You might be asking yourself why someone would want to eat a low-carb, high-fat diet. Maybe you know nothing about, or maybe you’re a skeptic. Maybe you’ve been looking for your solution to more energy and weight loss and just haven’t found the answer yet.
Ketosis is when your body switches from glycogenolysis (burning glucose, a carb byproduct) to your liver producing ketones (a fat byproduct) which your brain uses for fuel, while your muscles use your body fat directly. Getting into Ketosis usually takes 3-4 days depending on the person. Most people need 70-75% of their diet to be fat, and 20-25% to be protein, leaving only 5% for carbs. Some people suggest fasting for these 3-4 days to boost your body into Ketosis, I say snack on all of the things compliant. You will feel drained, cranky, and have all the cravings. If you can fast, more power to you. But when I am detoxing from carbs and sugar, I need to supplement that with lots of fat to tell my brain to cut it out. I think I went to the grocery store every other day during this phase. Eat avocado, bacon, cheese in moderation, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, eggs, lots and lots of veggies, red meat, white meat, and fish! The foods you want to avoid are sugars, starchy vegetables, most fruit (it’s natural but full of sugar. Introduce them after the 4th day in moderation), processed foods, fried foods, wheat and grains, and anything over 20g of carbs. Some people can maintain Ketosis with 50g per day, but usually this is once you are fat-adapted (more on that later). Drink a ton of water, more water than you think you ever could. You’re going to become dehydrated if not because you’re not retaining water anymore. Consensus: eat all the snacks and don’t feel bad.
After the 4th day you might wake up and feel energized, less hungry, you might reach for fats as your fuel naturally and you might notice your cravings for sweets is diminished. If you don’t, don’t feel discouraged. It can take anywhere from 4 days to 2 weeks to get into this state. Now you are in ketosis. Your body isnt burning fat for fuel yet or producing ketones on its own, but your glucose stores are depleted. You will have lost a ton of water weight by now too. Don’t let people put you down when you say “I’ve lost x amount of pounds!” and they reply with “it’s just water weight.” Nothing will kill your joy faster than that kind of negativity. You are looking and feeling better than you did last week. You go Glenn Coco.
Fat adaptation happens when your body is naturally producing those ketones we’ve been talking about, and naturally uses fat for fuel before anything else. When or if you reintroduce carbs after you are fat adapted, your body will work for about 24 hours (depending on if you were heavy handed or not) to burn off the glucose and then switch back over to Ketosis and burning fat. You’ve trained your body to do a new trick. A lot of people say they know they’re fat-adapted when they have a new level of cognitive energy and clarity. For me, I experienced this on day 7. I was also naturally reaching for fatty foods and stopped yelling at my husband every time he said the word “bread” or “ice cream.” This process can take up to a month, so give your body lots of love and grace during this period. I still aim to keep my carbs under 20g a day, but I’ve noticed even if I hit 35 or 40g, I am not being kicked out of Ketosis.
- I check my ketones with Ketostix, a test strip that checks how many excess ketones are being passed through your urine. It is not entirely accurate and totally not necessary. People say that sometimes they can test for ketones even after eating quite a bit of carbs, but I will keep you updated on my results when I do reintroduce them. For now, they’ve encouraged me to stay on track and I’m not guessing if I’m doing it right.
Reintroduction of carbs is totally optional. I do think a LCHF diet is maintainable but there might be a few reasons why you want to do this. You want to go out to dinner with friends and enjoy yourself, you might have been invited over for dinner and there isn’t a good option being served, or you might want to just play around with this and see how this effects your body. I plan on utilizing a carb re-feed or carb-up. This is when you eat one meal every 4-7 days for women or 7-10 days for men with carbs, typically at the end of the day and for dinner. The idea is that you will wake up the next day and carry on with your Keto lifestyle. Since your body takes about 24 hours to burn off the glucose, you should be switching back into Ketosis within this time, but I’ve heard of beginners taking a little bit longer. This can refuel the glucose that your muscles use to gain mass (not the same as blood glucose), spike fat-burning hormones that will remain high for several days after the re-feed, and give you just a little space to enjoy life. Some people practice a carb-night where they eat carbs at specific times for an entire night. There is a practice where you refuel your body with carbs within one hour of every workout. I do not plan on doing either of these since I have an issue with insulin and do not want it spiked for that long. I also work out 3-5 times a week, so I would be consuming carbs quite often, and wouldn’t be giving my body much time to get into Ketosis. My advice would be to try it out, see how your body responds and feels, and make the best decision for your health. I would not advice that you make the decision that is the easiest to fit into your lifestyle because it may be one that leads to backsliding and weight gain.
On day 7 I went to crossfit and did a metcon style WOD. I felt drained of all energy and thought I was going to see my breakfast again. I felt horrible. I thought my diet wasn’t going to work and felt defeated. I did some more research and found 2 things. 1. I was most likely already fat-adapted, which means I could be utilizing intermittent fasting, and 2. my electrolytes were low. Intermittent fasting is when Keto dieters skip breakfast and even sometimes lunch. They’re not hungry or they want their body to burn fat instead of food. I still don’t know how I completely feel about this, but I fasted for the next workout and performed much better. I didn’t feel nauseated or burned out. I also refueled my electrolytes with coconut water and lots of salt. I haven’t experienced this feeling again, so be sure to listen to your body and be willing to be flexible.
This diet or way of eating has helped many different ailments. PCOS, type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. They have only recently been conducting long-term studies on the effects of high-fat diets. For a very long time people believed any kind of fat was unhealthy because of tests that were performed within the first few days of Ketosis, never on anyone who had become fat-adapted. There are a lot of great success stories out there now and it is so great to see! I do believe our bodies are designed to eat whole, clean, nutrient dense foods no matter what kind of diet you follow. If you decide to try LCHF, I would love to follow along.