I started a high fat diet on Tuesday.
High fat, of course, implies low-carb, and I’ve always been intrigued by the low carb lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle, not a diet, because once you go low carb, you gotta stay low carb.
Well, to be fair, low-carb is not necessarily a lifestyle, per se. There are plenty of people who cycle low-carbs with high carbs or do intermittent keto runs, like my friend Rob Gioia. But my body does not respond well to that.
Let me explain why high-fat / low-carb is a lifestyle for me.
The primary benefit of low carb living, if you are trying to lose fat, is that it puts your body into a state of ketosis, which depletes your body’s stored glycogen and forces it to burn fat for fuel.
To get to ketosis, you need to consume 50 grams or less of carbohydrate per day. That’s do-able, but the body takes a good 2 weeks to get accustomed to this new way of eating (which is really just an old way of eating, but you can read the book for the specifics).
All that is fine, but the problem, and the reason low-carb is a lifestyle, is that if, after you are into ketosis, you splurge on carbs just one time, you pretty much reset the clock on the glycogen stores, and it’s a week or two before your body is burning fat again.
Okay, well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
So this new way of eating was brought on by a well-researched book, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living.
I’ve read Protein Power, which is the definitive book concerning the power of low-carb living and science behind it.
I’ve also read Good Calories Bad Calories, which is the definitive book concerning the politics behind the U.S. goverment’s push for low-fat regimens.
Both of those books are well-researched and include a lot of impressive data. So when one of the authors of Protein Power, Dr. Michael Eades, said that the recently published The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living was the book he wished he’d written, well, of course, I had to buy it.
The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living is a quick read compared to those other two, and provides a lot of the science you might want to know about the low-carb lifestyle.
I’ll stop there, because this is not a book review. Read the book.
I’m in day 4 of a high-fat diet because of that book. I also happen to be in week 3 of my Insanity with weekends off program.
According to the authors, it’s not a good idea to engage in high-level fitness activities while transitioning to the high-fat lifestyle, but I ain’t stoppin’ and everything seems to be fine so far. I guess I’m fit enough that Insanity is not that much of a stretch for my body.
Plus, I learned 2 things from that book that I had not picked up from other low-carb books, and those 2 things might be helping me out. Maybe the info was there in the other books, but I missed it.
- You gotta add salt. Low-carb diets cause salt to pass out of your body rather quickly, so you must be sure to consume salt. Low salt puts you at risk for all kinds of things, like soreness, fatigue, um, death. You know, bad things. Read the book Salt for more on that.
- You gotta add fat. Lots of fat. That’s why I call this a high-fat diet, rather than a low-carb diet. I’m in the 70%-of-my-calories-from-fat range.
When I read concept #1, about the salt, that made a lot of sense to me. If you buy into the paleo theory, which claims that our bodies have not evolved to the point where we can healthily consume all these grains/carbs that we eat, because they are relatively recent additions to our diet — and I do buy into that way of thinking — then the salt thing makes sense.
Doctors tell us not to eat a lot of salt — it’s bad for us. But … but … we like salt. Seems to me that fits with paleo theory. Our ancient ancestors, who survived mostly on fat and protein, needed a lot more salt on their paleo / low-carb diets, than modern humans do on their high-carb diets.
So from paleo days it is natural for us to like salt, but on our modern high-carb diet, salt causes health problems.
So, that clicked with me. Paleo diet = low carb = more salt.
As for #2 above, combining low-carb with high-fat, as opposed to high-protein, eating, wow, that is a no-brainer. I feel like an idiot for not seeing it before, but I am a product of my society. I’ve been told for so long that fat is bad, it’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that it is not.
Yeah, if you’re going to cut carbs, you have to get energy from somewhere, and fat is the way to go, because the body does not efficiently turn protein into fuel.
So, to the point: I’m in day 4 of a high-fat diet, which is 2000 calories a day, with 70% of calories from fat, 10% from carbs, and 20% from protein. And I feel great!
This lifestyle is not for everyone. My fasting blood-sugar hovers right around 110 (which is the cusp of normal/high), so I’ve always gravitated toward low-carb. I have noticed that I get that “sugar coma” feeling even after consuming only 20 carbs at a meal, and … I really don’t like that feeling, even though it passes fairly quickly.
So I thought I’d give this high-fat thing a try for at least 3 months. So far, so good, but it’s early. I’ll keep you posted.