We are carnivores

As paleo and primal become more complex, authoritarian, licensed, profit driven, subverted and infected with fear based marketing efforts, Primal North seeks to simplify, unify, and advocate a proper level of scientific skepticism to the world of paleo, primal and low carb nutrition. Meat is food, plants are medicine, food is fuel, and movement is pleasure. Lets stop making a mess of it!

Keto-Adaptation vs. Low Carb Limbo

With so many people opting for nutritional ketosis strategy in a well formulated low carb diet, again and again I am seeing people implement it wrong and then sharing their negative experience as a reflection of the diet rather than its implementation.

This article is meant for those who wish to practice low carb athletics.  Many of these issues are simply not going to surface for a sedentary or non-physically training individual, although they certainly could.

Keto-Adapted training leaves so many of us with the romantic idea we are the mighty Masai warrior, eating meat and spitting venom, or the stoic Inuit hunter, alone in the icy wilderness running on body fat for weeks at a time.

We fall in love with the idea of a limitless fuel source, that the fat in our bellies could suddenly become our greatest asset, yet its not as easy as some would have us believe and so many people who attempt it crash.  Why?

What I am offering here is speculation based on those doing it successfully after months of reading and questioning those who have done it unsuccessfully.  There is a pretty clear difference in the approach that seems to make all the difference in the world.

What I am offering is "the best possible explanation" I can give, not answers.  Skepticism is welcomed and encouraged.  

I do not have access to a metabolic lab to prove any of this in any precise way, but I feel due to my personal experience and what I have been absorbing these past few months from others, I can provide a pretty good road map of what people are doing right and wrong.

Let's Deviate and Look at What Works

Ok, well what does work?

Tried and true - Carb cycling

Eat lots of carbs on workout days, minimal carbs on non-workout days.  Zero issues with glycogen depletion, zero issues with workout performance, likely issues with hunger for some, weight gain issues if insulin resistant is likely.

Tried and True -  Ketogenic cycling

Eat very low carb ketogenic 6 days a week, make a total pig of yourself on the 7th. Thus you replenish your glycogen.  Seems to work wonderfully for bodybuilders, weight lifters, joggers, etc... pretty much those who work out a lot but do not do the type of drills that deplete liver glycogen stores directly.  Not a great way to train for say boxers or cross fit elites, carb cycling would be more appropriate.

Tried and True -  Carb backloading

Eat low carb all the time, except after a hard workout you just pig out and eat all the carb calories back, each and every time.  No issues with glycogen depletion of the liver.  Allows for cheat days thus further ensuring liver never glycogen depletes

New Kid on the Block (at least as we practice it today, or try to) Nutritional Ketosis or Keto-Adapted Training

Rather then focusing on restoring glycogen and enjoying the benefits of low carb the rest of the time, this strategy stresses glycogen preservation instead of spending and restocking by instead training the muscles to burn primarily ketones instead of carbs and glycogen.  Thus we are sparring glycogen and the need to back load or restore it via diet, allowing the dedicated low carb ketogenic practitioner to "stay keto" 100 percent of the time.

Eating this way REQUIRES both a high level of keto-adaption, and a diet that provides the necessary level of blood ketones to ensure you reap the benefits of keto-adaptation.

The "Primal North Rules for Food and Movement" work very well and are quite compatible with a nutritional ketosis way of eating.

This eating strategy seems to work very well for the likes of Peter Attia, however almost every single time you see the layperson try they screw it up and come to the conclusion its not viable.  Inevitably I read their logs or story and discover the basics of the approach were simply not followed and ignored, and instead their own instincts substituted.

Quite often you hear phrases such as "I want to walk the line and reap the benefits of ketosis, but be able to back load and workout every day".  This is not necessarily a realistic position and is pretty much doomed to failure from the start.  I will explain why in detail.

First, lets get some terminology out of the way.

Low Carb Limbo at its Simplest

Simply speaking, low carb limbo should be very easy to avoid, in fact it seems patently obvious yet its a trap I see people falling into again and again.

Low carb limbo occurs when you are not ingesting enough glucose from dietary carbs or producing via gluconeogenesis enough storage glycogen in your muscles and liver to replenish the amount you use.  Usually this is combined with the assumption a person is fully keto adapted, burning ketones not glycogen, when infact they likely are not.

How do you know you are burning ketones and not glycogen primarily?  Much like the energy balance formula of calories in = calories out, when you get right down to it there are a lot of factors that affect this simple equation.

How much glycogen you use is a factor of many things.  How "keto-adapted" you are so that you burn ketones instead of glycogen, how many ketones are available so that your muscles will draw upon them, how long since your last insulin spike, and how much fitness work and of what type do you do that requires a mix of glycogen and ketones.

It is a misconception that low carb dieters deny the role of glucose in the body.  Those who understand ketogenic diets understand glucose and glycogen are NECESSARY and seek to preserve glycogen rather then spending and restocking it in spikes.

The goal of living in ketosis is not to walk around proving our bodies do not need glucose, infact its quite the opposite.

Living properly in ketosis is designed to SPARE glycogen, conserve it to its absolute max, by burning ketones instead and as much as possible.  Additionally, we can spare glycogen even further via fat adaptation which is available to carb restriction practitioners whether or not they are ketogenic.

Terminology - It really makes all the difference

Terminology is the place arguments are born.  When I say fat adapted, some will assume I mean keto-adapted.  To some keto and fat-adapted is the same thing.  It isn't.  For some when I say keto-adapted they feel that means they have gotten over the Atkins flu of low carb induction and can now fuel their activities of daily living with ketones.  In part yes, but keto adaptation for athletics is something else.  Let me define these as I see them so when I use the terms in later articles you will understand what I mean.

The Sugar Burner

This is you, this is me, this is anyone after an insulin spike and for a few hours after.  From the fattest most out of shape couch potato, to the trimmest, fastest, most keto-adapted person on the planet.  After an insulin spike this is your muscle fuel mix, period.  

Safe starches, wheat, cornflakes or kool-aid it doesn't matter.   If you carbed up and then worked out, you are not burning fat for fuel as insulin will have your muscles seeking glycogen and glycogen almost alone.

Diagram meant to be illustrative and instructional may not be accurate.

An insulin spike shuts off both ketone production and fatty acid oxidation for hours, even with ketones present, insulin will have your muscles preferentially burning glycogen and ignoring the remaining lipid based fuel sources of ketones and fatty acid oxidation.

Fat Adapted / Fat Adaptation is almost a Misnomer.

Diagram meant to be illustrative and instructional may not be accurate.

Fat adapted people are able to oxidize body fat directly as fuel as a signifigant part of the muscle fuel mix.  It is necessary to be in a fat-adapted state to also be keto-adapated, but not necessary to be keto-adapted to be fat-adapted.

If our body is a car, the "Fatty acid oxidation" system is the engine at neutral or in low gear.  This is the base energy system of the body.  It is always running, even during sleep.

Being "fat adapted" is almost a misnomer.  Even on a high carb but lower calorie diet we can access body fat to fuel this baseline energy system. 

I would submit that every single person is already "fat adapted" to some degree.  If you starve a person, no matter how obese, they will almost immediately start to draw caloric energy from body fat via fatty acid oxidation.  There is no training needed for the body to start burning body fat for fuel via fatty acid oxidation.  We can all do it already.

Fatty acid oxidation as energy system can be trained so that like other energy systems, it can ramp up and provide greater amounts of energy.  If you follow Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint you will note that most of the time spent "moving slowly" draws on the fatty acid oxidation system.  All those long walks in the sunshine are essentially training this system to ramp up if needed.

A very highly trained fatty acid oxidation system often provides the majority (51% plus) of the ATP (the energy currency of muscle contraction) even during the hardest workouts.

The fatty acid oxidation system is the most efficient energy system in the body able to produce 100 units of ATP for one unit of fat.  So you can see ramping this energy system up to assist the aerobic system which produces just over 30 units of ATP per unit of sugar or ketones, would be of great advantage to all endurance athletes and even anaerobic athletes like boxers and mixed martial artists.

Another spill off effect of training this systems is that the more developed this systems become, the more your recovery time between bouts of anaerobic work improves.  This is one reason why almost all boxers, who's daily roadwork is essentially a daily training of the fatty acid oxidation system, is critical as it allows them maximum recovery during their one minute rests between rounds.

So when you say you are "fat adapted" you are likely not speaking in binary terms but in matter of degrees.  A "fat adapted person" is someone who has trained their bodies well enough that they can ramp up this system as desired.

Unlike other energy systems of the body that provide a negative return if overly trained or to frequently trained, training this system for many seems to provide a rehab effect assisting recovery from more demanding workouts.

This is why a "back off day" is often more rehabilitating then a "rest day".

My "Primal Running" protocol is designed to train, enhance and maximize this system and increase your personal level of "fat adaptation".

However, it is important to note, "Fatty Acid Oxidation" shuts down a considerable amount in the presence of insulin and for hours after.  That morning carb feed many runners partake of prior to the big race pretty much forces their body to rely solely on glycogen the entire 2 to 3 hour race thanks to the initial insulin spike that shut down fatty acid oxidation by the muscles.

Athletes like Ben Greenfield and Timothy A. Olson are aware of this and avoid a carb spike at the start of a race.  Ben Greenfield fuels with superstarch during races to continue to carb without the insulin spike that would shut down fatty acid oxidation where Timothy Olson uses fewer but regular gels and a special amino acid wasp extract that allows a higher level of fatty acid oxidation even in the presence of some insulin.

Both have won races with their various approaches, using fatty acid oxidation as a viable race day energy system.

Please keep in mind that when I say "fat adapted" it has NOTHING to do with with ketones.  Nothing at all.

This is purely oxidizing lipids for fuel.  Ketones are a byproduct of fatty acid oxidation.  If you are not oxidizing fat, you are NOT creating ketones in sufficient quantity to assist with aerobic workouts on a daily basis.

Timothy Allen Olson is an excellent example of a fat adapted athlete who is not keto-adapted.

The Tarahumara Indians are a great example of a fat adapted population who use a Primal Running sort of approach.

Ketone Bodies - A Conditional Substitute for Glycogen?

The goal of a keto-adapted athlete is to spare muscle glycogen to the max by diverting the muscles to uptake and use ketones preferentially in their fuel mix.  A minimal amount of glycogen will always be used during hard workouts and there is no avoiding that.  The goal is to preserve glycogen to the point where daily regulated gluconeogenesis provides the "back load" without the need to ingest carbs and create a self defeating insulin spike.

Diagram meant to be illustrative and instructional may not be accurate.

As you can see, being fully keto-adapted has a great glycogen sparring affect over being simply fat-adapted, but is a very strict metabolic state to maintain.  A single cheat meal can drop you from being "keto-adapted" to "fat-adapted" for days and maybe even a week!  This will have you using signifigantly more muscle glycogen than you anticipated.

Many people are "fat-adapted" but thinking they are "keto-adapted" for reasons I will explain and this mistake ends up in the inevitable glycogen crash.  Something I have learned about by experience.

Acetoacetic Acid

Wikipedia link

This is the ketone type that urinary keto-sticks pick up.  This is not the same as the ketones detected using the more expensive and far more reliable blood ketone measuring instruments.

There is no correlation at all between the level of ketones in your urine, your rate of fat loss, or your level of keto-adaptation.

Many feel that once they get passed the low carb induction flu, and that the urinary ketosticks start showing negative results on a regular basis that they are keto-adapted.  I will argue this is only partially true and relying only on this ketone measure is going to bring you to low carb limbo and trouble if you are using a keto-adapted approach to exercise and training.

beta-Hydroxbutric Acid

Wikiepedia link

These are the blood ketones.  These are the ketones that matter if you plan to keto-adapt for exercise or endurance training purposes.  These ketones can be measured only with blood ketone measuring devices and expensive blood ketone strips.

