How Keto Saved My Life

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 When I was in the Army National Guard, and young (see what I did there?), I was athletic, I maxed out my PT tests, I was a sponsored competing adventure race athlete, I worked out at least 2 hours a day and ran and biked at least 100 miles a week. As "healthy" and "athletic" I looked to the outside world, I had a secret. 

My secret was that I was plagued by medical issues, some trivial like chronic adult acne, frequent constipation and acid re-flux.  Some serious, I suffered with crippling frequent migraines, anxiety and depression, daily headaches, low blood sugar episodes so extreme that I would have dangerous passing out episodes. I was young, athletic and of average body weight....but I was sick. It seemed like I was at the doctor’s office once a month, I was on several medications (all of which hardly helped at all) and my quality of life was continuing to decline. On top of all that, I was gaining weight, slowly over the years and I was at my top weight of my adult life.

About 5 years ago, at the age of 35, out of desperation for dealing with my continued low blood sugar episodes and the fact that I was continuing to gain weight despite a high level of physical activity and "eating healthy" I turned to Dr Google. I just Googled "eating plans for hypoglycemics" and stumbled upon this thing called keto. Being extremely skeptical, I picked up a few books on the subject and started listening to keto based podcasts. I was astounded by how ignorant I was about the ways the human body operates and how I had been doing so many things in my life thinking they were "healthy choices", yet it actually was the worst choice for the way my body worked. I devised a plan. I was very afraid of having dangerous low blood sugar, so I created my own eating plan that slowly got me to a ketogenic way of eating over 90 days (these eventually became the Fire Team Whiskey .22, .38 and .50 CAL eating plans). 

What happened next, I still look back and consider a miracle. Within a week my acne started clearing up. Within 2, my sleep and mood began to improve. The constant fatigue I fought was gone in 30 days. All of a sudden, I had endless energy and had no need to overdose on caffeine each day to push through like I used to. The acid reflux and constipation dissipated. My anxiety and depression subsided into almost nothing. My headaches and migraines? GONE! The fat began to melt away. Pretty soon I was having to donate my clothes, buying 2 sizes down...then over time, 4 sizes down! 

At the age of 40, I am now fitter, healthier and have the lowest body fat I have ever had. I am on zero medications. I haven't seen a doctor in 4 years. 

While my health and fitness transformation was taking place, I was working in the military medical field. I sat down with Soldiers everyday suffering from the same stuff I had suffered from and even worse. I felt compelled to create a company to introduce the ketogenic way of life to other military members, veterans and first responders. That is how Fire Team Whiskey was born. 

I truly believe these programs saved my life. I started on the path to lifelong health, fitness and living free from all chronic medical complaints that most people have at the age of 40. It is not just me, but many other Fire Team Whiskey participants who have experienced the weight loss and medical health improvements from using our programs. 

Sure, you can try doing a keto diet on your own. But, with so much misinformation out there about this way of eating, you would be going in blind. Why wouldn't you get a guide that has already been proven and has gotten other people crazy amazing results? I don't know about you, but I am all about using a map when I travel instead of just trying to figure it out as you go along with the "go it alone" approach. 

My goal with Fire Team Whiskey is to save lives. In fact, I am so confident that you will see instant improvement in your health and fitness within 2 weeks of starting one of our programs, that we are willing to give you 2 weeks of our .22 Caliber Health and Fitness program completely free. This is the same program that I used when I first began this journey 5 years ago. 

I want to give you what I spent months reading books, listening to podcasts and experimenting with to put together absolutely free so you don't have to "go it alone" or spend months doing your own research and experimentation to get results. You can START TODAY. 

Remember, this is a long-term commitment. If you are looking for a crash diet to lose a few pounds then put right back on again plus some, then this program is not for you. If you are looking for a magic pill or shot, this program is not for you. If you are looking for a long term solution that is proven to help you lose weight over time, improve all of your medical health markers and have you feeling younger and healthier than you have ever felt in your life, then you have found your fire team! Since this is a journey and not a sprint, our Fire Team Whiskey Membership is for one year. This helps you make a long-term commitment to your health and fitness. 2 weeks for free, then after that, you pay $99 for 365 days of health. That is .28 cents a day. Wow. What a bargain! That is way cheaper than any gym membership you could purchase, and your gym doesn't even bother giving you any nutrition support (actually there are a few chains of gyms that happily feed you bagels and pizza on a weekly basis at the gym location to make sure you will always feel like you need them because you can’t seem to lose any weight...hmmm). 

2 weeks free of what took me months to research, experiment with and formalize. This gets you started on this journey faster. Start Now. 

Why Military Style Fitness Programs Are Great For Civilians

We get asked all the time if our military fitness programs are ok for civilians. The resounding answer is YES! Why would a civilian want to participate in a military style fitness program? There are several reasons.

#1:  It’s hard to self-motivate. Military style workouts are high energy, quick moving and never boring. You don’t repeat the same moves over and over again, you usually are not standing in one place too long, and most of the time, there is an instructor loudly reminding you of why you are doing this and keeps you laser focused on your weight loss mission.

#2:  The military INVENTED physical conditioning, they know what they are doing! The military has been cardiovascular and strength conditioning their troops since humans began creating organized fighting groups (so basically thousands of years).  Military style workouts draw upon what has helped nations win wars for centuries. The military has perfected the fitness approach and are know for its elite forces fitness levels (Navy Seals, Seabees, Special Forces, PJs, Rangers, etc.)

#3: It patriotic!  When you do military style workouts, it quickly makes you appreciate what the military does every day to stay fit to fight for our Country!

#4: You can do them anywhere. Military fitness conditioning has to be mobile and troops have to be able to stay fit in any environment.  Most bootcamp style workouts can be done with no or very little equipment

#5: Its always going to challenge you! Military style workouts are not know for “taking it easy”. One major problem with people progressing with their fitness levels is that they get into a funk, so the same things, the same weight, the same pace and never push themselves further. We ae totally making this up, but we imagine the phrase “no pain, no gain” originated with the military.

#6: Lots of civilians have taken on the military style fitness and health program of Fire Team Whiskey and have gotten amazing results! Check out our results page here to see just some of the transformations and testimonials of our Fire Team Whiskey Members https://fireteamwhiskey.com/programresults

You can get these results too with Fire Team Whiskey. Enlist now at www.fireteamwhiskey.com. Civilians welcome, but remember, we will push you and hold you accountable just like we do for our military member participants. We have the same high standard of achievement for all of our Fire Team Members! Are you ready for the challenge? Enlist now!

Here is just one of our “civilian” Fire Team Whiskey Participants results!

 

 

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Keto and Digestive Health

We have some exciting news to share from our friends at BiOptimizers. They are about to launch a new keto product called kApex - a ketogenesis optimizer enzyme.

BiOptimizers creates a breakthrough line of nutritional supplements focused primarily on digestive health. The Company’s mission is to "End physical suffering by optimizing digestion and activating awesome health" and they are doing a great job since joining the market in 2004.

According to the American College of Gastroenterology, 95 million Americans suffer from an identifiable digestive issue. Even more shocking: 74% of Americans live with daily GI discomfort and 12% of emergency hospital visits are due to digestive issues. It’s a massive market with a strong pain point and BiOptimizers fixes these issues better than anyone else.

However, due to the perceived embarrassment associated with digestive symptoms, there is a lack of understanding of the enormous impact digestive disorders have and a profound unwillingness to shed more light on the subject.
Over the years, BiOptimizers’ founders Wade and Matt have worked with, and the Company has been promoted by some of the most respected names in the online health world including:
- Dave Asprey from Bulletproof
- Ty Bollinger (Truth About Cancer)
- Elliott Hulse (Strength Camp)
- Ben Greenfield Fitness
- Yuri Elkaim Healthpreneur
- Vince Delmonte Fitness
- Ben Pakulski Pro Bodybuilding
- Drew Bledsoe (Barbell Shrugged)
- Pete Evans (Celebrity Chef)
- Kevin Harrington (Original Shark Tank and As Seen on TV Producer) and many more.

They've also been featured on some of the biggest health conferences in the world including NTA (Nutritional Therapy Association), Upgrade Labs, and they are getting ready to speak at the Canfitro and CHFA stages now.

Want to find more about what they do and how BiOptimizers can help you to fix your digestive issues? Go to:

http://kenergize.com/

bioptimizers.com

P.s. Get 10% off by using the coupon code FIRETEAMWHISKEY10 at checkout!

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Ketosis Symptoms and Signs: What to Look Out For

Originally published on HVMN by Nate Martins

There are two paths to achieve ketosis.

The first is through the ketogenic diet or fasting, which can take weeks or months for the body to produce its own ketones. The second is through exogenous ketones like HVMN Ketone, consuming ketones through an external source. On the map to ketosis, these are different roads–one more winding than the other.

But how do you know you've arrived at ketosis? What positive things are you looking for? What negative symptoms might you encounter? Here, we discuss what signposts to monitor your ketosis.

Recapping Ketosis

Ketosis is a normal metabolic state marked by higher-than-normal levels of ketones (or ketone bodies) in the blood.

Endogenous ketone production denotes ketones produced naturally by the body. It's the body’s natural adjustment to the absence or restriction of carbohydrate in the diet. Without enough glucose from carbs to fuel its cells, the body turns to fat to replace glucose as its primary source of energy. In the liver, fat that is not burned for energy directly is converted to ketones. This means that you are in a ketogenic state. Ketone levels increase in the bloodstream and provide an alternate and efficient fuel source for the body and brain. As a result, muscle protein is spared from being converted to glucose for energy.

Exogenous ketosis comes from an external source. Consuming exogenous ketones, like a ketone drink containing a ketone ester or a ketone salt, raises blood ketone levels. The body isn't producing ketones in this state, but still remains in ketosis from having ketones introduced from an outside source. However, the body isn't ketogenic–that specifically means the body is producing its own ketones.

Two paths, one destination. Here's what to look out for to ensure you're in ketosis.

Measuring Ketosis

A blood ketone level of 0.5 mmol/L is widely acknowledged as the threshold for entering ketosis.1 Using a measuring device is the best way to know you're in ketosis, with different devices measuring the presence of ketones in the breath, blood and urine, to provide an exact biomarker of your level of ketosis.

Measuring ketosis through blood is most accurate. Blood testing is reliable for quantifying both endogenous (created by ketogenic diet, fasting, exercise) ketones and exogenous ketones such as HVMN Ketone. Urine and breath measurements are less reliable but can be useful as quick, noninvasive ways to approximate blood ketone levels.2

Unwanted Symptoms of a Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet remains the most common approach to trigger a state of ketosis. Low in carbs, high in fat and low/moderate in protein, carbohydrates are typically reduced to less than 50 grams per day. It's this depletion of carbs that result in the body becoming ketogenic.

Along with biomarker testing, subjective symptoms can provide an indication of your ketosis. Sometimes, early side effects of the diet result from carbohydrate withdrawal. This can be known as the "keto flu;" symptoms include nausea, fatigue, headache and dry mouth. They're short-term, typically lasting about a week or less. Keep in mind, however, that we are all different. Our bodies react in different ways. Some of us may experience these symptoms later than sooner, to a lesser extent, or not at all.

Let's dive into some of the other potential side-effects of ketosis.

Gut Issues: Frequent Urination, Constipation, Diarrhea

Glycogen is the body's stored form of carbohydrate for energy. It's found primarily in the liver and muscle cells. Each gram of glycogen is bound with 3 to 4 grams of water.3 On a low-carb diet, the body will burn through these glycogen stores, releasing a lot of water and causing frequent urination.

As insulin levels plummet from carb-cutting, more water is flushed out, along with excess sodium (in contrast, excess insulin from carbs causes sodium and water retention).4 In some people, dehydration contributes to constipation, which can also result from avoiding fiber-rich carbohydrate foods. While less common, diarrhea or loose bowels can be triggered by a number of factors including too much or too little fat, dairy intolerance, or changes in gut flora.

Many people on the ketogenic diet never experience gut problems. Those that do can try combating them by drinking plenty of water and mineral-rich broths, and eating more non-starchy veggies along with foods rich in fat and fiber (such as nuts, nut butters, and avocado).

Rapid Weight Loss/Long-term Weight Loss

As glycogen stores become depleted and water attached to glycogen is released, rapid weight loss in the form of “water weight” occurs.

Once glycogen stores run out, however, ketosis kicks in as body fat is burned. Strong evidence supports the use of ketogenic diets for long-term weight loss. The appetite-suppressant impacts of ketosis leading to decreased calorie consumption is considered to be the most plausible mechanism through which the diet works.5

Bad Breath

Surprisingly, low-carb diets may lead to bad breath (also called ketosis breath).

Acetone, the least abundant ketone, is present in the breath and is responsible for the unpleasant odor. Acetone is a solvent in nail polish, if that gives you an idea of what it might smell like. But it's not as bas as it sounds; acetone breath is a sign of ketosis and fat burning. It's the ketone measured in breath tests used for detecting ketosis.6

After several weeks of keto dieting, ketosis breath typically dissipates. To help, drink more water and use breath fresheners. If it's unbearable, consider adding just enough carb back into your diet to avoid bad breath while still staying in the ketosis zone.

Positive Signs You’re in Ketosis

The positives of ketosis greatly outweigh the negatives when reaching a state of ketosis. Lowering carbohydrate intake is responsible for some of the side effects of the diet, but is also responsible for the positive effects (from the presence of ketones).

