Ketosis In Fat Cows Give Us Homework

You’ll recall from last week’s post I did a self-experiment to see if I could learn something about the interplay of exercise and ketosis, at least in myself. To understand this discussion, you’ll want to have read Part I of this post.

However, before getting to this, I want to digress and briefly address two unrelated issues:

  1. Some of you (about 67 or 68 as of this writing) have sent me various links to news reports released yesterday reporting on a study out of Harvard’s School of Public Health.  I was planning to eventually write a post about how observational epidemiology is effectively at the heart of the nutritional crises we face – virtually every nutrition-based recommendation (e.g., eat fiber, don’t eat fat, salt is bad for you, red meat is bad for you) we hear is based on this sort of work.  Given this study, and the press it’s getting, I will be writing the post on observational epidemiology next weekHowever, I’m going to ask you all to undertake a little “homework assignment.”  Before next week I would suggest you read this article by Gary Taubes from the New York Times Magazine in 2007 which deals with this exact problem.
  2. I confirmed this week that someone (i.e., me) can actually eat too much of my wife’s ice cream (recipe already posted here –pretty please with lard on top no more requests for it).  On two consecutive nights I ate about 4 or 5 bowls of the stuff.  Holy cow did I feel like hell for a few hours.  The amazing part is that I did this on two consecutive nights.  Talk about addictive potential.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

OK, back to the purpose of this post: How is ketosis impacting my ability to exercise? Here is the summary of the results from my personal experiment:

 

Let’s take a closer look at what may have been going on in each workout and see what we can learn.

 

Swimming

This workout probably produced the most lactate of the three workouts (we don’t know for sure because I only measured immediate pre- and post- levels without measuring in-workout levels).  My glucose level rose by nearly 40% during this workout despite the fact that I did not consume anything.

How does this happen?  Our bodies store glucose in the liver and in muscles in a “storage” form (a long chain of joined glucose molecules) called glycogen.

Whenever our bodies cannot access sufficient cellular oxygen, our metabolism shifts to a less efficient form of energy acquisition called anaerobic catabolism.   During these periods of activity, we cannot oxidize fat or glycogen (i.e., use oxygen to harness the full chemical potential of fat or carbohydrate molecules).  I will be writing in much more detail about these ideas in the next month or so, so don’t worry if these ideas seem a bit foreign right now.  Just know that sometimes our bodies can convert fat or glucose to energy (efficiently), and sometimes we can only convert glucose to energy (inefficiently).

Because of my ketosis, and the metabolic flexibility that accompanies it, I only “require” that my body turn to glucose for energy under the most “stressful” forms of exercise – like I was doing a lot of during this workout.  But keep in mind, my muscles CANNOT export one gram of the glucose they store, so any glucose in my bloodstream is either ingested (which I didn’t do) or coming from my liver, which CAN export glucose.

Furthermore, the stress of a workout like this results in my adrenal glands releasing a set of chemicals called catecholamines, which cause my liver to export even more of its stored glucose via a process called hepatic glucose output (HGO).

[As an aside, one of the major defects in type-2 diabetes is the inability of insulin to suppress HGO.  In other words, even when not under the catecholamine stress that “should” lead to HGO, their livers constantly export glucose, which contributes to elevated blood glucose levels.  The very popular drug, metformin, used often in type-2 diabetes, blocks this process.]

While I did experience a pretty large rise in lactate (almost 3x), my ketones still went up a bit.  This could imply a few things:

  • Elevated lactate levels do not directly inhibit beta-hydroxybutyrate (B-OHB)
  • Mild elevations in glucose do not directly inhibit B-OHB
  • Mild elevations in glucose do not directly inhibit B-OHB, if insulin is being suppressed (as is the case during vigorous exercise)
  • B-OHB was suppressed, but we are only appreciating the net effect, which was a small increase (i.e., because of my MCT oil and activity, B-OHB levels were rising dramatically, but the rise was blunted by some other factor, such as HGO, insulin, and/or lactate)

More questions than answers from this workout, so on to the next workout.

 

Cycling

Despite this being a tough ride at several points, on average it was less stressful than the other two workouts and I spent the greater fraction of time in my aerobic to tempo (zone 2 to zone 3) zones.

A ride like this, however, is a great example of the advantages of improved metabolic flexibility that accompanies nutritional ketosis.  My average heart rate during this 6 hour ride was 141.  Prior to becoming ketotic, at a HR of 141 my respiratory quotient (RQ) was about 0.98, which meant I was almost 100% dependent on glycogen (glucose) for energy.  Today, at a HR of 141 (with the same power output), my RQ is about 0.7 to 0.75, which means at the same HR and same power output as prior to ketosis, I now rely on glycogen for only about 10% of my energy needs, and the remaining 90% comes from access to my internal fat stores.

This is an important point.  I will devote future posts to this topic in more detail, but I wanted to use this opportunity to mention it.

So what happened physiologically on this ride?

  • My glucose levels fell, probably because I was slowly accessing glycogen stores for peak efforts (once my HR reaches 162 I become 50% dependent on glycogen) throughout the ride (e.g., peak climbing efforts, hard sections on flats), but my liver was not “called on” to dump out a massive amount of glucose in response to a catecholamine surge (and if it was, at some point during the ride, that amount of glucose had been used up by the time I was finished).
  • B-OHB levels increased by about 2.5x – to 4.4. mM, which is pretty high for me.  My highest recorded B-OHB level was 5.1 mM (also after a long ride).  This confirms what my RQ data indicate — my body almost entirely relies on fat oxidation for energy for activity at this intensity.  In the process, B-OHB is generated in large quantities, both for my brain and also my skeletal muscles (e.g., leg muscles). In reality, cardiac myocytes (heart muscle cells) also “like” B-OHB more than glucose and probably also access it when it is abundant.
  • Lactate levels by the end of the ride were effectively unchanged though. Based on “feel,” I suspect I hit peak lactate levels of 8 to 10 mM on this ride during peak efforts, but I had ample time to clear it.

