Eating healthy comes in many shapes and sizes depending on your goals, but no matter what style fits you the main underlying principle is that we need to eat real food. If you don’t eat real food, you are a real fool. It can seem hard at first, but in as little as 30 minutes you can have a meal ready to eat. In the Recipe section, there will be a basic meal breakdown to illustrate this point further.
In subsections of this part of the site, we will be diving into four approaches to healthy eating. The diets I will be outlining are almost identical. Their main differences come from where you put your focus, and in the subsections of this part of the site will be diving into these lifestyles so you can start on your path to Thriving on Fat, and I will wrap-up with this section with the key takeaways that make the most sense to me. I will also talk about how I use these takeaways in a practical way.
Before we dive into the eating styles, however, I want to discuss 3 important things about the changes our body goes through when switching from carbs to at as a fuel source. First, we will discuss the keto-flu, then we will move on to becoming fat adapted and we will finish off our discussion with talking a bit about the boogeyman in the room – fasting.
Keto flu (Low carb flu)
First off, the Keto flu may not happen to everyone. If you are already eating lower carb, your body may already be fat adapted. Fat adaption is where you mainly burn fat as fuel instead of carbs/glucose. However, like with any one size fits all statement, there are just as many outliers that ear high carb and never deal with these symptoms. Just know that if you feel sick when starting out, you are not alone and this is normal.
What are these symptoms I am talking about? As you may have inferred from the name “keto flu,” you may experience some basic flu-like symptoms like fatigue, tiredness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, cramps and so on.
There is a two-part reason for this, and it is that you are breaking your mental and physical dependence on using carbohydrates for fuel. The lack of carbohydrates in your body will then force your body into a fat burning state. During this switch, your body will clear liquids quicker than usual which means more frequent trips to the bathroom. This could cause you to be both dehydrated and low in electrolytes. Which means you need to take in more salt, unlike what many sodium guidelines suggest we need to consume more quality sodium than we currently are. Also, sodium is needed in your body to help negate sugar craving, some chronic illnesses and can help to improve sports performance. For more on the role of salt in our body check out the book “The Salt Fix,” by James DiNicolantonio, he is a cardiovascular research scientist and doctor of pharmacy.
Pro Tip for recouping electrolytes:
- Drink water with Celtic Gray Salt or Himalayan Pink Salt. these two types of salt help you absorb water and they are a good source of minerals.
- Drink homemade or quality bone broth with some of the salt I mentioned above
- Here is my standard bone broth recipe
- Kettle and fire is one of the best shelf stable bone broths I have come across
Becoming fat adapted is simply when your body goes from burning carbs (glucose) as fuel, to converting and burning stored or dietary fat, and low levels of protein into fuel to then burn. Our body needs anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for them to adapt to this fuel change. We will only switch into a fat burning mode in the absence of carbs, meaning we have to significantly cut the carbs down and in turn ramp up of the consumption of healthy fats. Again this will starve out the glucose and force your body into a fat adapted state.
During this changeover to fat-fuel, if you are an avid gym goer, you may see a dip in your PR’s, WOD times, roll sessions, or whatever metric you association with performance. After the adaptation phase, however, you should see consistent gains. Also, your body will become a lean mean fat burning machine, by which I mean our glucose needs are being met by mostly internal fat stores. So literally, fat burning!
Don’t just take my word for it. This is a link to an article on “Fat Adaptation” by Peter Defty, that beautifully breaks down a study on fat burning athletes vs carb burning athletes. Peter Defty is the GM of VESPA and a nutrition expert. He is also an ultra athlete who developed a safe, healthy approach to kick off fat adaption for endurance athletes called “Optimized Fat Metabolism” (OFM). He also works with guys like Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek, to tweak this approach for success in life and racing. Jeff Volek was the head researcher that conducted the study that I referenced above and here is a link to read the study, if you are so inclined. As a bit of a teaser, in June of next year, I will be devoting a whole month to looking into LCHF performance.
If you have been told anything about nutrition, you were probably told, you should have 3 meals and 2-3 snacks throughout the day or your metabolism will stop which will cause you to gain fat. When I was told that I felt like I was chained to the food, I had to eat every few hours just to keep it up. I would drink a sugary coffee, bagel for breakfast, pop tart at snack, then I would grab a bagged burrito, cookies and a soda for lunch, my goto snack were chips, dinner would be raman with sausage and another soda.
Knowing what I know now about insulin spikes and sugar addiction, there is no wonder I was wanting to eat every few hours. I was addicted to the sweets, but now that I have changed that food I eat I don’t feel like I need to eat 5 times a day, some days I only end up eating one big meal.
Contrary to popular belief if you eat a good diet you will naturally be able to go longer without the need for food and most importantly your metabolism will not suffer if you skip a meal because you are still satiated from your previous meal. Now that I eat mostly fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrates, I can easily go 18 hours without eating and I do not feel ravenous.
The technical term for this is “Intermittent Fasting” or IF. It is where you cycle through periods of eating and fasting over a 24 hour period. Popular time breakdowns are 16:8 and 20:4 fasting to eating ratio. Another common fast in a 24 hours fast once or twice a week, this is known and an alternate day fast. Giving yourself a break from food will not harm you or your metabolism as long as you keep hydrated and eat quality food when you do eat you will be fine.
If you are interested in fasting and want to get a guide to do it safely check out “The Complete Guide To Fasting” by Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore. Jason Fung is a doctor that runs the Intensive Dietary Management (IDM) Clinic that helps people control metabolic diseases through fasting, he is also the author of “The Obesity Code.” Jimmy Moore is a health blogger, podcaster, and author. One of his 4 podcasts is dedicated to just fasting, he has written a handful of books focusing on health and his journey getting there. Also as another teaser, in May and December of 2018, we will take a deeper look at obesity and fasting respectively.
This has been a short primer on how our body changes when we switch from a high carb, low-fat diet to a low carb, high fat. In the other sections of this page.