole egg, cream cheese, butter and cream.

“We mix it, but not too finely and pop in the microwave for a minute and then coat it with whipped cream,” he said.

“It’s practically a meal in itself.”

Except for blueberries, Blair has no use for fruits.

“The fruits we have today are not the fruits of yesterday,” he said.

“They’ve been engineered to be much too sweet.”

Keeping to this diet helps his body operate at optimum level, said the physician.

“You have more energy and you’re not craving for snacks,” he said.

“Get rid of the fat phobia and realize fat is your friend.”

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