A few observations:

  • I consumed 67 gm of carbohydrate on this ride (of which 50 gm was Generation UCAN’s super starch), yet this did not appear to negatively impact my ability to generate ketones.  Technically, we can’t be sure this is the case, since I would have needed a “control” to know this (e.g., my metabolic and genetic twin doing and eating everything the same as I did, but without the consumption of super starch and/or without the bike ride).  It’s possible that super starch did slightly inhibit ketosis and that my B-OHB level would have been, say, 5.0 mM instead of 4.4 mM.  Metabolic studies of super starch show that it has a minimal impact on insulin secretion and blood glucose levels, hence the name “super” starch.
  • Whatever impact peak levels of lactate production and hepatic glucose output had during the ride, they seem blunted by the end of the ride (and the ride did finish with a modestly difficult 1.4 mile climb at 6-7% grade, which I rode at a HR of about 150).

Since neither lactate levels nor glucose levels (nor insulin levels by extension) were elevated, I can’t really draw any conclusion about whether one factor, more than any other, suppressed production of B-OHB, so on to the next workout.

 

High intensity training

This sort of workout spans the creatine-phosphate (CP) system and the anaerobic energy system, and probably involves the aerobic energy system the least. I’ll write a lot about these later, but for now just know the CP system is good for very short bursts of energy (say 10-20 seconds) and recall the previous discussion of aerobic and anaerobic catabolism.  In other words, this is the type of workout where my nutritional state of ketosis offers the least advantage.

  • This workout saw the greatest increase in glucose level, about 70%.  It is important to recall that during this workout I ingested water with a small amount of branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s – valine, leucine, isoleucine) and super starch, about 4 gm and 10 gm, respectively. I do not believe either accounted for the sharp rise in blood glucose and, again, I believe hepatic glucose output in response to a strong catecholamine surge attributed to this increase.
  • Lactate levels also rose, though probably less so than during a peak swim effort.  This suggests more of the effort in this workout was fueled by the CP system (versus the anaerobic system, which probably played a larger role in the swim workout).
  • This was the only workout that saw a fall in B-OHB levels, which now offers some insight into what might be impacting B-OHB production.

Contrasting this workout with the swim workout draws a pleasant contrast: both saw a similar rise in lactate, but one saw twice the rise in blood glucose.  In the former, B-OHB was unchanged (actually rose slightly), while in the latter, B-OHB fell by over a third.

This suggests – but certainly does not prove – that it is not lactate per se that inhibits ketone (B-OHB) production, but rather glucose and/or insulin.  It is possible the BCAA played a role, and if I was thinking straight, I would not have consumed anything during this workout to remove variables. But I have a very hard time believing 3 or 4 gm of BCAA could suppress B-OHB. When you see hoof prints in the sand, you should probably think of horses before you think of zebras.

Conversely, there is some evidence that lactate promotes re-esterification of fatty acids into triglycerides within adipose cells.  What does that mean in English? High levels of lactate take free fatty acids and help promote putting them back into storage form.  This would prevent free fatty acids from making their way to the liver where they could be turned into ketones (e.g., B-OHB). In other words, we may be missing this effect because of my sampling error – I only sampled twice per workout, rather than multiple times throughout the workout.

 

So what did I learn, overall?

I think it’s safe to say I did not definitively answer any questions, which is not surprising given the number of confounding factors, lack of controls, and sample size of one.  However, I think I did learn a few things.

 

Lesson 1

The metabolic advantages of nutritional ketosis seemed most apparent during my bike ride, evidenced by my ability to access internal fat stores across a much broader range of physiologic stress than a non-ketotic individual.  (More on this in Lesson 4.)

 

Lesson 2

The swim and high intensity dry-land workouts suggested that my state of nutritional ketosis did not completely impair my ability to store or export hepatic glucose.  This is a very important point!  Why?  Because, it runs counter to the “conventional wisdom” of low-carb (or ketotic) nutrition with respect to physical performance.  We are “told” that without carbohydrates we can’t synthesize glycogen (i.e., we can’t store glucose).  However, those who promote this idea fail to realize that glycerol (the backbone of triglycerides) is turned into glycogen, along with amino acids, not to mention the 20 to 40 gm of carbohydrates I consume each day (since my brain doesn’t need them).  We know muscles still store glycogen in ketosis, as this has been well studied and documented via muscle biopsies by Phinney, Volek, and others.  But, my little self-experiment actually adds a layer to this.  Because muscle can’t export glucose (muscle lacks the enzyme glucose-1-phosphatase), we know that the increase in my blood glucose was accounted for by HGO – my liver exporting its glycogen.  In other words, ketosis does not appear to completely impair hepatic glycogen formation or export.  Again, we’d need controls to try to assess how much, if any, hepatic glycogen formation and/or export is inhibited.  It’s hard to make the argument that being in ketosis is allowing me to swim and do high intensity training with greater aptitude, and as I’ve commented in the past, I feel I’m about 5-10% “off” where I was prior to ketosis for these specific activities, but at the same time, I could be doing more to optimize around them (e.g., spend less time on my bike which invariably detracts from them, supplement with creatine which may support shorter, more explosive movements), which I am not.