Sadly to keto-adapt for athletics almost requires blood ketone testing to get it right.  In my opinion the risks of training hard in a ketogenic state and depleting liver glycogen.

I posit this theory, that the body can and does use some sort of feedback mechanism to determine if it will power the upper energy systems with muscle glycogen or with ketones.  That each one of us, if we are to properly keto adapt for athletic performance need to be mindful of this and accurately test our blood ketones and blood sugar before and after workout to learn what our personal minimum blood ketone level is to sufficiently power exercise without a marked decrease in blood sugar.

If you are working out and afterwards have discovered a very large decrese in blood sugar similar to what a carb adapted athlete would experience then you are simply not keto-adapted and you will eventually deplete the glycogen stores in your liver by failing to backload carbs, and you will eventually crash.

Fortunately we have someone who has diligently logged all his macronutrient ratios, blood ketones and blood sugar and spent months ketogenic with confirmation and measures.

As discovered by Jimmy Moore in his N=1 Day 121-150 where he resumed weight training but in a keto-adapted state.

I’ve found that if my ketone levels are below 1.1 mmol/L it is impossible to get quality training in. Once my blood ketones rise above 1.5 mmol/L, I don’t notice a difference between a carb-loaded workout and ketosis workout. Therefore I have determined that carbs are not necessary for even the most intensive training as long as ketone levels are sufficiently high. This is confirmed by the chart in the Performance book. I only eat 30g total carbohydrates per day and can maintain my training schedule.   ~   Jimmy Moore
So you will notice in the testimony from Jimmy that the difference in blood ketone levels between crashing with hypoglycemia and having a quality workout is relatively small and without actually testing blood ketones before and after every workout to determine your own ideal range, it would be extremely difficult to maintain any sort of daily training regimen and not eventually glycogen crash.


Note:  Since this writing, Peter Attia, MD, of the Eating Academy wrote a beautiful article on keto-adaptation and is a must read in it's entirety.

To be keto-adapted means your body will using blood ketones (beta-Hydroxybutric Acid) instead of muscle glycogen and blood glucose to primarily power workouts.  

Your muscles will always use some glycogen, but can use far less if you are:
  • keto-adapted
  • And have sufficient blood ketone level to redirect muscles to draw on ketones for fuel instead of glycogen alone
And this choice of your muscles to use ketones instead of glycogen is NOT binary.  It is not an "either/or" but a mixture of glycogen/ketones.  How much of each is likely directly determined by how long you have been keto-adapted, and your blood ketone level at the commencement of exercise as well as a bunch of individual factors such as genetics, culture heritage, etc... that we can only begin to guess at.

It is also not a sliding scale, you will be "mostly burning ketones" or "mostly burning glycogen".  In either scenario your muscles will be burning some of each but in relative amounts.  If you are "mostly burning ketones" this is what I would call "Keto-adapted" and you are sparring muscle glycogen, thus preventing the need for a rapid refeed, and allowing the minimal amount of glycogen used to be slowly topped up over time via gluconeogenisis.

This is so important I am going to put it in bold.

Even though you are keto-adapted you are going to burn some muscle glycogen.  If your daily glycogen burn exceeds what is resupplied by gluconeogenisis you are eventually going to glycogen deplete your liver and crash.

It is therefor important to have adequate dietary fat to provide for adequate blood levels of beta-Hydroxybutyric acid to drive your muscles to preferentially use that ketone over glycogen and spare glycogen use as much as possible so that at after a good night's sleep muscle glycogen has been sufficiently restored via gluconeogenisis rather than depleting the liver and eventually leading to a crash.

This effect is most pronounced in sled dogs during endurance races.  Some very interesting data here.

Glycogen turns out to be a crucial piece of the metabolic switch. During the first few days of racing, sled dogs draw energy from glycogen stored inside muscle cells. But instead of depleting glycogen stores and tiring the muscles, the animals suddenly switch to a glycogen-sparing metabolism. They start drawing energy from sources outside of the muscles.
Davis suggests that the muscle cells start extracting fat directly from the blood and somehow transport this fat across the cell membranes and into the cells, where it can be burned as fuel. During race times, fat builds up in a sled dog’s blood, most likely because of the high-fat racing diet. Each 50-pound canine consumes about 12,000 calories daily (typically 60 percent fat and 40 percent carbohydrate and protein).

The preferred fuel for dogs during these races is a high animal fat, animal protein based diet.  Much the same as the diet anyone with a blood ketone meter will testify provides the ideal amount of ketones to power exercise.

How to Wreck Keto-Adaptation

As I  mentioned earlier if you are keto-adapted you are either burning "mostly glycogen" or "mostly ketones".  One way to guarantee you will burn "mostly glycogen" for days and maybe even weeks is to "carb up" or have a cheat meal or even worse a cheat day.

Carb back loading and burning "mostly ketones" are mutually exclusive. There is no "walking the line", there is no burning "mostly ketones" today, carb back loading tonight and then burning "mostly ketones" tomorrow, it just does not work that way.

Carb back loading is something you should always do, or never do.  Doing it infrequently, or only now and then, pretty much guarantees an eventual glycogen crash.  And the result is yet another ill informed person telling the world the only way to work out is to carb up.

Low Carb Limbo and How it Can Sneak Up On You

The Internet now abounds with people who adopted a low carb approach to working out and eventually crashed.  

Let's assume I am keto-adapted and that I can burn "mostly ketones" during a workout.

Day 1 - Long run, using mostly ketones, a little glycogen, that night my minimal glycogen restores during sleep via gluconeogenisis (GNG for short)

Day 2 - Weight lifing, using mostly ketones again but some muscle glycogen which restores again nicely at night via GNG

Day 3 - Same as day 1

Day 4 - Same as Day 2

Day 5- Rest day, fully restocked

(The above can go on forever if you do not employ cheat meals or carb back loads and modify your workload and ramp up fat intake and blood ketones during any signs of hypoglycemia during workouts.  But once we back load things start to go off the rails)

Day 6 - Cheat day, carb up, 

Day 7 - Long run, but because of cheat day I am burning "mostly glycogen" but because i am burning "a little ketones" you will see urine and blood ketones possibly ramp up.  That night I will restore muscle glycogen via GNG but because I used a lot of glycogen the liver perhaps gives some up as well leaving it partially depleted.  This is not a problem unless the liver greatly depletes.  I feel great, good to go

Day 8 - Weight lifting but same as day 7, same resultant slight drop in liver glycogen stores at the end

Day 9 - Same as 7, glycogen drops in liver just a touch more

Day 10 - Same as Day 8, liver down a bit more

Day 11 - Rest day - things replenish a bit

Day 12 - Cheat day - Trouble here because muscles are already "mostly glycogen" burning and not maximally using ketones a behaviour I just reinforced with a cheat day

The above cycle of Day 6 to 12 repeats, each cycle through we become less ketone dependant and more glycogen dependant.  The problem now is that we are on a very low carb diet and eventually glycogen demands exceed the slow and steady output of gluconeogenesis.  Eventually we crash.

These crashes can come much faster if we are doing high intensity interval style training which is why, in my opinion, a very low carb approach will ALWAYS be the WRONG approach for high intensity, short duration sports like sprinting, boxing, MMA, etc... but can be an option for endurance sports and strength sports when done correctly.  For those sports I highly recommend a "minimal carb approach" and carb backloading after every workout.

There is No Straddling the Line - Its all or nothing with Keto-Adapted Athletics

You need to ignore carb cycling if you want to properly keto adapt.  Weight lifting protocols are all WRONG for this.

On the flip side, keto-adapted training is ALL WRONG for high intensity interval training on a daily basis as is mandated by some sports such as Boxing and MMA. 

You need to not think of keto-adaptation as a line to cross but as a range.

Lets compare to the old Berlin Wall.  In many places the Berlin Wall was actually two parallel walls with a minefield between those walls.

On one side of the wall is the "mostly glycogen" burning way of eating, on the other side is the "mostly ketone" burning way of eating.  In the middle? A mine field of low carb limbo.  Straddling the line with insufficient carb back loading, or insufficient fat intake or commitment to keto-adaptation due to cheat days or meals or even unintended insulin spikes will have you walking through that mine field and eventually you will set one off.  You will glycogen deplete and crash.

It happens again and again and even some of our foremost fitness experts who play with keto make this mistake.  Jimmy Moore is doing it right and so is Peter Attia.

Blood meters, knowing you personal thresholds, your personal training volumes, and I recommend no cheat days, ever.  EVER, during your training season.

If you cannot commit to a no cheat day policy you need to abandon a keto-adapted approach to training as you are almost doomed to failure before you begin, instead adopt a minimal carb approach which provides enough back loading to ensure you do not glycogen deplete.

In my Predator Diet one of the most important points I stress is that there are no cheat days.  A cheat day can set you back weeks.  I hope that I have outlined why that is.

There is no fine line you can straddle, but an entire range you need to stay out of.  Sisson was right in his carb curve when defining 100 to 150 grams a day as required for highly active people.  Phinney and Volek are ALSO right when defining a very low carb range of about 20 grams a day or less combined with adequate dietary fat and low protein intake to provide enough ketones to preferentially burn ketones over glycogen for energy during exercise.

There is a HUGE GAP between those two ranges and sadly that gap is PRECISELY where everyone keeps trying to be and why they keep failing.  If low carb limbo is the minefield between the two security walls, for some reason everyone thinks they can straddle the minefield on a daily basis and not reap the inevitable results.

Again, there is simply no fine line in which you can straddle or move back and forth over.  There is simply keto-adaptation OR moderate carb and nothing in between if you plan to make exercise and training a signfigant part of your personal fitness approach.

Real Commitment, No Cheat Days, No Backloading, Tonnes of Fat and Proper Ketone Monitoring

Your dietary choice should reflect your life goals.  Being in ketosis is NOT required for losing weight.  I would submit a carb restricted diet of between 50 and 75 grams a day, maybe even up to 100, with only light exercise is all most people need to lose weight.

Keto-adapted athletics should be undertaken as a reflection of your goals.  Ideally suited for body building, weight lifting, strength training, or endurance events where fatty acid oxidation is the predominant energy system such as ultra running.

Keto-adapted athletic training is simply all wrong for high anaerobic sports such as boxing, MMA, Cross Fit athletics, on a daily basis.  While some have had success with frequent HIIT mostly by using "super starch" it is not advise able and you are quite likely to go into low carb limbo and eventually glycogen deplete and crash.

You should use a keto blood meter, if this is a serious athletic goal, or don't bother with keto-adapted training.  Adopt instead a perfectly viable and time proven carb cycling approach with frequent back loading.  Ben Greenfield has an ideal low carb plan for triathletes that works very well and provides much of the benefits of a true keto-adapted dietary protocol.

So How Do We Ensure We Stay Adequately Keto-Adapted?

Read Jimmy's Article outlined below

Read, understand and get fully behind this article

Read and understand "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance"  Period! You have no business trying this if you haven't read the book.  You need to absorb and understand the basics thoroughly.

Our cultural aversion to fat has left us ill-prepared to understand a fat based metabolic approach to athletics.

No matter how smart you, no matter how many credentials you hold, if you read a few testimonies on Facebook and a few articles on the net and attempt high performance output without reading the book you are setting youself up.

You need to truly absorb the WHOLE message not just the cool sounding bits.

Stop thinking you can possibly do this right, 100% of the time, without putting out money on a blood ketone meter.  Please just stop.

