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A Ketogenic Tale (Part 1): StreTch gives the lowdown on his first four days of ketosis.

Posted 31st March 2017 by Josh Schouten

As many of you will have seen from my Instagram posts (@StreTch_Rayner), I’ve recently experimented with ketosis. This was largely inspired by the entrepreneur and author Tim Ferris who goes in and out of a state of ketosis about once a month to get some of the health benefits without it ruining the rest of his life!

Visit this link to listen to Tim’s podcast on the subject.

What exactly is Ketosis?

KetoDietThere are three available sources of fuel for the human body: sugar (glucose), fat, and ketones.  Ketones are produced when the body burns fat, and they can be used to fuel the cells. Our brains can either run on glucose or ketones, but not fat. The goal of the KetoDiet to get the body to metabolise fat rather than sugar.

What did I do during my ketogenic trial?

I did four days in total, as a primary test run to see how fast I could get into a state of ketosis, by limiting my carbohydrate intake to around about 50g a day (mainly leafy greens) and eating lots of fatty meat like pork belly, bacon or lamb. I added MCT powder in my coffee, to increase the fat intake as much as possible – so it made up around 60-70% of my total calorie intake. I used a freestyle optimum neo glucose and ketone meter to measure blood glucose and ketones levels with the aim of getting ketone levels to 0.6mmol/L.

I trained every day, doing my usual combination of gymnastics and barbell training, and I felt pretty good. I lost 1% of body fat in 4 days, going from 11.6% to 10.6% and I also managed to put on 400g of lean muscle mass. My weight dropped by 500g in total (body fat loss).

For me, the only real negative impact (beyond carb cravings) was sleep, which was fitful. I think the reason for this is that carbs at night can help increase serotonin production, which is a precursor to melatonin – sleep hormone. Next time I try the KetoDiet, I’ll supplement with 5HTP, magnesium glycinate, bifidobacteria probiotic, and GABA which all have their benefits to help improve sleep quality.

I also found myself thirsty as limiting carbohydrates can lower hydration and electrolyte levels. Next time I will need to increase my electrolyte intake by adding Celtic or Himalayan salt to my water/food to improve hydration levels.

I’m going to challenge myself to seven days KetoDiet, so watch this space for Part 2 of this blog series!

Reasons for you to try a ketogenic diet?

It allows you to get a real grip on what you’re eating day-to-day.

A lot of people think, wrongly, that they eat a healthy diet. Much of this comes down to awareness; people think they eat a low carbohydrate diet but in reality, sugars are everywhere (fructose, corn syrup, maltodextrin and a long list of other nasties that are added to our food) means it’s far from low. Going on a KetoDiet, even for a short period, requires you to monitor your food intake exceptionally closely. The result is a far greater understanding of what low carb means, how it impacts blood glucose, and also how it feels.

It helps dispel unhelpful diet myths, once and for all.

What is a healthy diet? There are so many benefits to going low carb, including balancing hormones, improving energy levels, and cleaning up the digestive system. Many of us don’t know or believe this, mostly because of what we read in the newspapers or see on television about the impact of sugar, fat, and salt. Lots of people think that fat is a bad choice, for example, and won’t go on a high fat diet as a result (foolish). Similarly, many people consider a high protein diet cancerous and think that animal products aren’t good for us (quite simply, wrong). Then there’s the myth about high-fat diets making you fat (yes, you guessed it: wrong). If you look back at what your grandparents were eating – they cooked with lard, butter, duck fat and didn’t have access to all the highly processed sugar filled foods we do – the agave and corn syrups for example – so they took on far fewer carbs. And guess what? Their obesity and metabolic disease rates were a lot lower than ours.

You might well live longer… (and hurt less)

A lot of us are walking around with inflammation, largely thanks to the amount of sugar we’re taking on, consciously or not. Studies have shown that low carb diets can eliminate inflammation and chronic pain. Eating sugar makes the glucose levels in your blood go up, which impacts your pH levels and hormones… High levels of insulin increase fat storage in the body and also increases something called HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin), which is a marker of average blood glucose over the last three months. HbA1c is also a great test for determining many health factors and has a strong correlation to heart disease, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer’s, AGEs, life expectancy, etc.

Studies have shown that following a KetoDiet (though not necessarily full time) can improve brain health, concentration, and mood and even lower depression. The KetoDiet can control epilepsy, autism, and Alzheimer’s. It has also been shown to decrease the risk of coronary heart disease, lower inflammation, eliminate Candida (bad bacteria in the digestive system), eliminate acne, eczema, sinus issues, asthma, acid reflux, starve cancer cells and improve fertility.

Before you start, a warning:

For those in a calorie deficit (more people do not eat enough): DON’T switch over immediately to a KetoDiet as the hormone impact will be horrific. Rather get your calories back up to where they should be and eat well for about a month, to ensure your hormones are balanced and functioning properly before you give yourself the rather rude awakening of going into a state of ketosis.