This has been a long time coming
Like, seriously. I’ve been waiting to write this blog for about 4 months now. And I don’t do well at waiting to share exciting things. I’m the type that when I have big, exciting news I’m usually bursting at the seams to tell somebody. Luckily, I’m a mama’s boy so I can just call her and unload the good news. She loves it, I promise.
Why have I been waiting to unleash the awesomeness I’m about to bestow upon ye? Well, because the internet is ablaze with fads, trends, and the latest “new” things. First, I wanted to do my research. Then, I wanted to be my own guinea pig. Next, I wanted to find a few willing participants. Check, check, and check. So today I feel fully confident and comfortable diving into ketosis with you. I want to describe its benefits and its difficulties. I want to share my personal experience and that of my experime–er, I mean clients (muahahahaaaa). Let’s not waste any time and take it from the top.
Ketosis is nothing new. It’s been around for decades. The earliest mentions I found of it being used as a dietary strategy began in the 1920s, where it was used as a solution for epilepsy. It has since been in and out of the spotlight. In more recent memory, it came around in a bastardized form with the Atkins diet. The directions of which were to basically eat all the protein and fat you want, drop all the carbs. This was a problem. Why?
Because our body needs energy. In the absence of carbohydrates, it will look elsewhere. When there is an abundance of protein, as with an all-you-can-eat bacon and steak buffet, a new process comes into play – the process of gluconeogenesis. Big word. Relax, small definition:
- Gluco – refers to glucose, or blood sugar.
- (Every bit of sugar or starch we eat will eventually be broken down into glucose).
- Neo – new.
- Genesis – creation of.
- So gluconeogenesis – the creation of new glucose, typically from protein.
The good thing about gluconeogenesis is that it will help us survive without an abundant source of carbs. The bad thing about it is that it’s an energy-demanding way to get more energy. Long story short, we use too much energy to get very little in return. Not to mention we feel like hell from it. Unfortunately, due to the failure of the Atkins diet, if you only look superficially on the interwebs, you’ll likely view ketosis as a problem and dismiss it.
Or you’d confuse it with ketoacidosis, reading that it could potentially kill you, and you’d slam your laptop shut while hugging your loved ones tight. Thankfully, ketosis and ketoACIDosis are too different things. But you clicked that link and read it yourself, so you know that unless you have Type 1 diabetes (and much less often Type 2) you’re in no risk of suffering ketoacidosis. I heard one of the doctors I’ll reference in a few compare the two as such: Ketosis is like a fireplace, serving a purpose and controlled. Ketoacidosis is like your house is burning down all around you. That should be enough to dispel any worries.
I’ve come across multiple people who have wise words to share when it comes to keto. I’ll briefly describe each and provide links so you can do some research-ifying yourself. After all, knowledge is power.
I first got interested in ketosis through hearing Joe Rogan talk about it. On his wildly successful podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, he shared on multiple occasions how great he felt. He mentioned how his energy and mental clarity had shot through the roof, how much better he felt physically, and how his cravings for carbs had decreased dramatically. I was trying to reduce those very cravings, so needless to say this piqued my curiosity.
I’ll mention this first to the sensitive folks, most any JRE podcast should come with a language warning. But with that out of the way…Here and here are a few snippets and here is a full-length podcast featuring Mark Sisson of the Primal Blueprint. In each of these clips, Joe talks about his experience of switching over to keto and the benefits he experienced.
Another prominent figure in the podcasting community I listen to is Tim Ferriss. He’s written a few New York Times bestsellers and is a successful entrepreneur and investor. He has several podcasts discussing ketosis, which he discovered after realizing he was suffering from Lyme’s disease and had failed to find any reasonable cures. While each one of these episodes goes well over an hour or two in length, they are loaded with useful information. Think you don’t have time? Listen to them in the car on your way to work in the morning or back home in the evening. Or listen to them while you workout, walk, or hike. Here’s a short list:
- Tim’s interview with Dr. Peter Attia
- Tim’s follow-up interview with Dr. Attia
- The Four-Hour Workweek interview with Dom D’Agostino
- Found My Fitness (Dr. Rhonda Patrick) featuring Tim Ferriss
The above should keep you busy for a bit, while also offering up multiple nuggets of useful information.
If you’re interested by now, they should also lead you to further dive into the works of Dr. Peter Attia. You can find much more of his work at The Eating Academy. The other big player is Dr. Dominic D’Agostino, who hosts the website KetoNutrition.org, which is a goldmine of articles, research, and resources.
Other key players in the keto arena are the aforementioned Mark Sisson, as well as Robb Wolf, and Ben Greenfield. All of whom have podcasts, websites, and experience in the field. All of whom can probably break keto down much more artfully that I can currently. I highly suggest looking into each of them. If you feel lost or overwhelmed at first, don’t get discouraged. Listen to the material again, do a little more digging, and find your answers. You can always become a member of this fine site and contact me with any further questions. Let’s continue.
