The Ketogenic Experience – 1

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Pam and I have been students of health and nutrition for pretty much all our adult lives.  We’ve delved into all the ‘prevailing wisdom’ and always done our best to ‘eat right.’

Back in the 90s when we were still in college, I came across a book called The Anabolic Diet.  In a nutshell, it outlined a cyclical Ketogenic Diet protocol geared towards adding muscle mass.  5-6 days of high fat (65% calories), moderate protein, extremely low carb (no more than 30g/day) followed by 1-2 days of high carb eating.  The premise was keeping the body really lean by switching the metabolism to a fat burning machine, but every 7 days giving it a huge carb up for glycogen replenishment (flooding) and insulin (and all the insulin like growth factors as well).

I had a bunch of people laughing at me on the protocol, but….it worked!

Over the years, Pam and I have changed our diet a bunch of times.  We did the high carb, high protein thing for bodybuilding.  We’ve done Protein Power Lifeplan (Dr.s Eades – still one of my favorite books!), which is really close to a keto/paleo protocol) with fantastic results.  We’ve done Zone, we’ve done Paleo.

A lot of these diets have a lot in common, and plenty not in common.  More in common than not.  One thing the science now tells us that is undeniable…FAT is not bad for you.

One thing I can personally tell you for certain as well.  Pam and I almost always operate better when we lower our carbs and increase our fats.

I’m an avid listener of the Joe Rogan podcasts and recently he had Mark Sisson (of Mark’s Daily Apple and Primal Blueprint) on the show and I was once again reminded of the Ketogenic Diet/lifestyle.  One of the things that Mark covered was the lack of long-term research on Ketogenic protocols.  But within many of the athletic circles he’s in, he and many other athletes are finding Keto to be not only tolerable but even favorable in athletics….IF you go long enough to have your body become fully ‘fat-adapted.’  By fat-adapted, he means that the diet/protocol/lifestyle actually triggers gene expression that completely transforms the fuel mechanisms in the body to not just tolerate/survive on fat and ketones, but thrive on them…in both endurance efforts and explosive power athletics as well.  How long is long enough for these significant changes to take place?  He’s talking about a minimum of 6 months, maybe longer to become fully fat-adapted, where your body not only prefers fat and ketones as fuel, but operates much more efficiently on them than glucose.

In addition to much information from Mark Sisson, I’ve been reading (and listening) to more and more research talking about how toxic sugar really is.  Simply put, for the millions of years we (humans) have been on this Earth, developing but still pretty much the same animal we are now, at no time in history except for the last few thousand years (or even a few hundred) have our bodies been bombarded with this much sugar and carbohydrates.  I won’t go on and on about it here, but I’m convinced that too much sugar is not only the cause for a significant majority of common health problems, but its highly inflammatory as well.  I’m out.

So…Keto…Pam and I are jumping in!  We made the switch back to a high fat, moderate protein, low carb life on Sunday, February 14, 2016.

Week 1 – No noticeable effects until day 4/5.  That’s when we both noticed a 3lb drop in BW, probably from water loss.  We also noticed on day 5 our first symptoms of grogginess / mental fogginess.  This is not uncommon as the body is running out of stored glycogen and the brain is having to switch from abundant amounts of glycogen to running more on ketones.  Workouts were still good this week.

Week 2 – Noticeable increase in steady energy throughout the day.  No crashes.  Good mental clarity.  Workouts beginning to suffer.  Noting to make the change from a lift + metcon to a lift + slower accessory work for our workouts.  High performance demands can come later.

Week 3 – Finally appearing to look a little leaner, scale (BW) moving slightly.  Workouts still strongly effected.  Anything approaching high-intensity = out of breath quickly.  Increasing frequency of that light-headed feeling you get when you get up to quick. Hmm.

Week 4 – We are right now in week 4.  All in all feeling fantastic in a general sense but still waiting for a more significant change in body composition and workout energies.  But we also know 4 weeks is not really enough time for significant changes in the body regardless of what is being changed/tested.  At the end of the 4th week, this Saturday, we will retake our measurements and post about it.

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