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Fat Loss Diary: Ketosis, Interrupted

May 7, 2014

Last week I proudly announced that ketosis (ultra low carb) was working fine for me – well, it did, and then it didn’t anymore. Some may find it weird that I purchased a glucometer as a non-diabetic (my parents surely did), but I don’t regret it, because it revealed that after the third week of being in ketosis, my blood sugar level increased. In the beginning it had been lowish (80-90), but after three weeks of ketosis it had crept to the high end of the range which is still considered normal (100-110). I was mildly annoyed – after all, I wasn’t eating any carbs, so where did the glucose come from? I wasn’t eating a lot of protein either, so the body has to make the glucose from its own protein (bad) and from the glycerol in the fat stores (good, but that only accounts for a very small amount).

So what should I do? A quick consultation of Dr. Google didn’t provide any useful clues – there were many advocates of ketosis making inconsistent arguments – on the one hand they were praising ketosis for lowering blood sugar, on the other hand they were talking about a supposedly benign phenomenon called “physiological insulin resistance”, which leads to increased blood sugar levels. What gives?

I made a personal decision: I’m a fan of consistently low blood sugar levels. So I decided to try a cyclic ketogenic diet, which is a fancy expression for saying that you introduce some days when you “re-feed” on carbs. Lyle McDonald wrote a good book about that, and the usual recommendation is to eat ultra low carb during the week, and eat carbs on the weekend.

But why not go a little bit further and make the ketogenic days the exception rather than the norm? Brad Pilon’s “Eat Stop Eat” is what I decided to do – two fasting days per week. I had previously decided not to do that because the experts on ketosis made clear in their books that one day is not enough to adapt to using ketone bodies for fuel – so if you eat carbs on one day, but not the other, on the fasting day you have low energy because the body cannot switch to making/burning ketones that quickly. But the advocates of intermittent fasting say otherwise, and I remember from my personal experience that I don’t have any energy problems on fasting days. Plus now I have the glucometer – I can measure both blood sugar and ketones on fasting days.

So I did just that – and it worked! Yesterday I fasted for 24 hours and had a small meal in the evening, and even though I had a big (high carb) meal the evening before, I was in ketosis the entire day (1 mmol/l BHB in the morning, about 2.2 mmol/l in the evening), while my blood sugar was at 110 in the morning but back in the 80s in the evening.

So from now on I will restrict ketosis to two fasting days per week – there are currently two books available on Amazon which describe the concept in more detail:

The 5:2 Diet Book: Feast for 5 Days a Week and Fast for 2 to Lose Weight, Boost Your Brain and Transform Your…
The Fast Diet: The secret of intermittent fasting – lose weight, stay healthy, live longer

In practice, this will be my schedule:

  • Monday: Eat normally
  • Tuesday: Fast (eat no calories at all)
  • Wednesday: Eat normally
  • Thursday: Fast (800 kcal’s of protein, HIT in the evening)
  • Friday: Eat normally
  • Saturday: Fast during the day, one big meal in the evening
  • Sunday: Eat a lot, exercise a lot (endurance, HIT)

That’s it for now – stay tuned for the next update!

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