The blood level difference between using ketones instead of glycogen is not something you are going to be able to determine based on "how you feel" unless you are an Inuit with centuries of epigenetic zero carb diet experience just don't even think about it.

People who can do this perfectly without monitoring at first are RARE not normal.

People who test their blood ketones DO NOT enter low carb limbo.  How many diets do you know that allow you to actually and scientifically test yourself as often as you want to verify you are doing it right? How many? ONLY nutritional ketosis offers this benefit yet so many decide not to take advantage of that fact, usually for the cost, but then go off the rails.

If you are serious about keto-adapted athletics, and are not willing to fork out for a blood ketone meter, my advice is to go back to carb back loading.  Do it right or do not do it.  Its to fine a line until you get a few months under your belt with the meter and have perfected your diet and regimen.

Be Consistent!  There is no such thing as a cheat meal, not on this approach.

If you are someone that is going to do better with scheduled or random cheat meals, or you know yourself to know you will eventually carb up... you must consider that carefully before you attempt keto-adapted athletics.  One insulin spike can have your muscles preferentially seeking glycogen over ketones for days or even a week.  Working out during this time will start you on the path to glycogen depletion, mandating another carb load or failing that leaving you feeling run down and thinking "this keto stuff just ain't working".

If you cheat I think the best thing you can do is NOT EXERCISE for a good week.  Get your blood ketones back up to a nice high level, consistently, for a good 5 to 7 days, then resume training OR abandon keto-adapted physical training and just go to a carb back load approach and do it properly.

You want to begin every single training session, especially the demanding ones, with absolute certainty you will be fueling it with ketones not glycogen as much as possible.  If you cannot then go for a long walk instead.

I See the Same Failed Approach Again and Again (And Its Not the Approach in the Book)

I get lots of inbox messages on Facebook from people struggling with keto-adapted athletics, especially since my mention on the Low Carb Conversations Show with Jimmy Moore and Friends where I described my experience with super starch as well as my half marathon after 12 weeks on a zero carb carnivorous diet.

Invariably they will detail their goals and ther dietary approach, usually we are talking about 50 to 75 grams of carbs a day (thinking they can eat a bit more and stay keto due to their workout volume), a cheat day now and then, and a whole bunch of long workouts.

Invariably they will express the desire to "have the best of both worlds" and enjoy keto-adapted athletics, yet carb up some weeks if they absolutely need it to do huge volumes of high intensity interval work.

Now that you have read my rambles I hope you understand why I think the above approach is doomed to failure, but it seems to be the approach applied every single time especially by those who have not read the book "Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance".

My thoughts and I'll be honest again, is if you wish to engage in daily HIIT, you should train for fat-adaptation not keto-adaptation, and institute some reasonable level of carb back loading instead of some super-human deluding themselves into thinking they can accomplish what others can not.

You need to approach this new exercise metabolic approach right.  Get the meter.  Read the book.  Do not cheat.  Commit.  Or do not do it.  There is no point in doing it wrong for reasons of either cost or ego and then blaming the method.  The method works when applied FULLY.  It fails miserably when applied incorrectly.  Such are many things in this world.

In Closing - And a Personal Note

For me, there is no freer feeling on this Earth than running on my trails, fueled by ketones and my own bodily energy.  I feel in this state totally free and totally without limits.  In my mind I am not a cheetah though, but a bulldozer.  Slower perhaps than other runners, but nearly unstoppable and able to run, and run, and run without a limit, without the need to stop and refuel, without the need for constant hydration.

It is a feeling without parallel, at that point you are the Masai Warrior. You are the !Kung Bushmen.  You understand on every level the true personal power you hold.

But it took me at least 8 weeks without any carbs, ZERO, to get there.  If you think you can get there eating 75 grams a day then you are making a fundamental mistake.  There is no fine line.  Its an illusion.  There is only full commitment or failure.


  1. nice article man thanks clarified a few things for me.


    1. Hi Mark

      I am glad you found it helpful.

      Best regards

  2. Hi,

    This is a very clear post, probably the most balanced and informative i've read so far. I thank you for this.

    I would like to ask you if you are familiar with the notion of ecto-, meso- and endomorph and if you can think to preferential diet for them (especially ectomorph as i am one) in order to get more energy and confidence. NO problem of overweight for ectomorph!

    Else, have you any glucometer and ketometer to recommend?



    1. Hi Thomas thanks for reading.

      Yes I am quite familiary with those body types that seem to correspond with the two main types of responses to carbohydrate metabolism, or more exactly, excess carb metabolism.

      You see in the 50s there was a series of tests done on two types of bodies. Mister "Fatten easily" and Mister "Skinny Bastard". Carbohydrates were given a radioactive signature and subjects were overfed carbs.

      Mr Fatten easily, on X-Ray monitoring, showed no increase in metabolic rate, and the extra carb load went directly to fat cells.

      Mr. Skinny bastard responded with increased body temmperature and metabolic rate and burned the extra carbs without storing them.

      Ever since this experiment, which clearly showed two base responses to carb, every single diet ever developed has treated us like we are ALL THE SAME and need to be on the SAME DIET.


      Many of us are a mix between Mister Fatten easily and Mr. Skinny bastard. Those two carb metabolisms correspond exactly with the three morphic body types you mentioned.

      Endomorphs and to a degree mesomorphs definately want to practice some level of carb restriction be it keto cycling, low carb keto in general, limiting carbs to 20% of calories, SOMETHING, ANYTHING, to prevent that excess fat storage.

      As for meters, I have no recommendations except find the ones with the lowest costs sticks. Rumor is a new breathalyzer keto meter is coming out which requires no keto sticks. Ben Greenfield has been blogging about one he has... That could be the best investment.

  3. Hi,

    thanks for that interesting answer.

    It helps to find the best diet for ectomorph as i am one. I had to re-introduce more carb in my diet, choosing them to be "safe one" or let's say safest one. sweet patato, chick pea, beans,.. that have a low glycemic index. that give me more energy as i was probably in the "carbs bad zone" but maybe more bad humor but others factor can intereact (bad weather, less gym,...)

    this is strange that bodytype associate specific bones configuration and specific metabolic abilities at the same times since it seems that there is no bind between both parameters.

    Maybe there is a link betwwen the percentage of neanderthal genes and metabolic abilities or diet choice?

    Anyway I have to recommend your blog here and there and i will let you know when i enter the keto diet but first i try succeed with carb cycling diet.

    PS: ectomorph can rule too : http://tennisrookies.blogspot.fr/2013/01/novak-djokovic-shirtless.html

    1. Carb / keto cycling is tried and true and the kinks have long been worked out, you can always tweak towards lower and lower carbs as you go if you find it helps you progress to your goals.

      Good luck!

  4. Hi,

    My name is Robert, living in Israel. I reached your blog thanks to an Israeli Facebook group called zero-carbs ( in Hebrew ). I want to first thank you for this article - very clear and concise. I am looking forward to reading the reast of the information on your blog.

    I'd like to a question - I hope it is ok. I am pretty much just beginning my investigation of this type of diet/lifestyle, generally in order to find a way of teuly being healthy and specifically because, although still not close to being diabetic, my blood-sugar levels have been rising for the past few years ( known family history ).

    My specific question is concerned with my training regime : I train two times a week - one short interval-sprint session ( or kettlebell swing session ) lasting no more than 10 minutes and another high intensity bodyweight session, where I perform about five or six exercises, one set each, to failure ( if the exercise form allows going to failure ) - also a quite short session.
    I wondered, given what you have written, if a zero-carb diet would be suitable for this kind of training regime.

    That's it - I thank you for your time and wish you a wonderful day,


    1. Hi Robert, welcome and thanks for your question.

      Once you have adapted and if you are eating adequate fat I see no reason why you could not keep up with that training volume, and would be surprised if you could not.

      You may well find yourself wishing to add to it.

  5. Hi Danny,

    I come back on that page to ask you a question:

    I am wondering if you are monitoring your blood glucose level? I am wondering what could be the blood glucose level of a guy in state of ketosis ? Assuming you have glucose in blood provided by neoglucogenesis to feed glucodependent organs, this value could reveals what is an appropriate glucose level in blood.

    Of course this is not completely correct to apply to everyone not in ketosis because you have ketones in blood too. But maybe if we have the ration betwwen ketones and glucose in blood we could calculate the equivalent in glucose in blood level using the energy (ATP) provided by ketones and glucose.

    A y data to share?

    1. I did monitor for about a month, had excellent "ideal levels" of both fasting and random glucose the entire time...

      Hope that helps

    2. Hi,

      Thanks for replying and sorry my first post was unclear.

      in ketosis, is your glucose in blood at a constant level and not making high and low like carbs eaters? If it is constant, how much is it (g/l)?

    3. I kept a log here for a couple days when I started using super starch which really seemed to have no effect on my blood sugar.

      Please note these are CANADIAN measures, different than USA


    4. You will note the spike is from the "control day" where I used an equal amount of traditional starch... the next day back in ketosis my blood sugar is stable stable stable

  6. What role, or what changes, does intermittent fasting play in the keto vs fat adapted cycles?

    I daily fast 12-16hrs, sometimes more, I eat low carb (50-75g), and not so much now but I often trained (Karate, Jujitsu) or worked out at the tail end of the fast. I never had a problem working out on the tail end of any fasting period.

    Fat adapted or keto adapted when you workout 3hrs at the tail of 16hr fast?

    1. I think to simplify is the best approach.

      Eat according to hunger, the fasting pretty much becomes on autopilot at that point. Even if you deliberately fast hunger seems to rebound if you need it afterwards.

  7. Thank you for such an informative article.
    Would you only recommend being fully keto-adapted (full 4-6 weeks of 0 carbs) for athletes, not laymen? I don't train or do intensive exercise, but I have been striving to become adapted for 3 weeks now. I am mainly seeking a lifestyle I can stick to that will keep me very lean with little effort. I am female and only have 10 pounds to lose but they are stubborn, and weight has not budged for 2 weeks despite eating <20 carbs a day. I've read that high carb refeeds can often break these "stalls," but I'd be sacrificing keto-adaptation. Not sure what to do at this point..
    Also, I've been feeling a lot of "muscle fatigue", especially in my thighs, even though I haven't been working out. Climbing just one flight of stairs makes them burn, and I find myself constantly massaging my legs to relieve a restless feeling in the muscle. Any idea what it could be? Any advice would be appreciated greatly.

    1. Anyone can benefit from keto adapting not just athletes

      However having said that going full out keto for the rest of your life to keep the last 10 lbs off seems a little bit overboard.

      Would also suggest if you have only 10lbs left this is not really a stall but possibly your new set point. Keto will normalize you but your body's idea of your normal and society's idea of normal are totally different.

  8. Great article and i think finally the answer to why I am having hypoglycemic reactions during my crossfit workouts. I do them 3-4x week and i eat about 50-75 grams of carbs a day, prob not enough to sustain levels. I fall flat 5 minutes into workouts and breathe harder than I used to before going this low carb. I dont do any long distance or endurance type activities, or even much walking, so prob my fat adaptation has been lowered as well.

    I take it that either carb cycling or back loading would be good in my case, specifically for HIIT/Crossfit 3-5x week?


    1. I think so let me know how it worked out.

  9. Fantastic article.. helped me cleared some things up.
    So in other words, you'd recommend a "fat adapted protocol' for those that constantly deplete glycogen stores such as martial arts and high rep light weight strength and agility training; is that right? I'm going through my first few stages of Carb Nite at the moment and although I'm slimming down a bit I'm feeling that I'm always a bit sluggish and not really energetic; and for the most part my muscles take forever to recover, as if I'm lacking some nutrients or them to function back better.

