Originally I was going to address this along with fasting in the last post, but by the time I typed up the whole article. I realized I may have over-kicked my coverage and I didn’t want people to tune out before getting to the goods! What happens after the Keto flu. Becoming fat adapted is one of my favorite things that happens as we transition away from a high carb diet.
Before getting into the meat of the article, I want to mention that becoming Fat adapted is not the same as becoming keto adapted. Also, fat/keto adaption changes the longer you stay low carb. What I mean by this, is if you think fat adaption is awesome a month into a low carb lifestyle, like a good wine, it only gets better with time. But don’t drink wine. =] On the goods!!!
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. Our body switches into a fat burning state in the absence of carbs. Hence my suggestion to 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 the 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. As your body becomes more efficient at burning fat, you should start to see gains again. 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.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” I hear you say, “But I am a not an endurance athlete, my focus is on explosive movements. If I do not have fast acting carbs, I cannot finish my CrossFit session or my BJJ rolling session. You just don’t understand.” To that I say, yes I do understand I actually am a CrossFit athlete and I also dabble in MMA.
Actually, last year when I did my first foray into a carnivorous diet I was doing quite intense MMA/BJJ classes where I would go home drenched in sweat and I would consume nothing but a pre/post workout steak and maybe a fatty coffee thrown into the mix. I have since taken a break from my BJJ/MMA workouts, not because of burn out, but because of a lack of funds. So I know that it is totally doable to push yourself through a glycolic (sugar burning) and metabolically taxing sport. To the former point, When I did CrossFit I was not 100% keto, I was mostly low carb and primal, but I do not remember if I was strictly keto. So I do not want to mislead you by saying I was, however, Rachel Gregory, did an amazing study that looked at CrossFit athletes on a Keto diet.
Over a 6-week period, the study took 27 non-elite CrossFit athletes and randomly divided them into a Keto group and a non-Keto group. The Keto group had their carbs capped at 50 grams per day, the other group continued their regular diet. Over the 6-weeks all participants participated in 4 CrossFit training sessions per week. During the 6-weeks, the researchers found that the Keto group lost more weight and more fat than the control group. There was a standard timed workout performed both pre and post-study, both groups significantly decreased total performance time. Which shows that Keto is fine for CrossFit, and if your goal is weight loss, it may even be beneficial to use Keto because even with the limited carbs you can still improve your CrossFit performance. Again you can find the whole study here.
All of that to say, you can to glycolytic (sugar burning) workouts in a fat adapted, even keto-adapted state. There may be a transition period, but regardless of your athletic pursuits, you can try a low-carb diet to see how it works for you. Now, you may be asking how this all ties into becoming fat adapted, well that part was less about fat adaption and more about, don’t whine about not being able to try a low-carb diet because of reasons pertaining to workout style.
So how does one know if they are fat adapted? I am glad you asked. First off, to start becoming fat adapted you need your dietary carbohydrates relatively low, say 150 grams or lower. If you have excess weight to lose, are type 2 diabetic or if you do not deal with high carbs well, you may have to go under 100 grams of carbs to really start the fat adaption process. My recommendation is to start lower and titrate up until you stop being benefits. Here is an infographic to help you figure it out. If you can say yes to some of these then you are going in the right direction. However, if you cannot say yes to all of them then you may not be fully fat adapted, are you still have a trigger food in your diet that is still keeping you from being fully fat adapted.
As a quick illustration of this if you are undereating on fat you may get sweet cravings from time to time.
To illustrate my point further I will give you an idea of what I eat throughout the day. As a disclaimer, lately, I have been eating one meal a day, simply because it is simple for me, and I can eat enough in that one meal to sustain myself. You do not need to only eat one meal to be keto. If your meals work for you, do that instead. Now onto my food schedule. When I wake up I generally have a fatty coffee, I use anywhere from a 16-ounce cup, up to a 32-ounce cup. Regardless of the size, I use I do not break my fast until about noon or 1pm. Recently, again I have been breaking it with one big meal, and since I am currently doing a carnivore diet it has been all meat based. Specifically today I had:
- For breakfast I had 32oz of fatty coffee.
- My main meal was: 4 eggs, 3 slices of bacon, 325g of ground meat and 2 slices of cheddar cheese, all of it cooked it the bacon fat from the bacon. I also had a Black Cherry Zevia with my main meal.
For me it as simple as that, I simply eat once a day, however, if you are new to this your eating schedule will look very different. I know that coming from a standard American diet, many people will eat anywhere from 3-6 times a day. If that is you, that is okay, but when you start to eat higher fat, and lower carb it becomes easier to transition into eating larger less frequent meals.
If you are finding it hard to become fat adapted, or if you just want to have some support while making the transition, contact me, and together we can get you to your goals.