Increased Mental Focus & Decreased Brain Fog

Studies have shown ketones can improve cognitive performance.7 The brain uses ketones as a fuel source when carbohydrate depleted. Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), the major ketone body, is more efficient than glucose. It also stimulates production of new mitochondria - the energy factories in our cells.8

Increased mental clarity and focus, and less brain fog, are often reported by healthy people in ketosis. HVMN CEO, Geoffrey Woo said, “after a drink of HVMN Ketone, it’s like I’m more behind my eyeballs.” Exogenous ketones can subjectively improve mental performance and clarity.

When HVMN Ketone was tested in mice, they performed 38% better on a maze solving challenge, so it's possible there may be a cognitive boost for humans also.9 While following a ketogenic diet, you avoid the energy peaks and troughs that come from quick-energy carbs. Producing ketones from stored body fat provides the brain with a steady, sustainable supply of fuel.

Decreased Appetite

One of the first symptoms you might notice when on a ketogenic diet is that it kills your appetite.

People on the diet report being significantly more full and satisfied. Even though you may be ingesting LESS calories on the diet, your hunger doesn't increased. One possible explanation is greater consumption of satiating foods, primarily protein and fat. However, multiple studies indicate that the state of ketosis itself (apart from effects from food) plays a role as well.10

High levels of circulating ketones may have a direct appetite-suppressant effect. In fact, the exogenous ketone ester used in HVMN Ketone rapidly increased blood levels of beta-hydroxybutyrate and lowered appetite as well as levels of ghrelin - the hormone that increases hunger. While this still needs to be explored further, it is possible that exogenous ketones may be useful for appetite control as part of a holistic weight loss strategy.11

Symptoms of Dangerous Diabetic Ketoacidosis

In nondiabetics, ketosis (also called nutritional ketosis) is regulated and controlled in the body so that ketone levels never reach the harmful levels associated with diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is an acute, life-threatening condition that occurs in severely uncontrolled diabetes (mainly type 1) when ketones rise to massive, supranormal levels.

Since the body’s acid-base buffering system cannot neutralize the vast amount of acidic ketones, the blood pH drops significantly. This buildup of acids in the blood poisons the body and can lead to ketoacidosis.12 Breathing becomes deep and rapid as the body attempts to compensate for excessive acids. Other symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include:

  • Extremely high glucose levels

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • High levels of both glucose and ketones in urine

  • Can lead to a coma

Importantly, this dangerous condition is rare in non-diabetics following a ketogenic diet, and in people taking exogenous ketones. Sticking to the recommended dose of max. 3 drinks per day of HVMN Ketone, there is no risk of ketoacidosis.

Being Aware of Your Ketosis

Ketosis is the body’s normal physiological response to a shortage of carbohydrate fuel.

It is characterized by elevated blood levels of ketone bodies, or ketones. Ketosis is a healthy, natural state that shouldn't be confused with ketoacidosis, a dangerous and potentially life-threatening complication of diabetes.

Elevated blood ketone levels is the sign of ketosis, while certain subjective symptoms can also signal ketosis. Increased mental clarity, less brain fog, and diminished appetite are fairly common among people in ketosis. The ketogenic diet specifically has its own assortment of symptoms. Fortunately, the negative symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, and bad breath are often temporary and tend fade as your body becomes better at fat burning and naturally producing ketones. The positive symptoms of ketosis coincide with higher levels of ketones in the blood. This may occur after several weeks of adhering to the ketogenic diet or very shortly after ingesting exogenous ketones.


Keto vs Paleo: Which Diet is Right for You?

Originally published on HVMN by Ryan Rodal

Diet trends are always a topic of debate. With so many diets to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which one is right for you.

People choose diets for different reasons. Some want to lose weight; others strive for better overall health; many seek improved metabolism.

Two of the most popular diets in America are the ketogenic and paleo diets. Paleo gained prominence several years ago, while keto has been steadily on the rise of late. Some may confuse the two and use them interchangeably, but many are unaware of each diet’s specific intricacies.

Although keto and paleo have some overlapping characteristics, each one is unique in its own way. Let’s take a look at both diets and see which one is right for you.

The Ketogenic Diet

The keto diet has one main goal above all else: make the body produce ketones. To understand the importance of ketones and ketone production, you must first understand the basic physiological nature of energy sources in the human body.

The human body is programmed to run off a mix of glucose and fat. The balance of glucose is obtained mostly through the consumption of carbohydrates (however, through gluconeogenesis, glucose can also be created through non-carbohydrate substances). The process of digestion converts the macronutrient from the diet (carbs) into an energy source for our cells (glucose). Drastically decreasing carbohydrate intake will create a metabolic shift in the body, away from glucose-dependent energy. After eliminating carbs, the body can increasingly tap into stored body fat for energy, of which we have a large amount. By increasing our fat-intake, the body can become metabolically flexible, burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.

Let’s take a closer look at getting into ketosis.

How to Get into Ketosis

Getting into ketosis is a variable process from person to person time-wise, but everyone undergoes the same physiological transformation should they choose to achieve ketosis through endogenous means (meaning, enabling the body to produce its own ketones).

Eating carbohydrates causes insulin release, which in turn prevents the production of ketones from fat; this is because insulin stops the release of fat from fat stores and thus shuts off the substrate for ketone production. To prevent insulin release, you must eliminate carbohydrate intake. As carb reduction occurs, the body will become depleted of glucose stores.

After a certain period of time the body will enter a state of ketosis, breaking down more and more fat, leading to ketone production.

Ketones are produced in the liver through a multistep conversion of fats. Evolutionarily, ketone production occurred as a result of starvation, when the body didn’t have any carbohydrates from which to make energy. Ketosis indicates the presence of ketones in the blood above 0.5mM. Triggering a state of ketosis is usually done one of two ways. The first is endogenously, meaning ketones are produced naturally in the body, usually through diet or fasting. The second is exogenously, in which blood ketone levels are increased by consuming a ketone supplement, like HVMN Ketone

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Keto Health Benefits

The benefits of keto go beyond simply slimming your waistline. Studies have shown that a ketogenic diet may help individuals with type 2 diabetes by effectively lowering blood glucose.1 There's also been a noted improvement in glycemic control and weight loss. But it’s not all metabolic benefits.1

The keto diet may improve cardiovascular health markers, including lowering blood pressure readings.2 Keto can also help treat neurological disorders. Since the early 1900s, children who suffered from epilepsy benefited from the diet as a form of alternative therapy.3 Many have also noted subjective feelings of mental clarity while on the keto diet.

Keto might even help improve health conditions characterized by inflammation through the signaling actions of ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (or BHB), which blocks NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated inflammatory disease.4 Animal studies have shown the ketogenic diet may improve longevity, memory, and health span.5

Keto Diet Basics

A balanced caloric intake on keto is essential for meeting dietary and weight loss goals. Every calorie you consume is made up of one of three types of macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, or proteins.

The ketogenic diet consists of a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate macronutrient ratio.

  • High fat: 60% - 80% of total calories from fat

  • Moderate protein: 15% - 35% of total calories from protein

  • Low carbohydrate: 5% or less of total calories from carbohydrates

Your macronutrients can be calculated on your own, but there are macro calculators online to simplify the process. Just set each macronutrient within the suggested ranges for the keto diet.

To illustrate this, let’s take a look at a hypothetical person. A 200 pound male with 17% body fat will have a basal metabolic rate (BMR) of approximately 2,000 calories. Let’s say they want to maintain their current weight. Using a macronutrient ratio of 25% protein, 5% carbohydrates, and 70% fat, this person will consume 179g of fat, 28g of carbs, and 144g of protein. The ratio is not only keto-friendly, but also provides adequate protein for retaining lean body mass (at least 0.8g protein per pound of LBM).

Consuming a low-carb diet will cause a metabolic state of adaptation, allowing for ketone production. If you want to get into ketosis faster, trying an exogenous ketone supplement, like HVMN Ketone.

Keto-Friendly Foods

The keto diet is based around healthy fat sources and low-carb food choices. Some of the best keto friendly foods include:

  • Meats, including fatty fish and beef

  • Non-starchy vegetables

  • Many varieties of cheese

  • Eggs

  • Greek yogurt

  • Avocado

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Berries

A day of eating on the keto diet may look something like this:

  • Breakfast: four whole eggs, two pieces of bacon

  • Snack: one serving of almonds, one serving of blackberries

  • Lunch: 8oz of chicken breast, 100g of asparagus, one serving of Greek yogurt

  • Snack: one serving of cottage cheese, one serving of blackberries

  • Dinner: 6oz of salmon, 100g of Brussels sprouts

Your meal plan should be goal specific, but this is just one way of incorporating the keto meal plan into your everyday life. It’s not as hard and many people think!

The Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet is based around foods early humans ate in the Paleolithic era (up until 10,000 years ago).

The typical Paleo diet includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds—foods sourced by hunter-gatherers during Paleolithic times. The diet does not contain foods emerging through more modern agricultural methods, such as dairy products, legumes, and grains. And of course, nothing processed; it's a focus on whole, healthy foods and food groups.

The Argument for Paleo

The main goal of the Paleo diet: eat like a caveman. Paleo followers believe our bodies do not have the adaptation necessary to process modern foods, leading to increased incidences of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Paleo seeks to eliminate harmful side effects associated with modern agriculture.

Some people question the safety of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and genetic engineering used to mass produce fruits and vegetables. Pesticides used in agriculture are also a cause of concern for some individuals. Although these scientific advances are designed to mass produce quality food, some question their dietary safety.

The Paleo diet has not been scientifically studied in the same detail as keto, but there is some research suggesting potential health benefits. A study performed on the Paleo diet indicated glucose tolerance may improve in people with type 2 diabetes.6 There is also evidence of improved glycemic control and lower blood pressure following the Paleo diet.7,8 Similar to keto, when processed food and refined sugars are removed from a diet, there should be some health benefits.

Paleo-Friendly Foods

The foods found on paleo should have existed thousands of years ago, consumed by our great-great-great-great-great grandfathers and grandmothers. The most common paleo foods include:

  • Grass-fed meats

  • Seafood

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables

  • Eggs

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

  • Oils from healthy fat sources (e.g. avocado oil, coconut oil)

As you can see, the food choices on the Paleo diet have some overlap with the keto diet, but there are dietary and philosophical differences as well.

What do Keto and Paleo Have in Common?

The Paleo and keto diets share many characteristics even while being unique in their own ways.

Whole Foods

Paleo and keto diet plans are both based around high-quality whole food sources.

A whole food is one that hasn’t been processed and generally does not have added ingredients. Processed foods are eliminated from both diets and replaced with fresh items such as vegetables, meats, and nuts.

Grains and Legumes

Paleo and keto do not include grains and legumes as part of their diets, but for different reasons. Paleo eliminates grains and legumes because they were unavailable during Paleolithic times and contain anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients are found in some plant-based foods and may cause digestive issues when consumed.9 They are considered the antithesis of the paleo diet.

These anti-nutrients are produced by plants as defense mechanisms, but can have a damaging effect on the human gut.

One such anti-nutrient is phytic acid, and it’s one of the main reasons Paleo excludes grains as legumes in the diet. Phytic acid can make proteins, fat, and starches less digestible.10

The keto diet eliminates grains and legumes due to their carbohydrate content. Grains and legumes can take the body out of ketosis preventing the breakdown of fat stores into ketones.

Processed Sugar

Both Paleo and keto discourage the intake of added sugar—but for different reasons.

The keto diet has no sugar due to the insulin-spiking effects and carbohydrate content. The Paleo diet, on the other hand, allows natural sugar sources (such as maple syrup and honey), but completely eliminates processed sugar. Keep an eye out for processed sugar, as it's rampant in American diets.

Healthy Fats

Keto and Paleo diets both promote healthy fats as a key component of their diets.

Foods such as avocado oil, coconut oil, and olive oil are popular healthy fat options for both groups.

The keto diet uses healthy fats as a fuel source, while the Paleo diet encourages healthy fats due to their Paleolithic origin. The common theme of both diets is to not be afraid of consuming a high-fat diet. This can be a valuable fuel source after some adaptation from a body dependent on carbohydrate.

Weight Loss

One of the main drivers for any diet is weight loss. Although there is limited research available for the long-term success of these diets, studies have shown weight loss benefits in the short term.

Low-carb, high-fat diets, such as the ketogenic diet, have been successful for weight loss.

One study on obese women showed 9% weight loss after six months on the diet and 10.6% weight loss after a year.11

On the other hand, the Paleo diet has a limited number of scientific studies with which it’s associated.12 Some studies have suggested the diet may help with weight loss and the correction of metabolic dysfunction, but further research may be needed to test these findings.12

How are Keto and Paleo Different?

As you can see, many of the food choices and goals overlap with both diets; but there are key differences unique to each one.

Different Belief Systems

Although many of the food choices in both keto and Paleo overlap, the philosophies behind each is different.

The keto diet creates metabolic adaptations with a science-based approach. It’s all about consuming a lot of fat in comparison to very few carbohydrates. Paleo employs a holistic ideology and lifestyle. Keto and Paleo have similar dietary requirements, but for different reasons.

Carbohydrate Composition

The keto diet involves an extremely low carb intake. The Paleo diet allows certain carbohydrates as long as they’re from whole foods. Since processed carbs are eliminated, you often end up with a low carb diet no matter which plan you choose to follow.

Some wholesome carbs include sweet potatoes, taro root, carrots, and winter squash. As we mentioned, Paleo also allows natural sugar sources such as maple syrup and honey—but these wouldn’t be allowed on keto based on their high carb content.

A true keto diet eliminates almost all carb sources, even certain vegetables (such as potatoes). Any amount of carbs can raise blood sugar, trigger insulin release, stop ketogenesis and take the body out of ketosis.