    1. This advice for after you finish your induction to carb nite, at first being sluggish is definately an expected outcome... your body has to learn to be duel fueled. Its a necessary pain. Id give it a good 6 to 8 weeks, took me about 10 or 12.

      After that, to be honest and depending on how frequent or intense your aneaerobic workouts are you may wish to have your "carb nite" a bit more often.

      Dont be afraid to play with a well timed appropriate amount of carb refeed now and then. Once you fat adapt if your high intensity is not high intensity take that into consideration.

      If you can do a nice steady jog, fasted first thing in the morning, for miles and miles, you are fat adapted.

    2. Thanks for your reply Danny,

      I have actually been doing Carb Nite ever since the 7th of October so its almost a month; but I feel as if my progress is bouncing back and forth a bit; my Carb Nites were actually fed wrong (apart from my 1st Carb Nite, which was Apple Risotto; afterwards for the next week I ate low GI foods instead of high when I thought it was high!) and recently I have been craving for sugar; especially chocolate, but not necessarily rice or potatoes. I'm still recovering very slowly; and although I do see my muscle definition coming out they are very weak and get fatigued fairly quickly. I've also started to fall sleepy during late afternoon and even not as awake as I was on the first week; man, I really don't know what's going on with my body. Currently at this stage I think I need to regain everything because I'm feeling if I pushed any further with my training, I will hurt myself again because my body is nowhere ready for more exercise.

      I do Wing Chun 3 times a week (close quarter combat) not really intense, its from low to moderate depending on what I'm doing; unless I'm training my kicking. Two days of weight training (light weight, high reps) and a day of wall bag and kali sticks, then rest 1 or 2 days. Overall they aren't really intense, but I do have sore muscles all the time the next day I wake up. I feel as if I'm not feeding it right and constantly abusing it with exercise. I've made sure I'm eating a lot of good fats and meat, carbs less than 30g; perhaps I really need carbs? I'm told that Carb Nite isn't suitable for those that do a lot of endurance training (my training I believe is mostly endurance training..) because I'm just not getting the most out of my diet as it is right now.

    3. Danny,

      Thank you for writing this. I, too, am a Jimmy, Volek and Phonney fan. I have been doing 25 grams carbs, and .5 grams protein/lb for the last nine days. My blood sugar average is 65, and ketones are 5.2. My question is this: I have been running 5-10 miles since the summer. I can already tell my energy is way higher and my heart rate goes down much faster. The only problem is, I am very anaerobic when I run (170-180 BPM). I feel great for 5 miles, but then I slow down. Will this issue resolve itself the longer I'm doing this? Or will it never work for me since I'm anaerobic. One more: I have a half marathon in a week, should I do SuperStarch w MCT oil. OR fuel with dates midway through? Thank you soooo much.

    4. Tammy, my ultra runnner friend came to reply but it looks like Blogger ate his comment let me see if he can try again.

  10. My first question got deleted too. I really hope he does reply. Yesterday my blood sugar was 49 and my ketones were 5.9. And all I did was lay in bed drinking my coffee that had a full cup if heavy whip in it. After I let that settle for about 1.5 hours, I got those readings above. I'm a little scared about my half this weekend.

  11. I just realized after re-reading my above post that I didn't specify what my issue is. I know I'm anaerobic because I never developed my aerobic capacity (ideally I should back way down and do Maffetone Method). But I feel fine the first 5 miles at 175 BPM, but then crater. Why isn't my 25% adipose giving energy that I need through my entire run? I guess maybe I just need to bite the bullet and do Maffetone. But then I'll be walking at 130 BPM and hating it.

    1. In boxing we say train how you fight so to train for long runs it seems to me the best way has always been simply to run distances.

      As for Doc you could try directly on his blog.


  12. While I agree that "Low-Carb Limbo" is a real phenomenon, I disagree with your assessment of the underlying mechanisms, which appears to disagree to the very work of Volek and Phinney which you reference (I just read that book 4 days ago :-)

    Ketones are primarily brain fuel, not muscle fuel.

    The whole point of ketosis is to stay alive. Given that ketone production is relatively inefficient and skeletal muscle runs fine directly on fats, it makes no sense that during deep ketosis, skeletal muscle would prefer to burn ketones over fat, and indeed is not true.

    Skeletal muscles actually prefer to burn ketones when the blood ketone concentration is lower. When blood ketone levels are high, that is a signal that ketones need to be preserved for tissues which require them to continue living, such as the brain, so ketone use by skeletal muscle is downregulated when ketone levels are high.

    Over time, fat adaptation actually involves an increase in mitochondrial ability to burn fats, as demonstrated by Volek and Phinney.

    Given this, actually I would expect the "Low-Carb Limbo" state to be the one where ketone-burning is a major portion of muscle metabolism since fat burning hasn't taken up the slack left by carbohydrate restriction, while the "Keto-adapted" state is where skeletal muscles burn fat almost exclusively, and the brain burns lots of ketones.

    1. Thats OK you are free to disagree, my tale of low carb limbo was something Phinney and Volek totally missed yet many experience. As well my explanation was simplified and not meant to be medically accurate but to convey understanding a 2 volumes of work in a mere blog post.

      Having said all that you summarized pretty much the same conclusion as I did so we really are not that far apart.

      However muscles do not spare ketones until the blood ketone level is very much above where nutritional ketosis would bring you. You basically have to be starving to get there. Jimmy Moore experienced this in fact with his poorly thought out fasting experiment after an excellent run in ketosis.

  13. Hi Danny
    I see lots of different information on here and elsewhere, so much out there I don't know what works so end up not trying but I want to do something if it would bring out the best in me coming from yourself.

    I have some questions for you if you don't mind and some statements in which could you explain if they are true.

    bit of background of me:
    I'm 21 been training Boxing for 5 years.
    Mainly explosive fast sharp u get my drift.
    I'm 5ft9 59kg
    I train everyday 6 days a week, sometimes twice a day 6 days a week.
    My sleep good in dark room 8/9+ consistent.
    My diet is clean- no junk food quality meats mix of lean and fatty, sweet potato , greens, gluten free etc. no grains or bread. PALEO.

    1.Magically - with my extensive training regime , I dont eat alot. Or maybe because I'm eating the best quality foods that are very nutrient dense = compared to that on a SAD diet not as many nutrients?

    I think to myself I have to eat or I wont function at my best, but i never hardly ever feel hungry!

    I.e -- The other night I had 100g weight sweet potato , not much else in that day, at around 7.30/8pm and didnt eat the next day till around 2pm and even then I still wasn't GENUINELY Hungry!

    I only ate because i had training soon and think i need to fuel for that? What are your thoughts?

    I cant work out what that means!
    That is so long without food seeming as i woke up at 5 and started work at 6 until half 12.

    And i wake up train HIIT at 6am with no breakfast (fasted) running stairs, Steep ones , sprinting up running fast down , alot of stairs and do that about 10 times and still be able to jog home.

    2.what does this mean must I be fat adapted?

    Ive read from top paleo gurus like wolf and sisson about safe starches for high intensity work (boxing) and they say it is a must i need my starch and that it is impossible to keep up my high i intensity on low carb / keto because it would be putting my body undermore& more stress and It would give me depression, low energy and terrible muscular recovery .

    Also here is the link they say no good for boxing http://www.8weeksout.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=269
    3.What's your thoughts on this ?

    As I want to try Ketogenic diet for boxing, or carb cycling, / CKD which one wouldn't work And what would be the best one and why

    Ive seen that blof on LCHF with the soccer team and they said if Olympians can do it why cant u they lost loads of body fat, improved various numbers and The team is closely monitored by doctors and they are all astonished by the results (you know, conventional doctors still believe that fat is bad for you). Strømsgodset’s players also have the very highest VO2 Max in the Norwegian Soccer league.

    the million dollar question is would a ketogenic diet work good/ better than a high carb for boxing? If so what is the instructions

    I appreciate your reply

    Cant thank you enough!


    1. Hi Carl, what are your goals?

      Be a better boxer?

    2. Carl? Do u mean me boxing kid ?

    3. Sorry I guess I did.

      What are your goals? Really its the most important thing to know and its hardly ever asked or offered.

  14. Yes of course to be a better boxer but there are so many variables involved with that? I think keto isn't for me . What do you recommend? Most appreciate any comments

    1. Keto is a hard road and its that much harder to stay in the groove if you are doing a lot of anearobid workouts which boxing mandates.

      Any of the carb cycling approaches would work really well and are time proven.

      Unless you have some compelling reason to go keto for boxing, such as to treat diabetes, lose weight (a lot of weight not just a cut for a fight), keto is just making it harder on yourself than you need to.

      Consider a minimal carb approach, and if you feel run down a good cheat day.

  15. The Masai mostly drink milk, maize gruel, and sometimes blood from routine bloodlettings. Meat of the animals is left for rare and special occasions About 60-85% of their diet is raw milk, which is going to not be ketogenic.

    1. Really that really does not at all jibe many other reports so would love to see your source. Dr. Colin Champ posted photos and stories from his own brother who lived amoung them for 6 months.

      Also there are various tribes of the Masai, and they travel and live in a season diet which changes.

      But meat as "rare and special occasions only" is something I have only heard from the vegan community and have never seen cittaion to back it up, so would be quite interested in the source if you have it.

  16. Thanks for the informative article. I am just delving into Ketosis. I'm on day 11 of less than 50 gr carb per day. I have a blood meter ordered, haven't received it yet. I have read "The Art and Science of low carb performance" I love to cycle and run and am intrigued by the concept of simplifying all the fueling issues with longer rides and runs.

    I just finished reading Ben Greenfields summary of his ketogenic Iron man training and have a couple of questions. Ben indicates that he was testing through the 12 weeks and was in ketosis the whole time (accept one day) he indicates levels between .5 and 3.0. He says he was eating around 75 grms of carbs on light training days and between 150 and 200 on heavy days. Based on your article I conclude that Ben was fat adapted and not keto adapted, would you agree? Can you be perpetually in ketosis and not be keto adapted?

    At this point I'm not sure which would suit me best, keto adapted is more difficult and less forgiving. I typically do 2 to 3 hours rides and 1 to 2 hour runs with occasional longer events like a century bike ride. Perhaps the low carb fat adapted would be good for me. Where would ketosis fit into the low carb fat adapted, but not keto adapted scenario?



    1. Hi Bryan, I agree, a lot of us were sort of wondering if Ben had read the same books we had when he designed his experiment. I think that he did this method for only one race and then stopped speaks to the fact it did not work as well as advertised for him. I felt his effort suffered from flawed design if the goal was to be really keto adapted.

      Having said all that he clearly showed you can train very hard on minimal carbs right?

      As for your question, I you feel the true keto adapted method seems difficult, it is! Its a real commitment and not always warranted. But its certainly worth an experiment of 4 weeks? At the end of week 4 your energy levels should be starting to rocket back up as you keto adapt. Its an awakening feeling of sorts. Something to try maybe in your off season?

      Also you can always keto cycle, right now I am eating keto 5 days a week and have a 36 hour carb refeed where I can eat carbs, I limit myself to one modest desert over this period and the rest is paleo type carbs of potatoes etc... This I find is working wonderfully to power my daily 90 minutes of very heavy weight training and a bit of running that I am doing right now. I basically do a really heavy weights day right when I cease carbs to launch myself into keto.