I chose to kick my ketosis off with a 36 hour fast. This is to help exhaust any glucose stores in the body and nudge your energy systems into breaking down fat. This process involves breaking down stored fat, or triglycerides, into free fatty acids. These are then metabolized and a byproduct called ketones is produced. It is these very ketones which the body uses for energy. They’re also where ketosis gets its name.
No, the fast wasn’t pleasant. I also did it on a Saturday, which meant I began the day with a 90-minute version of hell that I call Saturday Boot Camp….maybe you’ve heard of it. So add the fact that I was exhausted already to the fact that I went 36 hours without food and you can understand why when Sunday morning hit, I was wiped out. It was odd, though. Mentally, I felt great, but physically I was toast. Looking back, I think it’s because my body was going through the process of switching over from glucose to ketone production, though I’m not sure if it happens that fast.
What I do know is that when Monday morning came around, after a full Sunday of eating high fat and moderate protein, I felt aahhh-maaa-zing. Just like Joe had mentioned, my mental clarity was at 110%, my strength for that morning’s workout – leg day #1, usually brutal – never faded. I actually ended up setting a few personal bests. My mood was on cloud 9. All-in-all, I felt great. That was the first day where I knew I was onto something. It was also the first day that my clients were asking me what I was on. And it was the first day that I had to button my lips until I knew what I was doing would be beneficial. It was all leading to this blog….can you hear me exhaling yet?
I’ve since continued with a ketogenic lifestyle. I’ve decreased my carb cravings. I’ve increased my strength and mental clarity. I’ve reduced my caffeine consumption to 1/3 of what it was – and I’m working on completely dropping it, but 3am comes awfully early every day. I wake up early, and sleep like a baby, and I have consistent energy all day long.
It’s not all sunshine bursts and rainbow bubbles in keto-land. I’d be irresponsible to not mention the restrictive nature of the lifestyle. So many foods have carbs in them. Going out to eat is a real struggle. My girlfriend and I recently went out to Olive Garden. After about 5 minutes of browsing the entire menu, I settled on an herb-crusted Salmon filet with broccoli. Woo-hoo.
While it is a restrictive way of eating, once you get in the habit, it’s not too difficult. I know I’m an oddity in that I rarely go out to eat – again, my girlfriend just loves that. I can be extremely self-disciplined by nature and not think twice – also a joy to those around me who don’t subscribe to my ways. But the advantage to a high-fat lifestyle is that high-fat containing foods are often pleasing to the tongue. They offer higher satiety and taste.
Another struggle is that people think going keto means eating only cheese, bacon, and buckets of steak. As I mentioned with the Atkins diet…ummm, no. It’s important to get a balance of fats. You want to ensure you consume saturated fats (yes, bacon and cheese), but also monounsaturated fats like avocados, olive oil, macadamias, and almonds, along with polyunsaturated fats like fish oil, flax seed, chia seeds, walnuts and brazil nuts. Getting too many saturated and omega 6 polyunsaturated fats can cause inflammation in your body. So to be safe, focus on monounsaturated and omega 3 polys.
You’ll also want to ensure you get adequate protein, but not too much. If you get an excess of protein, your body will begin the process of gluconeogenesis I mentioned and you’ll begin feeling miserable. The good news is that, out of every 100 clients I work with, I MIGHT have 1 who gets too much protein. It’s very rare for that to happen. If you keep your protein intake to between .4 and .9 grams per pound of lean bodyweight, you should be just fine.
I’ve used this with a handful of clients. I covered all the basics and answered any and all questions as we went along. And trust me, those questions came in. But thankfully I love what I do and I jump at the chance to answer them. I’m hoping I’ve answered most any that you, the reader, may have. But if not, I’d love to hear them down below in the comments section.
So far, the clients success stories that I’ve had include:
- an average weight male coworker dropping 14 pounds in 3 weeks.
- a slightly overweight male client dropping 33 pounds in 5-6 weeks.
- an online female client going from an already amazingly fit 17.6% body fat to 15.4% in just 4 weeks, while dropping only a pound.
- two other male clients who are at their lowest weights in years.
All the above are continuing to improve. They’ve also mentioned the same increases in mental clarity and long-term energy levels. I’m slowly offering the keto option to new members who fit the mold for its success. Anybody who is looking to:
- lose weight
- lower inflammation
- get off the carb roller coaster
- have sustained energy all day long
Or fits the below:
- over the age of 30
- has had a child
- has plateaued with their weight loss
- is not diabetic (especially Type 1)
As always, it should go without saying, get your doctor’s approval – or at least their thoughts – before beginning any exercise or nutritional regimen. I’m nothing more than a nerd who likes reading and learning about and experiencing a healthy living. I want to share it with everybody and do it in the best way possible, but for God’s sake, I’m not a doctor. The doctors are the doctors. And your health care professionals certainly know everything, right?