Ketosis: a word of many meanings (but really only 1), a tool used for all kinds of tricks (from aesthetic changes to managing insulin levels, and everything in between), and in my opinion, an important nutritional lifestyle that everyone should try out at least once in a lifetime.
Let’s start off by talking about WHAT KETOSIS IS before we dive into what it can do for you and whether or not it might a be something for you to try.
Put simply, ketosis refers to fat-fueled metabolism – a metabolic state where the body gets energy from fat. The beauty of having control over your own body is that this body that you are responsible for is very adaptable, and with small tweaks, you can fuel that adaptable machine for great success (or in some cases, utter failure, but let’s keep the glass half full, shall we?).
The Standard American Diet (SAD really) promotes diets loaded with carbs, leading to bodies fueled by glucose. If glucose is available, that is what will be used first because it’s the fastest form of energy. This energy, though, is also used up quickly, leaving that crash and burn feeling that so many refer to as feeling “hangry”. Also, if we run off glucose alone,
When we start to move into ketosis, we morph our bodies to fuel from ketones instead. As Dr. Mike Eades explains,“Ketones are basically water soluble (meaning they dissolve in blood) fats that are a source of energy for many tissues including the muscles, brain and heart. In fact, ketones act as a stand in for sugar in the brain. Although ketones can’t totally replace all the sugar required by the brain, they can replace a pretty good chunk of it. By reducing the body’s need for sugar, less protein is required, allowing the muscle mass (the protein reservoir) to last a lot longer before it is depleted. And ketones are the preferred fuel for the heart, making that organ operate at about 28 percent greater efficiency….Fat is the perfect fuel.”
More of the science behind ketones can be found HERE.
So ultimately, by training our bodies to utilize fat for fuel, we can go full speed ahead into fat-burning mode while maintaining muscle mass. It’s a win-win! Now, please understand that this is a VERY simplified explanation so as not to leave you too exhausted to continue reading. I highly recommend that you dive into the link above and read more if this is something you’re considering.
Also, please note that this way of eating is NOT for everyone. It requires a lot of discipline (especially at first as you retrain your body and brain away from the constant sugar cravings), and it simply can’t work for high-level athletes who need more carbohydrate to fuel hours of training. It also isn’t something that is easy to sustain 24-7, year round. How fun will you be if you’re the one at your friend’s birthday party refusing to indulge in the slightest? We have to live our lives, and more importantly, we have to ENJOY our lives, so PLEASE keep that in mind.
Now, who IS this for?
The people who will most commonly try out a ketogenic diet are those who are looking to lose weight (I am not one of those people, by the way). Multiple studies, like THIS one, have shown that a ketogenic diet has better results than your typical low-carb diet or a calorie-restricted diet when it comes to weight loss (maybe because each of those leaves you hungry and is not sustainable). Also, when the body is primed for running on fat for fuel, it becomes easy to burn the stored fat already on the body as well as the fat we eat.
I also know that right now, it is for me; as I take time off of training to heal, I have found I feel great and maintain as much muscle mass as I can with this way of eating. Fewer hours in the gym (and by fewer, I mean almost zero) means that I don’t fall into the category of people training hours a day, which means that my body is happy to fuel off of ketones. This is also really great for people who are struggling with insulin issues (constant “hanger”, crashes throughout the day, etc.), leaky gut (which you can find more information on HERE), neurological disorders (like epilepsy), weight gain, inability to lose fat, among so many other things. THIS article even goes into the possible benefits of a ketogenic diet in combating cancer.
The way I have made a ketogenic diet work for me is by sticking to it Monday-Friday. I’ll eat a FAT POPPER in the morning (but not until I feel like I need something) so that my body stays in the fat burning state of fasting that we are all in when we sleep. Then, typically about 12 or 1 pm. I’ll have my first real meal, which will consist of lots of leafy greens and raw fermented kraut, healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, maybe some seeds, and nutritiously dense, pastured, grass-fed animal protein. I’ll usually just have one more meal (similar makeup) for dinner, and along with some supplemental homemade bone broth, that tends to work really well. Then, over the weekend, I don’t think so much about it; I eat super clean still, but I’ll typically have a dinner out with Rusty or friends, I might indulge in some clean treats (or sometimes maybe just some real deal ice cream), and I simply won’t worry.
Now, I am not everyone, and all bodies are fueled differently, depending on needs. Initially, sugar and carb cravings might seem out of control, which will probably lead you to think you’re starving. My advice would be to stay strong. Eat when you’re truly hungry, learn to read your body, and fill it with the most nutritionally dense foods you can. If you do that (and eat plenty of high-quality fats along the way), those cravings will go away, and your body will become a beautiful fat burning machine! I am not saying this is for everyone, but I thought I would share some insight (remember, I am not here to diagnose or treat anything, but am just offering advice from my own experiences and studies).
You are your own best science experiment, so if you are intrigued and think this might work well for you, try it out! If you have questions, feel free to comment below or shoot me an email.
Now, go and enjoy some fat….
Fat Poppers (GF, NF, keto)
WHAT YOU NEED: (makes 10 bombs):
- 1 ½ cup shredded coconut
- ¼ cup extra virgin coconut oil
- ¼ cup butter, grass-fed (*you can use more coconut oil as a sub, but I LOVE BUTTER)
- cinnamon to taste (I use about 1/2 tsp)
- 3-4 drops Stevia extract
- pinch sea salt
(Note: 1 bag of the Let’s Do Organic shredded coconut makes exactly 2 batches)
WHAT TO DO:
- preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast for 5-8 minutes until light golden (stir it up once or twice to prevent burning)
- toss the shreds into a Vitamix or blender and turn on high, until they turn into a fine powder (*if you prefer the texture of coconut shreds, blend for less time)
- melt coconut oil, add butter so it gets soft, and throw that in the Vitamix
- blend until smooth and liquidy
- pour into a bowl (I reused my measuring cup for one less dish)
- stir in stevia, cinnamon, and salt to taste
- use a tablespoon and pour a rounded scoop into tiny muffin tins
- pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set (*if they haven’t set long enough, they will not pop out)
- pop them out by banging the back of your muffin tin (kind of fun)
- keep them in the fridge in an air tight glass container
- ENJOY!! I recommend 1 a day to start your day, and perhaps an afternoon popper to hold you over until dinner, if needed. These are great pre-workout too!
Thoughts? Always feel free to reach out! Happy Wednesday. I hope you are all enjoying your week. Oh, and if you haven’t yet, check out the new Certified CrossFit Trainer website, recently launched by CrossFit HQ (my main gig). Pretty amazing things going on with the CrossFit Trainer Credentials!
(image courtesy of CrossFit, Inc.)