    2. thanks for the reply, my goal is to give it 90 days to find out how it works for me. I'm on day 14 and had a great workout day today. I rode my bike 1 1/2 hours after 15 hours of fasting and felt good. I have another question, I just received my blood meter today a Precision, I did my first test about 1 and 1/2 hours after dinner and had glucose of 72 and ketones of 7.1, I was a bit alarmed about the 7.1, I then had a high fat green smoothy and tested again after 40 min and had glucose of 60 and ketones 5.3. The ketone levels are higher than I anticipated any thoughts?

    3. That seems fairly high yes, you will find extended bouts of exercise can jack up ketone production for up to 18 hours though, I remember after my half marathon run (I am a big guy, slow runner) my ketones were jacked til the next morning. It was a hard off road run with many verts but I was "peeing purple" for a long time LOL

      Wish I had a meter then

      So some of it depends on what you do but 14 days in I expect with your workload the ketone levels to be a little wild, the body will self regulate as you have saw. To many ketones also trigger insulin, which reduces glucagon, which shuts down ketone production. This is why type one diabetics get to keto acidosis, no insulin!

      Its worth keeping an eye on and with that high you may get some keto breath or metalic taste in your mouth. I think in another two weeks though you will even out.

    4. Yesterday was a pretty heavy work out day for me, that makes sense. My fasted level was 5.1 this morning, so I think things will level out. Thanks again for you reply and the blog, it is very informative.



  17. Hi!!

    first thanks for share youre experience and take the time for this post.

    I have a doubt about the minimal carb approach. I training muay thai and do a lot of bodyweight exercises (pull ups, dips, squat, lunges, condition drills, sparring) i be keto for 2 month (no carb, no cheat) but the last 2 week i feel awful, depress, lack of energy and very unhappy with my performance...but now i add some paleo (some veggies but no starch) and i feel a little better but my performance still be bad. Do you recomend add some starch after a workout?

    some day my energy is fine but other is so low and that suck. I'm thinking in a keto cheat (hihg fat or very hihg protein) or have a little carb cheat meal one a week...but i dunno if that carbs can kick me out of ketosis.

    do you have some tips about the necessary or unnecessary of carbs for fat loss and awesome performance in muay thai-ross training style?

    note: i workout 6 to 10 times in 7 days. Am light workout and pm heavy and long workout in the evening
    and follow ross training condition routines

    Sorry for my bad English

    1. I am a big fan of Ross Enamait, own 2 of his books and 2 of his video products and have worked through his 50 day programs. On the forums there I am sometimes about as BSW.

      I think 100% keto in a primarly anearobic training environment is shooting yourself in the foot.

      Check out ketogenic cycling. 5 days keto, 2 days of carbs. The carb days should also be your most massive training days.

      Try this on for size

      -Monday (carb up, refeed)
      -Tuesday (moderate carbs)
      -Wednesday (transition to keto, lots of sets in the morning of bodyweight strength, afternoon whatever)
      -Thursday keto, train hard
      -Friday keto, train hard
      -Saturday keto, train hard
      -Sunday keto, train hard

      If you find you are working out during the keto time and your workout suffers, carb refeed immediately after that workout using 50g (5 tsp) of pure glucose or dextrose and whey with water within 40 minutes of your workout, this will primarly refeed muscle glycogen but leave liver glycogen low which will help you to keep burning fat

      play a bit with the schedule but that is the idea

  18. Danny - Great job. I've been doing CKD and TKD for a very long time. Now no cycling at all. Your presentation is probably the most informative and clear I've ever read. I'm not exactly 100% in agreement with everything mainly due to my experiences but the margin of disagreement is very narrow and I may be closer to your observations than I thought I would be. I really like the balance of honesty, and you're not holding on to a concept with white knuckles daring anyone to disagree. I started this way of eating where it was almost unknown and very unpopular. Now it's getting trendy. I think your article here takes the conversation up one more notch. One last thing, I appreciate your approach to all the folks posting to this article. You were very even-handed with every one of them. Thanks for your research and presentation.

    1. Thanks I appreciate the feedback. I always try to give advice to people with their goals in mind, not mine. My goal to promote low carb is always secondary to those of the person asking.

      I did admittedly dumb things down to make it very easy to understand, for example the charts are nowhere near accurate but they make the point.

  19. Hi Danny,

    Hoping you can give me some advice here.
    I've been working out 6-7 days a week for the better part of 2 years but mainly just weight lifting. I switched to a primal diet about 3 months ago and dropped my carb intake down to approximately 30-60g a day depending on what I eat. I was fine for the first few months with just weights and actually felt really good, but recently I've started back my MMA/jujitsu 3 times a week and 3-4 days of weight lifting. I find that I'm extremely tired most days and run out of energy very quickly when lifting. It could partly be due to the fact that I've been getting crappy sleep or what not but even so I have noticed a significant decline in strength. I do not eat more carbs on days that I do bjj/mma which are quite intense.

    My gym sessions have dropped from 2 hours to 40-60 minutes and whilst my body composition is heading in a good direction, I want to increase my gym duration back to 2 hours as it was originally whilst still keeping my jujitsu commitments. I also want my strength back.

    Being on such a low carb diet for such an extended period of time, I would have expected that my body has certainly become fat adapted as my macros were 1-1.5g of protein per body weight kg, 40-60g of carbs from primal sources and an unlimited amount of fat. I do not necessarily want to be keto adapted but I do want my body to be a very efficient fat burner so that I can stay lean. I did experiment a little and carb loaded the night previous to a normal lifting session and that seemed to have improved my overall endurance and strength - although it may have been circumstantial.

    So here are my questions! Let's just say for example that I am actually fat adapted. I've read somewhere that the body can produce via glycogenesis a significant amount of glucose. Would this not be enough to refuel my depleted muscles after a bjj workout and also keep my brain functional? Why would I need to ingest carbs to refuel and feel good the next day?

    Have I somehow misunderstood something and my body is still primarily a sugar burner?

    Or has my body become keto reliant and is struggling to cope with a change in my activity which causes considerably more glycogen store depletion than previous?

    Any light you could shed on this would be very much appreciated!
    At the moment I have definitely considering carb cycling but may want to spend a few additional weeks ensuring that I am fat adapted before reintroducing carbs after bjj training.

    Btw I am 70kg and 177cm.
    Thanks for your assistance.


    1. Harri, I want to give you the biggest welcome ever. You my friend are the very reason I wrote this article. You are in low carb limbo.

      You are not eating low enough in carbs to have your muscles consistently uptake ketones instead of glucose, and not eating enough carbs to restock the glycogen. I am not at all surprised your performance has been dropping and I can assure you there will be an inevitable crash. This crash is usually accompanied by shouts across the internet about how "Low carb is skerry/bad/terrible" etc... fortunately before you got to that point you and I connected.

      My friend I do a lot of lifting and aneorobic as well have experience training MMA fighters in their conditioning and I think for you I would recommend more carbs. You are spending the majority of extended training sessions in an anaerobic capacity meaning you have no choice but to burn primarily glycogen and glucose even if you are keto adapted.

      GNG will provide the glucose needed for restocking muscle glycogen but its a slow process and your training schedule overwhelms it. It would be different if you were in an aerobic sport but you are not, yours is most definately aneorobic, both weight lifting AND MMA.

      The first thing I am going to recommend is you go have a pig out on carbs, one massive carb meal, right after your next work. Think huge serving of white rice with a peice of salmon. Then do it again right before bed.

      Restock those muscles.

      If your workouts do not resume their old intensity the next day, do it again the next day. Repeat until your are bringing out the inner beast again!

      At that point you need to decide a strategy. Think "minimal carbs" as in "what is the least amount I need to support my training" and think of a strategy that suits your life.

      Mark Sisson recommends just eating a straight 150-200g a day for people at your activity leve and I agree that it could be good for you, especially if you saved the carbs for after the workouts.

      Reduce fat in your diet a bit of course, but at this level you are simply burning off most of that sugar.

      Also do not fear the lean protein, if you are getting adequate carbs you can totally increase your protein and feel fuller.

      On rest days go full out keto, go zero carb, be a carnivore, if you want to add additional "cutting and fat burning' potential.

      So keto cycling, carb backloading or some other carb cycling approach I think is better suited for your chosen sport.

      I was friends with a BJJ keto fellow and after 32 weeks he had to resume carbs, citing the same issues you are having. Not that I think carbs are required for health but they do provide abundant fuel for such sports which fall outside our hunter gatherer level of exeration we evolved for... The need to spend 2 to 4 hours training aneorobically is historically fairly new and tied to sports.

      Let me know how you feel in a few days? Then look at cutting carbs from there in some way such as back loading on Sissons 150 to 200 a day plan, or keto cycling such as Lyle McDonald may recommend.

    2. Hi Darren,

      Thanks for your very comprehensive reply.
      Will definitely give carb loading a go after my next big workout. Unfortunately this weekend was mostly spent intoxicated so will see how training goes today.

      Just a few more q's:
      Do you think that my body has become fat adapted and if so would carb loading undo this? Or would I burn off sufficient carbs to have my body continue to look for fat as its primary source of fuel?
      The main issues I had with eating a high-carb diet would be that I'd always be hungry really quickly.

      Thanks for your help.


    3. A word of caution, alcohol pretty much throws a huge unknown into an otherwise proven mix as can vary widely in how it impacts your nutrient partitioning.

      I think you are likely fat adapted simply for the sake you are working out hard and have not depleted your glycogen nearly as fast as newby would have.

  20. I am in a little bit of a tough situation and would really like to hear your thoughts. I am 5’8” 167lbs with a body fat of aprox 12%. For the past few years I have been eating fairly strict paleo. The only carbs I would have are from the 5-6 pieces of fruit I ate daily. On special occasions/holidays I would cheat and id notice a strong boost in both my lift and cardio the following day and sometimes even multiple days. However when I would stay strict paleo for weeks even months id slowly loose energy and sometimes strength. My work out routine is lifting 5 days and taking off the weekends. I do cardio every day with an occasional day off. My specific cardio routine is run 11.5 miles in 1 hour and 23 min, following day bike 16 miles in 40 min, following day stair machine fairly high intensity circuit for 45 min, following day elliptical high intensity for 25 min. I then repeat. I started keto about 2 to 2.5 weeks ago. My issue is that I have been able to do progressively less cardio (both duration and intensity) and lifting (both number of reps and weight) every day. However I have noticed an even amount of energy throughout the day when not exercising. My current caloric breakdown is 68-70% fat, 5-6% carbs, and the rest protein. Currently I am at aprox 10% body fat since beginning keto. I decided to try keto for two reasons one to get my body fat down to about 8% but more importantly to have sustained energy throughout the day and not feel a crash as I have in the past. In testing from the urine strips I am in ketosis and have been for a while. I am awaiting the arrival of my blood test meter so I can get a more accurate representation of ketones at specific times but my local pharmacy’s did not cary it so I had to order online. Am I on the proper path? Should I just continue to plow through my workouts until I become keto adapted? Do you feel my percentages are ok? I’m just not sure where to go from here.

    1. Ill be honest you wont reduce your body fat much more if you are already at 12% by doing pure keto and may actually get farther with a mostly keto diet with some carb back loading so you can keep your lifting intensity higher.

      Keto will return you to a very good normal baseline weight, but keto cycling combined with very hard workouts and carb back loading is pretty much the universal way to get below 11% bodyfat.

      If you want to stay fully keto... I would agree you are not fully keto adapted yet and when your meter comes you could play with it and see what insight you get. Ideally you should be above 1.7 at the start of a workout to have your muscles preferentially use ketones over glycogen.

  21. Very interesting article. But, the idea that Inuit or Masai were "zero carb warriors" appears to be factually inaccurate. They consumed freshly-killed raw meat, skin and other organs, which contained a fair amount of glycogen. They favored the animals with the highest glycogen stores and hydrolyzed their meat to break down glycoproteins into simple sugars.


