FTW

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

Top 3 ways to test for ketosis

Originally published on HVMN by Justin Liau, Michael Brandt and Nate Martins

HVMN lives on the bleeding edge of science. We try to stay up to date on the best methods to enhance human performance, including how to measure personal biomarkers. It’s a core principle at HVMN, an ethos to help anyone be the best version of themselves.

It’s also something we practice. CEO and Co-founder, Geoffrey Woo, measures his blood BHB levels using a blood reader device after drinking HVMN Ketone. These ketone levels are an excellent biomarker for tracking the effectiveness of fasting, ketogenic dieting, and exogenous ketones.


But there’s more than one way to test ketosis.

Why should you care about how high your ketone levels are?


HVMN takes a systems engineering approach to human performance: optimize inputs to achieve desired performance outputs.

Understanding blood ketone levels adds transparency and data fundamental to biohacking. It offers insight into where you might feel best, or help optimize diet to achieve personal goals. Many people monitor blood ketone levels while on the keto diet or taking exogenous ketones to verify that they’re actually in ketosis.


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Setting a baseline while on the keto diet is helpful, especially if you’re using the keto diet for weight loss and other health benefits like controlling metabolic syndrome. For those on the low-carb, high-fat keto diet trying to lose weight, moderate ketone levels could be an indicator measurement of your dietary needs to reach those weight loss goals.

When on the keto diet, fat stores are broken down and fatty acid concentrations increase in the bloodstream. Those fatty acids are turned into ketones in the liver. When ketone levels exceed 0.5mM, that’s considered to be a state of “ketosis.” Nutritional ketosis is defined as blood ketone levels ranging from 0.5 - 3.0mM by pioneering ketone scientists Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney in “The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living.”1

There are three methods to measure ketone levels; with this data, you’ll have the power to optimize your biohacking protocol.

Blood Testing

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Pros

  • Most accurate way to measure ketosis in mmol/L (mM)

  • Measures BHB, the predominant ketone in the body, rather than acetoacetate or acetone

Cons

  • You need a handheld device (i.e., Precision Xtra or Keto Mojo) and test strips, which can be expensive relative to other techniques

  • You have to take a finger prick blood sample which can be bothersome and invasive at first until you get used to it

When testing blood using a BHB/glucose meter, you’re getting the most accurate measurement available. The meters measure glucose or ketone levels depending on which test strips are inserted. Those with diabetes commonly use the same procedure and the same blood meters to measure their blood glucose levels. It's critical for people with diabetes to control blood sugar levels and also to avoid dangerously high levels ( > 20mM) of ketones, known as ketoacidosis.

A blood BHB/glucose meter provides the most accurate measurement available. These meters measure glucose or ketone levels depending on which test strips are used. Those with diabetes commonly use the same procedure and the same blood meters to measure their blood glucose levels. It's critical for people with diabetes to control blood sugar levels and also to avoid dangerously high levels ( > 20mM) of ketones, known as ketoacidosis.

Using a blood ketone meter device is simple. You’ll need the device itself, compatible test strip, a lancet device (to pick the finger), lancets (needs to prick the finger) and an alcohol swab for sanitation.

To take a reading, follow these steps:

  • Remove the cap from the lancing device and insert the lancet into the device

  • Rotate the tip of the cap of the lancing device and set it to the desired depth of puncture

  • Arm the lancing device by sliding the control button until you hear a click

  • Insert a strip into the reader

  • Swab the tip of your left index finger with a sterile wipe

  • Place the lancing device firmly on your left index fingertip

  • Press the button on the lancing device to puncture your fingertip

  • Gently squeeze your fingertip to extract a large drop of blood

  • Hold the reader and touch the bottom of the strip to the blood sample

  • Hold the reader in place and allow the strip to absorb the blood sample

Wait a few seconds for the reader to analyze the sample

All things considered, using a blood meter might seem like the obvious choice to measure ketone levels. But the finger prick and cost may lead you to explore other avenues for testing. Here are a couple more options.

Urine Testing

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Pros

  • Relatively inexpensive

  • Widely available in pharmacies

  • Non-invasive

Cons

  • Less accurate than blood

  • Over time the body adapts to excrete fewer ketones in the urine

    Urine testing was designed to measure acetoacetate–one of three ketone bodies. But it doesn’t account for BHB, so urine testing may not be the most accurate measure of ketosis.

    Since urine is a waste product, what’s displayed on the ketone urine strips is what the body is excreting. By nature, that may not be the best indication of how well the body is utilizing ketones as fuel. As you become more keto-adapted, you’ll excrete fewer ketone bodies through urine. Hydration status can also affect these ketone readings, and leads to inconsistent results–as relative hydration level can dilute the concentration of ketones in urine.