 

Lesson 3

Consuming “massive” amounts of super starch (50 gm on the ride), did not seem to adversely affect my ketotic state.  My total carbohydrate intake for that day, including what I consumed for the other 18 hours of the day, was probably close to 90 gm (50 gm of super starch plus 40 gm of carbs from the other food I ate).  This suggests one or two possibilities:

  • Because of the molecular structure of super starch (I’ll be discussing this in the future, so please hold questions) and the concomitant metabolic profile that follows from this structure, it may not inhibit ketosis like other carbohydrate, and/or
  • During periods of profound physical stress insulin secretion is being sufficiently inhibited that higher-than-normal amounts of carbohydrate can be tolerated without negatively impacting ketone production.

This is pretty straightforward to test, even in myself.  I just haven’t done so yet.

 

Lesson 4

While it’s probably the case that my liver has less glycogen (i.e., stored glucose) at any point in time, relative to what would be present if I were eating a high-carb diet, it’s not clear this matters, at least for some types of workouts.  Why? Take the following example:

  • Someone my size can probably store about 100 gm of hepatic (liver) glycogen and about 300 gm of muscle glycogen at “full” capacity. This represents about 1600 calories worth of glucose – the most I can store at any one time.
  • Before I was ketotic, my RQ at 60% max VO2 (about 2,500 mL of O2 per min consumption) was nearly 1.00, so at that level of power output (a pace I can hold for hours from a cardiovascular fitness standpoint) I required 95% of my energy to come from glycogen.  So, how long do my glycogen stores last?  2,500 mL of O2 per minute translates to about 750 calories per hour, so I would be good for about 2 hours and 15 minutes on my glycogen stores.
  • Contrast this with my ketotic state.  Let’s assume my glycogen stores are now only half what they were before.  Muscle biopsy data suggests this is probably an overly conservative estimate, but let us assume this to be the case. Now I only store 50 mg of hepatic glycogen and 150 gm of muscle glycogen, about 800 calories worth of glucose.
  • In ketosis, my RQ at 60% max VO2 is 0.77 (at last check), telling me I am getting only 22% of my energy from glucose and the remaining 78% from fat.  So, how long do my depleted glycogen stores last? Nearly 5 hours.  Why?  BecauseI barely access glucose at the SAME level of oxygen consumption and the same power output. 

I know what you’re thinking…why is this an advantage? Just consume more glucose as you ride! It’s not that simple, but you’ll have to wait until my upcoming post, “What does exercise have to do with being in the ICU” to find out.

Going back to the black sheep example I open Part I of this post with, we know that at least one person in nutritional ketosis seems to make enough liver and muscle glycogen to support even the most demanding of his energetic needs.

 

Photo by Troy Oldham on Unsplash

What Is Ketosis?

The Keto Diet is often labeled as extreme. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your body prefers burning fat for energy and it is the preferred source in your brain and muscles, and it has some remarkably positive results for a wide variety of most common chronic illnesses today.
Unfortunately, the general public has not been exposed to the truth about nutritional ketosis, and therefore don’t believe that it’s a healthy state to be in.

Just as cholesterol is not the culprit in heart disease, ketones have also been labeled as some kind of strange substance that you should avoid at all costs. This is simply not the case.

 

 

A Keto Diet is simply limiting the number of carbohydrates you eat.

A keto diet is just a low carb diet coupled with higher fat intake. The amount of carbs depends on each person, but it usually below 50 grams of net carbs per day. If you eat 10 grams of carbs, but that contains 5 grams of fiber, you will have consumer 5 grams of net carbs.
This limited amount of carbohydrate intake will switch your body over to burning ketones as your primary source of fuel. Alternatively, you can look at your body switching from being a sugar burning steam train with all the black dirty soot covering the engine, to a clean burning Tesla that runs on fat and ultimately does less damage to your body.

keto diets are low in carbohydrates. This means you should avoid the following foods:

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Sugar
  • Milk*
  • Corn*
  • Beans*
  • Rice*
  • Fruit*

*Unless you are refueling from exercise – Still limit these
What most people don’t understand is that this is a normal metabolic state. When babies are born, they will go into a state of nutritional ketosis, relying on their mother’s breast milk which provides 25% energy from ketones. If you have ever skipped breakfast, you would most certainly have been in a state of Ketosis.

Click Here To See My Macro Calculator

 

Why go Keto?

So why would we want to reduce the amount of sugar we consume and switch our bodies over to burn fat instead? Ben Greenfield, an elite triathlete explains the 3 main reasons why we would want to pursue this:

  1.  Metabolically, Fat is a superior fuel for the body
  2. Consuming fats enhances your brain function and gives mental stability
  3. Greater health and longevity that comes from controlling your blood sugar levels naturally.

As we discussed earlier, Ketones (produced by burning fat) are actually the preferred fuel source for vital organs such as the muscles, heart, liver, and brain.

Let’s look at some of the other benefits to nutritional ketosis:

  • Natural hunger control
  • Lower inflammation levels
  • Normalise metabolic function
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Mental clarity
  • Effortless weight loss
  • Reduction in triglycerides
  • Lowered levels of LDL particles (bad cholesterol)
  • Increased levels of HDL particles (good cholesterol)
  • Increased sex drive
  • Better fertility
  • Eliminated heartburn
  • Improved immune system
  • Slowing the aging process
  • Reduces acne breakouts
  • Faster recovery from exercise
  • Decreased anxiety and mood swings
  • ……we could go on and on and on.