Dairy

A strict Paleo diet discourages dairy, as it wasn’t consumed in the Paleolithic Era. The keto diet allows for certain types of dairy to be consumed; in fact, they’re even encouraged.

The most popular keto dairy options include grass fed butter, heavy whipping cream, Greek yogurt, and many cheese varieties (Swiss, provolone, mozzarella, brie, and Jack are all considered keto-friendly). Since these dairy options are low in carbohydrate content and high in fat, they fit within the keto framework.

Which Diet Should You Choose?

A diet plan is like building a house. For keto and Paleo, the floors, walls, and roof beams may be similar. But their foundations are completely different. To recap, the keto diet is based on creating metabolic adaptations using a science-based approach. The Paleo uses a holistic ideology based on food choice rather than a macronutrient focus.

Different groups can benefit from both diets, but you should focus on the one suited to your individual goals.

If you're a diabetic, keto may be beneficial to you, due to carb-restriction and reduced insulin sensitivity. Endurance athletes benefit from the fat-adaptation that is characteristic of keto, as prolonged endurance exercise requires less energy from glucose stores, enabling the body can tap into the unlimited fat stores for energy over the course of a long race.

Resistance training athletes such as bodybuilders and CrossFit-ers may prefer Paleo, as the carbs may be better utilized during high-intensity training sessions.

In the world of Paleo vs keto, there is no clear cut winner. The best diet is the one you can stick to—so base your dietary choices around your specific needs. The results should be sustainable over a lifetime instead of being short sighted.



Warrior Fuel: Mexican Steak Stuffed Peppers

Its taco night! But…wait, no corn or flour, so what should we make to hold our taco toppings? Well, you can check out our recipe for the cheese taco shells, or get some veggies in by using a poblano pepper as your taco shell or taco boat as we like to call them. This is an easy 25 minute recipe.

INGREDIENTS

POBLANO PEPPERS

STRIP STEAK

ANY TOPPINGS YOU WANT ON YOUR TACO BOAT! We suggest….

cheddar cheese

guacamole or sliced avocados

sour cream

salsa or pico de gallo

taco sauce

RECIPE

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking pan with tin foil.

Cut poblano peppers in half, scoop out any seeds and throw away. Place the pblano peppers open face down on the covered baking sheet and place in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, flip them over and cook for another 10.

While the peppers are cooking, cut up the skirt steak into 1 inch pieces. Place on a hot skillet with preferred cooking oil and cook to your desired temperature. Drain and set aside.

Once the poblano peppers are completed cooking, place one on a plate open side up as your boat. Load a serving of the skirt steak into the pepper, and top with all your desired toppings. For a little crunch, we recommend adding pork rinds on top. Serve and enjoy!

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How Long Does it Take to Get Into Ketosis and Keto-Adapt?

Originally published on HVMN by Nate Martins

 

Weight loss benefits ushered the keto diet into the spotlight. That’s how most people have likely heard about ketones, a fuel source created naturally by the body when burning fat. But more and more research points to diverse applications of ketones in the blood outside of just fat loss, from improved endurance performance to the treatment of medical conditions like epilepsy.

Ketosis is the state of raised ketone bodies in the blood, typically beginning at 0.5 mM. But how does one get ketones in the blood?

It happens two ways (you can read our in-depth analysis here).

Endogenous ketones are produced naturally by the body while fasting or on a strict low-carb, high-fat diet. The body becomes ketogenic, which means it’s producing ketones. Thus, ketones are in the blood, designating a state of ketosis.

Exogenous ketones are introduced to the body from an external source, like HVMN Ketone, MCT oils or ketone salts. The body isn’t ketogenic here, but is still in a state of ketosis because ketones are in the blood.

Naturally, it can take days to achieve ketosis through fasting or dieting. With ketone supplements like HVMN Ketone, it can take minutes.

But everyone is different. Getting into ketosis varies from person-to-person, and even two people using similar methods can have different results.

How to Know You’re in Ketosis

The best way is to test. There are a few different ways to test for beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB)–the predominant ketone body present in the body.

Blood testing, with a blood ketone meter, is the most accurate. A range of 0.5 - 3.0 mM of BHB in the blood represents nutritional ketosis,1 and can be achieved both endogenously or exogenously. But it requires a finger-pricking, which can be off-putting to some. Plus, ketone testing strips can get expensive.

Ketones can also be measured via breathalyzer or urine ketone sticks. While these methods are useful for estimating blood ketone levels, they’re less accurate than blood measurements and less reliable when the body contains higher levels of BHB (or if you’ve been on a ketogenic diet for a long time).2,3,4

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Those new to keto should be testing to see if their bodies are in ketosis, regardless of method. Testing, in general, is the most objective way to know if you’re in ketosis. There can be some subjective benefits of ketosis: appetite suppression, fat loss, low blood sugar, improvement in mental cognition and focus. But before recognizing these subjective benefits, it’s important to track and measure the level of ketones in the blood to ensure ketosis on a physical level.

How Long Does It Take to Get Into Ketosis?

It depends on the method you’re using.

Ketogenic Diet

Western diets are high in carbohydrates, leading to high blood sugar levels, whereas the ketogenic diet enforces a small amount of carbs to be consumed.

After 2 - 4 days of low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic dieting, ketone levels in the blood can increase to ~1 - 2 mM, achieving ketosis.5

Difficulties reaching these levels might lead some dieters to reduce carbs even further, increasing fat intake and lowering protein intake. While one person may need to drop carbs down to 20 grams per day, another may see results on 100 grams of carbs (especially if they’re highly active).

Remember how important it is to measure ketone blood levels accurately? Same goes for food tracking. A food tracking app, like MyFitnessPal, provides insight into macronutrient intake and thus the ability to tweak the diet to achieve ketosis. Tracking diet (inputs) and measuring ketones levels (outputs) delivers the best shot at optimizing the keto diet plan.

Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a simple and effective way to lose weight, decrease body fat and enhance overall health.6 The body increasingly relies on fat stores for energy, and some of that fat is turned into ketones, resulting in ketone levels increasing in the blood.

There are several ways to approach the “intermittent” part of food restriction. One of the most common is limiting the window in which food is consumed to about eight hours a day. Another is fasting for a full 24 hours once a week, or once a month. Fasting beyond three days can be stressful on the body and should be done with medical advice and supervision.

Fasting for just 12 - 16 hours can achieve ketosis, albeit at lower levels at about ~.05mM.7 But a 48-hour fast can boost ketone levels in the blood by 20x, between 1 - 2mM.

Exercise

Human and animal studies have shown exercise increases BHB.8,9,10

The level of post-exercise ketosis, however, is influenced by several factors, including: exercise intensity, duration of the exercise, training experience level (athletes vs. non-athletes) and diet. But diet might be the most important of these factors.

Diet influences levels of glycogen stores, and exercise triggers depletion of glycogen stores–this depletion is critical for ketosis, and has an impact on blood ketone levels following exercise. If one exercises and doesn’t eat carbohydrates after, this can also speed up the process of natural ketone production.

A low-carb diet increases post-exercise ketosis, whereas a high carbohydrate intake inhibits it, regardless of the other factors.10

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Can I Get Into Deep Ketosis Faster?

A ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting and exercise can all work symbiotically encourage a state of ketosis. Even together, all these endogenous methods take time.

Enter exogenous ketones.

Exogenous ketone supplements provide a way to fast-track deep ketosis. There are two types of exogenous ketone supplements currently available, with one outlier.

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil is the outlier. It doesn’t actually contain ketones, but instead, a fat easily converted into BHB. After taking MCT, blood ketone levels rise slowly over several hours.

MCT oil is extracted primarily from coconut oil, and derives unique benefits from its shorter fatty acid chain length. Most dietary fat contains 12 carbons in the fatty acid chain, while MCTs are only 6 - 12 carbon chains in length. Shorter chain length allows for easier absorption and rapid conversion to energy in the liver, specifically caprylic (C8) and capric (C10).

Exogenous ketones include salts and esters. Both can quickly raise blood concentrations of BHB within minutes and quickly induce a deep state of ketosis without dieting or fasting.

Studies have shown ketone esters, like HVMN Ketone, more potently raise blood ketones when compared to salts.

That was nearly three-times the level attained by a ketone salt drink.4

Other studies have reported D-BHB levels (the ketone body present in HVMN Ketone) up to 6.0 mM following ingestion of D-BHB ketone ester drinks.11,12

Keto-Adaptation Doesn’t Happen Overnight

Keto-adaption is a complex set of metabolic processes in which the body shifts from using primarily glucose for energy to using largely ketones and fat for energy. Achieving ketosisdoesn’t mean the body is maximizing the use of these ketones; it takes longer than a few days for the body to get used to burning fat and ketones as its predominant fuels.

Human research evaluating the long-term effects of a low-carb diet is very limited. Most studies on low-carb diets rarely run more than two weeks, so finding a definitive answer for how long it takes to keto-adapt is unclear.

But analyzing a few different adaptations, which are triggered by the keto diet, can provide a clearer picture of the time it takes to keto-adapt.

results of keto.png

Higher Fat Utilization

The potential for fat burning during exercise can be increased massively while on the ketogenic diet.

Recently, a study in keto-adapted elite runners demonstrated keto athletes burned double the amount of fat at the relatively high exercise intensity of 70% (compared to athletes on a normal diet).

Keto athletes consistently followed a low carb, high-fat ketogenic diet for six months. They ate 82 grams of carbs a day, compared to a high-carb group of runners who consumed 684 gram of carbs per day.13 Increases in fat burning have also been seen after far shorter time intervals on the ketogenic diet.14

One should allow weeks or months of adoption for prime athletic performance on the ketogenic diet.

Glycogen Conservation

Prevailing thought says muscle glycogen is lower than normal when carbohydrate intake is restricted. But keto-adaption changes this.

A major study in keto-adapted elite runners demonstrated that muscle glycogen was the same as athletes who ate ample carbs. Over time, the body adapts to be able to make more carbohydrates–by a process called gluconeogenesis–and this keeps muscle glycogen levels close to normal even without dietary carbohydrates.

Ketones are Brainfood

The brain runs on glucose or ketones–not fat.

During ketosis, other tissues in the body adapt to use fatty acids for fuel. This process spares ketones for the brain, while also saving protein breakdown to make glucose. Muscle specifically undergoes a major shift.

Early in the keto diet, muscle cells use both ketones and fatty acids for energy. But once fully keto-adapted, muscle turns to fatty acid as primary fuel. This adaption in fuel flow can take weeks or months.15

More Mitochondria, More Energy

Though human studies are lacking, evidence from animal studies indicates the keto diet can increase creation of new mitochondria (called mitochondrial biogenesis).16,17,18

Why are more mitochondria important? They’re the cell’s workhorses.

On a cellular level, mitochondria are where fuel converts to energy, and more mitochondria mean more efficient energy production. The keto diet is known to activate AMPK–an important nutrient sensor found in every cell that increases production of mitochondria.19,20

Ketones are also a cleaner-burning fuel than carbs. They’re burned for energy in the mitochondria, and fewer free radicals (a highly-reactive, short-lived uncharged molecule) are generated when compared to burning glucose.15 What’s more, ketone molecules themselves cause a decrease in production of free radicals,21,22 while also increasing glutathione–a powerful antioxidant protecting against mitochondrial damage induced by free radicals.23

In ketosis, building new mitochondria and/or reduced mitochondrial damage leads to an increased density of mitochondria. In muscle, this keto-induced adaptation develops slowly over 3 - 4 weeks.24,25

Ketosis and You

The level of ketosis, and the time it takes to get there, depends on several variables. Maybe a ketogenic diet puts you into ketosis in a couple days. Maybe you can achieve deep ketosis after an 18 hour fast. Regardless, diet and fasting produce endogenous ketones and take longer to achieve ketosis.

Exogenous ketones, like HVMN Ketone, can put the body into a deep state of ketosis within a matter of minutes, without having to restrict carb intake via diet or fasting.

But all of these efforts compound, especially when considering how to become keto-adapted. It’s important to take a holistic approach to ketosis, measure results and adapt based on those results.

Ketosis takes time, but the benefits are worth the effort.

 

Carb Cycling Guide For Athletes

Originally published on HVMN by Nate Martins.

10,080–that’s how many minutes are in a week. Maintaining a diet through all those minutes, for weeks or months, requires supreme, almost unwavering willpower.

Even The Rock doesn’t do it; his Sunday night cheat meals are stuff of legend, consisting of thousands of calories of his favorite food.

The social side of dieting is tough. It takes dedication to remain unmoved on a diet; happy hour invites, dinners out, work-sponsored lunches–saying “no” to all these are small wins on the battlefield of dieting. For a diet like the ketogenic diet, avoiding carbohydrates can feel like tip-toeing through a minefield of Western, carb-centric eating.

For athletes, it can be difficult because we rely so heavily on carbohydrates for fuel. Of course, there’s growing research about how to use bodily fat as a fuel source,1 but carbohydrates have been the gold standard exercise nutrition for years.

Carb cycling is planned consumption of different amounts of carbohydrates, usually throughout the week. Everyone can develop their own carb cycle based on need; for example, keto athletes might work in carb days during especially hard training blocks.

While carb cycling isn’t for everyone, it can be a great way to optimize a diet based on your personal needs.

What’s a Carb, Anyway?

There are three different types of macronutrient fuel sources in our food: fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

bodys fuel.png

The main function of dietary carbs is to be a source of energy. Some even argue they aren’t essential, and can be made from dietary protein and fat.2 This process is called gluconeogenesis, a metabolic pathway generating glucose from non-carbohydrate substrates.