    They certainly burned lots of fat, but they also ingested raw undenatured lipase and other enzymes that spared their bodies from having to expend energy to digest their foods. Pretty ingenious actually.

    1. Im really seeing some hyper stretched arguements from the blogosphere but claiming meat is somehow a signifigant source of starch wins the prize.

      I dont have much more to say sorry

  22. It's not the meat that's a significant source of carbs. It's the liver. Diabetic Steve Cooksey confirms that fresh liver spikes blood sugar.


    First thing any carnivore does after killing an animal in the wild is eat its liver. That's where the carbs are.

    1. Eating whey protein will spike your blood sugar is it a signifigant source of carbs? The label says 2.

      You are making a lot of assumptions, one they are seeking out the liver for its carbs, when it could simply be for the abundance of fat soluble vitamins.

      Another that its a signifigant source of carbs in the diet. I ate LOTS of liver when I ate meat only for 5 months, I ate it three times a week, it never knocked me out of keto. Something actual carbs do.

      I am not going to accept anecdotal twitter accounts as some sort of evidence that meat is a starch that is precisely the low standard of evidence Jaminet relies on.

    2. I suppose it doesn't really matter because the actual scientific data on their blood says that the non-fasted Inuit weren't in keto.

      Scientists tested Inuit blood in 1928 and no ketones were found:

      Scientists tested Inuit blood in 1936 and no ketones were found:

      And scientists tested Inuit blood in 1972 with the expensive blood ketone strips and no ketones were found:

      So, whether is was the high glycogen livers, the high-glycogen skin of the narwhales, the hydrolyzed raw meat, or the seaweed or the mussels, or combination of everything, the Inuit weren't in keto after eating their traditional diet.

    3. Liver needs to be fresh and raw immediately after a kill to get the glycogen. Otherwise it rapidly degrades and turns into lactic acid. Not saying you didn't do that, but just pointing out that eating liver that's been sitting in the fridge a few hours loses most of its carbs.

    4. Mill thats pretty interesting, but whether or not the inuit are in ketosis in no way at all can be interpreted as "for or against" ketogenic diets. Their value as a therapeutic or even, in the case of long distance running, as a competitive strategy is unrelated to its "naturalness".

      So while I freely admit I could be wrong about inuit living in keto (Im not convinced they are never keto, nor am I convinced they "preferentially seek carbs" but more likely just seek the best possible nutrition), it is outside of the point of the article you are commenting on.

      I am helping people who, in part due to the clouding of confusing advice about carbs, chose to do low carb for whatever reason yet also chose to continue physical training. Nothing about being low, or even zero carb, has to keep you from being as active or hard core in the gym as you wish, you just need to apply intelligent strategy and watch out for the pitfalls as I have outlined them.

      Im not dismissing the idea that carbs are present in meat, but a simple check of nutrition data on fresh caribou liver easily reveals that fresh caribou liver, 100g serving, has about 40 calories of carbs. This makes the claim that the inuit eat such a foul tasting organ preferentially for the sweet tasting carbs a little hard to believe. At 40 calories of carbs in 100g of meat, yet over 5 times the RDA of vitamin A, the enormous amount of other nutrients, makes it seem more likely its just the overall nutrition in the organ they are after. Its certainly why I have always pushed organ meat to those who chose an all meat diet.

      You have obviously done a lot of research on your hypothesis but you are not "proving' your points in a way that can constitute proof. I have never given anything a pass on its validity just because its natural and traditional. In fact nothing decieves more people ijnto parting with their time and money for no benefit than the terms natural or traditional.

      I support low carb, very low carb, and ketogenic diets for a few reasons but the most prominent being is that there are decades of clinical trials showing their effectiveness vs a wide variety of issues we suffer today as a population. And the only time you see issues such as thyroid problems, hair folicle failure, etc.. is when low carb diets are confounded by excess caloric restriction. Almost all of Jaminets clinical evidence for glucose deficiency comes from low carb studies where calories were restricted to 1200 a day. That is not an indicator low carb diets are dangerous, it is an indicator that very low calorie diets are dangerous.

      I would be interested in your stating clearly what your hypothesis is in terms of health inteverntion. My blog is here, in the end, to help people. I have actually advised many people to increase carbs or at least carb cycle if you have read my other comments. I think I am pretty open to new evidence, but the evidence needs to meet a standard of skepticism. I am not seeing much skepticism at all in the resistant starch, or the "animal starch" discussions of late in the blogosphere which has everyone simply preaching to the converted and looking for the next Dr. Oz style magic bullet.

    5. Danny,

      I hope you didn't think I was discounting ketogenic diets. I'm not. I think they can be very therapeutic and you are certainly helping people. As for me, I'm purely interested in the historical and anthropological aspects of all this. I have no interest in the health aspects, so I can't tell you what any of this means. And nor do I have any interest in doing that.

      As for the nutritional data of fresh caribou liver, I am skeptical that any modern laboratory is measuring glycogen content immediately after the animal dies. That would be a very odd measurement for an official nutritional data lab to conduct since it's a bit horrific, messy and difficult for nutritional data lab to test that (literally having the technicians killing a caribou on the lab premises and harvesting the organs within seconds would be over the top) and absolutely nobody consumes liver that rapidly these days. So that measurement wouldn't even be useful for people consuming liver from a butcher or a supermarket. Even harvesting and freezing the organs takes time and most labs aren't testing foods the moment they thaw, which also takes time. More likely the liver sits in a refrigerator until the technician gets around to testing it. So, I think we don't have realistic data for carb content in freshly-killed liver or other organs.

      The truth is that we may never know how many carbs there are in freshly killed liver, since only a handful of scientists have ever killed the animals in their labs to test for glycogen content, and they were doing it before the role glycogen was even fully understood.

      The only reason I thought it was even worth mentioning was because you give the impression that Inuit and Masai were ketogtenic. I think from a historical and anthropological standpoint, we can't say that for sure. We really don't know. The skin of the narwhale appears to be rich in glycogen. Detailed studies on blubber say that it has some carbs while the "official" nutrition data says there is zero. Something's not right. So, I think the official nutrition data we see is sloppy because the numbers should vary wildly depending on how close one is to post-mortem.

      From a health standpoint, I think that the raw meat was very important to those cultures. Every single low carb culture ate LOTS of raw meat. Every single one. There's no exception to that rule. Perhaps the carbs in meat really aren't significant (although they DO exist), however it appears the enzymes in raw meat and the raw compounds that are present in raw meats reduce the energy spent digesting meat and reduce the energy spent creating those compounds from cooked foods. So, someone who eats raw meats appears to have lower energy expenditures. And that would mean that they might have an easier time getting by without carbs or other quick sources of energy.

      Here, check this out:


      That guy eats nothing but raw meat and raw organs. He often kills the animals himself. Pretty intense, and I think it sounds like he's getting things that we can't get from a cooked meat diet. Just a hunch, but I'm willing to bet that is an optimal VLC diet. His meat and fats probably digests itself in his gut and it's probably pure energy for him. I bet his gut biome is off the charts too!

    6. Hey I can introduce you to a couple of guys that eat nothing but raw hamburger in fact they are two of the healthiest guys I know. Over at Zeroing in on Health you will find a whole comunity of zero carb meat eaters who mostly eat only raw, or mixed with pemmican.

      Back to the hypothesis that meat is a source of carbs i think you pretty much summed up my thoughts. The nutrition data says no, there are no studies to prove otherwise leaving any thoughts about animals being a signifigant source of carbs deep on the realm of speculation.

      It occurs to me that labs kill animals all the time and disect them fresh (mice). So there should be some way for your to pursue your line of speculation.

      Two points on your citations on Inuit and ketones

      The first link does not contain the word ketone in the study, was it even tested for? It does not appear to be something tested for. Also a group in the study seems to be eating white flour etc... There are cleary not untouched inuit but inuit who have frequent trading with us.

      The second study used strip and paper techique, obviously the best they could at the time, that would require a presence of ketones of 1mg per 100ml of blood. In other words your blood would have to be about 1% ketone at that point, there is a rather large window of possible ketone presence there, enough to be ketogenic, that cannot be tested at the time.

    7. Danny,

      Very interesting about the 1% accuracy on the blood test. While the word "ketones" is not mentioned in the first study, it does discuss the observed absence of ketosis and their struggle to induce much ketosis in the Eskimo subjects. The researchers wrote

      "It may be said at once that the Eskimo on his usual dietary shows no ketosis and has high tolerance to ingested glucose fasting he develops a ketosis, but only of mild degree compared to that observed with other human subjects."

      They were finally able to detect the presence of ketosis after 2 days of fasting. I realize their equipment wasn't very sensitive, but it's still interesting that they couldn't find ketosis unless they were fasted.

      In terms of carbohydrates in freshly killed animals. They DO exist, despite the fact that nutrition labs say no. If carbohydrates didn't exist in, meats wouldn't tenderize.

      Here, take a look at this book, "Chemical and Functional Properties of Food Saccharides" by Piotr Tomasik and check out Chapter 16 titled, "Carbohydrates of Animal Tissues."


      He writes,

      "The quality of meat products depends more on carbohydrates, their metabolites, and compounds with carbohydrate components than on any other organic substances. The rate and extent of chemical processes in postmortem transformation of muscle to meat and their effect on its ultimate properties and quality are controlled, to a great extent, by reactions of carbohydrates. Sensory and inherent mechanical properties of meat depend on the quantitative and qualitative composition of glycosylaminoglycans of connective tissue. The extent of browning developed by thermal meat treatment is controlled, among others, by reducing sugars in meat. Apart from the Maillard reaction (Chapter 17), caramelization of endogenic sugars also contributes to browning...Most of the carbohydrates of animal tissues are present in the form of complex polysaccharides, and many of them are bonded to protein moieties."

      In their raw form, the second kind of carbohydrates he mentions as "compounds with carbohydrate components" are carbohydrates bounded to proteins that aren't glycemic, but rather indigestible carbs that can act as prebiotics. They feed the microflora, which in turn burn them for all sorts of things. They can theoretically be burned for SCFA production which regulates "intestinal gluconeogenesis". You could call them a kind of animal fiber, if you will. However, cooking destroys those prebiotic fibers.

      So as Piotr Tomasik explains in that link, "meat" and fresh "muscle" and fresh "organs" are two very different things. Nutritional labs don't test freshly killed muscle or freshly killed organs. They are testing refrigerated "meat", which is not the same thing. If they tested freshly killed muscle, they should find carbohydrates as Tomasik explains. And again, these carbohydrates are necessary for muscle to turn into "meat". By the time muscle becomes meat, they are gone.

      I think everyone here agrees that there aren't a huge amount of carbohydrates in most animal tissues. On the other hand, scientists have claimed that the skin of the narwhale was particularly high in glycogen, and we know the Inuit favored it as a dish, and it tasted sweet. Blubber, which is mostly fat but also a mixture of different tissues, appears to have some real carbohydrates — despite the fact that people think it's just fat.

      But, I think it's safe to say that the nutritional labs are testing aged "meats" since that's what people buy in stores. So, I personally think the nutritional labs are only testing what appears on supermarket shelves and not what would be found in the wild after a kill.

    8. I appreciate your passion to prove your point but again...

      The fact that blubber tastes sweet is not conclusive of anything. Butter tastes sweet. Pork fat tastes sweet. Etc... a lot of fat, once we have shed our cultural bias to refined sugar, actually starts to taste very sweet. This was one of the first things I noticed when I did my 5 months of zero carb.

