Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Carb Backloading N=1

I have always been interested in what my blood ketone levels would be in my habitual state of eating. I have eaten 'keto' at various stages through the last twenty years, mainly as an experiment, and sometimes for long periods (months or even years at a time). 
I haven't been particularly 'strict' though because I get bored...
I also benefit from carbohydrates in the diet. And while that may be sacrilegious coming from someone people consider to be a 'keto guy' (I'm not...), it's completely in line with what the evidence tells us. Namely, that everyone is different and some people respond to low, some to moderate, and some (not many...but some) to high carb diets. 

Overall I'm still pretty low carb in general. One of the reasons I typically eat low carb during the day is that it allows me to eat more carbs at night!
This is something I've been doing for many, many years. Nowadays people call it carb-backloading...I always called it having my cake and eating it too! 

What I hadn't ever done previosuly is measure what this eating style meant in keto terms. 
And so, for six days I charted my morning (awakening, fasted) serum betahydroxybutyrate (BOHB) levels, and tested again in the evening, before my main meal (dinner). 
You can see what happened in Figure 1. 

Figure 1. BOHB levels in the morning and evening on Cliff's Carb-Backloading Protocol

You can see that my ketone levels dropped to around 0.2 mmol/L in the morning, rising to 0.7 mmol/L (or thereabouts) in the evening. So, functionally you could say that I was entering nutritional ketosis (i.e. >0.5 mmol/L BOHB) over the course of the day, and then dropping out after having a high carb-load in the evening, and this repeated every day.

What was I eating?
I was only averaging around 2100 calories per day in this week.
Of this around 48% of my calories were from fat, with 26% from protein and carbs respectively.
Most days my eating would consist of a large protein and fat meal in the morning at around 9am, followed by a modified fast through the rest of the day until dinner at around 6pm, which also consisted of protein and fat and veggies predominantly.

After dinner, it's a free-for-all! I love cornflakes and so I eat those with full-fat milk, along with protein bars, protein cookies, chocolate, and more full-fat milk. If there are treats around (baking, cookies etc.) Yep... I eat them too...

Now, I'm not suggesting that everyone will be able to perform at their best, nor lose maximal fat doing this... But they might...especially if this way of eating allows them to inadvertently find their appropriate macro split.

This was primarily, though, a simple thought experiment to see:
a) what calories and macros I habitually take in (it's good to check up on this occasionally)
b) identify whether I was entering ketosis on a less-than ketogenic ratio of macros
and c) demonstrate that if you find a strategy that allows you to eat some of the foods you love, ad libitum, then you will be likely to stick to that, and achieve better results than any supposed 'perfect' diet.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Hacking Ketones - N=1 experiments with Keto//OS, MCTs and more!

So, most of my readers know that I'm into hacking and self-experimentation AND that I've been involved in low-carb and keto in clinical practice, and as a researcher, for twenty years. 

Despite having used keto-diets for two decades and experimenting heavily with medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) and other things to either hasten entry into ketosis or help increase ketone levels for cognition and fueling, I had never tried exogenous (from outside the body, i.e. a supplement) ketones. 

Many of my students and colleagues were asking questions about exogenous ketones and so, although I could answer the questions from a scientific basis, I always think that you need to temper that with an experiential approach too. 


I decided to do an initial little self-experiment using Keto//OS. A supplemental betahydroxybutyrate (BOHB) product. 

Over several days I compared my blood BOHB response to either:
One sachet of Keto//OS (approximately 7 g of total lipid)
Or/ the equivalent amount of MCT oil or Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. 

I took the product on rising, on an empty stomach and tested blood BOHB 30 min after ingestion and then again at 2 hours post-ingestion using an Abbot Freestyle Optium ketometer. 
After doing these first three days of testing I reversed the order of tests and did another one to check. The measures below are the average of the two days. 

You can see in the table below that the Keto//OS (unsurprisingly) resulted in a much greater initial rise in BOHB that quickly declined. 

To see if there was any advantage in combining Keto + MCT I upped the dose of MCT to 1 x Tbsp. and combined with a 1/2 sachet of Keto//OS (second from right) resulting in a similar rise in BOHB but a more sustained response. I also tried this with a (high) dose of protein (Nuzest Clean Lean Protein). The increase in BOHB was similar, with good residual results. 

So how did I feel?
A full dose of Keto//OS worked really well. I felt clear, improved cognition, and increased satiety and much more so than either of the equivalent doses of MCT or EVCO.
The full-dose Keto//OS did make my stomach just a little 'gripey', similar to the feeling from taking a dose of MCT oil that is fractionally too high. (Remember that this is very individual dependent).
There was little difference in effect (for me) from taking a 1/2 serve of Keto//OS with 1 x Tbsp. of MCT.

BUT - the best result for my mental clarity, cognition, satiety and overall feeling of wellbeing was from having a 1/2 dose of Keto//OS with 1 x Tbsp. MCT AND 40 g protein. 

I typically respond best to combining good fats with protein and I noticed that I was fuller for longer, even clearer mentally and had energy to burn.

The other advantage of this strategy is that I can mix a batch up in the morning, with 1 x sachet Keto//OS, 80 g protein, and 2 x Tbsp. of MCT oil, drink one serve in the morning, and then another early afternoon, and that pretty much gets me through the day.

I'm going to experiment with other dosing strategies.
What have you found works best for you?

Interested in trying Keto//OS [CLICK HERE]
Or contact me to find out more about Keto, ketones and low-carb: cliff@hpn.ac.nz