Carbs (especially refined carbs) raise blood sugar, resulting in the body producing extra insulin to bring that blood sugar down. Insulin is a hormone that triggers fat storage–so more carbs means more insulin which means more conversion of carbs to fat stores.

As a fuel source, carbohydrates replenish glycogen stores in the muscle and liver. They also maintain blood glucose concentrations as fuel for the body, but also for the brain. That’s the spike in energy you experience after an afternoon stack, as blood glucose fluctuates throughout the day when we consume carbs.

Simply put, carbohydrates are the body’s most readily available fuel. But when we don’t use that fuel, carbohydrate manifest as fat.

When following a keto diet, lower carb intake is necessary (like 25g of carbs per day–the amount in a single banana). This encourages the body to burn fat and also to convert fat to ketones. Consuming carbohydrates causes insulin release, which inhibits ketone production in the liver.

Science Behind Carb Cycling

What is carb cycling, and why is it beneficial? Looking at the science can provide some clarity. Maybe a more accurate definition of carb cycling is carb manipulation.

The goal is to match the body’s need for glucose depending on activity or activity level overall.

High-Carb Days

High-carb days are usually matched with workouts when you might need more glucose–like high-intensity interval sessions or a long day in the weight room.

When you exercise at a high intensity, the body makes most of its energy from carbohydrates, either breaking it down aerobically (with oxygen), or anaerobically (without oxygen), forming lactic acid. This would be the optimal time to introduce a higher amount of carbohydrates into the diet because the body uses more carbohydrate during the workout itself, and then after the workout to make glycogen to refuel and decrease muscle breakdown.3

When looking for your highest possible power or speed output, carbs are often necessary for the body to produce its best results during intense training sessions.

Low-Carb Days

In traditional carb-cycling, low-carb days are meant for days on which you do not train–the idea is the body doesn’t need carbs because its demand for fuel is far less than on workout days.

But further investigation by scientists have shown some of the advantages of training on these low carb days, which has two main benefits: it helps to speed up general adaptations to aerobic training, and it increases fat burning and thus improves endurance.

One of the key, groundbreaking experiments in this field was conducted using single-legged cycling exercise. Athletes had to cycle using just one leg at a time; the left leg cycled one hour straight, and the right leg did two half hours with a few hours in between where no recovery fuel was given. This means that the right leg was training in a carb depleted state during the second session. Muscle biopsy samples revealed that the twice-trained leg saw bigger gains in the enzymes that are key for aerobic respiration. This led to the conclusion that low-carb training could accelerate aerobic gains.4

Strategic low-carb days focus on switching the body back to using fat as energy and increase aerobic capacity. Research is continuing on this topic, but athletes are looking to boost the ability of the body to tap into fat as a fuel source, since we store more fat than carbohydrates.

Training in a low-carb state has been shown to increase the ability of the body to burn fat over the long haul, improving metabolic flexibility.5 There have even been studies noting keto-adapted athletes can use fat in preference to carbohydrates for moderate intensity endurance exercises, in which carbohydrates would usually be used as fuel.6

But it takes time. Robert Sikes is a professional bodybuilder and founder/owner of Keto Savage. He's a bodybuilder on the keto diet; backstage at events, he receives inquisitive looks from competitors when they find out he's keto. But the results speak for themselves and after events, he'll even get asked about he's able to train with such little carb intake. He says it can takes years to full fat-adapt, and that it’s something that doesn’t happen in the short term.

“You need to allow yourself to be completely adapted to life without carbs. Play the long game. Be diligent with hitting macros and eating wholesome foods.”

Robert Sikes

By controlling carbs, and the types of carbs consumed, there also may be a benefit in manipulating insulin and insulin responses.7,8 This would likely help with improving metabolic health.

It is becoming widely accepted that athletes should adopt carb cycling or periodization of carbs based on training needs. This ensures fuel for the work required (so training intensity isn’t compromised), while also empowering the body to metabolically trapease between carbohydrates and fats as fuel sources as available.9

Benefits of Carb Cycling

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The benefits are carb cycling are measured against personal goals. Do you want to improve body composition? How about improve training or recovery?

Ask yourself what you want to achieve with carb cycling to best understand its benefits.

Body Composition

As with most diets, a major goal is usually weight loss. Because we consume such a high amount of calories as carbohydrates in Western diets, limiting those calories and carbs will ultimately lead to fat loss. The process aligns with most other diets: consume less calories than the body burns, enter a calorie deficit and promote weight loss.10

Though specific research on carb cycling is limited, generally studies show that limiting carb intake works well for weight loss. One study analyzed overweight women who had a family history of breast cancer. Three groups were randomly assigned different diets: calorie-restricted and low-carb diet, low-carb but unlimited protein and healthy fat, and a standard, calorie-restricted diet. Women in both low-carbohydrate groups showed better results for weight loss.11

Performance and Recovery

Training in a low-carb state can help with weight loss, boost fat burning capacity, and can speed up aerobic adaptation to training. However, athletes face a compromise when employing low-carb diets; they need the carbohydrates to perform at the highest intensity (especially in a race), and want to keep that energy system working well, but still want the benefits of carb restriction.

Making sure the body has carbs for tough training can help performance. The body needs fuel for the most difficult exercise days. Since carbohydrates are the body’s most readily available fuel source, consuming carbs before a workout enables the body to train harder for high-intensity, short-duration exercise.12 Interestingly, even the presence of carbohydrates in the mouth (meaning, not actually ingested) can lead to increased performance, because they activated brain regions believed to be involved in reward and motor control.13

Carbs can also help accelerate recovery. After exercise, consuming carbohydrates can lead to glycogen resynthesis and protein synthesis (after resistance training).14,3 So, it’s easier to perform and recover if you have enough carbohydrate in your diet. Carb cycling means those big training days can be high quality.

Other Benefits

By cycling carbohydrate consumption, you may be afforded some of the benefits of both higher-carb and lower-carb diets–and avoid some of the common negative side-effects.

Metabolic Health: The combination of two types of diets may help you become metabolically flexible.5

The days with low-carbs may have a positive impact on insulin sensitivity; this study showed the benefits of a low-carb, high-fat diet on glucose metabolism, lowering fasting glucose and insulin values.8 And when compared to a low-fat diet, a low-carb diet led to greater weight loss, which in turn led to a decrease in triglyceride levels15–high levels of triglycerides have been associated with cardiovascular disease.16

Hormone Health: There are some concerns that hormones might be negatively affected by a badly put together low-carb diet, but this could be mitigated by strategic carb feeding.

High-carb feeding periods can potentially boost the levels of some vital hormones, like cortisol. There are some concerns that cortisol can decline when following a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet (although not much research supports this fear). To combat this possibility, either make sure your keto diet is well-formulated with enough calories and nutrients,17 or cycle periods of carbohydrate feeding to give your body a break.

In men, testosterone concentrations were higher after a ten-day high-carbohydrate diet, while cortisol concentrations were consistently lower on the same diet, suggesting the power of diet (specifically the ratio of carbohydrate to protein) as a factor in hormone regulation.16

Thyroid hormones are essential to regulating metabolism,18 being crucial determinants of resting metabolic rate. But they themselves are in turn regulated by diet and metabolism because glucose fuels the production of those thyroid hormones. The thyroid produces a large amount of T4 hormones, which are then converted into T3 hormones (T3 is the active thyroid hormone influencing many body processes). When carb intake is reduced, conversion of T4 to T3 reduces.19 People worry that this might lead to a lower metabolic rate and thus slow down weight loss with a low-carb diet

Longevity: The ketogenic diet may help to increase lifespan and healthspan.

This might be increased further by taking a cyclical approach to the diet: alternating high-carb and low-carb weeks. One study fed a ketogenic diet to mice every other week. Results showed avoidance of obesity, reducing midlife mortality, and prevented memory decline.20

How to Carb Cycle

Anyone from ametuer dieter to serious athlete can carb cycle. There are different options for how carefully you implement carb cycling, depending on training and recovery needs as well as your overall goals.

Creating a schedule, tracking your progress and targeting carbohydrate intake can help develop a well-formulated plan to succeed cycling carbs.

Create a Schedule

Before a single carb touches your lips, think about your goals. These will formulate your carb cycling plan.

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Do you want to lose weight, or maintain weight? Do you want to boost aerobic fat burning capacity or target a lean body composition?

Then consider your typical training week. Which days are your most intense workouts? Which days can you recover, even without carbs? Do you meal prep to make sure you get enough quality, low-carb foods?

Serious athletes might want to take it one step further and consider carb cycling over a longer period, to keep up with training or competition cycle. Instead of breaking up a single week into high-carb and low-carb days, each week would have a different carbohydrate goal. Weeks with a heavy training load would be carb-heavy, while weeks with a lower training load or coming into a weigh-in could be more low/moderate-carb.

Your answers to these questions will determine how you go about cycling carbs. Don’t be afraid to change the schedule and be a bit flexible once you get started.

Log calories and macros

Establishing a calorie goal could prove helpful (especially if you’re trying to lose weight). Multiply your bodyweight by ten, and that’s the amount of calories to work toward if you want to lose weight. To gain weight, you can multiply your bodyweight by 15 to garner a ballpark daily calorie target.

Tracking your macros in a food journal or an app will help keep you accountable. Taking note of everything you eat will let you make sure you get enough calories from the right type of macronutrients while giving you a better understanding of how diet impacts your training output.

Target for a High-Carb Day

High-carb days should accompany your toughest training sessions of the week, such as intense intervals or prolonged weight training. These days call for about 2g of carbs per pound of bodyweight, and they’ll be your highest calories days. If you’re working out four times a week, and weight training once or twice a week, then you should have about one or two high-carb days each week.

Note that you might want to eat high-carb the night before a heavy morning workout to make sure that you are fueled up and ready to go, even if the training on that day was not that intense.

Target for a Medium or Low-Carb Day

Low-carb or medium-carb days can be used to fuel less-intense workouts or recovery days. Depending on training volume, low/medium carb days can be anywhere from 50g - 150g of carbs.

Training low doesn’t mean training on zero carbohydrates. On low-carb days, be sure to prioritize other macronutrients such as good quality protein and fat. High protein intake is important for post-workout recovery and the development of muscle mass. When cutting back on carbs, make sure you get enough calories, and the bulk of these should come from fat.

There are a few strategies that you can use to control your carb intake around your training sessions.

Training low: start your training having limited your carb intake beforehand. Implementing this strategy is simple. You may wake up and workout in the morning without eating before. You may even increase the effect by limiting carb intake the night before. If you workout during the evening, you may limit carbs from morning until that evening training session.

Sleeping low: don’t refuel using carbs after a workout, and stretch out the period before you refuel by sleeping overnight before refuelling with carbs at breakfast. This has shown promise, with a recent review in elite cyclists describing how the “sleep low, train low” method (where morning exercise commences with less than 200 mM of glycogen), improved results for cycling efficiency.20

On low-carb days, be clever to ensure quality training and recovery. Performing on a low-carb day can be difficult, so consider taking a low-carb or keto energy source, such as HVMN Ketone. Elite athletes have used HVMN Ketone to give them BHB as a fuel during high intensity time trials, showing that if you really want to avoid carbs, swapping in ketones can be a great energy alternative.

Another way to get a boost is to mouth rinse with carbs; this can improve performance without needing to actually eat carbs. You can also use caffeine before your workout, which is another reliable, carb-free way to get your body ready to perform.

What about recovery? BHB from HVMN Ketone is a carb-free alternative for recovery on low-carb days. Studies have shown that not only is less glycogen broken down in training with HVMN Ketone,21 but glycogen22 and protein resynthesis23 are also increased by 60% and 2x respectively. BHB could be a great way to help protect your recovery but also keep carb intake low.

Foods to Remember

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With all this talk of carbs, you need to know where to find them so you can either stock up or steer clear.

A carb cycling diet requires high quality, healthy carbs and whole foods. Every once in a while it’s fine to treat yourself in epic, The Rock-like proportions, but from day-to-day, it’s all about maintaining balance. Good carbs include whole grains (like brown rice and oats), legumes (like beans, a good slow-digesting carb) and tubers (sweet potatoes).

Foods low in carbs include meat (beef, chicken, fish), eggs, vegetables (like bell peppers, broccoli and mushrooms), nuts (almonds, walnuts) and dairy (cheese, yogurt). Building a meal plan to incorporate all these types of food should help with each phase of the carb cycling. Even better? Meal prepping, so the stress of cooking depending on the day goes out the window.

But don’t forget about fiber; it plays an important role in weight loss, energy maintenance, regulating blood sugar and controlling hunger. Though fiber is a carb, it doesn’t raise blood sugar like other carbs and plays an important metabolic role because it doesn’t convert to glucose.

Is Carb Cycling Right For You?

It depends on your goals. It also requires some experimentation–based on your lifestyle and fitness routine, finding the right balance of high-carb and low-carb days can take some time and will probably change over the long-term.

What’s nice about carb cycling is the flexibility. It empowers a dieter some choice, while also providing the ability to fuel on days where it’s required, like ahead of intense training sessions. Benefiting from each could help an athlete reach goals for exercise, as well as goals for body composition. But remember to check with your doctor before implementing such wholesale changes to the way you eat.

If you’ve tried carb cycling, let us know the results in the comments.

Scientific Citations

1. Volek, J.S., Noakes, T.D., and Phinney, S.D. (2015). Rethinking fat as a performance fuel. Eur J Sport Sci 15.

2. Westman, E.C., Yancy, W.S., Edman, J.S., Tomlin, K.F., and Perkins, C.E. (2002). Effect of six-month adherence to a very-low-carbohydrate diet program. Am J Med 113.

