Sweet Geek

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My Ketogenic Diet: Take Two

This part 1 in a series on ketogenic diets. Check out part 2, part 3 and part 4.

After reading Jimmy’s Moore’s post on his amazing success going from a low-carb to a ketogenic diet, I was inspired to try it again. I have tried ketogenic before but it takes some planning to do correctly and I found it easier to just do low-carb. Though I haven’t been plateaued as long as Jimmy, it’s been a year and desperation has definitely sunk in.

Jimmy found that even on a strict low-carb diet, his blood ketone levels were low, definitely not high enough to fuel his body adequately on a low-carb diet. By following the recommendations of Drs. Phinney and Volek from The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living (and the follow up on Performance), in 30 days he raised his ketone levels from 0.3 to 2 and lost 20 lbs. After being stalled for 6 years, that’s quite an accomplishment!

So what was the trick? Normally, when someone one a low-carb diet wants to see if they are “in ketosis” they use urine test strips (ketostix). Unfortunately, those only test for one type of ketone and depending on how well your body is keto-adapted, it’s terribly inaccurate. Phinney and Volek recommend using a blood ketone meter instead. It tests for beta-hydroxybutyrate, the more common ketone found in keto-adapted individuals and measures the real amount, not excess that your body flushed away. By testing your blood ketones, you can really tell not only if you are in ketotis but if you are well adapted, i.e. making enough ketones to fuel your brain and the rest of your body runs on fat. If you are on the borderline, then your liver will create glucose from protein which if you are trying to lower glucose metabolism, isn’t terribly helpful. In addition it seems that in that borderline state you aren’t getting enough glucose to use it as your primary fuel and yet you aren’t able to run off of fat well either and consequently you probably feel awful with low-energy, fatigue, cravings and mood swings. Sounds like me for the past 6 months! :(

Well, $120 later and I’m the proud owner of a ketone meter (Precision Xtra) and 20 ketone strips. Holy cow the strips are expensive! On Amazon they were about $6 each… I figured if it helps me lose weight, it will be money well spent. fingers crossed

I just tested this morning (fasted) and I was strangely ecstatic to see that my ketone level was only 0.4! Not because I don’t want to be in ketosis but by being low there’s hope that my weight loss stall is due to not following a “well formulated low-carbohydrate diet”. I love that phrase from Phinney and Volek. :)

I’ll keep testing once a day and am striving to lower my protein and raise my fat intake. My new goals are: 30g carbs, 80g protein and 140g fat. That comes to about 1,700 calories, which is a mild deficit for me. If I’m hungry (which hopefully once I’m adapted I won’t be!) I’ll stick to fat (mmm heavy cream!).

So I’m going to need to be a bit more creative on limiting protein and getting in enough fat… If you have any ideas (other than chugging heavy cream or coconut oil), please let me know in the comments.

Wish me luck, I’ll report back in a week.