Not only does nutritional ketosis benefit the body, weight issues also respons extremely well to the approach as well. A study by Harvard School of Public Health analyzed 53 studies, involving 67,000 dieters, which found those who cut back on carbs were two and a half pounds lighter after a year than those who embraced a “low fat” approach.

For decades, there has been debate over the merits of a low-fat diet, which was endorsed as the best route to weight loss in the 1970s. Now, major research, published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, back a low carbohydrate approach as a more effective diet.

One thing keeping many from ever implementing a keto diet is the mistaken belief it will require a special skill set in the kitchen, or that it will be more labor-intensive than the cooking they’re used to already.

Granted, if you’ve never cooked a fresh vegetable, you’ll have to learn something new, but other than that, a keto diet is actually quite easy to follow once you’ve grasped the basics.
Another common pitfall is lack of monitoring. If you’re healthy, this may not be of great importance, but if you’re trying to address a chronic health condition, please realize that this is not just another diet, it’s a powerful metabolic therapy.

So get the appropriate blood tests and monitor your condition. Don’t think you can just slather extra butter on everything and all will be well. You do need the appropriate support and monitoring.

 

Won’t fat make me fat (and diabetic)?

One of the most misunderstood concepts in history is this one. Fat makes you fat. This logic doesn’t apply to going green after eating too many cucumbers? Fat will make you fat only when it is paired with excess carbohydrates.

Where did it all start?

All the study’s that say fat causes heart disease link back to one study, and it’s the reason why we thing saturated fat causes heart disease. It was developed in the early 1950s by Ancel Benjamin Keys.

In his lab, he was responsible for running experiments looking for early indications of disease. What you must remember is that in the 1950’s, no health issue seemed more urgent than heart disease.
Keys’ most famous findings were contained in the study of the Seven Countries. The study showed that the risk and rates of heart attack and stroke cardiovascular risk both at the population level and at the individual level were directly correlated to the level of total serum cholesterol.

It demonstrated that the association between blood cholesterol level and coronary heart disease (CHD) risk from 5 to 40 years’ follow-up is found consistently across different cultures.
Even before the study had begun, there had been criticism of its methods. Jacob Yerushalmy and Herman E. Hilleboe pointed out that, for an earlier study demonstrating this association,  Keys had selected six countries out of 21 for which data were available.

Analysis of the full dataset made the analysis of fat intake and heart disease unclear. Due to this, the association between the percentage of fat calories and mortality from heart disease was not valid.
It wasn’t until 2014 when Nina Teicholz (Author of “The Big Fat Surprise”) reviewed the study and also found that one country, Crete, who’s results formed the majority of the evidence from the study was conducted during Lent, thereby causing Keys to dramatically undercount the amount of saturated fat eaten.

Correlation Vs Causation

Correlation is very different to causation. You cannot draw conclusions like Keys’ did base on correlation. I’ll give you some Examples of illogically inferring causation from correlation:

Example 1

THE FASTER WINDMILLS ARE OBSERVED TO ROTATE; THE MORE WIND IS OBSERVED TO BE.
THEREFORE, WIND IS CAUSED BY THE ROTATION OF WINDMILLS. (OR, SIMPLY PUT: WINDMILLS, AS THEIR NAME
INDICATES, ARE MACHINES USED TO PRODUCE WIND.)

Example 2

AS ICE CREAM SALES INCREASE, THE RATE OF DROWNING DEATHS INCREASES SHARPLY.
THEREFORE, ICE CREAM CONSUMPTION CAUSES DROWNING.

Example 3

SINCE THE 1950S, BOTH THE ATMOSPHERIC CO2 LEVEL AND OBESITY LEVELS HAVE INCREASED SHARPLY.
HENCE, ATMOSPHERIC CO2 CAUSES OBESITY.

Okay, so what does this mean for you? Quite a lot of fact. Social stigma has placed fat as the enemy so much so that it feels weird to even think that fat isn’t the problem with our current diet.

Diabetes and Ingesting Fat

Type 2 Diabetes is one of the most avoidable diseases in the western world, and it has
become an epidemic. Most of our population just don’t understand what causes this disease.
Diabetics are not affected most by large amounts of fat or protein. Insulin resistance is the key cause, and guess what causes insulin resistance? Taking a ride on the carbohydrate roller coaster ever 3-4 hours which eventually leads to insulin resistance, along with other factors.
When a diabetic eats a Burger and Fries, the carbohydrate is the one that sends their blood glucose spiraling out of control, not the meat and cheese. Fat is not to blame at all, it just happens to take the fall.

How do I start keto and what can I eat?

As far as what you can eat, keto diets are done differently by different people. Eat dark green leafy vegetables, fatty red meats, chicken with the skin left on, fish, offal (organ meat), eggs, seeds & nuts, full-fat dairy, or anything else you can find rich in nutrition, fat, protein and fiber.

Carbs are a limit. Protein is a target. Fat is to be consumed to remove hunger and meet macros requirements.

Although fiber is a carbohydrate, it is not digested as a simple carbohydrate and is therefore not included in your daily carb count. It’s important to stress that fiber doesn’t NEGATE carbs – it just isn’t counted, so mixing a handful of flax meal into a bowl of ice-cream won’t work!

But the label says sugar-free?