3. Borsheim E, Cree MG, Tipton KD, Elliott TA, Aarsland A, Wolfe RR. Effect of carbohydrate intake on net muscle protein synthesis during recovery from resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol. 2004;96(2):674-8.

4. Hansen AK, Fischer CP, Plomgaard P, Andersen JL, Saltin B, Pedersen BK. Skeletal muscle adaptation: training twice every second day vs. training once daily. J Appl Physiol. 2005;98(1):93-9.

5. Kunces L, Volk B, Freidenreich D, et al. Effect of a very low carbohydrate diet followed by incremental increases in carbohydrate on respiratory exchange ratio. FASEB Journal. 2014;28(1).

6. Volek, J.S., Freidenreich, D.J., Saenz, C., Kunces, L.J., Creighton, B.C., Bartley, J.M., Davitt, P.M., Munoz, C.X., Anderson, J.M., Maresh, C.M., et al. (2016). Metabolic characteristics of keto-adapted ultra-endurance runners. Metabolism 65, 100-110.

7. Reaven GM. Effects of differences in amount and kind of dietary carbohydrate on plasma glucose and insulin responses in man. Am J Clin Nutr. 1979;32(12):2568-78.

8. Gower BA, Goss AM. A lower-carbohydrate, higher-fat diet reduces abdominal and intermuscular fat and increases insulin sensitivity in adults at risk of type 2 diabetes. J Nutr. 2015;145(1):177S-83S.

9. Impey SG, Hearris MA, Hammond KM, et al. Fuel for the Work Required: A Theoretical Framework for Carbohydrate Periodization and the Glycogen Threshold Hypothesis. Sports Med. 2018;48(5):1031-1048.

10. Sacks FM, Bray GA, Carey VJ, et al. Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. N Engl J Med. 2009;360(9):859-73.

11. Harvie M, Wright C, Pegington M, et al. The effect of intermittent energy and carbohydrate restriction v. daily energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers in overweight women. Br J Nutr. 2013;110(8):1534-47.

12. Pizza FX, Flynn MG, Duscha BD, Holden J, Kubitz ER. A carbohydrate loading regimen improves high intensity, short duration exercise performance. Int J Sport Nutr. 1995;5(2):110-6.

13. Chambers ES, Bridge MW, Jones DA. Carbohydrate sensing in the human mouth: effects on exercise performance and brain activity. J Physiol (Lond). 2009;587(Pt 8):1779-94.

14. Ivy JL. Glycogen resynthesis after exercise: effect of carbohydrate intake. Int J Sports Med. 1998;19 Suppl 2:S142-5.

15. Yancy W, Olsen MK, Guytib JR, et al. A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet versus a Low-Fat Diet To Treat Obesity and Hyperlipidemia: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2004;140(10):769-777.

16. Harchaoui KE, Visser ME, Kastelein JJ, Stroes ES, Dallinga-thie GM. Triglycerides and cardiovascular risk. Curr Cardiol Rev. 2009;5(3):216-22.

17. Volek, J.S., Gomez, A.L., and Kraemer, W.J. (2000). Fasting lipoprotein and postprandial triacylglycerol responses to a low-carbohydrate diet supplemented with n-3 fatty acids. J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 19, 383-391.

18. Chidakel A, Mentuccia D, Celi FS. Peripheral metabolism of thyroid hormone and glucose homeostasis. Thyroid. 2005;15(8):899-903.

19. Bisschop PH, Sauerwein HP, Endert E, Romijn JA. Isocaloric carbohydrate deprivation induces protein catabolism despite a low T3-syndrome in healthy men. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2001;54(1):75-80.

20. Ketogenic Diet Reduces Midlife Mortality and Improves Memory in Aging Mice Newman, John C. et al. Cell Metabolism , Volume 26 , Issue 3 , 547 - 557.e8

21. Cox, P.J., Kirk, T., Ashmore, T., Willerton, K., Evans, R., Smith, A., Murray, Andrew J., Stubbs, B., West, J., McLure, Stewart W., et al. (2016). Nutritional Ketosis Alters Fuel Preference and Thereby Endurance Performance in Athletes. Cell Metabolism 24, 1-13.

22. Holdsworth, D.A., Cox, P.J., Kirk, T., Stradling, H., Impey, S.G., and Clarke, K. (2017). A Ketone Ester Drink Increases Postexercise Muscle Glycogen Synthesis in Humans. Med Sci Sports Exerc.

23. Vandoorne, T., De Smet, S., Ramaekers, M., Van Thienen, R., De Bock, K., Clarke, K., and Hespel, P. (2017). Intake of a Ketone Ester Drink during Recovery from Exercise Promotes mTORC1 Signaling but Not Glycogen Resynthesis in Human Muscle. Front. Physiol. 8, 310.

FTW AVOCADO CHIPS

If you miss traditional “chips” you will love these fat packed avocado Parmesan chips. They have a crunchy, fatty, salty consistency just like potato chips, with zero of the carbs. A VERY simple recipe as well! Enjoy!

TOOLS NEEDED

baking sheet

parchment paper

mixing bowl

fork

cutting knife

teaspoon

oven preheated at 325 degrees

INGREDIENTS

1 large avocado

1 tsp lemon juice

3/4 cup shredded Parmesan

1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cup the ripe avocado in half and de-seed. scoop out the insides into a mixing bowl.

  2. Pour 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan into mixing bowl.

  3. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze 1 tsp lemon juice into the mixing bowl.

  4. Measure out 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Pour into mixing bowl.

  5. Measure out 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt. Pour into mixing bowl.

  6. Mash and mix all ingredients together with a fork.

  7. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place dollops of the avocado mixture onto the pan and flatten into “chips”.

  8. Bake in the oven at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

  9. Let cool.

  10. Scoop them in any dipping sauce, we recommend salsa and sour cream and enjoy!

Pink Keto Cupcakes

Nope, they are not green, because the birthday boy wants pink cupcakes on his St Patty’s day birthday. I winged this recipe and these cupcakes turned out to be so buttery and moist, I can’t believe I pulled them off by just winging it with the ingredients I had at the house. Best part is, no one will even guess that they are gluten, sugar and grain free. No artificial dyes or colors here either! Nature makes the best pink food coloring...raspberries!

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CUPCAKE:

2 cups almond flour

1 cup melted butter

1 TBS vanilla extract
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

3 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar substitute (we recommend monkfruit in the raw)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350

  2. Mix all wet ingredients together from list above.

  3. in a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl.

  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing with a mixer or a large spoon until you get a batter. If the batter is too wet, add equal parts almond flour and granulated sugar substitute in order to make the batter the correct consistency.

  5. Place cupcake liner paper in 2 cupcake baking trays, pour batter to the just over halfway mark in each cupcake tin.

  6. Bake for about 12 minutes or until golden brown and cooked in the center.

    Let cool to room temperature before icing.

INGREDIENTS FOR RASPBERRY CREAM CHEESE ICING

1 CUP SOFTENED BUTTER

2 CUPS POWDERED SUGAR SUBSTITUTE (WE RECOMMEND SWERVE)

1 CUP SOFTENED CREAM CHEESE

1/2 CUP RASPBERRIES

1 TBS VANILLA EXTRACT

1/4 CUP OF RASPBERRIES FOR DECORATIVE TOUCH

DIRECTIONS

  1. PLACE ALL INGREDIENTS ABOVE MINUS THE DECORATIVE RASPBERRIES INTO A LARGE MIXING BOWL.

  2. USING A HAND OR A STAND MIXER, MIX INGREDIENTS TOGETHER UNTIL THE INGREDIENTS ARE WELL BLENDED AND HAVE AN ICING CONSISTENCY.

  3. PLACE ICING IN REFRIGERATOR UNTIL READY TO ICE THE CUPCAKES.

  4. YOU MAY WANT TO USE AN ICING PIPE TO ICE THE CUPCAKES, OR NOT BE FANCY AT ALL AND JUST TAKE A LARGE SPOONFUL OF ICING AND PLOP IT GENTLY ONTO THE TOP OF EACH CUPCAKE. PLACE ONE RASPBERRY ON TOP FOR DELICIOUS DECORATION.

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Keto Berry Layer Cake

CAKE INGREDIENTS:

1 AND 1/4 CUP MELTED GHEE

5 EGGS

2 CUPS FULLY FAT COCONUT MILK

1/2 CUP GRANULATED SUGAR SUBSTITUTE (YOUR PREFERENCE, BUT WE SUGGEST MONK FRUIT IN THE RAW)

1 TBS VANILLA EXTRACT

2 AND 1/4 CUP ALMOND FLOUR

3/4 CUP COCONUT FLOUR

2 TSP BAKING SODA

1/2 TSP SALT

DIRECTIONS:

  1. PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT.

  2. GREASE TWO 8X8 CAKE PANS OR LINE WITH PARCHMENT PAPER

  3. IN A LARGE MIXING BOWL, COMBINE ALL THE WET INGREDIENTS. WHISK UNTIL COMPLETELY COMBINED.

  4. IN A MEDIUM MIXING BOWL, COMBINE ALL DRY INGREDIENTS. MIX TO COMBINE.

  5. POUR THE DRY INGREDIENT CONTENTS BOWL INTO THE WET INGREDIENTS BOWL AND MIX THOROUGHLY TO A BATTER.

  6. EVENLY DISTRIBUTE THE BATTERS BETWEEN THE TWO CAKE PANS.

  7. BAKE FOR 35-45 MINUTES, OR UNTIL THE CAKE IS SET IN THE MIDDLE. INSERTING A TOOTHPICK OR A FORK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CAKE SHOULD COME OUT CLEAN.

  8. WHEN THE CAKES ARE COMPLETED BAKING, LET THEM SET OUT UNTIL COOLED TO ROOM TEMPERATURE BEFORE ADDING FROSTING.

VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

INGREDIENTS:

2 CUPS SOFTENED BUTTER

2 CUPS CONFECTIONERS SUGAR SUBSTITUTE (WE LIKE THE SWERVE BRAND)

6 TBS FULL FAT COCONUT MILK

1 TBS VANILLA EXTRACT

DIRECTIONS:

  1. COMBINE ALL INGREDIENTS INTO A LARGE MIXING BOWL.

  2. WITH AN ELECTRIC MIXER, MASH THE INGREDIENTS TOGETHER TO COMBINE AND THEN WHIP UNTIL A SMOOTH TEXTURE IS ACHIEVED.

TO CREATE THE BERRY LAYER CAKE:

  1. CUT UP SLICES OF RIPE STRAWBERRIES SO THAT THEY WILL LAY FLAT IN THE MIDDLE LAYER OF THE CAKE.

  2. PLACE A 1/2 INCH LAYER OF ICING ON TOP OF ONE OF THE CAKES.

  3. LAY STRAWBERRY SLICES ON TOP OF THE ICING LAYER CREATING ONE LAYER OF STRAWBERRIES.

  4. PLACE A 1/2 INCH OF ICING ON TOP OF THE YET UN-ICED CAKE.

  5. CAREFULLY PLACE THE ICING SIDE OF THE ICING SIDE OF THE CAKE ON TOP OF THE STRAWBERRY LAYERED CAKE, MAKING A ICING, STRAWBERRY, ICING “SANDWICH” MIDDLE LAYER.

  6. GENEROUSLY ICE THE TOP OF THE CAKE.

  7. PLACE BLUEBERRIES ON TOP OF THE GENEROUSLY ICED CAKE IN ONE LAYER, GENTLY PUSHING DOWN ON THE BLUEBERRY TO EMBED THEM INTO THE ICING HALFWAY.

STORE THE CAKE IN A REFRIGERATOR UNTIL A FEW MINUTES BEFORE READY TO SERVE. CUTTING INTO THE CAKE WILL EXPOSE THE PRETTY LAYERS OF BLUEBERRIES, ICING, CAKE, ICING, STRAWBERRIES, ICING AND CAKE.

P.S. NO ONE WILL GUESS THIS CAKE IS GLUTEN FREE, GRAIN FREE AND SUGAR FREE.

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LOW CARB CHEESY SQUASH AND SPINACH CASSEROLE

My fiance bought a squash and it sat on the counter for 2 weeks because neither of us really knew what to do with it. The traditional way to make squash is with lots of brown sugar….and that is out of the question, so I went on a Google search to find a way to make this as low carb as possible. I found a base recipe and changed some things, and let me tell you, it was delicious! Yes, squash is a starchy vegetable and not normally consumed on a low carb diet, but on occasion it’s good for your gut to get some high fiber starchy veggies, so don’t worry about having squash every once in awhile (minus the sugar of course!). Here is my recipe. P.s. I am now dubbing this one to take the place of potatoes au gratin AND squash casserole at holiday gatherings.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 Tablespoon butter

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced

  • 4 cups peeled and cubed yellow squash

  • 2 cups baby spinach

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup sliced raw almonds

  • 1 1/2 cup shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, divided

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

  • 2 eggs

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

  1. Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat; cook and stir onion and garlic in the hot oil-butter mixture until softened, about 3 minutes. Add squash, salt, and pepper; stir to combine. Cover skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer squash mixture to a large bowl.

