Over the past 3 months, I have been experimenting with a diet called ketogenic diet. Although it was originally developed as a cure for patient with epilepsy, ketogenic diet has been found to have many health benefits like prevent cancer, epilepsy, diabetics, increase focus and the most important, accelerate fat loss. I had heard about it many times before but never gave it a serious thought.
10 days before my experiment, I stumbled upon the work of Peter Attia and his blog, The Eating Academy. I was blown away by his story and his research on ketosis, insulin resistance, sports nutrition, performance and many more. I started reading all of his articles on ketosis and ketogenic diet, which nudged me to try the ketogenic diet myself.
As you all know, this blog is all about me trying and experimenting new stuffs and sharing my experience and learning with you. So, after my long nights of research, I decided to give ketogenic diet a try.
What is Ketosis and Ketogenic Diet?
To people who don’t know what ketosis and ketogenic diet is, this definition would help:
“The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates.”
“Ketosis /kɨˈtoʊsɨs/ is a metabolic state where most of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood, in contrast to a state of glycolysis where blood glucose provides most of the energy”
To put it simply, ketogenic diet is basically a way to get our bodies to enter into a condition known as ketosis. In this state, our liver starts to produce ketones, which in turn shifts our bodies to uses fats as the primary source of energy.
While in this state, the levels of ketones in our blood starts to rise. Ketones are acidic chemicals that include acetone, acetoacetate, and beta-hydroxybutyrate. Needless to say, this can lead to some serious problems; starvation is obviously not good! If left unchecked, ketones can increase blood acidity, which can affect urine and cause serious liver and kidney damage.
But, when done correctly and responsibly, the keto diet can be used to effectively treat a number of health conditions, and not to forget, lose stubborn fat quickly.
Experience with Ketosis
Today, in this post, I will share my journey with ketogenic diet with you all. From my initial adaptation period, inner psychology,problems I faced to performance growth, mental toughness and my final opinion on the ketogenic diet. I have written all of it here. Hope you guys enjoy it.
Preparation and Planning
I had to get majority of my calories from fats, led by protein and then carbs. Living in a society where most of the meals include high portions of carbs, I knew it was going to be tough. So first, I finished or stored away all of my carby binge foods and instead bought tons of nuts, peanut butter and meats in bulk. Preparation and planning is the key. I prepared simple keto-meals for the first 3 days and stored it in the fridge. Most of the time, I kept my meals easy and simple. But whenever something got boring, I opened up some cook books and tried out some new recipes. On an average day, my nutritional breakdown looked something like this: 70% fats, 25% proteins and 5% carbs.
First Week with Ketogenic Diet
The first week is the hardest. I was constantly in a zombie-like state. During the first week, even though I had been consuming more calories, I felt completely drained and out of energy most of the time. Most of the research suggests that this was because my body had been relying on carbs and glucose for its primary source of energy, and since I had created a drastic deficiency of carbs, my body was having some initial difficulty adapting to the new system.
Most people take 1-2 week to adapt and get into ketosis. My body got into ketosis mode in 9 days. Maybe because I had been in a semi-ketosis diet for the past 2 years. I didn’t use any medical devices to check this though. Mainly because 1) I was certain that I was doing everything right, 2) I knew when my body jumped into ketosis, I wouldn’t feel drained out of energy anymore and 3) those devices were damn expensive.
Living in Ketosis state
After I got into ketosis, I started to feel weirdly good: both inside and out. I said weirdly because I hadn’t felt like this any time before in my life. It was a different feeling. I was more alert, my poo was good and solid, I was able to focus more on my task and I fell asleep faster and woke up fully energized without any alarms. Moreover, I realized that I loved the feeling of my body breaking down fats into ketones, and burning those slowly for energy. But you got to feel that for yourself to know what I mean.
Another interesting thing that happened was that my body stopped craving sweets and carbs altogether. Despite of eating healthy for the past 2 years, I always had that sweet tooth tingling whenever some desserts or sweets were around. Now, I could sit with my group of friends at a restaurant – watching them stuff themselves with all the craps, and still enjoy my keto meal mindfully. This was huge for me.