Just because the food wrapper says it is sugar-free, it does not mean it has no carbs. Or just because it is beef jerky, it does not mean it has no sugar. I’ve fallen into this trap a few times, turning around the packet to realize that its full of sugar!

Honestly, there are not that many keto friendly foods on the shelves at the supermarket. Keep to the outer edges of the supermarket and avoid the isles where all the packaged food is positioned. Every time you go, write down new foods that are keto friendly. In a couple of months, you will have a full list of foods that you can eat at your store.

Won’t I become tired if I cut out the carbs?

Carbs do equal energy, but like sugar, they only last for a limited amount of time. There is a by-product of fat consumption which is called Ketones. In a state of carbohydrate depletion, ketones are used in your body as energy, particularly in the brain. Which put simply means that burning fat whilst being in a low carb state, also equals energy! And much more of it.

The Keto Diet can make you feel much more alert because your brain is getting much more energy from Ketones than it ever did from carbohydrates.

Cholesterol and the Keto Diet

Cholesterol plays an important role in our survival. The liver is careful to ensure the body always has enough, creating around 1000 – 1400 milligrams of it each day. The liver also has important feedback mechanisms that regulate how much it needs to produce from how much we get from our diet.

Cholesterols main job is to insulate parts of our cells, build and maintain cell membranes, help digest fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin D (Sun), E (Skin), A (Eyesight) and K (Blood Clotting) whilst also kick-starting many of the body’s own pathways to producing hormones, including sex hormones!

Cardiac risk factors improve when blood sugar and insulin levels are lowered via dietary changes.  HDL cholesterol goes up on a low carb, high-fat diet and triglycerides fall dramatically.

Eating A High Cholesterol Diet Does Not Increase Heart Disease

The American journal of clinical nutrition undertook a study proving that eating a high-cholesterol diet does not increase the risk of heart disease. The study followed 1,032 initially healthy men ages 42 to 60. The men consumed an average of about 2,800 milligrams of cholesterol a week, more than a quarter of it from eating an average of four eggs weekly. (An egg contains about 180 milligrams of cholesterol.)

After controlling for age, education, smoking, B.M.I., diabetes, hypertension, and other characteristics, the researchers found no association between cardiovascular disease and total cholesterol or egg consumption. The researchers also examined carotid artery thickness, a measure of atherosclerosis. They found no association between cholesterol consumption and artery thickness, either.

In Europe, The Countries That Eat the Most Saturated Fat Have the Lowest Risk of Heart Disease

Data from: Hoenselaar R. Further response from Hoenselaar. British Journal of Nutrition, 2012.

The Obesity Epidemic in The USA Started at Almost The Exact Same Time The Low-Fat Dietary Guidelines Were Published

Source: National Center for Health Statistics (US). Health, United States, 2008: With Special Feature on the Health of Young Adults. Hyattsville (MD): National Center for Health Statistics (US); 2009 Mar. Chartbook.

The Diseases of Civilization Increased as Butter and Lard Were Replaced with Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats

Source: Dr. Stephan Guyenet. The American Diet. 2012.

What are the different types of fat that I can eat?

Recommended fats to eat are olive oil, grass-fed butter, and coconut oil.

There are actually four main types of fats. These are:

Trans Fats

The most important fat to remember AND AVOID is Trans Fats. These types of fats have been chemically altered and industrially produced to improve their physical appearance and taste. This method, however, has been shown to significantly increase LDL cholesterol in humans (The Bad One) by about 10% and has no impact on the protective HDL cholesterol.

Trans fat is a variant of unsaturated fat. 50 years ago, saturated fats were thought to be the enemy, as they were incorrectly linked with certain diseases. When trans fats were first introduced to food production, they were considered miraculous because they allowed a liquid oil to be converted to a solid spread without the “adverse effects” of saturated fat on blood cholesterol.

By 1990, research by Masking and Katan showed trans fats elevated the harmful LDL cholesterol by about a tenth more than regular unsaturated fat. Compared with other fats, trans fats didn’t have the benefit of elevating the protective HDL cholesterol. Mensink and Katan concluded that trans fats were worse type of food that contributed to heart disease.

This was shown convincingly by Walter Willett in his 1993 study of US nurses. Those who reported eating a large number of trans fats (more than 5.7 grams a day) were around two-thirds more likely to have a heart attack than nurses eating less than 2.4 grams a day.

Trans fats from dairy and beef fat (“natural” trans) were not linked to heart disease risk.

Saturated Fats (Eat Meat, Dairy)

Saturated fats are usually a solid at room temperature and oxidize slowly. They have a stable composition which is why they are solid. This type of fat is most often found in animal foods including:

Monounsaturated Fat (Eat Avocados, Olive oil, Cashews)

Unsaturated fats are usually a liquid at room temperature. They have a weak composition which is why they convert to liquid easily. Monounsaturated fats are most often found in:

  • Avocadoes
  • Olives
  • Almonds and Cashews
  • Olive Oil and Sesame Oil

Polyunsaturated Fat

Polyunsaturated fats can be tricky. This type of fat is mostly found in the following foods:

  • Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
  • Corn oil, safflower oil, and soybean oil
  • Pine nuts and walnuts

There is also a specific type of polyunsaturated fat called Omega 3 Fats, studied due to their significant effect on heart health, their ability to lower triglyceride levels and increase High-density Lipoproteins. This type of fat is best balanced with Omega 6 fats at a ratio of 1:1, but you won’t have to worry about that as long as you are eating whole foods. These particular fats can be found in the following:

  • Fatty fish – including salmon, mackerel, herring, and tuna
  • Certain seeds – including flax seeds and chia seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Algae

Do I have to eat Coconut Oil / MCT Oil?

Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) is a special type of saturated fat converted straight into energy by your liver, and cannot be stored as fat. The energy boost you get from MCT oil is like carbs and is important to help you switch over to fat burning as easy as possible.

Coconut contains just over 60% MCT, so it’s a beneficial way to get energy from a high-fat diet. MCT Oil, in particular, has made a huge difference for me, especially when I tried the high-intensity cardio exercise on a keto diet, but mostly to keep my energy levels at an optimum level.

According to Dr. Laurie Cullen at the Women’s Institute, when MCTs are absorbed into the bloodstream, they bypass the digestion process that longer chain fats go through.

MCT’s provide quick energy for the body and are thus less likely to be stored in the fat cells. Further, Dr. Cullen says when a meal includes medium chain triglycerides, there is a significant increase in amounts of calories burned (thermogenic effect). When more calories are used, fewer are stored as fat, which helps reduce body fat levels.

Many keto diest and MCT oil spokespeople say MCT’s energy sustaining powers can be explained as follows: when MCT oil is metabolized in the body, it behaves more like a carbohydrate energy source than a fat.

Remembering your current fuel preference for the body is carbohydrate (until you become fat adapted). Unlike other fats, MCT oil does not go through the lymphatic system. Instead, it is transported directly to the liver where it is metabolized so it releases energy like a carbohydrate and creates significant ketones (which can be used for fuel) in the process.

Keto Diet Risks – How you can avoid them.

What are some of the keto diet risks? I am usually a pretty calm and collected person, but this has made me pretty angry.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Keto Diet, it’s relatively simple. The keto diet is basically a low carb, high fat diet which consists of healthy fats, moderate amounts of protein and a very strict limit on carbohydrates.

What I am seeing becoming more prominent recently as the lifestyle has become more mainstream makes me frustrated. What would make a calm and collected person so frustrated?

Nutrition.

Specifically, when micro nutrition gets thrown out in favor of the low carb, high-fat macros.

It basically looks like this. When someone starts a ketogenic lifestyle, the hardest part is cutting out the sugar in your diet. Sometimes, people do both sugar and carbohydrates in one go. Kudos to those people! Sugar is extremely additive, and carbohydrates have been deemed necessary for energy ever since the low-fat brigade made their way to the top.

However, what begins to happen is this. that person begins to eat an incredibly high amount of processed foods, just because the macronutrients fit the ratios required. They discard nutritious foods just because the macro nutrition of vegetables don’t fit the strict food rules that the keto diet implies.

It can get down to the point where instead of eating living plants, natural foods, and drinking water, they substitute everything they can with a low carb alternative that is either filled with preservatives, artificially sweetened with aspartame, or has lived in a can for the past 4 years.

How many carbs does a cigarette have? – Is it good for your health? NO.

Hypothetically, eating a diet solely consisting of cheese will help you lose weight. This might work for the first weight loss goal because you’ve effectively cut out all the insulin raising foods which prevented you from losing weight in the first place. But if you want to look after your health, then you really need to learn to understand what you’re actually eating, regardless of the carbohydrate and fat content.

The biggest Keto Diet Risks come from ignoring your body and ignoring nutrition.

So many people are deficient in many of the vital micronutrients because all they eat is salami and artificial cheese sticks. Some of these include  Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin A, B, C and D.

You need to teach your body to re-learn what it actually needs, instead of switching from coke to diet coke, or bakery goods to an entire box of low carb sugar-free cookies. The physical food needs to change, but so does your mindset about eating food.

My aim throughout this website is to teach you which items/mindsets are important to change for lifelong success.

Don’t jump off a cliff with everyone else. Make sure you are eating healthy fats, nutritious sources of protein and a low carbohydrate content. Don’t blindly follow everything you read.

Most of all, where ever possible, make those food choices organic, ethically sourced or free from known carcinogens listed here. 

If you disagree with me or want to know more, leave a comment!

Image source – That Sugar Film

What is insulin resistance?

Before we talk Insulin Resistance, let’s talk Insulin. Insulin is made by your pancreas and allows your body to use glucose (sugar) from carbohydrates in your diet.

This particular molecule helps keep your blood sugar levels from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).

A good way to remember this is that HYPER comes from too much sugar, and HYPO comes from not enough.

Your body regulates the amount of blood sugar in the blood by insulin. When the body has too much excess insulin, it can become insulin resistant. This has the ability to cause a multitude of other chronic health risks, including PCOS (For women) and Fatty Liver Disease.

 

What other conditions will a keto diet help?

What other conditions will a keto diet help?

There is a great amount of science-based evidence which shows the following conditions can be reversed or greatly improved on a keto diet:

A keto diet has been used for many years to treat epilepsy. By stabilizing energy production and increasing blood ketone levels, the body is able to control seizures.

Blood ketone levels are also showing strong signs in the treatments of certain disorders such as Autism, ALS, Parkinson’s disease and MS.

Everybody knows that aging is a result of destruction of the human body, but you might not have known that inflammation can accelerate aging. A keto diet can reduce inflammation significantly, therefore preventing the aging process.

Endurance athletes will be surprised to know that a keto diet can help with Mitochondrial support, as it increases oxygen uptake and increases the efficiency of the mitochondrial biomechanics. This, in turn, can help in diseases such as Glucose transporter type 1 deficiency, Mcardle disease, and Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex Deficiency.

