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Me and Keto

1
May

Me and Keto

I’ve been trying out the ketogenic diet since February. For those not familiar with the ketogenic diet it is a very low carbohydrate diet with moderate protein and lots of fat. I’ve known of it in the past but never gave it a real effort, and as of lately was hearing a lot about it being involved in cancer treatments. No, I don’t have cancer, but think about that – reversing cancer through dietary changes! CrossFit did a great writeup of it in Cancer, Carbs and Controversy.
The idea is to limit carbohydrate intake to the point that insulin and blood sugar levels are very low thereby allowing the body to create and burn ketones for energy. It turns out that unlike other cells in our bodies, cancerous cells cannot use ketones for energy but need glucose, so a ketogenic diet starves the cancer cells into remission.
I was very interested in the whole concept and I thought I’d give it a shot, not because I had a cancer phobia, but just because I was curious. I have used the Zone extensively in the past, and while I had good results, I also found that sometimes I would need to use rice or sweet potatoes simply to fill my “required” carbohydrate block prescription for the day. In some ways, it seemed odd or less ideal for me and less specific to my daily needs.
I also noticed that the foods that contain a lot of fiber or have a very low glycemic index on the Zone Block Chart, were the ones that I could eat a lot of with a ketogenic approach. These foods are also packed with vitamins and minerals often earning them the title of a “power” or “super” food.
Here’s how I created my ketogenic approach. When Zoning my food, I’m typically a 16 block individual. To enter into a ketogenic state, I would need to limit my carbohydrate intake to 30-50g or less per day. I cut my prescribed carb blocks down to 4/day and replaced the other 12 with 3 fat blocks EACH. So, I subtracted 12 carb blocks and replaced them with 36 fat blocks.
While this sounds like a lot of fat, when you do the math, you’ll find that for every carb block you eliminate it takes 3 fat blocks to make up the caloric deficit. So a typical Zoned meal that used to look like:
4P, 4C, 4F
is now,
4P, 1C, 13F
Now, I’m no dummy and I understand the nutritional value in vegetables and fruits and my nutrition goal is always longevity and overall health so knowing that I only got 1 carbohydrate block per meal, or 9g of carbs, I made sure I picked the very best ones. As I said earlier, these also tend to be the ones that you need a lot of to really add up to any caloric impact. For instance, I could have 1oz. of rice, or 4 cups of broccoli. The broccoli option would give me a lot more of the micro-nutrients that rice is pretty much void of and it would be a lot more food to keep me full.
It’s been about 3 months since I started this experiment on myself and while I don’t think it’s for everyone, it works great for me! My body composition has changed pretty dramatically, my energy levels throughout the day are always up, and when I do get hungry for my next meal it’s a different kind of hungry than in the past. My hunger no longer makes me anxious or stressed about needing to eat right away, but instead I notice that I’m hungry and if I can I eat and if not then I just wait until I can. No fuss or panicky feeling that I’m going to die!
In addition, even though I may be eating less carbohydrates overall I’m absolutely sure that I’m eating A LOT more of the best kinds. Leafy greens, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, asparagus, and berries make up a lot of the carbohydrates I do eat. There are times mid-workout where I feel myself hit the wall, although we’ve all experienced days like that no matter what nutritional pathway we are on currently. I know the lower carbohydrate intake might not optimize my performance to all ends, but it works better for my lifestyle.

12 Responses

  1. Mango

    I do have cancer phobia and eat strict paleo because of it. Have also zoned quite a bit but am often hungry. So thanks for this! I’m gonna give it a try

  2. shaynalarsen

    So I too have been playing with Keto as well as mixing in intermittent fasting. Thanks for this blog post Shane! I used to be one that got out of bed because I wanted to eat breakfast at 6am. I snacked often and definitely was not okay feeling hungry. I’d get super grumpy. Since switching to a more Keto style of eating, food has taken on a new role in life. I’m not constantly thinking about eating because I’m kinda never hungry. Fat makes me happy. Fasting is a breeze. I have more energy. When I make a meal, it’s easy to make healthy choices because I’m not starving. I love working out in a 15-19 hour fasted state. My brain feels sharp. I’m loving it. Like you, it seems to be right for me at this phase in my life. Keep sharing as you learn more!

    1. Shane Upchurch

      Awesome Shayna! I fast as well. I eat dinner around 6pm, usually do a bulletproof coffee in the morning and don’t eat breakfast until 10 or 11am. Sometimes I work out fasted, sometimes not.

      1. So the bulletproof gets you to 10-11am, where you eat breakfast, and you say you have dinner at six. Do you do lunch, or just snack to get from breakfast to dinner, Shane?

        1. shaynalarsen

          Not sure what Shane does, but I wake up around 6 have a bulletproof, eat around 10 or 11 then a nice dinner at 2pm. Yup, early dinner. Very convenient working from home. If we happen to go out as a family I’ll have a small dinner, but I generally don’t want it. Oh and I don’t do bulletproof before a wod (makes me feel icky, so on WOD days I wait until after). Actually sneaking in a 24 hour fast is easy on days I WOD. I’ve done a few. I’m also trying to listen to my body. If I’m hungry I eat. If I’m not, I don’t. I’m enjoying eating within a narrow window. But that is just something I’m trying. Not keto required.

        2. Shane Upchurch

          The first couple of weeks I would just snack because it felt like too much to try and squeeze in another full meal but after a few weeks it has been easy to still get in my 3 full meals in that smaller window.

  3. Stacey

    Shayna and Shayne–are you all measuring out your protein, carb and fat blocks throughout the day? Or just estimating? Also…I’d love to know how you both make your bulletproof. I have Goog’s version, which is pretty damn tasty. 🙂

    1. Shane Upchurch

      Hey Stacyy, I measured for the first few weeks to get everything dialed-in but now I eyeball most things. I’ll still occasionally measure just to check-in. For my bulletproof:
      8oz or so of coffee (we use boxcar at our house)
      1 tbsp kerrgold butter
      1 tbsp bulletproof brain octane (start with 1 tsp and slowly add overtime because it can cause gastro issues if you have too much at once)
      1 tbsp collagen (I just recently started adding this after reading more about the benefits of collagen)
      I do a pour-over with the coffee with all the other ingredients already in my cup then I use a stick blender to blend it all.

  4. Eric Neeb

    Also, the app MyFitnessPal has great macro (carbs, protein, fat) tracking in their premium app. It works really well if you want to very easily keep track of what your macros are. There are probably hundreds of thousands of foods listed with their dietary composition already loaded so it become much simpler to just click on a food and add it. Also, for those looking for “exogenous ketones” (ketones that you consume to jump start dietary ketosis) there is a really good product called “Keto OS”. It’s expensive, but seems to work well as a meal replacement.