Saturday, January 11, 2014

Adventures in KetoLand

If you follow this blog, and I can't imagine why you would be reading this if you didn't, you would know that I recently embarked on a quest to stay in nutritional ketosis for an extended period of time. While good long term research is admittedly slim, there is nothing to indicate that being in nutritional ketosis for an extended period of time has any negative health effects. Conversely, there is a good deal of research that indicates that a high carbohydrate diet (even a supposedly "healthy" plant based diet) has many, varied and significant short and long term sequelae. 

I've been chugging along quite happily for about two weeks feeling very well and making some impressive (come on, throw me a bone, I'm 50) strength gains without any difficulty. Most days I eat just twice a day and my first meal is anywhere from 10.30 am to 1.00 pm. On days when I expect to be doing a lot of activity before my first meal, I'll drink a coffee with coconut milk - full of wonderful medium chain triglycerides (aka MCT's) which can help kick start ketosis. Otherwise, I just drink a cup or two of black or green tea. 

Nice head down position

This morning we met some friends for a morning paddle out to Double Island off Palm Cove. We had a wonderful paddle over to the island (I even managed to land two out of three eskimo rolls in the lee of the island), puttered around a bit, and headed back for brunch. We had a delightful brunch of wonderful paleo foods, but, for someone who subsists on about 30 gm of carbohydrate a day, the paleo granola (yummy) and fruit turned out to be a bit of a sugar shock. 

A couple of hours later I felt as stumbly and bumbly as back in my carbo-crashing zombie days. I assumed my blood sugar had spiked as a transient decrease in peripheral insulin sensitivity has been observed on ketogenic diets, and, keto-adapted mice have elevated levels of glucose for up to six hours after glucose challenges compared to chow fed mice. Even though I wasn't hungry, I ate some protein and a good amount of saturated fat (bring on the heart attack) and went out for a walk to see if some exercise could burn off what I assumed was mild hyperglyceamia. It took about 45 minutes of stumbling along before I felt myself normalize and, by the end of my 90 minute walk I was back to my non-hungry, clear headed, energetic self. 

In hindsight, and after a bit more research, I realized I merely experienced what 98% of people live with every day. A surge of insulin in response to carbohydrate with a concomitant drop in blood glucose leading to – stated bluntly – feeling like shit. Luckily, I have normalized my hormones enough that eating some good fat and protein, and taking a little easy exercise was enough to set me right again.

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