Key takeaways from eating a diet of 70% fat for 30 days. My aim is to encourage you to experiment with your own diet and discover healthier eating habits.
When is just as important as what.
I got fat eating healthy food.
I always assumed eating quality, unprocessed, whole foods makes for a healthy eating lifestyle. But as I ate my way from country-to-country in Southeast Asia, I began to notice pound-after-pound being added to my belly. Kind of strange seeing as I’m price-insensitive to food, cook most my meals and workout often. Sup with that!?
Ben might know…
As fate would have it, he was in the process of experimenting with the Ketogenic Diet. As he explained to me what he learned, I envied his embodied understanding of how each macronutrient delivers a different form of energy to the body.
Say no more … I’m an energy freak, in all aspects. Energy is, and creates, life.
So I committed 30 days to the Keto Diet to learn what was somehow skip over in all my health classes: how foods are converted into energy and effects our body.
Ketosis in a Nutshell
When our body converts food into energy the go-to source is carbohydrates, which break down to glucose. However, our body has evolved to only store a finite amount of glucose (give or take 1600 calories). So after our body is depleted of carbohydrates it needs another source of fuel. So it resorts to fat, which break down into ketone bodies.
Ketosis then is a metabolic state in which our body derives energy from fat. And glycolysis is when our body is deriving energy from carbs.
So if you eliminate carbohydrates from your diet, your body will enjoy burning both consumed and stored fat for energy. Muscle is spared and fat is burned, that’s ketosis!
Our ancestors were big fans of ketosis. In fact, their survival depended on it! When they had an unsuccessful day buffalo hunting and weren’t able to eat that day, they were able to rely on the fat stored from their previous bone marrow feast to keep them energized until the next successful hunt, which could’ve taken days.
Should You Try the Keto Diet?
Thanks to the convince of grocery stores, nowadays we don’t need to rely on storing fat to survive. But our body stores it anyway because that’s how we’ve evolved—regardless of our carb/fat intake. So if we’re eating carbs every day, we never give our body a chance to use that stored fat. This is why people often have big weight loss success early on during the keto diet—they’re finally letting their body start burning that stored fat.
So yes, I believe everyone should intermittently fast carbs to allow their body to burn naturally stored fat.
You’re in ketosis every night!
Since your body goes for an extended period of time without food when sleeping, it switches metabolic pathways and begins creating ketone bodies for brain fuel.
Maintaining a Healthy State of Ketosis
It’s important to know what your optimal food intake should be for your personal weight loss goals while on the ketogenic diet. This Keto Calculator does just that.
Near the end of my 30 days of ketosis, I began to get sick. This was due to not properly supplementing crucial nutrients found in carbohydrates. Learning from my experience, next time I hop on the Keto Diet, I will do the following:
- Hardline carbs for 2-3 days. You are now in ketosis, burning consumed and stored fat for energy. It’s common for the initial days of ketosis adoption to leave you feeling lethargic. This is because your body is not used to getting energy in this way, yet.
- Maintain a 70% fat / 20% protein / 10% carbs ratio. Eating zero carbs for multiple days is unhealthy. There are essential vitamins and minerals in complex carbohydrates like veggies, fruits, nuts, beans and legumes that should be strategically included into low-carb diets like keto. Avoid simple carbohydrates as they will kick you out of ketosis.
- Consume an additional 50 grams of carbs 1 hour prior to a 1 hour exercise. Carbs offer the body quick physical energy. It’s not required but will definitely give you some extra juice—as can willpower. Also the more liquid the food is, the faster it will be digested. So if I’m drinking my carbs (with lots of water), I’ll do so 30 minutes prior to workout.
- Supplement essential vitamins and minerals found in carbs. Carb-rich foods contain vitamins and minerals that are essentials for our body to function properly (as are fats and proteins). So depending on the 5-10% of complex carbs I’m eating, I’ll supplement certain vitamins and minerals (eg. selenium, vitamin D, vitamin C and calcium).
- Listen to my body and increase carb intake when something’s off. Carbs are known to affect leptin (the hunger hormone) so it’s very common for the appetite to be more accurately satiated when in ketosis. But when hunger suddenly returns even after eating, it’s a sign the body now requires additional fuel. It is time to break the fast. Or if I feel as though I’m lacking in nutrients, I’ll also increase my complex carb intake.
Here are screenshots of my food log while keto’ing:
How to Eat for a Ketosis Diet
Eating out? All restaurants have staple low-carb foods like avocados, eggs, meat, nuts, cheese and other keto friendly foods that will allow you get creative while ordering out.
Alchohol? Stick to the hard stuff. Beer is worst. Wine is better. Tequilla is best. Ethanol has 7 calories per gram, and too much ethanol can take someone out of ketosis.
Only option is pizza? Practice discipline and drink some water. Fasting will increase the rate of ketosis and increase the burning of stored fat. Or just pick off the pepperonis and olives.
Cooking? Though I was on a diet, I didn’t give up my love for food. If anything it deepened. Because now I had food constraints that forced me to understand how food works in order to cook and eat appropriate foods. Here are a few photo worthy keto meals.
How Ketosis Changed My Life
I quickly learned that same food that is your friend can also be your enemy when consumed at the wrong time and/or in excess.
As I documented every bite for a month, I began to feel how each macronutrient affects my body and when each are most appropriate to eat. With awareness of what I eat, I’m empowered to make better choices that lead to a more fulfilling life. Since there are three macronutrients (fat, protein and carbs) it’s easy to feel and understand why each exist and how to eat in a way that maximizes what each is designed to do. An overview of each is well worth understanding so you can make better choices in how to fuel yourself.
Further keto resources I found helpful:
Peter Attia – Ketosis researcher and self-experimenter.
Keto Calculator – determines your optimal food intake for your personal weight loss goals on the ketogenic diet.
Ketogenic Diet Resource – For all things keto.
Jeff Volek – Low-carb researcher.
Ruled Me – Strong community of other keto’ers.
The Ketogenic Cookbook – nutritious low-carb, high-fat paleo meals to heal your body.
Keto Nutrition – Resources for metabolic therapy.
Ben Prindle – How fats and carbohydrates convert into energy on a molecular level.
What about you?
Have you had experience with ketosis or a low carb diet? I’d love to hear what you learned!