    It comes down to this: urine ketone stirps are a cheap and easy way to get an understanding of early ketone levels, but for long-term use, they’re not the most accurate option.

    Breath Testing

    Pros

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  • After purchasing the device, it’s free each time you test

Cons

  • You need a handheld device (e.g. Ketonix)

  • Less accurate than blood meter

Breath ketone meters are relatively new to the market for testing ketone levels. They specifically measure the amount of acetone excreted in breath, providing readings that relate well to blood ketone levels at low concentrations.

But the research is limited. There haven’t been enough studies done to confirm the accuracy of breath acetone meters at higher levels, such as the level achieved after drinking HVMN Ketone. Acetone is the simplest and smallest of the three ketone bodies.

Choosing the Right Ketone Meter for You

In general, we recommend testing ketone levels if you’re trying to achieve nutritional ketosis or using exogenous ketones like HVMN Ketone.

If you're interested in achieving ketosis almost immediately, try our flagship product, HVMN Ketone. Blood ketone levels after using HVMN Ketone can reach 6mM, making it one of the most advanced ketone products on the market. You can try it here. Try consuming the product and testing blood ketone levels after to see the impactful results.

Fat burning mode via the ketogenic diet is tough to maintain–so it’s helpful to monitor ketone levels to make sure your efforts are worthwhile. While ketone readings don’t paint the whole picture of ketosis, they’re a large piece of the puzzle. You’ll have more transparency into what’s happening inside the body, developing an understanding of how fast and the level of ketosis you’re able to achieve.

Over time, some people develop intuition around what diet or routines lead to a given ketone level, but it’s helpful to establish a periodic basis for using an accurate ketone measurement device to get reliable objective data.

The Keto Secret: How to lose weight without starvation, calorie counting or exercise

Fire Team Whiskey Founder, former Army Captain Stephanie Lincoln was fed up. She was frustrated because she was doing “all the right things” yet her weight continued to climb. She was eating “whole grains”, low fat, counting and controlling every calorie, exercising for 1-2 hours a day and yet, continued to gain weight. She threw in the towel and decided to embark on a search for the answer to her weight gain and long list of medical complaints. She then discovered this way of eating called Keto. Learn more about why keto resolved every single issue, cut her body fat in half, and the 3 “hacks” that made transitioning to keto easy and sustainable. Watch this webinar and learn about how you can use keto and these 3 “keto hacks” to lose weight without calorie counting, starvation or exercise.

Copyright Fire Team Whiskey LLC 2019 All rights reserved.

I ate over half a gallon of coconut oil in 60 days and here is what happened....

With the recent attacks on coconut oil by the American Heart Association and the long running medical view that coconut oil (which is high in saturated fat) is a “poisonous” food for humans to consume, I decided to do my own N=1 experiment.

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I bought a big jug of coconut oil (over half a gallon) and consumed, cooked with, drank or used on my skin the entire jug in 60 days. Here is what this looked like for me:

Every morning I had two cups of coffee with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 10 tablespoons of heavy cream. For lunch, I had a coconut MCT oil shake in the form of a Fire Team Whiskey SpecOps Shake. And when I made dinner, any vegetable or meat I cooked on a skillet was cooked in coconut oil. And sometimes I use it on my skin if my skin is especially dry.

According to the American Heart Association, because I am eating so much saturated fat, my "bad cholesterol" should be through the roof, I should be getting fat, and that I should be about ready to have a stroke or a heart attack any moment. I have been eating well over their recommended daily limit of 13 grams of saturated fat a day for 2 years now. I average about 100 grams of saturated fat per day! My blood work is exceptional in every single area. My body fat is at 16.5 percent. I have never been fitter. I have never felt healthier. According to the American Heart Association, I should be terribly sick or a heart attack waiting to happen...yet I can hike up a mountain for days with a 50-pound pack on my back and leave everyone in my dust. My ticker seems to have no trouble ticking.

So what is the conclusion of my little experiment of consuming over half a gallon of the "deadly" saturated fat filled coconut oil in 60 days and 2 years now of eating about 100 grams of saturated fats a day? The American Heart Association guidelines are not based on sound science. They provide dietary guidelines based on very old, faulty science, and refuse to consider any information that conflicts with their own. (Want to learn more about this saturated fat/cholesterol myth? Read the book Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore, it will blow your mind!

Want to learn more about the health benefits of coconut oil and it’s derivative, MCT Oil? Check out this video below and go to this page with a summary of over 20 scientific articles about the health benefits of MCTs.

FTW Founder Stephanie Lincoln discusses what happened when she ate over half a gallon of coconut oil in 60 days and the 12 benefits of coconut oil.

Copyright Fire Team Whiskey, LLC 2019 All rights reserved.