Over the 3 months period, I allowed myself 1 cheat day each month. Yes, not just a cheat meal but a whole cheat day. On that day, I could eat anything I wanted as much as I wanted. No restriction. I called it “Atul Gone Wild” day. It was fun.
I always started my morning with a healthy breakfast full of fats and proteins (eggs, cream coffee and peanut butter) to limit my sugar crash. But after that, the game was on. Chocolate croissants, ice-creams, cookies, mo:mo, chocolates, pastries, wine, you name it, I had them all. There was no lunch , snack or dinner time for me. I ate whenever I wanted – and that was all the time. I didn’t limit myself. But in the end of the day, I hated the gassy feeling in my stomach.
But everything comes with a price. This single cheat day used to set me back up to a week from getting to ketosis again. But I learned to speed up that process by burning the excess amount of glycogen stored in the liver by doing the following activities for the next 3-4 days:
- HIIT in the morning on an empty stomach
- Reducing carbs to less than 20 gm
- Drinking 4 liters of water
My Physical Performance
On the gym, I didn’t saw much increase in strength. My lifts were not increasing in weights as desired, but each reps gradually felt less tiring. I noticed a huge endurance boost in myself. My pull ups and chin ups went up from 6 reps in a row to 9 reps. I felt less tired after my workout and didn’t required any extra post workout shakes. This must be because my muscles now had access to more reliable and quality source of energy – fats. I could run for an hour non-stop, swim 8+ laps or jump ropes for 4 minutes, without feeling tired. And another thing, I also sweated a lot less and my resting heart beat was never above 40. (Average people have up to 50-60 beats per minute)
I didn’t changed my workout though. I did my strength training with barbells 3 times a week and also did some cardio once or twice a week.
The thing I was most worried about was that I would lose my hard gained muscles after high intensity workouts. Since, fats are not as quickly burned as carbs – which I had very little in my body, I was afraid that my body would break down my muscles for instant source of energy. So I used to munch on 20-30 almonds or cashews before hitting the gym. After 3 months of this, however, I can say with relief that I have not lost but gain more muscle mass than before.
Progress of my Ketosis Experiment
|Before (in cm)||After (in cm)||Difference (in cm)|
Even though my journey with ketosis diet had lots of great bits to it, I don’t think I can sustain living with such diet for long-term. I mean, I can’t have more than 30 grams of carbs in a day or else I get kicked out of ketosis. And getting back to ketosis state is twice as hard as staying in it. If I eat anything other than normal, I need to immediately fill and check my calorie and nutrition form to insure that I am still on the right track. And you guys know I don’t like counting calories.
Even if I allow myself one cheat meal a week, I need to work extra hard the other day and restrict myself more to get back to ketosis. But jumping in and out of ketosis, as researched by many experts, may lead to various problems. Hence, having cheat meal was also a bad idea.
For me, living a healthy life means being able to enjoy life to the fullest while feeling good about myself, inside and out. This Ketogenic diet was just an experiment for me to push through my limits and try something new. And I am super grateful I completed this.
Ketogenic diet is very restrictive about what we can and cannot eat. Although I liked having peanut and almond butter in my every meals, I don’t think this ketogenic diet is practical or sustainable by the average person.
If you desperately want to lose those last 5-10 pounds and have the tenacity, grit and patience, go ahead and give ketogenic diet a try, by first consulting a dietitian. But if you just want to live a healthy life while improving your strength and body, there are other suitable and more convenient diets out there. If you want my recommendation, just email or tweet me.
For Further Reading about Ketosis and Ketogenic Diet:
- Ketogenic Diet Resource
- The Eating Academy
- Keto-Adapted: Your Guide to Accelerated Weight Loss and Healthy Healing
- Keto Clarity
- A Guide to the Keto Diet
P.S: I am not recommending this diet to anyone. This diet was just a self-experiment for myself. If you want to try ketogenic diet yourself, first consult your doctor and try it at your own risk.
Every article that I write in this blog has one and only one purpose, to help at least one other human being live a better and fulfilled life. Thank you for reading my blog.
Be Healthy. Stay Sexy.