How I'm Using Fat to Become a 44 year old Super Athlete.

I started the ketogenic diet about a week and a half ago.  First of all, I hate the word diet.  I think it’s a terrible word that promotes stress and a feeling of narrowness in most people.  I prefer “way of eating.”

Ketosis is a huge and incredibly nuanced subject and there are many people doing some great writing on it and I am by no means an expert   If you want a super nerdy, incredibly scientific discussion stop here and just go read this.  

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis a metabolic process in which your body begins to use fat as fuel preferentially to sugars from carbs and protein.   If the body doesn’t have access to easy calories for a while it dips into your fat reserves to keep you fueled and energized.  Basically it’s a response to fasting, exercise or lack of carbs and protein.

I am consuming about 75% of my calories from fat in order to achieve ketosis.  You can also get into it from fasting or exercise.  

Why I’m Going Keto

Many people use the ketogenic diet to lose weight.  Not me.   I’m using it to see if I can increase my athletic performance.  I’m 44 years old and playing on surfboards, skis, bikes and various other toys makes me incredibly happy.  I feel like I’m still getting better at surfing, skiing and mountain biking so why stop now?  I’ve done enough self experimenting to know that a lower carb diet works well for me.   This is just an extreme extension of that.

Plus I practice acupuncture and functional medicine and work with clients who are dealing with very complex health issues.  Some have used ketosis for therapeutic purposes and I like to know what they are experiencing.  As a healthcare provider I deeply believe in walking my talk.

There are also some well documented health benefits of going keto, especially if you happen to be overweight.  Even if you aren’t overweight ketosis can have potent anti-cancer effects and help to induce cellular autophagy.  Autophagy is the process your body uses to detoxify and repair itself.  I want more of that in my life.   

By the way, I’m not some low carb cross-fitting true believer.  Some people do better on higher non-refined carbohydrate lower fat diets.   But as modern day humans we can learn a tremendous amount from our ancient ancestors.  You better believe if you and I were running around on the savannah 25,000 years ago we might go days without food.   Our metabolism has evolved to handle times of food and times of no food.  I think this might explain the tremendous vitality and great teeth of our ancestors.

Here is how a typical day of eating looks on ketosis.

Breakfast: Two tablespoons Quest MCT Oil Powder with pu-erh tea, 1 bunch swiss chard slathered in butter with an egg on top.

Snack: Handful of cashews

Lunch: Guacamole from two avocados with lemon juice and cilantro.  Celery and cucumbers for dipping.  Two more tablespoons powdered MCT oil.  Coconut cream with cacao powder, chia seeds and a few drops of stevia.  

Snack: Trader Joe’s Broccoli slaw.  Add walnuts and slather in cold pressed organic olive oil.

Dinner: Cauliflower rice, tomato onion sauce, swiss chard and pastured sausage all slathered in butter.

Dessert: Homemade no sugar ice cream!  This stuff is brilliant.

This isn’t so different from my normal diet, just a heck of a lot more fat.  My diet before going ketogenic looks a bit like this.

Breakfast: Eggs, greens, avocado and maybe some protein.  Sometimes I will make a smoothie with a banana, almond milk, collagen protein, frozen spinach and almond butter.

Snacks: Berries and nuts

Lunch: Vegetarian Sushi or Sardines on top of a salad.

Snack: An apple and cheese.

Dinner: Wild salmon or small grass fed steak with vegetables and other stuff.

Dessert: Berries with a little coconut cream.  I don’t always eat dessert.

Positive aspects for me so far

I’ve been feeling good.  I’ve noticed general feelings of well being and even a noticeable sensation of euphoria on occasion.  I haven’t experienced many cravings except for vegetables.  Oh yeah, I definitely craved beer when I was at an Austrian beer pub the other night.  Luckily I held off but I will definitely be going back there when this whole experiment is over.

Negative aspects of Keto

I feel like I have a lot less energy when I’m working out intensely.  This makes sense for a multitude of reasons including the fact that I don’t have my normal glycogen reserves in the liver.  My body is also still getting used to burning fatty acids instead of glucose.  It can take weeks or months for the cells in the body to adapt.

Going out with friends to eat and drink isn’t as fun obviously.  Luckily I have willpower in this area.

The only other bummer is that I don’t love eating all this fat, fat and more fat.

Moving Forward on Keto

I’m definitely looking forward to becoming more keto adapted.  I’m using a number of devices to measure my progress including the Ketonix breath analyzer, urine Ketostix and my trusty blood sugar monitor.   These measurements help me determine what the conditions are when I’m feeling good, bad or otherwise.  I will report on these measurements in the near future once I have more data.

I plan on going at least until Thanksgiving.