Paradoxical Effect of Fire & Fat (Ketogenic Rule #4): Why it only takes one match to start a forest fire, but the whole box to start a campfire


Start a fire with one match is like Ketosis

It’s been cold this winter and as I was lighting a fire in the fireplace, a thought crossed my mind.

Why is it that only one match seems to start a forest fire, but it takes the whole box to start a campfire? 

So, thinking back to my Boy Scout days, I began walking through the process of what it takes to get a good warm fire going.  As a Boy Scout while camping in the snow, we used to have contests to see who could, using a single match, start the fastest camp fire.  (We would use our most “MacGyver-like” skills). It occurred to me that the same timeless principles that allow one to ignite a fire with a single match are the same principles necessary for “fat burning.”

Maintaining ketosis is much like starting a campfire.  There are some basic principles you need to understand.  First, too much fuel keeps the fire from starting and too much carbohydrate or too much protein keeps the body from shifting into ketosis.  Starting a campfire with a single match requires very fine thin strands of tinder to get started.  If the peices are too big, the fire is smothered and cannot get started. It is the same with ketosis.  Too much carbohydrate or protein smothers ketosis.  You can get a copy of my ketogenic diet through registration on my membership site, by seeing me a patient face to face in the office or through a Tele-Medicine visit.

Tinder wood fire

Second, oxygen is essential.  For a fire to start, the flame needs a very small piece of fuel (wood or dryer lint) and large amounts of oxygen to burn. In ketosis, you have to provide the fat.  If you’ve removed the carbohydrates and moderated the protein, but not provided enough fat to ignite the ketones, the body thinks it is starving, produces stress and shifts into making it’s own form of glucose for fuel through the process of glyconeogenesis (see my articles on why chicken salad makes you fat, and why your oatmeal is killing your libido).

blow on the tinder

Third, campfires often don’t have enough heat to get started. You have to get the temperature up before the wood can catch fire. This can be done in the camp fire by making a “cabin” the tinder can sit on and then building the “cabin” around the tinder as the fire builds and the heat increases. The increased heat and oxygen from under the tinder allows the larger pieces of wood to ignite and stay lit.  In a ketogenic diet, the use of real food is similar to the cabin.  Providing real food sources, instead of processed shakes and bars, allows for all the natural vitamins and minerals to let the ketosis start and ramp the metabolism up.  Providing the correct vitamins also allows for the metabolism to have the ability to ramp up ketosis.  I designed the KetoEnhance Vitamin specifically for this reason.

log cabin firestart

So, there you have it, the Paradoxical Effect of Fire and of Fat.

  1. Don’t use too much fuel: Start with tinder for the fire – Limit the carbohydrates and moderate your protein (see how to balance protein here) to get into ketosis
  2. Provide for increased oxygen for a fire – Provide adequate fat for ketosis
  3. Provide a setting where the heat can build for a fire – Provide real food and appropriate vitamin sources for optimized metabolism in a ketogenic lifestyle.

KetoOS – Drinkable Exogenous Ketones

You can see today’s Periscope discussion on this topic below:

12 Comments on “Paradoxical Effect of Fire & Fat (Ketogenic Rule #4): Why it only takes one match to start a forest fire, but the whole box to start a campfire

  1. Pingback: Paradoxical Effect of Fire & Fat (Ketogenic Rule #4): Why It Only Takes One Match to Start a Forest Fire, But the Whole Box to Start a Campfire | Primal Docs

  2. Hi Dr. Nally,
    I use about 2 tablespoons of cream and maybe 1/4 cup
    Of sour cream. My question is how do I know if my insulin spikes with the cream or not? Today is day 12.
    Thank you

    • The only way to know is to check your ketones and see if you drop out of ketosis within 1-5 hours of using the cream. I don’t usually see a problem with sour cream, but I do with heavy cream.

      • Thank you Dr Nally… I watch another video that he posted around the first of the year. It’s was what was the biggest struggle with weight loss. In that video u mentioned that you count all the carbs including fiber. Correct? Also as long as we count carbs in cooked veggie that it’s ok as long as I stay below 20. One more ? Then at the end u confused me when u said u don’t count greens. Can u clarify this please caus all I eat really is lettuce.
        I can’t thank you enough for all your help! I am on day 12 and doing well! Your videos are so informative and interesting! Love them. I am going through all your old ones now
        Thank you again

      • Jodi, as long as you are not cooking the leafy greens, there is no need to count the fiber in them. However, I would count the fiber as carbohydrate from any other fruit or non-green vegetable.

  3. I don’t understand where all the carbs in the salad are coming from. The chicken (unless it’s breaded) should be 0 carbs and a garden salad is typically < 5 carbs (maybe even 1/2 that net) and a (non-low-fat) dressing is maybe 1 or 2 carbs, though I probably uses more than "one serving".

  4. Dr Nally,

    How much sodium, potassium, and magnesium should a person doing the Keto lifestyle take each day?



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