As you may have seen from a recent video I did on the book Keto Clarity, my wife and I have started experimenting with the Ketogenic Diet. Without going into too much detail, basically what the premise behind the ketogenic diet is to start incorporating more fats into your diet and limiting carbs and eating only moderate amounts of protein to start training your body to burn fats and start produce ketones, which also has a number of other positive effects on the body. Ketones are a great fuel source not only for the brain and the body but as as the author claims, the preferred fuel source when compared to burning glucose.
Now, there is A LOT of science behind all of this and honestly, pretty confusing so it's best if you just read the book or check out some cool podcasts like this one to get a clearer understanding of what ketosis is actually all about and you can make an informed decision for yourself.
Here's a sample of what I was able to eat on a daily basis (and this is after a week or two of tweaking this, getting used to the meal plan and the "feel" of it):
Even though I wasn't technically testing for "ketones" (which you can do either through urine test strips or a somewhat expensive Ketonix Breath Tester that you can test over and over through the day, I still did my best to eat a ketosis-type diet. If I had stuck with the meal plan for a few more weeks I'm sure it'd be possible to actually get into a state of Ketosis. However, I did one urine test and it didn't show any signs of ketones so with full disclosure in my review here, I'll state that I was not able to actually get into a state of ketosis.
benefits of eating this way
First of all, if you look at my meal plan it's awesome! Lol! I was able to eat bacon, veggies fried in butter, dark chocolate, almond butter... I wasn't really a "fat fan" until I started this but it turns out that I definitely see the appeal here! And yes, I'll admit, veggies absolutely taste better cooked in butter!
Secondly, after experimenting with a lot of other meal plans, this was definitely a nice change of pace once I got used to it. I felt like I was eating less---there wasn't a constant obsession with eating every 2-3 hours. There's even a 21 day challenge in the Keto Clarity book where you are eating only 1 meal per day that third week! What?! According to the author, this not only helps you get into a state of ketosis and stay there, but your body is fueling itself by burning ketones and you probably won't even notice or be hungry. Sounded good in theory but I'll share with you later why I couldn't stick it out...
And lastly, most days, I did seem more full on this plan compared to others that I've tried and really, that felt awesome! I am typically hungry by about 9;30 am and eating this way I didn't feel hungry until just before lunch time (at noon).
There was one drawback...
The one drawback I noticed was that my workouts really suffered as well as any desire to keep going in my workout once I started. And on a typically diet with around 30-40% carbs, I wouldn't bonk like i seemed to experience for the few weeks that I was following this "ketosis-type" meal plan.
In the book, the author does state that it takes a few weeks to adapt to burning ketones for fuel, for many people who are already regularly working out and in a routine who are trying to get more out of their workouts with a different nutrition plan, this may be a rough road.
The other drawback is basically eating that much fat is just a mental block at first. Now, I'm not sure if it's just a mental thing because we've always heard that you need to limit the amount of fats you eat (around 20-30%) but it is a little hard, at least for me, to wrap my brain and habits around eating that much bacon, sour cream, heavy cream, etc.
In fact, I was reading a Men's Fitness magazine and they recommended that diets like this and said , "You need a moderate amount of carbs to support the fueling and recovery demands of high-intensity, anaerobic-based training... Extreme low-carb diets, especially those that substitute bacon, cheese, and other fatty foods in place of carbs, don't work long term and (surprise) don't support optimal health." (Men's Fitness, Uncover Your Six-Pack, July/August 2014).
And again here on one of my favorite fitness info websites (you can see it in full context here), "Sure, there are certainly neurological and metabolic benefits to high fat intake – and a very high fat ketosis diet can be a cool biohack – but excessive carbohydrate restriction can cause some serious issues. For example, carbohydrates are necessary for proper thyroid activity (specifically conversion of T3 to T4), and also because high concentration of free fatty acids can actually inhibit proper thyroid binding to it’s cell receptor, a very high fat diet that excessively restricts carbohydrates lowers metabolism and causes weight gain by inhibiting thyroid activity." (BenGreenfieldFitness.com)
Although this meal plan might be a good transition diet from not doing anything to doing some light workouts, in the long run I think there are some risks that just aren't worth it if you plan on doing this long term.
And if you are doing anything like the workouts that we love and promote here at Akersfitness.com, chances are you are going to need the proper fuel to get the most out of them.
So, experiment with some different macro nutrient ratios or even check out of the easiest ways to get your nutrition on track. Email me if you have any questions or just would like to chat more about your fitness and nutrition and find out what your next step might be.
Yours in Fitness,