I’m not losing weight. What am I doing wrong?

Many people decided to start a ketogenic lifestyle initially to lose weight. Remember, you’re not doing anything wrong if you are not losing weight. At first, the weight just seems to slide off due to the water loss by restricting carbohydrates.

After a little while, you might not be seeing the results that you loved during the start of the lifestyle.

This is because by eating less sugar and carbohydrates, you begin to increase your insulin sensitivity, which enables your body to build muscle.

To avoid disappointment, make sure you take body measurements when the number of the scales isn’t going down. Progress pictures can give a visual representation of where you are in your ketogenic journey, but it is useful to track your waist, butt, and arm measurements.

During plateaus, you will be still shedding inches, but the scale might not necessarily move as quickly. Just keep going for the sake of who you want to become.

Just remember, Keep Calm And Keto On!

 

I like “Insert Favourite Junk Food”. Can I eat low carb replacements?

One of the first things I did, when switching to keto is finding replacements for my favorite junk foods. Pizza, chips, pastries, cookies, fast foods. The problem I have with low carb replacements is I would still overeat and not hit my macros.

I had to go back, change my lifestyle, and stick to veggies, meats, and healthy fats. Once I thought of it as a lifestyle change and not a diet, it became much easier for me.

To make it really easy, think of this:

  • Eat a palm-sized piece of protein with every meal
  • Use vegetables as fat delivery systems. (Think butter with broccoli)
  • Limit carbs

However, if you must cheat, don’t think that you’ve ruined everything. Just make sure that you can get back on track easily without any grief.  Meal plans and meal preparation are key processes that make your life easier as you begin a ketogenic lifestyle.

Once you have been in Ketosis for a while (few months), you can actually enter Ketosis again very easily without too much time, generally back into Ketosis within 2 days.

However, if you are just starting out, make sure you stick with it for a while to see the real benefits before falling off the bandwagon. The results will speak for themselves!

Just one won’t hurt, right?

Let’s admit it, most people have cheat days in their diet. You are not going to die if you eat a donut. For me, it becomes a slippery slope, where a cheat day becomes a cheat week.

Practice self-control. The trick that learned is to not trust my first instinct. If you are in the cafeteria, and you tell yourself that you want a donut, just say your first instinct is incorrect when it comes to food.

Some people have pictures on their phone to remind them where they were in the journey a couple of months ago to help them not cheat.

How To Think About Butter

Now, this is not for everyone, but think of butter as one of your friends from High School. His name is Dan. He laughed at your jokes, helped you complete your maths assignments and was a friend when you needed him most. Then, like most high school boys, you were not interested. Somehow, along comes Paul who was loud, fun, and most of all…. attractive.

Dan was mildly interested in girls throughout high school, but he could never work out why he stayed in the friend zone? He was good at long distance running, but maybe he lacked the thrill that boys like Paul could offer…

Years later after you’ve partied 15 years off your lifespan, you realize that Paul was actually a shallow a**-hole. He didn’t care about moving his career forward, sitting on the couch drinking beers because life had suddenly shifted. You were not ready to settle down and buy a house with this sugar-loving junkie.

Remember Dan? Yeah, he’s got a slow and steady online business selling green grass to a niche market of people who live in apartments because their cat is afraid of kitty litter. He finally traveled the world whilst making money online and actually has something to talk about at social gatherings. You are thinking back over the years of crazy nights of binge drinking and steady soft drink consumption. What where you doing??

Dan finds you on social media wants to catch up over coffee. You are skeptical at first. You are thinking, what happens if I leave Paul? Will all the sugary fun be over?

Think of Dan as Butter, and think of Paul as Carbohydrates/Sugar.

Dan Vs. Paul (Fat Vs. Carbs)

  • Dan steadily put one foot forward in front of the other
    • Butter is a slow but consistent source of energy and nutrients.
  • Paul burnt out like a bail of straw in front of a bushfire
    • Carbs burn bright, then crash.
  • Dan is Fit and Healthy
    • Butter contains CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). It is popular as a fat loss supplement, and studies show it can have powerful effects on health
  • Paul has Type 2 Diabetes
    • Consistently getting energy from carbohydrates and sugars decreases insulin sensitivity in the body, resulting in Diabetic trajectories.

The belief is that by consuming saturated fats like butter, the dietary fats instantly convert into cholesterol which is is thought to be one of the major causes of a build up of cholesterol plaque in the arteries.

This is not true as you might already know, however, it does depend on the type of butter, and the amount of these nutrients vary greatly depending on what the cows ate.

Butter from Grass-Fed Cows is a Major Source of Heart-Healthy Nutrients. As it turns out, fatty acid CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is popular as a fat loss supplement, and studies show it can have powerful effects on health.

Grass-fed butter contains 5X more CLA than butter from grain-fed cows.

Butter from grass-fed cows is also much higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K2, compared to butter from grain-fed cows. As you can see, butter from grass-fed cows is a much healthier and more nutritious choice.

Here are the 3 different types I recommend:

  1. Aldi Just Organic Butter (about $3 AUD)
  2. Westgold Butter ($2 AUD)
  3. Kerrygold ($5 AUD)

Build muscle on a Keto Diet – How I doubled my squat and gained 4kgs in 4 Weeks

Gaining weight on a (mostly) keto diet is often called “Keto Gains”. The term “Build muscle on a Keto diet” is a slightly controversial subject in the physics world. A common assumption is that you cannot gain weight whilst also losing fat at the same time. The rules of thermodynamics say that calories in equal calories out right? WRONG.

