Update: before reading this, make sure to know my current thoughts (about page)
As of February 2015, I’ve been 1 year and 5 months into ketosis. I entered this metabolic state using nutrition primarily and I was able to maintain it through nutritional, as well as other interventions. More than 98% of the time I was in ketosis. It was, I believe, two or three times when I was out of ketosis for a couple of hours and this happened during the first months, back in late 2013.
My personal nutritional approach is individualized. I do not do 80+% fat and 5% carbohydrate and I would be inclined to say that it may not be optimal for healthy adults to eat so much fat and deprive their bodies of micronutrient, vitamin, and mineral diversity that come from vegetables, leafy greens, and/or some legumes, unless a severe medical condition (such as epilepsy, for example) implies it.
I do 65-70% fat, 15-18% protein and ~10-15% carbs. It keeps me in ketosis. I eat below my daily energy requirements, I consume low protein, <1g per KG of bodyweight – which fall somewhere in-between 50 – 65g of protein per day, sometimes even lower.
I fast a lot, I train fasted and I feel that my lifting performance keeps getting better, contrary to popular belief. Many folks would opt-in for much higher protein intake. I find it not necessary for me. Ketones may play a crucial role in this.
Ketosis is not magic. Keto-adaptation does not happen overnight (or in 2-3 weeks of ketosis)
Eating low calorie does not make me nutrient deficient. On the contrary, I optimized my approach so that I can get as many nutrients from food as possible. I also supplement.
I want to underline that this works for me (apparently) and I do not want to get more specific so that folks will immediately think I’m making generalizations and that everyone should do what I do. Ketosis is not a one size fits all. There are many other ways to optimize your wellbeing.
Given my low carb (75-150g of carbs/day) background prior to ketosis, I have not experienced the symptoms often associated with the induction phase of Atkins. I suspect that my mitigation strategies (appropriate sodium intake, nutrient rich diet (+good sources of carbs), and appropriate supplementation) have helped.
I did not experience decreased lifting performance. But I did see a drawback for a couple of months in my kickboxing practice. Now I am quite shocked about how well I can do in both anaerobic and aerobic training, especially in short-burst-very-high-intensity-training. That’s one of the reasons for which I believe it takes time to keto-adapt….
Everything is more clear…
Often times I seem to forget about the lightheadedness and irritability I felt before lunch or whenever I felt hungry prior to start the ketogenic lifestyle. My mind was foggy…
Ketones seem to make every thought flow smoothly. I consider myself being much more calculated and cool; more emotionally balanced. I don’t get mad often, but when I do, it’s intense…but it dissolves quickly. Higher testosterone may play a role in this too.
I can concentrate on something (writing the books, writing for the blog, reading, etc) for hours. It’s like everything else fades away in the background. When I work in a fasted state this effect feels even more powerful. I will get into more specific details in my upcoming book on fasting.
Increased Energy Levels – I hate Sleeping…
When mental clarity combines with higher energy levels, you do not want to imagine what it feels like.
From the very moment I wake up until I go to bed my energy levels are constant and very high.
During the first few weeks of my keto journey I thought I had it! I immediately began sleeping much less every night. I was sleeping for 4-5 hours. I thought that since I can have this advantage, why not exploit it?
But even though I feel like I need to sleep much less, I do not want to mess with my circadian rhythms. I think I’m fair to consider that I cannot easily change a mechanism that’s been ingrained deep inside our every cell (the circadian clock) in a matter of weeks or months…
I sleep 7-8 hours almost every night and I hate that I have to do that.
Too much food?
“You can eat as many calories as you want, as long as you’re in ketosis”…
That’s the message you may hear from many. But it is mostly never put in an appropriate context…
A predominant fat metabolism (given very-low-carb consumption and other things considered optimal) will trigger different hormonal and enzymatic activities compared to a different metabolism.
Under some circumstances you may not get fatter when overeating in ketosis; and you may also not be able to do it for more than a couple of days because your hunger may decrease gradually (unless you force yourself to eat just for the sake of cycling thousands of kcals through your body).
You should eventually eat less, and that’s normal. Insulin may play a powerful role in the hunger regulation process. I personally want to keep my insulin levels low. I feel better this way…
I don’t want to consume sticks of butter and oil rich coffee because it doesn’t feel natural. I tried it and I don’t like it.
Meal frequency, Hunger and Cravings
After a couple of weeks of ketosis, my hunger has been reduced dramatically. I am mostly never hungry. But when I start eating, I enjoy it a lot. It may have to do with some hunger regulating factors, such as ghrelin, NPY, PPAR, leptin, insulin and many more. Orthorexia may play a role too (my friend David H. is very keen on studying it).
I mostly never crave for foods. I suspect it has to do with gut microbiota health to a certain extent, and also to the fact that I did not put psychological barriers to my lifestyle.
One may misguidedly think that you are being restricted. Hell no, I do love my dark chocolate and red wine very often. The dose makes the poison though…
If you get it right, it may elicit a positive effect. It’s not the same thing to drink 1-2 small glasses of red dry wine or a bottle of wine at a time. While the first one may be beneficial due to its small amount of resveratrol, the latter could be toxic.
I also love my keto-friendly pizza, my keto cheesecake, and my keto pancakes, even though I consume them extremely rarely.
So, there are no restrictions for me…If I’d like to eat bread, I’ll just cook a low-carb bread. If I’d like to eat French fries, I’d quickly cook my keto-friendly French fries. The possibilities are unlimited. I try to keep an open mind…
I wouldn’t be here doing this if it weren’t for the results from my blood work. I constantly monitored some of my biomarkers and I observed how things changed as I kept optimizing and sticking to ketosis.
Once again, it seems to be working for me. But I may be much different from you. And food is only a small, but important, part of the equation. Others are:
– fixing my circadian clock
– reducing inflammation and oxidation
– reducing exposure to artificial light
– proper supplementation
– my lifting protocol
– intermittent fasting
– cold thermogenesis
And each of these can be further broken down into other subcategories.
That’s why I would not advise on simplifying things like (please excuse my irony):
Eat a lot of fat and you’ll immediately get healthy.
Get into ketosis and everything will work for itself.
You can eat whatever you want and as much you want as long as you stay in ketosis.
Your microbiota is magically gonna optimize itself.
You can sleep two hours a night and you may not wake up dead or burnt-out after a few weeks or months.
You can train everyday for 1-2 hour and your body will not suffer from higher inflammation.
You don’t need to supplement, you can get everything from your food.
Sidenote: Your food may be deficient too (one of the reasons could be the nutrient poor soil in which it grows, the broad use of antibiotics on animals, pesticides, etc). Plus the whole daily dietary requirements can be widely under considered, outdated, and unfair for the current necessities of the modern man.
The bottom line is that I personally did a lot of mistakes, and I still do. I keep learning and sometimes I keep doing the same mistakes all over again. It’s a never ending process. It’s a journey that I enjoy tremendously…