Keto, Not Keto - Part II


Just to recap from Part I

  • I’m not a “keto-hater”.

  • Love the benefits. Don’t find the diet practical.

  • Lower blood sugar and improved insulin sensitivity is keto’s greatest accomplishment.

  • Great for diabetes prevention, fat-loss, and lowering the risk of related diseases.

  • Fat is a more abundant and longer lasting fuel source than glucose.

  • In the absence of glucose the liver converts fats into ketones to supply energy.

  • Ketones are a preferred source of energy for brain function.

Our mission here is simple...

Derive keto-like benefits without strict adherence to a ketogenic diet.

There are three (3) strategies I’m going to recommend. They can either be used individually or in conjunction with one another. The latter will yield the most significant results but implement any one of them will undoubtedly improve your current situation.

The three strategies are carb-cycling, intermittent fasting (IF) and exogenous ketones

None of these strategies require you to count calories or track your macros but once again, doing so will yield a significantly greater result especially if you want to maximize fat-loss.

Our prime objective is to get blood sugar and insulin under control.

Considering the standard Western diet most of us follow it’s no secret we tend to overconsume calories in the form of carbs, fat, and alcohol, and we tend to be deficient in protein.

That’s why low-carb diets work so well (initially) for nearly anyone that tries them.

The body finally has a chance use what’s circulating in the blood stream and tap into glycogen stored in the liver. After that, fat can be more easily accessed and used to supply energy. (It also gets people to eat more high protein foods.)

But here’s the kicker—for those that exercise regularly, especially at a high-intensity or for long duration's, research shows that we burn more (body) fat and performance is greater with adequate amounts of carbs in our diet.

As per the Krebs Cycle (a series of chemical reactions in the body that generates energy), "fats burn in the flame of carbohydrates". Meaning, fat oxidation is more efficient when glucose is there to "kick start" the process.

In the absence of glucose, the body uses ketones to take over glucose’s job in the Krebs Cycle.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet will not impair performance for long-distance endurance athletes. Conversely, the many studies have shown that higher-carbohydrate diets are still superior for short high-intensity exercise or where maximizing muscle mass and strength development is the goal.

Carb-cycling offers a reasonable and easy to implement way to lower insulin resistance and improved fat oxidation.

Here are two ways to approach carb-cycling.

One is on the macro level where for 1-2 weeks you consume a minimal amount of carbs each day (25-75g. depending on activity level and/or exercise intensity) followed by a carb-loading day.

Your carb-loading day would have you consuming 55-65% of your calories from carbohydrates. Think, pasta night!

Another way is on the micro level in which you cycle carbs over the course the day. This method is intended only for those who regularly exercise—particularly those performing high-intensity anaerobic exercise (i.e. resistance training, H.I.I.T., CrossFit, spinning) or long-distance endurance exercise (i.e. marathoners, triathletes, cyclists).

The most simplistic way to apply this method is to time carbohydrate intake around your workout.

  • If you train late morning, afternoon or evening you would consume the majority of carbs in the 2-4 hours before training and restrict them after training.
  • If you train early in the morning you would consume the majority of your carbs at dinner and restrict them from after workout till dinner.

This accomplishes two things. First, restricting carb intake after a workout that depletes glycogen improves fat oxidation. Second, the period between workouts serves to sensitize you to glucose so that when carbs are consumed they result in improved performance.

However, I must repeat...improved fat oxidation does not mean you eliminate the chunk in your abdomen or on your thighs if you are in a caloric surplus.

In Part 3 we'll explore intermittent fasting and exogenous ketones as strategies to optimize blood glucose, lower insulin resistance, improve fat-loss, and maximize exercise performance.