      I ate both raw and cooked, but mostly "barely cooked". Even beef fat tasted sweet.

      This tells me nothing about the percent of calories from carbs and I am not sure why you dismissing "fresh caribou liver" from Nutritiondata.com when it clearly states "fresh caribou liver"?

      I would be shocked though, on a typical all meat diet, even fresh killed (and lets face it, only those on the hunting party got "fresh killed", women and children and elders would not) reached greater than 50 grams total carbs a day. Or even 25. Which is enough to be keto at least a good chunk of the time.

      Until you can show hard numbers its all speculation. The burden of proof is not on me, but on you. Stating "nobody is doing those tests" is no more proof you are right then stating "We cant explain how life got started" is proof God did it.

      When you cannot test or prove something, but claim it as true none the less, you will no doubt have some believers but its a matter of faith.

      For perspective, you can spread 1 tenth of 1 tsp across a pan and "brown" the entire surface. It actually takes very little sugar to create browning, and this at best can confirm the amount of sugar is > 0.

      I also wonder how much glycogen is left in the muscle after a seal has thrashed and fought the spear and being pulled up through the ice? Or a deer that has run for 20 minutes at a spring after being struck with an arrow? Leg hold traps and snares where the animal will fight for hours?

      Gun kills where the animal just drops dead are pretty recent.

      Can meat kick you out of keto? Yep, you can go a sirloin from the grocery store, eat the lean and kick right out of keto.

      This debate though just seems very circular and still nothing but assumption. The testing equipment used in those times was pretty innacurate.

      Another confounder is the inuit had massive livers, the speculation is they could produce 800 to 122 calories a day of glucose via GNG due their much larger liver size. This would certainly reduce the time spent in keto.

      My point is we dont know, your point seems to be we do, but you cant prove it.

      And again, all of this is totally beside the point of my article...

    9. Maybe you could just state your hypothesis in terms of "I think the average all meat diet would include X amount of carbs a day" and then break it down in terms of what a typical days food would consist of and what carb load each would have and how?

    10. Danny,

      I agree. We can't prove it. Fresh meats have more pre-formed compounds, enzymes and glycogen than aged meats do (as explained in the link I posted above). Therefore, I suspect someone eating raw meat has less need for glucose since their body doesn't have to expend much energy digesting the meat and doesn't have to spend much energy recreating those pre-formed compounds that are needed in the body. That's my main hypothesis. Any glycogen they can get from a fresh liver (that's where glycogen comes from, right?) is a bonus for them. Livers have glycogen in them. Perhaps that doesn't get counted as a "carb" by nutrition labs, but glycogen is highly glycemic when eaten.

      As for blubber, the only study on blubber macronutrient content was done on a sperm whale. Depending on which part of the whale the blubber was sourced from, the blubber can have as much as 25% carbohydrates:


      "The largest component of the blubber, regardless of body site, is usually either water or lipid. The water component is higher in the anterior sites, whilst the lipid is often greater in the middle and posterior sites, the maximum content of either component being about 60%. Protein is an important component, and attains up to 35% in the anterior blubber of the head, and rather less elsewhere. Carbohydrate level apears to be very significant throughout most of the body blubber".

      Anyway, my hypothesis is that if you eat fresh raw meat (as all carnivorous cultures did) I think your body has a lot of extra freed up energy to take care of itself and you probably don't require many carbs. But, I think if you are eating cooked meats, I suspect some carbs may be necessary. But, I don't really know. That's why I brought it up! :)

    11. Bill I took a step back and actually found a lot of the info from Duck Dodgers you are referring to.

      From my point of view, all these things are you stating are actually mostly correct but you and I have a huge terminology (not ideology) issue.

      You call them carbs, i consider them fibre.

      In low carb, we dont really count fibre as a carb. Fibre is basically only a carb if you are bacteria. These "carbs' which I call "fibre" quite possibly represent a perfectly OK supplement to even a ketogenic low carb diet if

      -initaited gently over a long period of time
      -monitored via BG and ketone testing
      -and ceased if issues occur

    12. I think it also fair to say I have always stressed eating the odd bits, I wrote these "rules' some time ago and they stress eating the whole animal.

      Outside from the recent blogger awareness of RS similar compounds, there are likely an entire spectrum of nutrients in animal parts discovered and undiscovered. We just do not know, but it is patently obvious their nutritional value exceeds any concerns a ketogenic or low carb person may have about their incidental carb load.

    13. Meant to include link with that....


  23. Thats just a basic misconception of science. we are OMNIVOROUS. not Carnivorous and not herbivorous. play against nature . and every doctor out there will tell you your only reducing your lifespan.

    1. Ive got no real reply to your objection. You can be very low carb and eat a metric tonne of plants without breaking keto.

      Logical fallacy, "appeal to nature". Just because something is natural really has no bearing on its therapeutic effect. We have extended and doubled our average life span by adopting interventions that are unnatural including vaccines, cancer treatments, CPR and first aid measures, drugs, etc...

      Logical fallacy - appeal to authority. - Im not sure what "most doctors" would say and its also not really relevan

      However I am aware of what my labs said, and they are posted here on this blog. I am also here to tell you that I was examined by my primary MD, and as well an endicronoligist both of whom examined me and my labs and encouraged me to keep on doing whatever I am doing.

      I think most doctors would say that stable blood sugar, excellent lipid profile and all other labwork is the primary goal, not the food you eat which is a means to that goal, and would encourage anyone to continue eating in a way that produces those measurable results.

  24. Im just starting the process of keto adaptation. .I am a l ok ng time runner and hsve always struggled with blood sugar and nutrition to sustain long runs abd marathon training. This approach is brilliant and organic to me..but sorting through the research and science of it has me a bit discouraged..Any suggestions for "dumbing it down" or tips for getting started. And do you suggest the usr of super starvh for long runs...I have read lots about this product and love Peter Attria's info on it.

    1. I guess I would need you to define "long runs" anything 13.1 miles or less I doubt you need superstarch. Even a marathon would be questionable as a "need". I would worry more about salt loading, potassium loading and magnesium loading a few days before and hydrating according to thirst as you run vs simply guzzling down at every aid station.

      For longer runs absulotely consider super starch. Even 30 to 40 grams per hour. First dose about 30 minutes before you start. Add it to your water with some lemon juice its actually quite tasty. Dont forget ample branch chain amino acids as well. Again careful to overdue or underdo hydration.

      To truly make this easy
      -Eat the fat until you cant stand it any more
      -Eat the lean til you feel full
      -Eat your low carb vegetables til you feel stuffed

      That is a very simple meal plan that gets most people into a good keto zone.

      The best fats for being keto are mono and saturated. So EVOO, advacado oil, coconut oil, beef and pork fat, are all excellent. Pemmican is EXCELLENT running fuel.

    2. Finally dont wait to the big day to test your superstarch strategy, a few trial runs on your own to find your mix that works for you. In boxing we say train how you fight. Dont make your race day your experiment day...

  25. What would you consider backpacking? 5-10 miles for example, 4-7,000' lavation game, 40 pound pack. (i'm a 43-year-old female, 5'5, 126 lbs). Is that considered high intensity or endurance?

    1. Definately endurance based, when I say high intensity I mean the type of effor that can only be done in short intervals (2 to 3 minutes)

  26. hey great read!! Id like to know tho.... how did you feel mentally being keto adapted? more concentration and focus? better cognitive processing?

    1. At first I felt like i was constantly on what they call 100 cups of coffee, mental energy overload, but after a bit I evened out and definately felt more mentally alert and capable.

  27. Hi Danny, thanks for this article! There is not just one way for everyone. I was wondering where this would put me if I do both endurance and high intensity exercise? I do strength training 2-3 times a week (~30 minutes) and HIIT 2-3 times a week (usually no more than 20 minute workouts) and sometimes run - mostly sprints. I'm generally doing great on HIIT but I sometimes feel like having no energy at the end of my lifting sessions. My carb intake is not extremely low (30-50 g net carbs at which I maintain nutritional ketosis based on blood ketone meter) and I don't think I want to go below this level because of my Hashimoto's. Although there is no evidence that a very low-carb diet causes thyroid disease, my case is different. I've had this condition for a long time which may have different implications. Thank you and keep up the good work!

    1. If you are very diligent at your carb level I dont see an issue you are likely quite adapted

      As for hashimotos its not a typical low thyroid, low thyroid issues show up on keto diets only when people foolishly restrict calories too. You only see it in severly calorie controlled dietary trials, keto or not.

      Some how a low carb, 1200 calorie diet means low carb is bad for thyroids, but a 1200 calorie low fat diet means low calorie is bad for thyroid... At least this is how you will almost always see results interpretted.

      As for hashimotos, sorry I got no real answers except I would ignore just about every blogger who talks about it as to them it makes you a ready market while they seem to know little to nothing about the condition beyond what is in wikipedia. My advice is to have it doctor monitored in a colaborative way.

  28. Hi Danny! A great article that is a must read for every active person on a low carb diet. Thank you for your honest attitude, greatly appreciated! I would like to ask you what is an aproximate limit of a weekly anaerobic excercise that already requires carb cycling or some kind of glycogen restore, in your opinion? If I do 2 weight lifting sessions (to muscular failure, aprox. 1h) a week and 1-2 HIIT sessions (12 mins, sprints) same week, all in a fasted mode as i follow 16/8 eating protocol, should I do 1-2 days of carb refeed after the weight lifting workout days? I eat <30 g carbs a day with 1,5-2 g/kg of proteins and unlimited fat to satiety. I just wonder if it is enough proteins and carbs for glucogenesis de novo process to avoid muscle breakdown during anaerobic excercise? I have experienced some lack of energy and mental focus lately, but I have followed low carb regimen without major cheat days for over a year and I consider myself keto-adapted. I managed to reduce a lot of body weight, mainly fat tissue, yet, my primal goal is getting from 12% body fat below 10% to obtain visible abdominal muscles, as my longterm goal. I have done some reading on carb cycling and I do agree with you that it is kind of personal thing and amount & type of excerise. What would you suggest in my case? The thing I want to avoid is switching to glucose as main fuel for the body after carb-up, thus eliminating the role of body fat as source of energy. I used to eat high-carb and I would never get back to it, sugar cravings just overwhelmed me. Thanks in advance for any answer!

    1. You sound like a good candidate to try superstarch on training days, possibly you are are getting spells of low blood sugar have you checked this?

      Superstarch will keep your blood sugar even on training days

      Others have had success using potato starch, be sure its COLD and mixed with water.

      Eat adequate protein always, there is no requirement for carbs to build muscle.

      You also may wish to check out the work of Dr Mauro Di Pasquale a former world champion powerlifter and one of the original low carb athletes (and an MD never hurts)

      Anyway just sounds to me like you are getting hypoglycemic sometimes so you are not as keto adapted as you think you are, or you are just naturally trending that way.

      I would test if you can, and try superstarch or even potato starch, 2 tsp in the morning, 1 more at lunch.

      See if that helps even out your energy.

  29. Hi Danny!

    Ive been training for an ironman event which is in 6 weeks and have been reading a lot of Ben Greenfields stuff, books, Tim Noakes, Paleo low carb etc. I have always felt really good on early morning fasted workouts, runs etc and really bloated when rellying on carbs pre workout, especially track workouts (sprints, 10 x 1km sessiona etc) so I decided to go low carb. Ive been 4 days really low carb and my ketone blood level read 1.7 this morning. But today, I woke up feeling like crap and totally crashed at my track workout. What do you say would be a optimal aproach till the ironman event to maximaze my body to adapt use fat as fuel? Go low carb and carb up before intense workouts? Carbs after workouts? Use superstarch and mct as fuel during ironman? Thanks for the help! Dio

    1. Hi Diogo

      Am I correct in that you have only eaten a keto diet for 4 days? Your first 3 to 5 weeks will be like that, as you need to adapt. I imagine at ironman level this time frame will be shorter but it is still necessary.

