Expert gives the skinny on getting healthy

  • November 6, 2013
  • /   Carl Wernicke
  • /   community-dashboard
For years a persistent chorus has maintained that the best health care available to us arrives on our dinner plates, not in a prescription bottle. Today, science is providing data that increasingly supports that idea.

This has, in turn, stood much perceived food wisdom on its head, producing a growing body of evidence pointing to carbohydrates — long considered to be the basis for a healthy diet — as the culprit in weight gain and corresponding ill-health effects. The result is a burst of science-based diets aimed at enhancing human health, especially diets that severely restrict the consumption of carbs.

On the leading edge of this effort is Jeff Volek, a registered dietician and full professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut. On Nov. 7 he will talk about his research at an evening lecture at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. His talk: “The Many Facets of Keto-Adaptation: Health, Performance and Beyond.”

This state is achieved, through diet, by accelerating the body’s ability to access and burn body fat by restricting dietary carbohydrates, while increasing fat intake, for a period of several weeks. Fatty acids and ketones become the primary fuel at rest and during submaximal exercise, a more efficient and healthier way of fueling the body.

This shifts the body out of a damaging condition, obesity, in which calories continue to be stored as fat, leading to weight gain and other unhealthy effects.

Volek holds both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in exercise physiology and nutrition. He leads a research team that explores the physiologic impact of various dietary and exercise regimens and nutritional supplements. According to his biography on, he has conducted “some of the seminal scientific work” on supplements such as creatine, carnitine, caffeine and whey protein.

He has authored/co-authored four books, 60 manuscripts and reviews, and delivered over 100 invited presentations on low carbohydrate diets in half a dozen countries at scientific and industry meetings. A former competitive powerlifter, he follows a low-carb diet while continuing to train for strength and health.

One of the problems people have with following a carbohydrate restricted (ketotic) diet is how to do it. Volek has co-authored several books explaining how it works, for both general health and athletic performance. They include “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable,” and “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance,” both co-written with Dr. Stephen Phinney, a medical doctor with a Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry from MIT.

Want to go?

What: IHMC Evening Lecture Series. When: Nov. 7, 6 p.m. (reception at 5:30 p.m.). Where: IHMC, 40 S. Alcaniz St. Note: Seating is limited; to reserve call 202-4462, or RSVP Online [progresspromise]
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