IS THE KETO DIET DANGEROUS?

Jillian Michael's recently went on a rant about the ketogenic diet and how she feels it is dangerous. The Ketogenic diet is a safe and healthy way to reduce your body fat and help all sorts of chronic medical conditions.

The Fire Team Whiskey nutrition plans walk our participants into a ketogenic lifestyle safely and gradually...avoiding the pitfalls of a sudden drastic drop in carbs and calories.

Keto is a form of eating that uses your body's natural ability to burn fat as energy. This state in the body is called KETOSIS. In order to burn fat as energy, you must greatly reduce the amount of carbohydrates and sugars in your daily diet. When your body runs of sugar to burn - it burns fat. This fat burn then creates the superfuel called KETONES. Ketones can not be stored as fat (unlike carbs) and are a super efficient energy source for your skeleton, muscles, heart and brain. Ketones produce almost endless energy and focus and have a ton of health benefits.* The Fire Team Whiskey® Caliber Nutrition Protocols, the FuelRation™ Keto Bars and SpecOps™ Shakes are all designed to support a keto lifestyle and keep your body burning and not storing fat

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After years of struggling with her weight, Fire Team Whiskey® Founder, CPT Stephanie Lincoln, discovered this way of eating and it changed her life. In fact, her body fat, fitness and health changed so dramatically thanks to the keto lifestyle, that she was inspired to share this way of life with Veterans, Military Members and First Responders. Why? Because Keto was the one way of eating that didn't require a lot of sacrifice and calorie cutting. Who wouldn't want to lose weight and still be able to eat bacon, cheese burgers, and steak?! 

The Fire Team Whiskey .22 Caliber Program starts you on your journey to ketosis. Unlike may other keto style eating plans, the .22 Caliber Protocol helps a person gradually transition into this way of life. No matter how busy you are, what shift you are on, or how much you travel, you can stay on your Caliber Eating plan. How is this possible? Not only can you get foods anywhere that follow the Caliber Eating plan guidelines, but you have the Fire Team Whiskey® FuelRation™ Bars and SpecOps Shakes™ to have on hand just in case you need a healthy keto snack or meal, right now

Join the FTW Keto Army and stop the yo-yo dieting, counting calories and worrying about the fact that you keep gaining weight as you get older. With the Fire Team Whiskey Nutritional Protocols, you will lose weight, burn fat, have endless energy and focus, never worry about weight gain again, all while LOVING WHAT YOU EAT! These Fire Team Whiskey Participants have discovered the life changing benefits of this way of eating and you can too!

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A "healthy" food that is actually NOT healthy!

There are all sorts of marketing schemes you are exposed to every single time you walk down a grocery aisle. Claims that this is “heart healthy” or “lowers cholesterol” or “a fat free food”, etc. Did you know that almost all of these labels are actually just purchased by the food company to be allowed to be placed on their packaging and actually require NO nutritional or scientific data to support this label (case and point, the “hearth healthy” label, sugary cereals have this label yet they are made up of over 50% sugar, which is actually inflammatory and directly linked to heart disease related medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes). Here is a food that you may have always believed to be “healthy” but actually is not:

OATMEAL

Most oatmeal that people consume is processed, instant, oatmeal, so many of the healthier properties have been stripped away by this processing. Most of the instant, boxed oatmeal you purchase at a grocer has added sugar, and because of these two things, oatmeal happens to be a high glycemic index food, meaning it spikes your blood sugar (Here is a study with these findings http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/103/3/e26). HIgh glycemic foods create a fat storage reaction in the body and a sudden drop of blood sugar, which sends signals to the body that you are hungry …even though you may have eaten as soon as a few minutes ago! Along with making you hungry sooner, the study found that people who consume oatmeal instead of eggs for breakfast were found to eat 81 percent more food during the day (those who ate steel cut oats ate 51 percent more, than those who ate the omelet, this being a less processed version of oatmeal). What was also found is that those who ate the oatmeal were found to have higher levels of insulin, blood sugar and stress hormones (cortisone and adrenaline), all of which wreak havoc on our metabolic systems and create inflammation (which, guess what, is NOT heart healthy).

Bottom line is, just because a food is labeled with a claim, doesn’t mean this is actually true or that the food manufacturer has to meet any standard to meet this claim. Stick with foods that mainly don’t have any labels at all or need to make a claim (like meat, produce, and dairy). Things in a box or a package have to make claims to get your attention and to convince you that it’s food, when you should be sticking to eating mainly foods that don’t need fancy labels or health claims.

What is the keto flu and how do you cure it?