      After you have adapted your times and energy should normalize again. After that superstarch becomes viable, I recommend palitinose which is every bit as good as UCAN but can be bought in bulk for a lot less money!

  30. Hi Danny very interesting articles you have here. But what I still don't get is if somebody wants to get keto adapt, must he be realy at ZERO carbs a day? Or can he/she be just under 20 carbs a day? And while you are adapting in those weeks, is is better to not exercise? Because yesterday I did some little strengt-training and now I'm feeling dizzy and tired..


    1. Under 20 is still going to put you into ketosis, having adequate FAT is also very important.

      As far as riding it out, that is a personal choice, you will adapt a little faster if you force yourself to work out anyway, but you may feel pretty crappy, I recommend some lighter days until you feel better but again its variable.

  31. Can a person have ketones in his/her blood but still suffer from tiredness (low carb limbo)? Because I saw an post of someone who has about 3.0 mmo ketones in his blood but was very very tired, he consumed about 15 grams of carbs a day and has 15% of protein and 80% came from fat..

    1. Yes absolutely if not adequate adaptation time.

      Also there is variable response, keto is not the magic bullet not everyone does well on it and any diet that claims its perfect for everyone is likely based on marketing not science.

  32. Hi Danny, I just stumbled here looking for information regarding the duration of "keto flu". I've skimmed over much of the info on this page, but apologies if I missed it, but as you seem to know your stuff, I've been wondering: if someone is testing positive for burning ketones, is there a way to tell if they are burning consumed fats vs body fat? (If it matters, I am by no means an athlete, just a hypothyroid housewife in surgical menopause :) Started VLC HF 6 days ago.) TIA!

    1. Its likely always a mix of the two in various degrees, your body also burns fat on a high carb diet, in fact you are always burning AND storing fat simultaneously so its a matter of how much of each you are doing.

      If you are fasting, and go work out and see a huge jump in ketones you can likely assuming those derived from fat. If you eat some coconut oil its likely going to spike your ketones awhile. But ketones are ketones.

      Notes - you dont have have ketones to burn fat.

      I think the best thing to see is morning ketones before you eat as the most consistent sign you are in a good weight loss type of ketosis but its definately possibly to NOT lose weight and maybe even gain weight if you overeat in ketosis.

  33. Hello Danny, big thank you for all the great information and I've learned alot from your blog, and still have lot to learn.
    May I ask you to clarify some things that I think I got right reading your blog.. but I'm not sure?

    A nutrition to prepare body to change to fat-keto-adoptation - high in fat, high in calories, variety of meat and animal parts, and carbs around 100g? For months or a year, or whatever it takes.

    Exercise to prepare body - long aerobic exercises? Walks (even high paced?), swimming, bicycle at certain not high speed?

    You mentioned in one of posts (again, great thank you for your blog!) that keto-adoptation is well suited for weight lifting - meaning low rep, medium-high weight, long rests lifting workout? Do you reckon there would be a need for split-workout (A day- legs, B day - upper body, A, B) to make it not as hard on muscles energy storage?

    You said that you think one can maybe even gain weight in ketosis - especially for what is considered 'ectomorphs' - it is possible with quite high calories and proper nutrients? Saying.. 10k of calories?

    Thank you very much for this blog and your desire to share this with others!

    1. Hi Slamuel

      Let me quote you and answer the questions one at a time

      A nutrition to prepare body to change to fat-keto-adoptation - high in fat, high in calories, variety of meat and animal parts, and carbs around 100g? For months or a year, or whatever it takes.

      Aim for under 30 grams of carbs for a good solid 3 to 6 weeks until you are good and over the low carb flu that can sometimes come. Do whatever exercise you can during this time, lifting heavy will accelerate this process even if you dont feel like it and feel weak. Dont do any stupid risky lifts like squatting withotu a rack

      Exercise to prepare body - long aerobic exercises? Walks (even high paced?), swimming, bicycle at certain not high speed?

      Push yourself as hard as you like once you have adapted, primarily anearobic sports like boxing, hockey will like present a challenge until you have months of cheat free adaptation behind you.

      You mentioned in one of posts (again, great thank you for your blog!) that keto-adoptation is well suited for weight lifting - meaning low rep, medium-high weight, long rests lifting workout? Do you reckon there would be a need for split-workout (A day- legs, B day - upper body, A, B) to make it not as hard on muscles energy storage?

      Meaning any consistent weight lifting plan you practice its irrelevant :) Train for your goals as you see fit. Check out ketogains on facebook who is a keto weightlifter, also check out paleo for power, a powerlifter who does long stints of keto.

      You said that you think one can maybe even gain weight in ketosis - especially for what is considered 'ectomorphs' - it is possible with quite high calories and proper nutrients? Saying.. 10k of calories?

      I dont think, I know this, you can indeed gain weight in ketosis there is no reason you cant if you eat huge amounts of calories, Keto will control your apetite to an appropriate level. Exercise will still kick up your apetite. Snacking and bacon feasts for no reason will indeed prevent you losing weight and have you gain some if its a habit.

      Thank you very much for this blog and your desire to share this with others!

      You are very welcome.

      Please consider buying the Art and Science of Low Carb Performance on Kindle or Amazon its the rulebook.

    2. Thank you for your reply! Yes, I ordered that book and it arrived just today.

  34. for a competition swimmer, who would be on a minimal carb approach, fat-adapted, but back-loading on carbs after training and at dinner, do you think this also requires some very low carb adaptation time? i am thinking that in the real world of training and competition, its quite diffcult to find a time in the year to do this like LeBron did. can the swimmer adjust gradually to LCHF? thanks, Charles

    1. I dont see why not... typically swimmers being lean and doing tonnes of hard cardio are pretty damned good fat burners to begin with.

      Personally if your program is working for you now, dont see an issue at all with backloading as required or weekly. You are going to need to top up glycogen now and then if you are not going full out keto which is not an option. This will be a body to mind feedback thing when you start feeling run down, backload. Quite often its feeling run down the next day is your biggest clue, as we often feel run down after a hard workout. But feeling like you have no motivation to train, like its suddenly gone, like you dont want to do anything, is a HUGE CLUE you are ready for a good cheat meal.

  35. Thank you for sharing your experience. Very interesting.

  36. Hi danny
    I eat around 70 carbs a day. I want to start joggin couple days in the week. I also do some little strength exercises through the day, do I deplete my liver and need to carb backload?

    1. Nope unless you want to wreck your keto adaptation weekly.

  37. Hi Danny,

    great article, thank you!

    I saw a lot from Volek and Phinney. I used the ketogenic diet for other reasons than loosing weight or optimizing something for training but I did it for some huge benefits for brain recovery.

    I stayed on a strict ketogenic diet for 4 months. I did no single cheat meal.

    In the first weeks I noticed a decrease in my exercise performance. I do Muay Thai and some weight lifting. Also I noticed weight loss and I looked less muscular.

    But after that period of time, my energy fully came back. I had no trouble and really never experienced a crash no matter if I did HIIT sprint training, my muay thai boxing or weight lifting. But I have to say, that these are just hobbies and I train 3-4x per week...

    I ate 250g of fat and 60g of protein every day and really always stayed below 25g of carbohydrate. I think one big mistake many people do is to eat too much protein.

    However, the reason I write you is because I have a question. Just wrote that to validate all what you read from a personal experience.

    My question is: Because of reasons that are too complicated to write here (has to do with food sensivities and autoimmunity), I had to stop eating ketogenic diet 2 days ago. I now eat a protein/fat meal in the morning and with lunch and dinner 30g of carbs through rice or potatoes.

    So still low carb but not ketogenic.

    My question is: Will someone like me, who was 4 months on a strict ketogenic diet get in a ketoadapted state faster than before when I will go back to this diet in maybe 2-3 weeks?

    If so, do you have any experience how long this "memory-effect" will last?

  38. You will keto adapt back faster and no keto flu, likely.

    However if you are training hard and at 60 grams a day of carbs you are a walking recipe for a glycogen crash. I highly advise you eat enough carbs to power your workouts plus a little extra, or go back fully keto.

    Thanks for all the info

  39. Hi Danny, thanks for writing this article. It really did clear a lot up for me.The reason I have been trying to implement the keto diet was not only for weight loss but even moreso to address my health.I have something called Mast cell activation disorder and respond to many things with allergic type reactions. I am extremely carb sensitive due to to insulin and leptin resistance as well as have a complete inability thus far to lose weight on any diet.I read a published study about the ketogenic diet and its ability to in fact stabilize my disease and reverse insulin and leptin resistance so it seems to really hold some promise for me.

    The thing is that I have read that tapering down into it might be wise for very metabolically damaged individuals which I am.But you are right, I have been teetering between 30-50 carbs daily and feel good the first 4 days or so but then about the 5th day get seriously ill and my disease goes off the chain waking me up at 3 am with adrenaline surges to bring up blood sugar and then feeling like I am cracked out all day.I get so ill that I am forced to eat about 1/4 cup of blueberries or half a sweet potato and then I calm right down and the cycle starts all over again.

    From what I gather, however, the tapering method would only be viable up until someone gets to around the 50ish or so carb mark and then like you said, we would either need to go to either the 0-15 ish amount of carbs or back up to between 50-100 at the lowest because theres no in between.I assume this was why I was having problems.

    My question is, have you ever seen someone who did it all right and still could not keto adapt? Due to my illness and the fact that it causes higher amounts of cortisol and adrenaline already in the body to offset allergic type reactions I fear I might not even be able to keto adapt. I really feel that this diet could be very viable for me once I made it past the initial phase and is one I would plan on staying on with no carb backloading but I see now its a real science and not going to be nearly as easy as I thought. I will definately be getting the glucometer and the book as well. Thanks again for the enlightening article.Any input if you have the time Id greatly appreciate.(:

    1. Yes, several people have tried very low carb and it didnt work for them for various reasons ranging from pure metabolic incompatibility to just simply buying into the perfect health diet scare mongering.

      No nutritional approach is a panacea and works perfectly for everyone. I originally thought that to be the case but have since reviewed many randomized clinical trials and can see that even there you will find subsets of people that do not thrive as expected on ketones.

      I think honestly its about 10% of people cannot really do keto well (if honest effort to adapt is applied) but it certainly happens.

      However if you are carb binging each week certainly it will be more difficult to adapt, sadly the keto flu simply has to be endured, after that cycling in an out is much less a problem.

  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

  41. Thanks Danny, well said. If there is one thing I have learned is that we are all quite similar yet so different at the same time.I tend to always be the anomaly.If keto doesnt suit me then I could always attempt carb cycling again.I have had great success with carb cycling in the past however since getting sick my old magic formula just didnt seem to work anymore. I think it would be just a matter of switching the numbers around a bit and seeing what now works for me though. At least I better understand how keto should be done and how it should not be done. No wonder I was getting sick every three days,lol.My next attempt at keto will no doubt be much more educated and planned out.

  42. 30 units of ATP from a gram of sugar? Surely you mean from a single molecule of glucose?

    1. Dan - Great catch, In all likely hood I wrote this late at night, blogging was only ever a hobby.

      Let me double check the article this weekend. I am a big fan of accurate information when possible.

  43. Hi Danny,
    my daily carb intake is around 80-100 gm a day, I perform 2-3 times a week HIIT (sprint) training that last around 15-20 min, will I crash eventualy?


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