Having fat on your body just means that there is an excess fat accumulation. It has nothing to do with an energy imbalance, or overeating, or sedentary behavior.  If you don’t believe me, watch the video below:

A Little About Me

My name is Aaron. I’m FatForWeightLoss! I’m 6 foot 5 inches (196cm tall) and weigh 85kgs (187.5 lbs). 4 weeks ago I weighed 81kgs (178 lbs), which has been my normal weight for my entire life. 85kgs is the heaviest I’ve ever been!

I’m semi-serious cyclists and half marathon runner, but I’ve never been a member of a gym. I have done squats previously, but I’ve only ever used my 20KG kettlebells.

My previous squat attempts where done with 2 X 20kg kettlebells (40kgs in total). To tell you the truth, using the kettlebells, my legs would hurt for 3 days afterward.

The Challenge

Over the past 4 weeks, I set myself a challenge. I wanted to put on 1kg every week, whilst going mostly ketogenic, and eventually achieving a 100kg squat (220 lbs).

How I Increased My Weight

To effectively increase my weight, I chose a Ketogenic alternative called the “Targeted Keto Diet”. The basics of this diet consist of eating a very low carb, high-fat diet. The only difference was I consumed 25g Dextrose and 3g Creatine before a workout. Why dextrose?

Dextrose is a type of carbohydrate that is much more bioavailable to your muscles. I wanted my muscles to burn the carbohydrates before they could be stored in my liver as glycogen, which would have negatively affected my nutritional ketosis.

Getting into Ketosis relies on effectively limiting carbohydrates and increasing fat, which eventually empties out the majority of the glycogen stores in your liver. This enables your body to burn Ketones for energy. The last thing you want to do whilst trying to achieve ketosis is loaded up on fructose (fruit sugar), which tops up your liver glycogen and kicks you out of ketosis.

Post workout I consumed 40g Venom WPC Protein Powder with Water. I was aiming for 1.2g per KG of bodyweight. Maintaining protein intake was the hardest part, as my regular diet doesn’t contain that much protein. Too much protein can also kick you out of ketosis.

To make sure I gained 1kg each week, I setup MyFitnessPal accordingly and ate the meals indicated in this Muscle Building Meal Plan.  Over consuming calories is relatively hard whilst eating fat, because your body never feels hungry enough to eat the quantity of fat required to replenish the energy in your muscles in order to gain size.

Eating a low carb high fat diet is important for me as I can regularly suffer join inflammation and lower back problems. Reducing my carbohydrates limited the amount of oxidative damage caused by sugar burning, whilst the high fat intake helped to burn clean energy whilst also protecting my joints.

How I Doubled My Squat

I realized that to increase this squat weight, I had to join a gym. Buying the weights necessary would have cost a fortune. I joined Anytime Fitness Keperra and was given my first 4 weeks for free!

To build muscle on a keto diet, I used an app called Stronglifts 5X5. I chose this app because simplicity was important, and strength was the main goal. Stronglifts focuses on doing 2 different workouts (A and B), alternating them each time. The weight is lifted 5 times, for 5 Sets with 1 min 30 seconds of rest in between.

Stronglifts focuses on compound exercises, which target multiple muscles at the same time. The 5 types of exercises I did to increase my overall strength were:

  1. Squats (Main Goal)
  2. Deadlifts
  3. Bench Press
  4. Bent Barbell Row
  5. Overhead Press

(Squats are done every workout).

My goal was to attend the gym 3 times per week. I successfully completed this for the entire 4 weeks. My first attempt at squatting with weights was 50kgs. This felt heavy (compared to my usual 40kgs) and left me feeling unbelievably sore for the next 3 days. My aim was to increase the weights on the squat rack by 5kgs at a time wherever possible. Shown Below:

Squat Increase Over 4 Weeks

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I bought a velcro weight belt when I reached 90kgs in squat weight to “future proof” my lower back from injury. I found that this really helped, and began to increase the weights much more confidently once I realized the weight belt would help so much.

Results

Let’s take a look at some of the results.

Week 1 – 81 KGS (Weak and cardio fat – 178.5lbs)

From years of mainly doing cardio (cycling and running), I had become weak. Definitely looking forward to putting on more muscle.

Week 2 – 82.3 KGS (visible water loss 181.4 lbs)

Over the first week, I had not incorporated enough salt into my diet. I had lost a visible amount of water from my body weight.

Week 3 – 83.7 KGS (Posture improvement 184.5 lbs)

In this photo, I can see that my posture is beginning to improve as my hip stability and strength began to increase.

Week 4 – 85 KGS (Shoulders and arms visibly bigger 187.3 lbs)

This week visibly not much has changed except for my shoulder/arms area.

Final Thoughts

As I was relatively new to the gym, I’m not sure that a gym junkie could also improve their squat 2X. I’m confident that it will be able to increase more steadily and confidently, as consuming a higher fat diet helped protect my joints and muscles from overuse and excessive weight increase related injuries.

In hindsight, I should have taken measurements around my biceps, thighs, and belly to compare the difference. Visibly the photos don’t look like much has changed. I did notice that as my squats got heavier, my waistline began to shrink significantly. This was due to the size of my pants around my waist. 4KGS of extra weight added to my bodyweight definitely feels different and heavier.

I still have a lot of work to do, but this was a good start to build muscle on a keto diet.

 

MY OTHER RECIPES

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