I am now through three weeks of my ketogenic diet experiment. It is an extreme form of a low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) diet. My interest in the diet is in teaching my body to use fat as an energy source rather than carbs during endurance training and racing. Three weeks down and I am hanging tough. Here is my weekly report. Check here and here for my two previous posts.
In my second week of the ketogenic diet, I was able to lower my carb intake and develop a pretty good daily routine. My net carb (total carbs minus fiber) was consistently below 50 grams per day during week 3. I actually hit some really low numbers (less than 15 g) for four of the days. See chart below for my daily net carb intake. I did miss one day of data so only six days are presented.
My fat/protein/carb balance remained good during week 3. It was a bit of a challenge because it was my second straight week on business travel. It is definitely easier creating meals from your home kitchen. The data is shown in the table below.
With the help of The Crew Chief, I have been able to create meals that give me a good nutrient balance and some much-needed variety. Here are some example meals:
Breakfast-coffee with heavy cream and a touch of honey (sorry, can’t quite give up all the carbs); 2-egg omelet with cheddar cheese and ham cooked in olive oil; topped with salsa and avocado. 664 calories; 10 g net carbs.
Lunch-Albacore tuna (in olive oil) mixed with mayonnaise, dill pickle, cream cheese, onion, and celery; peeled raw carrots (not many-carrots are a little higher in carbs than some of the other vegetables). 506 calories; 8 g net carbs.
Dinner-Taco salad prepared with: grass-fed ground beef, taco seasoning, 50/50 blend mixed greens/baby spinach, sour cream, salsa, cheddar cheese, and buttermilk ranch dressing. NO TORTILLIA CHIPS! 600 calories; 10 g net carbs.
Snacks-Dry roasted salted almonds; roasted and salted pecans; dessert made from coconut manna and cocoa. 550 calories; 5 g net carbs.
My body weight has been steady at 165 pounds since the first week. I have been counting calories to make sure I’m taking enough in. It is not my desire to lose weight. Otherwise, I continue to feel very good physically and mentally. I have definitely noticed a change in my appetite. After a high fat moderate protein breakfast, I am full but not uncomfortable. I have virtually eliminated mid-morning snacking. The meals I’m eating sustain my hunger demands for several hours without any dips in energy.
Effects on Exercise
Unfortunately, it was a bad week for getting exercise. My travel prevented me from getting workouts and I missed a few days. However, the exercise I did get was good and my sluggish experience from last week did not return. Next week I’ll begin going into some base training and I should learn a lot more about how the diet effects higher volume workout weeks.
Am I in Ketosis?
At this point in the diet, I should be in ketosis. Recall from my earlier post that this is the place where you have switched your metabolic pathway from burning carbohydrates for energy to burning fats (through formation of ketones). My carb intake has been low for over two weeks so I should be there.
After doing a little research, I found a cheap way and a more expensive way to measure ketones (indicating ketosis). The cheap way is to check your urine using “keto” strips. These are strips that have a color indicator providing an approximate level of ketones in the urine. I found the strips in the diabetic section at the pharmacy for about $6 without the need for a prescription.
The more expensive (and more accurate) method is to use a blood test for measuring ketones. Again, devices are available over-the-counter in the same diabetic section. The blood monitoring devices were over $100 so I opted for the cheap method using the urine strips.
I somewhat excitedly (I know, that’s weird) found a paper cup to collect my specimen and did the deed. I dipped the stick in and I immediately watch the color change to indicate that I did, in fact, have ketones present. Happy day! Being the scientist that I am, I immediately regretted that I did not have the strips when I started so I could take a pre-diet negative control sample.
Another week and things are looking good. I have managed to get variety in my food, enjoy my meals, and keep my carbs low. I have effectively shifted my body into the ketogenic state and I am feeling good both physically and mentally. Now I’m really anxious to dive into some more serious training. That will start next week.