  2. Mix raw almonds and 1/2 cup Colby-Monterey Jack cheese together in a bowl; stir into squash mixture.

  3. Whisk cream and eggs together in a measuring cup or small bowl; stir into squash mixture.

  4. Grease a 9x13 casserole dish with olive oil. Take one cup of baby spinach and layer at the bottom of the dish. Pour and layer half of the squash mixture on top of the 1st layer of spinach. Place a second cup of the baby spinach on top of the 1st layer of squash. Then finally add the last half of the squash mixture on top of the second layer of spinach. Top with remaining Colby-Monterey Jack cheese and almond mixture if desired.

  5. Bake in the preheated oven until casserole is golden brown and bubbling, 20- 30 minutes.

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Chicken Satay Sir Fry With Peanut Sauce

The problem with Asian food is the fact that they typically use oils and sauces that contain soy and gluten and of course….rice. Chicken Satay with peanut sauce is an item I would always order at an Asian restaurant, so I decided to make a gluten free, soy free, rice free version of this traditional Asian dish.

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Marinating Time 6 hours

Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

CHICKEN:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (3/4 to 1 pound total)

  • 1 scallion thinly sliced

Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk

  • 3 cloves garlic minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder or curry paste

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder

Peanut sauce:

  • 1/4 cup natural, sugar free peanut butter

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil (ensure you purchase gluten free)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (ensure you purchase gluten free)

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

STIR FRY VEGETABLES

Purchase a frozen Asian stir fry mixed vegetables.

Instructions

  1. Marinating the chicken: In a large bowl, combine all marinade ingredients and stir until well-mixed. Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch chunks and add them to the marinade, stirring to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

  2. Cooking the chicken: Drain the marinade from the chicken. Add 2 TBS of olive oil to a skillet. Cook the chicken at medium heat for about 5-8 minutes. Chicken pieces should not be pink, but not be brown either. You will finish cooking the chicken with the vegetables.

  3. Making the vegetables: Steam the bag of frozen Asian vegetables. Drain additional water and add to the pan with the almost done chicken. Add 1 TBS of Sesame oil and turn the skillet on high heat. Stir fry the chicken until brown with the vegetables. In the last minute of cooking, add 3/4 of the scallions to the pan and stir them into the chicken and veggie mixture. Save 1/3 of the scallions as a garnish for serving or add to peanut sauce.

  4. Making the sauce: Add all peanut sauce ingredients to a small saucepan. Whisk together over medium-low heat until smooth, a few minutes. Keep warm over low heat, stirring occasionally.

  5. Serving: Serve chicken and vegetables onto a plate. Drizzle the peanut sauce over the chicken or dollop on the side as a dipping sauce. We highly suggest adding a side of garlic sriracha and you can even eat with some steamed cauliflower rice if not having “rice” with Asian food seems sacrilegious.


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Cauliflower Baked Ziti

Thank you to FTW Member Jill Hebron for this recipe and pictures!

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

pinch red pepper flakes

1 lb. ground beef

kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes

2 tbsp. thinly sliced basil, plus more for garnish

1 large head of cauliflower, (about 3 cups) cut into florets, blanched, and drained well

1 1/2 c. fresh ricotta

2 c. shredded mozzarella

1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for one minute. Add meat and season with salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink, 6 minutes. Drain fat.

  2. Return saucepan over medium heat and add tomato paste and oregano. Cook for 2 minutes more, until slightly darkened. Add crushed tomatoes and bring sauce to a simmer, reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and flavors have melded, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil.

  3. In a large bowl, pour sauce over cauliflower and stir to combine. In a large baking dish, place half the cauliflower in an even layer. Dollop all over with half the ricotta, and sprinkle with half the mozzarella and Parmesan. Add the rest of the cauliflower in an even layer on top, and top with remaining cheeses.

  4. Bake until cheese is melted and golden, 25 minutes. Garnish with basil before serving

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Cheesburger Bake

Thank you Fire Team Member Gina Wolter for this recipe!

CHEESEBURGER BAKE
INGREDIENTS
-1.5 lb ground beef
-1 packet Onion Soup Mix 
-2 tbs minced onions
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup mayo
-1/4 cup heavy cream
-8 oz cheddar cheese
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- yellow mustard for top optional added after baking
-Dill hamburger pickles as topping. optional

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Toss ground beef, onions and 1 package of onion soup mix in fry pan until lightly browned and drain the grease.

After draining mix together ground beef and 4 oz of cheddar cheese and place in lightly greased pie plate.

Next you will mix together eggs , mayo, heavy cream, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. After being mixed thoroughly pour mixture over beef in pie plate

Top with 4oz remaining cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy!!

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LOW CARB 16 MINUTE PIZZA

This recipe was created by FTW Founder Steph Lincoln.

Made a pizza tonight and I kinda winged the recipe because I ended up missing a couple of ingredients, but it totally worked out and was delicious! Here it is: 

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cups Almond flour

2 cups shredded mozzarella
2 TBS of olive oil

1 TBS of garlic salt

TBS Italian seasoning

Whatever toppings you desire on your pizza. Shown here in the picture with

1 Cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup marinara sauce

pepperoni slices

black olives

white onion

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a pizza pan with olive oil.

Combine the almond flour, shredded mozzarella, 1 egg, seasoning and oils and mix with hands into a dough. Press and roll the dough to a flat round pie. Place onto an oiled pizza plan and bake for 8 minutes at 400 degrees.  
Pull the half baked dough from the oven, add whatever toppings you like. Place back into the oven for 8 more minutes. 
Cook until dough is completely cooked with a crisp crust.

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Keto "Crack" Chicken

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Thank you to Fire Team Member Jill Hebron for this recipe!

Keto Crack Chicken

Cook about 2lbs of chicken in your crockpot with about a cup of broth.

When chicken is thoroughly cooked and softened, shred it up with forks and toss in 8oz of cream cheese (or 4oz cream cheese + 4oz greek yogurt) and add HALF packet of ranch seasoning. I find this to be quite salty, so start small and adjust to your taste, and season with salt & pepper as needed.

Cook on low for about an hour to melt and mix. Serve hot or cold!!

If you are not a fan of ranch, you can flavor the chicken with pesto or salsa. Sometimes I split the cooked chicken in half and season separately, so I have more tasty keto eats during the week

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Keto Hot Pockets

Thank you to Fire Team Member Kristen Gryzik for this recipe!

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Keto Hot Pockets

INGREDIENTS:

1 3/4 cups pre shredded/grated cheese mozzarella
3/4 cup almond meal/flour
2 tbsp cream cheese full fat
1 egg medium
1 tbsp of butter 
Garlic powder and Italian seasoning
Parm cheese (optional)
*whatever you want for inside

1. Mix the shredded/grated cheese and almond flour/meal in a microwaveable bowl. Add the cream cheese. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir then microwave on HIGH for another 30 seconds.
2. Add the egg, salt and mix gently.
3. Roll the keto cheese dough between 2 pieces of baking parchment/paper. Do not roll as thin as a thin pizza crust. It needs to be a little thicker so it is sturdy and will hold the pizza filings. 
4. Remove the top baking paper/parchment. Cut the dough into 8 squares
5. Take 4 squares, put insides on top, take other 4 squares, put them on top and squeeze the sides together. 
6. Bake for 15 min on 425 degrees.
7. When done baking, melt butter add Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Brush on top, add Parm cheese if you want as well.

Noodleless Lasagna used for stuffing the keto hot pocket shown in the picture

INGREDIENTS

1 lb Ground Beef
1/2 lb Italian Sausage
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1 1/2 cup Marinara Sauce
3/4 tsp Garlic Powder, divided
1 tsp Oregano, divided
1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
1 cup Shredded Mozzarella, divided
2/3 cup Parmesan Cheese, divided
Chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a 12-inch cast iron skillet (or other oven safe equivalent), brown the ground beef and ground sausage together over medium heat on the stovetop until no pink remains (about 15 minutes). Drain the excess fat and return to heat.

Add the onion to the pan and saute with meat until it begins to soften, 3-5 minutes. Pour the sauce, 1/2 tsp oregano and 1/2 tsp garlic powder into the pan with the meat sauce and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, 1/2 cup of mozzarella, and 1/3 cup of the Parmesan. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste and add the remaining oregano and garlic powder to the cheese mixture and fold until completely combined.

Turn off the heat and spread the meat around the pan until it's an even layer. Place spoonfuls of the cheese mixture around the pan, pushing them down a bit with your spoon to the bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle the top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes until bubbling and the top begins to turn golden. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Broccoli chicken alfredo with zoodles and cauliflower cheese "bread"

Thank you to Fire Team Member Jim Wolter for this recipe!

Total time: 30 minutes

Broccoli Chicken Alfredo Recipe

INGREDIENTS
1 large chicken breast cubed
4 cups chopped broccoli, fresh is better
2 large zucchini spiraled 
1 stick butter
Half stick of butter 
1 package cream cheese 
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 
1/2 cup shredded parmesan 
2 garlic cloves

INSTRUCTIONS: Melt butter and cream cheese. When melted melt parmesan and add cream. Use a whisk to blend the sauce. Sprinkle pepper and Italian seasoning into the mixture if desired. The parmesan is salty so he careful if you add salt. I have over salted my first batch. 
Separate pan cook half stick of butter, chicken and broccoli till chicken is fully cooked. Combine sauce and chicken serve over boiled zucchini noodles. 

CAULIFLOWER CHEESE BREAD
Ingredients
1 head cauliflower raw

1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese shredded

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese shaved

1 large egg

1/2 tablespoon garlic minced

1/2 tablespoon fresh basil chopped

1/2 tablespoon fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

3/4 cup Mozzarella Cheese shredded

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Rice the cauliflower by coring it and breaking it into florets. Then place it in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it is the texture of rice. (If your cauliflower seems excessively moist, squeeze the riced, raw cauliflower in a paper towel to help remove moisture.)

In a large bowl, mix the riced cauliflower, 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 egg, 1/2 tablespoon fresh garlic, 1/2 tablespoon fresh basil, 1/2 tablespoon fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper until combined and holds together. Place the mixture onto the lined baking sheet and spread out into a rectangle about 9x7" and 1/4" thick.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and top with 3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese and return to oven to continue baking until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Cool about 10 minutes and cut into 'breadsticks'. Garnish with fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese. Serve with your favorite Red Sauce and enjoy!


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KETO DIET FUNDAMENTALS

Originally published on HVMN by Dr. Brianna Stubbs and Nate Martins.

January 25, 2019

The keto diet has one goal: get the body producing ketones. From this, all the health benefits you've heard of—from weight loss to performance—trickle down. The question is...how do you get your body to begin producing ketones?

First, let's talk basics. Ketones are a fundamentally different energy source than the carbohydrates and fats your cells typically use for energy. It can take several days (or weeks!) of ketogenic, low-carb, high-fat eating before the body starts to produce ketones. And the time it takes to get into ketosis varies between individuals.

“Keto” comes from the word “ketogenic.” This is a scientific term meaning that the body is producing ketones from fat.1 When blood ketone levels exceed 0.5mM, the body has achieved "ketosis." Ketosis can be naturally achieved two ways: through diet or fasting (meaning the body is producing its own ketones), or also by consuming products that raise blood ketone levels (like HVMN Ketone or ketone salts or MCT oils). Ketosis and ketogenic are two different things; a body in ketosis doesn't mean that body is ketogenic.

Ketogenic means the body is producing its own ketones, which must happen through diet or fasting. This body is in ketosis because blood ketone levels are over 0.5mM. Someone else may consume ketones through an external means (called exogenous ketones). This body is also in ketosis because its blood levels are over 0.5mM, but it's not ketogenic—because it's not producing its own ketones. Simple enough, right?

Now that you know how to get your body into ketosis (through a low-carb diet / fasting or by taking a ketone supplement), let's explore the different ranges of ketosis and how to start a ketogenic diet.

Ways to Achieve Ketosis

As with all metabolic processes, the state of ketosis is a spectrum. Past a threshold (which varies from person to person), even a small increase in dietary carbohydrate intake can trigger enough insulin release to take the body out of ketosis.

General target blood ketones levels are as follows:

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  • No ketosis: under 0.5 mM BHB in blood

  • Low ketosis: 0.5 - 1.5 mM BHB in blood

  • Moderate ketosis: 1.5 - 3 mM BHB in blood

  • High ketosis: over 3 mM BHB in blood

  • Pathological ketosis: over 15 mM BHB in blood

Let's explore how the body achieves ketosis.

Physiological Ketosis

The typical methods used to generate physiological levels of ketosis are fasting, the ketogenic diet, and consuming exogenous ketones like HVMN Ketone.

After an overnight fast, a low amount of ketones (0.1mM - 0.2mM) can often be detected in the blood. As the time spent fasting increases, blood ketone levels slowly rise until a plateau at 8mM - 10mM of beta-hydroxybutyrate (or BHB, the predominant ketone body in the blood) has been reached after many days. Scientist Hans Krebs described this plateau as "physiological ketosis."2

Fasting long-term is unsustainable, so following a strict ketogenic diet can be used to maintain a low level of continuous ketosis. Research suggests blood BHB levels between 0.4mM - 1mM can be achieved while following a ketogenic diet.3 Anecdotal evidence suggests it’s sometimes possible to reach higher levels.

Using exogenous ketones can raise blood ketones to a physiological level without the ketogenic diet or fasting.

The level of ketosis reached depends on the exogenous ketone supplement used. Reported levels range from 0.6mM with a ketone salt or a medium-chain triglyceride supplement,4,5 and up to 6mM with HVMN Ketone.6

The level of ketosis required for different physiological benefits is unknown. For endurance sports, a higher level of ketosis (>2mM) appears to be superior to lower levels.4,6 This is possible because ketones fuel athletes' muscles during a workout. However, some other benefits of ketosis, such as reduced appetite may be seen at much lower levels (0.5mM).7

Pathological Ketosis

Sometimes, the body starts producing ketones as a result of a disease (pathology). This can lead to dangerous levels of ketones in the body, though these high levels are very uncommon in healthy people following the ketogenic diet.

Alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA) is a result of chronic alcohol consumption usually accompanied by malnutrition. AKA is characterized by increased ketone production (levels > 15mM) via liver alcohol metabolism, in conjunction with a mild elevation in blood glucose levels. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, fatigue, altered breathing, and abdominal pain.8

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) occurs most frequently in patients with type 1 diabetes. DKA is the simultaneous occurrence of high blood ketones (> 20mM), high blood glucose, and acidification of the blood. It develops when insulin is absent, or insulin signaling is no longer functional. This means the physiological state of starvation is triggered, even in the presence of high blood glucose. As during starvation, lipolysis (fat release) increases. This causes the liver to produce a high amount of ketones and blood pH to fall (as ketones are an organic acid).

As glucose levels are very high, the excess is excreted in the urine. This draws water and electrolytes out of the body, causing dangerous dehydration. Symptoms of DKA include nausea, vomiting, altered breathing, abdominal pain, and unconsciousness. The rapid onset and alarming nature of DKA is a reason why ketosis has a bad stigma in the medical community.

You may be doing keto wrong.

There's a ton of misinformation out there about the keto diet. We're on top of the scientific literature. Be the first to read our commentary on the research by subscribing.

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Starting a Ketogenic Diet

The keto diet is a moderate-protein, low-carb, high-fat diet. Its goal is to get the body to produce ketones, which are then used an fuel source for both the brain and the body. But because it's low-carb, high-fat, the keto diet often gets confused with other diets out there.

What Makes Keto Unique?

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Just because a diet is low carb doesn’t mean it’s keto. The subtle differences in macronutrients on keto make it unique (more on these later). Keto isn't Atkins. Keto isn't paleo. Keto isn't high protein.

High fat intake is often a concern on keto because, for years, a low-fat diet was equated with fat loss. In Dr. Atkins' 1972 book, "Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution," he began to reshape how we think about fat. The pendulum of public perception continued to swing in favor of diets higher in fat, thanks to the emergence of influential writers and speakers such as Gary Taubes, Robert Lustig, and Nina Teicholtz, and clinicians and scientists such as Professor Tim Noakes, Dr. Jason Fung, and Professor Thomas Seyfried. The fear of fat has only kept decreasing.

Usually, keto is confused with Atkins. On Atkins, the initial aim is to restrict the carbohydrate intake to less than 20g per day. This degree of restriction is likely to lead to ketosis, although this is not an explicit aim. Then, the diet reintroduces carbohydrates to a level “the body can tolerate.”9 There's also less restriction on protein compared to a true ketogenic diet: high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate.

Tips for Starting a Keto Diet

Don’t try to start the diet gradually. If carbohydrate intake is moderately-low, blood sugar levels may not be enough to fuel the brain, and the presence of carbohydrate in the diet might still be enough to stop the body from making ketones.

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The main objective when starting the ketogenic diet is to restrict carbohydrates to 20 digestible grams per day or less (this is what's considered a strict ketogenic diet) and consume fat until you're satiated. Remember to consume plenty of fiber as well. And regarding protein: stay at or below 0.45 grams of protein per day, per lb of body weight (1g/kg). If your goal is to lose weight, aim for 1 gram of protein per kg of your target weight.

Here are a few tips for when you're starting keto:

  • Make a keto meal plan. It’s a good idea to establish an eating plan before starting the diet. Make a shopping trip to stock up on a range of foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in fat

  • Use an app to track macronutrient intake. Apps such as MyFitnessPal are great to get an idea of the macronutrients in common foods. There is also a range of special online keto diet calculators

  • Search for a few keto recipes to adapt cooking methods. Due to the high-fat consumption required to get into ketosis, it may be beneficial to change daily staples or cooking methods. You could increase your intake of tasty foods such as coconut oil, heavy cream, and cheese

  • Make an approved list of keto diet foods and eliminate carbohydrate-rich foods. It will be easier to follow the diet by throwing out any foods to avoid. It’s recommended to check the labels for hidden added sugars

  • Consider starting a ketogenic diet with a short period (16-36 hours) of fasting (consuming zero calories). Fasting depletes carbohydrate stores and can accelerate ketone production. Click here to read more about fasting protocols

  • Gentle cardio exercise (~30 minutes) or some short high-intensity intervals (10-second sprints) can deplete carbohydrate stores and speed up ketone production

Keto Diet for Weight Loss

The ketogenic diet can be used to help with weight loss.

Recently, the number of positive keto diet reviews, and small-scale science studies has increased. The rising popularity of the diet has led to a demand for further randomized control trials to study its long-term efficacy. A key reason why the ketogenic diet helps weight loss is that it decreases hunger. This makes it easier to maintain a calorie deficit. It is important to stress that the overconsumption of calories will generally prevent weight loss, regardless of the macronutrient composition.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet and Cheating on Keto

At the moment, there is not a clear answer as to whether the benefits of the ketogenic diet can be achieved by cycling on and off the diet. It’s best to stick to the diet for one or two months minimum to see benefits. It can take several days to get into ketosis1 and 3-6 weeks to become “fat adapted.”3

Some research indicates ~40 days on the ketogenic diet interspersed with periods of healthy eating with more carbohydrates (Mediterranean diet) could maintain weight loss.10

“Cheating,” and consuming high-carbohydrate food, quickly stops ketone production by the liver. It can then take a considerable amount of time for the body to get back into ketosis. Time taken to get back into ketosis will depend on many factors including, the amount of carbohydrates consumed, how adapted the body is to produce ketones, activity level, etc.

However, cyclical ketogenic diets are a promising area of scientific investigation. Recently, scientists studied the effect of long-term cycling of the ketogenic diet (one week on, one week off the diet) compared to a normal diet in mice. Cyclical keto dieting reduced mid-life mortality and increased health-span.11

Measuring Ketone Levels

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An essential, objective way to see if you're in ketosis is to measure. There are three main ways to test for ketones—in the blood, in the breath and in the urine—each with its own benefits and considerations. The most accurate? Measure levels of BHB in the blood. You can dive into our analysis of all three methods here.

Macronutrient Composition for Keto Diet Success

A balanced macronutrient intake is essential for success on the keto diet. Macronutrients are food groups humans consume in large quantities. They provide the bulk of the energy to the body.

The primary macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

The macronutrient composition of a diet can be described using the mass of each macronutrient, the ratio of macronutrients in the diet, or the percentage of each macronutrient in the diet. The variety of descriptions can make things a little confusing.

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For example:

  • A ketogenic diet contains about 5% of energy as carbohydrates. 

  • A ketogenic diet has a ratio of 2g - 4g of fat to every 1g of carbohydrates plus proteins.

  • A classical ketogenic diet contains 20g - 30g of carbohydrate per day

Here are some examples macronutrients based on foods you might eat every day. Carbohydrates: bread, pasta, potatoes, cereals, sugary food (sweets). Fat: oils (olive oil, coconut oil), butter, fatty cuts of meat, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, avocado. Protein: beef, chicken, pork, fish, milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs.

Carbohydrates

The main function of dietary carbohydrates is to be a source of energy. Some say that dietary carbohydrates are not essential, as they can be made from dietary protein and fat.12 

Carbohydrates are biological molecules that contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, usually with a 2:1 ratio of hydrogen:oxygen. Carbohydrates occur as a collection of single units (monosaccharides, e.g. glucose), two molecules joined (disaccharides, e.g. sucrose), and chains of molecules (oligosaccharides and polysaccharides).

When following a ketogenic diet, carb intake should be very low.

This contrasts with the modern western diet (how many Americans eat), which is high-carb: most dietary calories come from carbohydrates (and often, processed foods). Consuming carbohydrates causes insulin release (leading to higher insulin levels), which inhibits ketone production in the liver and thus ketosis. Therefore, monitoring and modulating your carbohydrate intake is an important part of following the ketogenic diet.

Dietary carbohydrates replenish the stores in muscle and liver (glycogen). They also maintain blood glucose concentrations to provide fuel for the whole body—but most importantly for the brain. Blood glucose is easy to measure using a handheld blood glucose monitor. Normal blood glucose levels fluctuate throughout the day and vary between individuals.

Ranges of Blood Glucose levels for clinical diagnosis are as follows:13

  • Fasting: healthy = 4mM - 6 mM / 70mgDl - 110 mgDl

  • Fasting: diabetic = ~ 7 mM / 125 mgDl

  • 90 minutes post-meal: healthy = < 8 mM / 140 mgDl

  • 90 minutes post-meal: diabetics =  > 11 mM/ 200 mgDl

When you’re following the ketogenic diet, key concepts are the total amount of carbohydrates, the net amount of carbohydrates (accounting for the accompanying fiber), and the speed with which carbohydrates raise blood glucose (glycemic index). With a standard ketogenic diet, it’s recommended to keep the total amount of carbohydrates limited to less than 5% of energy intake.14

Dietary fiber is carbohydrate-based material from plants that is not entirely broken down by the small intestine. Instead, it passes to the large intestine, and either undergoes fermentation (which supports the growth of beneficial bacteria),15 or excretion. Fiber is a significant part of a well-formulated ketogenic diet. It helps to maintain gut health, and also increases food bulk and helps with the feeling of fullness. Green and cruciferous vegetables are rich in fiber and are helpful to include in a ketogenic diet.

Depending on how complex the source of fiber is, it has different assumed caloric values. One approach is to treat fiber as having the same amount of calories per gram as carbohydrates: 4 kCal/gram. However, as a proportion of fiber is not digested, other approaches use a lower value of 2 kCal/g. Digestion-resistant fiber does not contribute to calorie intake, as it is not broken down.

Net carbs refer to the mass of total carbohydrates, minus the total fiber, which could be a better metric to judge carbohydrate intake because:

  • Fiber is mostly digestion-resistant and so should not increase blood glucose.15

  • Studies have shown an increase in fiber does not affect blood ketone levels.16

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The ‘glycemic index’ is a scale that ranges between 1 and 100, and it indicates how quickly food raises blood glucose after consumption. Pure glucose is the reference and is set at 100 (meaning, raises blood glucose quickly). Other foods have a comparatively lower value as they raise blood glucose more slowly. Example values for the glycemic index of food are white potato (~80), white bread (~75), apple (~35) and peanuts (~15).

Glycemic load accounts for both the speed of carbohydrate release and the total amount of carbohydrates in food. Food can have a relatively high glycemic index (i.e. carrot = 47) but because the total carbohydrate amount is low (carrot = 5g per serving), the glycemic load of one serving is very low.

Protein

Proteins are large molecules composed of chains of amino acids. The functions of dietary protein are:

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  • Building structural and functional components of cells

  • Conversion to glucose via gluconeogenesis

  • Top up intermediates in other metabolic pathways, such as the Krebs Cycle

While it's possible for a protein to be used as a fuel, this isn’t its primary function.

When following a ketogenic diet, there must be a balance of sufficient protein to maintain muscle mass. If dietary protein exceeds 20% - 25% of calories, gluconeogenesis from protein can stop ketone production. Initially, target a protein intake of 0.8g - 1.2g per kilogram of body weight. This target balances the need for protein against the chance of excess gluconeogenesis.3

Some individuals (such as strength or endurance athletes) may have higher protein requirements. They might require a modified ketogenic macronutrient ratio of 2:1 fat: non-fat (where 65% of energy is fat, 30% is protein, and 5% carbohydrate) and can still be effective for therapeutic ketosis.

Fats

Fat gets a bad rap. In nutrition, fat is the dietary macronutrient made up of triglyceride molecules. The main functions of fats in the diet are to provide increased energy levels and makeup key functional and structural parts of the human system.

But we often misuse the word “fat.” There’s a difference between fat in cells and different types of fat molecules:

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  • Adipose tissue: the tissue that stores energy as fats/lipid droplets inside adipocytes (fat cells). This is body fat.

  • Adipocytes: individual cells that store fats/lipids

  • Lipids: the most general term forinsoluble and polar biological fat molecules. The lipid class of molecules includes mono-, di- and triglycerols, cholesterols, and phospholipids

  • Triglycerides: a lipid molecule made up of glycerol (that acts as a backbone) joined to three fatty acid molecules

  • Fatty acids: a molecule composed of a chain of carbon atoms bonded to one another with a carboxylic acid at one end

To be specific, our diet includes many sources of lipids.

Lipids are digested and travel in the blood as triglycerides and fatty acids before being used as a fuel, or stored by adipocytes in adipose tissue. Dietary lipids undergo many tightly regulated metabolic steps before storage in adipose tissue. Dietary fat does not equal stored body fat.

Triglycerides are the most important source of energy in a ketogenic diet. They account for > 70% of dietary calories. For those following a ketogenic diet, it’s helpful to understand how the lipid source in the diet is processed in the body.

Fatty acids can be saturated (no double bonds between carbons), or unsaturated (one or more double bonds between carbons).

Saturated fats are relatively stable and tend to be solid at room temperature (i.e. lard, butter, coconut oil). Historical guidelines recommended limited the intake of dietary saturated fats because fat consumption was thought to be associated with heart disease and high blood pressure. However, emerging research has shown saturated fat can have beneficial effects on blood biomarkers (i.e. increase healthy HDL cholesterol levels).17

Unsaturated fatty acids can be further divided into monounsaturated fats (only one double bond between carbons) and polyunsaturated fats (multiple double bonds between carbons). The number of double bonds is important as it determines how the fatty acid behaves both inside and outside of the body.

