Open Future HealthAssociate Professor Benjamin Bikman - Bioenergetics and Metabolic Diseases

Main web page for: A/Professor Benjamin Bikman, Dept. Physiology and Developmental Biology, at Brigham Young University

Main web page:

M.Sc., Exercise Physiology, Brigham Young University, Ph.D., Bioenergetics, East Carolina University. Postdoctoral Fellow, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore.

Most modern diseases are either caused by or made worse by disorder in the production or use of the hormone insulin. Fortunately, that condition is largely under our control.

Currently studying the molecular mechanisms of skeletal muscle insulin resistance in physically inactive older adults.

If there's one take away it is change breakfast tomorrow. Stop eating toast, bagels and cereal and go back to the way we used to eat 50 years ago which would be more meat and egg based or just more fat and protein based whatever that might mean for any individual.

Dr Benjamin Bikman

Academic Black Space

I began work with PhD students on Ceramides and Mitochondrial Function, in 2012. That led on to the role of Ceramides in Sarcopenia (degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass). Ceramides induce insulin resistance in many tissues. The role of insulin in metabolism became increasingly interesting. I was teaching about the physiology of weight training. The building and decline of muscular strength. What are the mechanisms?

Suddenly I seem to have moved into this academic black hole, looking at low-carbohydrate high-fat diets, the loss of muscle mass in older adults and the role of insulin and insulin resistance in that process.

A number of years ago I decided to stop letting the American Diabetes Association or American Heart Association tell me what the best diet for a person to avoid diabetes and heart disease. I'm decided to do my own research. That's when the whole house of cards started to fall apart.

Some people are critical. In the end a scientist has to be a seeker of truth. My work on insulin resistance has become a book, but we're not ready to publish yet. We've build a website called "Insulin IQ" and I'm giving regular free lectures about insulin resistance in my hometown.

Your Own Research

Today access to published scientific papers is easy for everyone. Go into Google scholar or to PubMed and once you get a little savvy with searches, you can really be incredibly well informed in very little time. People need to appreciate that in science there are still conflicting ideas. Case not yet proven is a normal situation.

Anyone is capable of reading the science nowadays. Seeking truth rather than just being told is tremendously liberating.

The Elephant in the Room

Are you insulin resistant? Answer the questions below:

Do you have more fat around your belly than you'd like?
Have you been frustrated by failed attempts to lose weight with a low-fat diet?
Do you have high blood pressure or a family history of heart disease?
Do you have high levels of blood triglycerides?
Do you retain water easily?
Do you have gout?
Do you have patches of dark-colored skin?
Do you have a family member with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes?
Do you or a family member have/had gestational diabetes or PCOS (women)?
Do you constantly crave sugary or starchy foods?

If you answered “yes” to two or more of these questions, we invite you to read on to discover what you can do to find clarity and begin healing…

WWW LinkWe invite people to download a simple 10 page E-book about insulin resistance.

Exactly what is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin Resistance is defined as a reduced response to the hormone insulin. Every cell in every tissue of the body responds to insulin. When the bodies tissues experience high levels of insulin over many years, insulin resistance develops. The cells try to protect themselves from insulin, and become less responsive.

What are the diseases of Insulin Resistance?

Importantly, Insulin Resistance won't kill you—no one dies from Insulin Resistance—it's simply a vehicle that gets you there. After developing type 2 diabetes, most will ultimately die from heart disease or other cardiovascular complications, others will suffer from Alzheimer's disease, or any other number of chronic diseases…

Why is Insulin Resistance so often undiagnosed?

Insulin is almost always considered in the context of glucose, which isn't entirely fair considering the hundreds (thousands?) of things insulin does throughout the body. Nevertheless, in a healthy body, if blood glucose is normal, your insulin level should also be low.

But if the consumption of sugars and other carbohydrates is high and remains high over several years, the body adapts; you get fatty liver disease and insulin resistance, entirely without symptoms, except you might put on a bit of weight. You think "that's normal." Your doctor does a blood test, he sees that your fasting blood sugar is normal, and he tells you that you are "healthy." The test for insulin resistance, or fatty liver, is never done.