They tend to be liquid at room temperature (i.e. vegetable-based fats such as olive oil). Unsaturated fats are thought of as healthier than saturated fats (also known as “healthy fats”). Increased consumption of mono- and polyunsaturated fats have been linked to improved blood biomarkers (i.e. lower blood triglycerides).18 Eating enough unsaturated fats is important when following a ketogenic diet.

Increased fat consumption is not associated with cardiovascular disease.19

Eating a moderate amount of saturated fat is unlikely to be as harmful as previously believed, and saturated fat consumption as part of a ketogenic diet is unlikely to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Trans-fats are produced artificially when hydrogen is added to unsaturated fatty acids in order to solidify it and make it last longer. Because of associations with poor health outcomes, these artificial fats had their generally regarded as safe (GRAS) status removed in 2015 by the FDA. 20 Avoid high levels of trans-fat consumption by eating a diet based around whole foods.

Essential fatty acids are important to include in the diet because the body cannot naturally produce them. This group includes poly-unsaturated omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9 fatty acids.

It’s believed the anti-inflammatory effects of essential fatty acids may have broad benefits for health and performance. Oily fish, such as sardines and mackerel, and seeds (i.e. flax) are good dietary sources of essential fatty acids. If you don't get enough of these in your diet you can take a supplement that includes fish oil,

such as Kado, from HVMN.

The number of carbons in the fatty acid chain also has an important effect on its metabolism. The carbon chain of fatty acids can be up to 28 carbons atoms long. If there are > 13 carbons in the fatty acid, it is called a long-chain fatty acid, between 8-12 is a medium-chain fatty acid, and under 5 carbons is a short-chain fatty acid.

The body metabolizes fats differently according to chain length. Long-chain fatty acids are absorbed and go from the gut into the lymphatic drainage system and from there are released directly into the blood.

By comparison, medium- and short-chain fatty acids do not go into the lymphatic system. They travel in the blood from the gut directly to the liver.21 If a large amount of these short- and medium-chain fats are delivered to the liver at once, this can trigger the liver to convert them into ketones, even without dietary carbohydrate restriction.

Medium-chain fatty acids are highly ketogenic. They can be found in natural sources such as coconut oil or in an artificially purified form. However, for many people, consuming a high amount of medium-chain fatty acids can cause an upset stomach. This limits their use to raise ketones artificially.

When integrating these concepts into a ketogenic diet: target the majority of dietary calories as fat. Aim to include a variety of fats from different animal and plant sources (i.e. red meat, poultry, fish, dairy, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, and avocados).

Micronutrients on a Keto Diet

Conversely to macronutrients, micronutrients must be obtained in the diet in small quantities, but are essential to health. Vitamins and minerals are examples of micronutrients.

When following a ketogenic diet, it is important to be mindful of micronutrient intake because:

  • Reducing carbohydrate intake can lower consumption of micronutrient-rich foods (i.e. fruits and vegetables)

  • In the initial 28 days of following a ketogenic diet, the balance of some micronutrients (such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium) can become disturbed due to an increase in their excretion.22 The body resolves this issue naturally after adapting to the diet

Sodium is the principal cation in extracellular fluid. Its functions are related to blood volume maintenance, water balance, and cell membrane potential. Sodium is also essential for acid-base balance and nerve conduction.

The level of sodium can fall at the start of a ketogenic diet.

Adding extra sodium to meals (like adding salt or consuming bouillon/ bone broth) can reduce the chances of feeling the common side effects associated with low sodium (like cramps).

Potassium is the principal cation in the intracellular fluid. Its primary functions are related to maintaining cell membrane potential and electrical activity in cells such as neurons and cardiomyocytes. As with sodium, levels of potassium fall at the initiation of a ketogenic diet due to increased excretion. When starting a ketogenic diet, include sources of potassium like nuts, dark green vegetables, and avocados.

Magnesium is an essential element in biological systems, especially for nerve, muscle, and immune function. Levels of magnesium also fall at the initiation of a ketogenic diet due to increased excretion. When starting a ketogenic diet, include sources of magnesium like oily fish, dark green vegetables, and seeds.

Calcium has a role in muscle contraction and is important for cardiovascular and bone health. Calcium deficiency is less common during a ketogenic diet, as staples of the diet such as fish, cheese, and leafy greens are rich sources of the mineral.

Considerations When Starting a Keto Diet

As with any new diet or way of life, it's important to look at the lifestyle change from all angles.

Who Should Avoid a Keto Diet?

Based on certain risk factors, following a ketogenic diet may not be suggested for people with the following medical considerations:

  • Pregnancy

  • Kidney failure

  • Impaired liver function

  • Impaired fat digestion (gallbladder disease, gastric bypass, pancreatitis)

  • Genetic defects in metabolism (CPTI/II deficiency, beta-oxidation defects, fatty acyl dehydrogenase deficiency).

Potential Side Effects

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When starting a ketogenic diet there can be a period of 2 - 3 days where blood glucose levels are low, but ketone production has not reached a sufficient rate to provide enough fuel for the brain.

This can result in a series of symptomsknown as the keto flu, which include:

  • Headache

  • Muscle cramps

  • Fatigue 

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

Exogenous ketone supplements, such as HVMN Ketone, and medium-chain triglycerides can be used to reduce symptoms of keto flu. They provide the brain with a source of energy without carbohydrate consumption. These supplements increase the levels of ketones in the blood artificially. Exogenous ketones do not increase the body’s ketone production (of endogenous ketones) and can actually inhibit23 the release of fatty acids from adipocytes.

It can be initially tricky to adjust food intake to ensure adequate nutrition when following a ketogenic diet. Also, some people find the diet isn’t sustainable due to individual differences in metabolic state or lifestyle. If the diet does not provide the correct balance of macro and micronutrients, some individuals develop other symptoms beyond the keto flu after the adaptation period. These include:

  • Constipation

  • Bad breath

  • Difficulty in maintaining physical performance

  • Hair loss

  • Gallstones

  • Elevated blood triglycerides or cholesterol

To treat these symptoms, ensure the diet provides enough calories and micronutrients. Many people reduce fruit and vegetable consumption on a ketogenic diet (due to carbohydrate content). This means it is easy to become deficient in vitamins and to under-consume fiber.

The ketogenic diet can alter the way that the kidneys excrete electrolytes (such as sodium), so electrolyte supplementation can reduce the side effects of an electrolyte imbalance. A silver lining here is the loss of excess water weight (and thus weight loss) with the decrease in stored water.

Possible Clinical Applications for Ketosis

Some of the earliest reports of the ketogenic diet describe its use in a clinical setting.

In the early 20th century, ketogenic diets helped treat drug-resistant epilepsy. Doctors also prescribed ketogenic diets to treat type 1 diabetes (different than type 2 diabetes, in which people have insulin resistance or don’t respond to insulin) before the invention of insulin.

As analytical techniques progressed, scientists learned that ketones themselves might be a crucial part of the success of the ketogenic diet to treat disease. From this finding stemmed a field of research to examine the potential benefits of ketosis in a range of disease states:

  • Weight loss

  • Diabetes and metabolic syndrome

  • Neurological disease: epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, migraine, concussive disease, and traumatic brain injury

  • Cancer

  • Inflammatory diseases

While the ketogenic diet is not yet a first-line treatment recommended by doctors for any of these diseases, it’s a relatively easy and tolerable step that patients with these conditions can take to improve their health. Emerging research suggests there may be beneficial effects of ketosis for some people, and further studies are required to confirm how best to use the diet in these clinical settings.

Should You Start a Keto Diet?

We've provided an in-depth look at the keto diet, hopefully giving you all the tools you need to make the best decision for your health. Think about your goals, your lifestyle and how feasible keto is for you (and consult a healthcare professional). While many people have found success on keto for weight loss or performance—everyone is different.

Not seeing results from the keto diet?

You’re not alone. Many think they’re in ketosis but aren’t–the newness of the diet leads to misinformation online. HVMN provides the latest science around meal-timing, supplements and macronutrient composition. Subscribe and be first to know the newest techniques for keto diet results.

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Scientific Citations

1.Cahill, G.F., Jr. (2006). Fuel metabolism in starvation. Annu Rev Nutr 26, 1-22.2.Krebs, H.A. (1966). The regulation of the release of ketone bodies by the liver. Adv. Enzyme Regul. 4, 339-354.3.Volek, J.S., and Phinney, S.D. (2012). The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. (Beyond Obesity LLC ).4.Rodger, S., Plews, D., Laursen, P., and Driller, M. (2017). The effects of an oral β-hydroxybutyrate supplement on exercise metabolism and cycling performance.5.Vandenberghe, C., St-Pierre, V., Pierotti, T., Fortier, M., Castellano, C.-A., and Cunnane, S.C. (2017). Tricaprylin Alone Increases Plasma Ketone Response More Than Coconut Oil or Other Medium-Chain Triglycerides: An Acute Crossover Study in Healthy Adults. Current Developments in Nutrition 1.6.Cox, P.J., Kirk, T., Ashmore, T., Willerton, K., Evans, R., Smith, A., Murray, Andrew J., Stubbs, B., West, J., McLure, Stewart W., et al. (2016). Nutritional Ketosis Alters Fuel Preference and Thereby Endurance Performance in Athletes. Cell Metabolism 24, 1-13.7.Gibson, A.A., Seimon, R.V., Lee, C.M., Ayre, J., Franklin, J., Markovic, T.P., Caterson, I.D., and Sainsbury, A. (2015). Do ketogenic diets really suppress appetite? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes. Rev. 16, 64-76.8.Laffel, L. (1999). Ketone bodies: a review of physiology, pathophysiology and application of monitoring to diabetes. Diabetes Metab. Res. Rev. 15, 412-426.9.Atkins, R.C., Mandell, F.G., and Monica, H. (1972). Dr. Atkins' diet revolution: The high calorie way to stay thin forever. (D. McKay Company).10.Paoli A, Rubini A, Volek JS, Grimaldi KA. Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013;67(8):789-796. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.116.11.Ketogenic Diet Reduces Midlife Mortality and Improves Memory in Aging Mice Newman, John C. et al. Cell Metabolism , Volume 26 , Issue 3 , 547 - 557.e812.Westman, E.C., Yancy, W.S., Edman, J.S., Tomlin, K.F., and Perkins, C.E. (2002). Effect of six-month adherence to a very-low-carbohydrate diet program. Am J Med 113.13.Diabetes UK Website: Blood Sugar Level Ranges14.Kossoff, E.H., and Rho, J.M. (2009). Ketogenic Diets: Evidence for Short- and Long-term Efficacy. Neurotherapeutics 6, 406-414.15.Slavin, J. (2013). Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits. Nutrients 5, 1417-1435.16.Pfeifer, H.H., and Thiele, E.A. (2005). Low-glycemic-index treatment: a liberalized ketogenic diet for treatment of intractable epilepsy. Neurology 65, 1810-1812.17.Mente, A., Dehghan, M., Rangarajan, S., McQueen, M., Dagenais, G., Wielgosz, A., Lear, S., Li, W., Chen, H., Yi, S., Wang, Y., Diaz, R., Avezum, A., Lopez-Jaramillo, P., Seron, P., Kumar, R., Gupta, R., Mohan, V., Swaminathan, S., Kutty, R., Zatonska, K., Iqbal, R., Yusuf, R., Mohammadifard, N., Khatib, R., Nasir, N.M., Ismail, N., Oguz, A., Rosengren, A., Yusufali, A., Wentzel-Viljoen, E., Puoane, T., Chifamba, J., Teo, K., Anand, S.S., and Yusuf, S. (2017). Association of dietary nutrients,with blood lipids and blood pressure in 18 countries: a cross-sectional analysis from the PURE study. The lancet. Diabetes & endocrinology 5, 774-787.18.Volek, J.S., Gomez, A.L., and Kraemer, W.J. (2000). Fasting lipoprotein and postprandial triacylglycerol responses to a low-carbohydrate diet supplemented with n-3 fatty acids. J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 19, 383-391.19.Dehghan, M., Mente, A., Zhang, X., Swaminathan, S., Li, W., Mohan, V., Iqbal, R., Kumar, R., Wentzel-Viljoen, E., Rosengren, A., Amma, L.I., Avezum, A., Chifamba, J., Diaz, R., Khatib, R., Lear, S., Lopez-Jaramillo, P., Liu, X., Gupta, R., Mohammadifard, N., Gao, N., Oguz, A., Ramli, A.S., Seron, P., Sun, Y., Szuba, A., Tsolekile, L., Wielgosz, A., Yusuf, R., Hussein Yusufali, A., Teo, K.K., Rangarajan, S., Dagenais, G., Bangdiwala, S.I., Islam, S., Anand, S.S., and Yusuf, S. (2017).,Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study. Lancet.20.FDA Website: Final Determination Regarding Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Removing Trans Fat)21.Bhavsar, N., and St-Onge, M.P. (2016). The diverse nature of saturated fats and the case of medium-chain triglycerides: how one recommendation may not fit all. Curr. Opin. Clin. Nutr. Metab. Care 19, 81-7.22.Rabast, U., Vornberger, K.H., and Ehl, M. (1981). Loss of weight, sodium and water in obese persons consuming a high- or low-carbohydrate diet. Ann. Nutr. Metab. 25, 341-349.23.(D)-beta-Hydroxybutyrate inhibits adipocyte lipolysis via the nicotinic acid receptor PUMA-G. Taggart et al J Biol Chem. 2005 Jul 22;280(29):26649-52.