"Insulin vs. Ketones - The Battle for Brown Fat"

Low Carb Down Under: Published on 17 Mar 2017

(35 minutes)

If the video won't play this link should work.


There are two simplistic theories of why we get fat. One that the body is a calorie burning machine, and the other that the body is controlled by hormones.

Most people are still counting calories and trying to exercise more, while eating less, to get themselves to a better weight level. That's a paradigm that overwhelmingly fails. The person just can't sustain the sort of chronic mild starvationn over a long period of time.

Most people aren't aware of the endocrine theory. That says that hormones are responsible for our getting fat and for our wanting to eat all the time. Your eating is driven by your physiology.

Excess Dietary Protein and Insulin?

My thought is that protein is absolutely necessary. The people that are afraid of it, I don't think that fear is warranted. My philosophy is you just eat protein from real food and nature usually has protein coming with fat so that's a pretty nice combination. Don't eat a protein powder. Better to eat meat or eggs for protein, real food. If it has fat in it, that's wonderful.

What people ignore, is what protein does to insulin's opposite which is glucagon. Dietary protein increases glucagon about as much as it increases insulin. Sort of cancelling each other out at the level of the adipose site, and at the liver. Insulin is inhibiting ketogenesis but glucagon is activating ketogenesis. In the end that's quite a magical mix. Insulin stores energy in muscle cells, and it's lipogenic, it tries to store excess energy as fat. Ketones are used directly as energy, and they are lipolytic, they try to turn fat into energy.

Your muscles cells end up with a net positive effect, because muscle cells have insulin receptors. Muscle gets that anabolic signal of the insulin. Muscles cells do not have glucagon receptors. And so there's no sensitivity to glucagon’s signal. And so the muscles grow. The fat cells don't grow. Perfect.

At the liver the same thing is happening. Insulin and glucagon balance each other out, and the substantially negative effect on ketogenesis, most people expect, doesn't happen. The production of ketones continues.

"Brown Fat Tissue Activation, Insulin & the Ketogenic Diet"

High Intensity Health: Published on 9 Sep, 2017

(56 minutes)

If the video won't play this link should work.

Wasting Energy

Normally the mitochondria would only be breaking down glucose or breaking down fat, and would only break that down as much as it needed to produce ATP to get cellular work done. That's a coupled process.

The mitochondria in brown fat can become uncoupled. In that state, they break down nutrients not because we need molecules to do work, but just to create heat. This is like running an engine, with the gear in neutral.

That's very wasteful but it's also essential to survival in a cold climate and it's also very helpful in an environment such as ours which is an environment of excess.

We found that insulin was stops mitochondrial uncoupling. In other words, it was telling the brown fats which would normally want to be chewing through energy just to create heat and increase metabolic rate, to slow down.

Ketosis or Not Ketosis?

I am not an advocate for someone being in ketosis all the time or even ever. I'm not a ketone poster child here.

I am an advocate of just controlling insulin and one of the consequences of controlling insulin will be increased ketogenesis and the potential for being ketosis. That can be beneficial. It may have its place depending on the person.

There's always a fasting basal state of insulin. In a normal healthy person with healthy pancreatic beta cells, there always an inhibition on ketogenesis. But they can never get to an extreme level of ketosis.

My Own Diet

My breakfast it ends up being something like bacon and eggs. Ill drink herbal tea and Ill put a little bit of coconut oil or a little bit of butter or something in my herbal tea because I want the energy because I know I'm going to be working out that day. And I don't fear the calories.

Lunch will usually be the sort of eclectic mix of low-carbohydrate but real foods. It might be a couple of hardboiled eggs, a half of avocado and a handful olives and stick of full fat cheese or something like that.

Too many times we too fixated on whether we're in ketosis or not. I'm really practical. I will knowingly eat a meal that's going increase my insulin, and love every bite. Especially at a social occasion or when being with my family.

Then I'm just going to get back on the wagon. For that reason breakfast and lunch are easy to change because those are meals that don't impact other people as much. It doesn't create a particularly awkward social environment.


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