The Fire Team Whiskey eating plans and supplements transition our participants to a ketogenic lifestyle. We designed our nutritional programs to slowly walk a person to a keto lifestyle over the course of 90 days. Taking a slower approach can help you avoid the dreaded “keto flu” and this is why we designed our nutritional plans in this manner. It is important to be vigilant and to make these adjustments in your lifestyle by adding supplements and paying attention to potential signs of the keto flu. If you would like to take a slower approach to starting a keto lifestyle and try the Fire Team Whiskey Keto nutritional Programs, chech out your options by clicking on the button below.

This article was republished on the FTW Blog site with the permission of HVM

Authored by Dr. Brianna StubbsAarushi Bajaj and Nate Martins • December 14, 2018

You've decided to try the keto diet. The low-carb, high-fat diet can be great for performance and decreasing body weight, but the body needs a little bit of time to adapt to fat as an energy source. Often, there are some symptoms involved during this period of adaptation.

It's called the "keto flu," a commonly-experienced set of side-effects associated with carbohydrate withdrawal. This may sound like withdrawal from substance abuse; interestingly, recent studies have compared the effect of carbohydrates (particularly sugar) on the brain to that of addictive drugs like cocaine.1 Reported symptoms include: mood swings, irritability, fatigue, and dizziness. It can last anywhere from a day to a couple weeks.

Shortsighted dieters may allow keto flu knock them off the diet altogether–but after a period of metabolic adaptation, the body adjusts to the change and will reach a state where it's burning fat as a fuel source, a largely-stored, but for many, a largely untapped bodily energy source. There are several ways to reduce, prevent or manage symptoms of the keto flu. We'll discuss some of the most common symptoms, the science behind them, and offer some solutions to nascent keto dieters.

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Science Behind Keto Flu

Carbohydrates are the body's preferred energy source. When those are restricted, the body responds through a series of changes to transition from using glucose (stored carbs) for energy to using fat. This gear-switching is a good thing; but it's also the reason for keto flu. First, blood sugar drops and causes hypoglycemia,, which is low blood sugar < 55 mg/dL.2 In response, the body changes both the fuel it uses for energy and how neurons in the brain function. Second, changes occur in other bodily systems that alter electrolyte, water and hormone levels–this can lead to dehydration from following the ketogenic diet.


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Falling Blood Glucose

The physical consequences of sudden carb removal, we must first understand that our body generates energy using two main mechanisms: glycolysis (converting glucose to energy) and beta-oxidation (converting fat to energy).

Complying with a low-carb ketogenic diet means forcing the body to switch from using carbs as energy (via glycolysis) to using fats as energy (via beta-oxidation). After a period of adaptation, the body usually begins to generate energy from the breakdown of ketones (via a process call ketolysis) instead of glucose. This switch occurs because the body breaks down fatty acids into ketones so the brain can use them for fuel.3 

What happens when the body hasn't yet learned to burn fat and produce ketones? That's where hypoglycemia comes it. The result is a temporary energy deficit and low blood sugar. Remember: this is a transient period of adaptation. Switching to using fats and ketones as energy varies by person, depending on a mix of genetics and habitual diet; some individuals demonstrate a greater metabolic flexibility than others. These lucky individuals may show far fewer symptoms or experience the flu for a shorter duration.

Research has found the same pathways of the reward system in the brain are activated in both high-carb foods and cocaine or heroin. Both cause the release of dopamine (a "feel good" hormone). Regular carb consumption modifies gene expression and dopamine receptor availability in that reward system over time. This translates to a need for even more carbohydrates to have the same effect on those brain receptors. So the sudden removal of carbohydrates can lead to withdrawn symptoms, both physical and psychological.

Electrolyte Imbalance and Dehydration

Electrolytes are the minerals in the body that are derived from salts, e.g. calcium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and sodium. Electrolyte levels, controlled by the kidneys, are crucial for maintaining bodily functions such as heartbeat regulation and muscle contraction.4 

Why does the ketogenic diet cause these imbalances? Carbohydrate restriction, and thus insulin release. With a lower carb intake, insulin levels drop.

Insulin signals cells in the body to absorb glucose in the bloodstream, and signals the kidneys to store more water.5 Lower insulin levels (as a result of decreased carb intake) means the kidneys now store less water. This results in dehydration and the flushing out of electrolytes in the process.6 Stored carbohydrates (glycogen) trap three grams of water per gram of glycogen–so this also causes a depletion while on keto, further contributing to the reduced amount of water and electrolytes in the body.

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Hormonal Stress Response 

A poorly-formulated ketogenic diet (one too low in calories or deficient in micronutrients) can trigger a starvation response in the body, thus raising levels of cortisol (stress hormone). 7Cortisol release is the body's attempt to product the brain by raising blood sugar, trying to compensate for the now low blood sugar caused by carb reduction. If excess cortisol is released, stress response and blood sugar stability can become deregulated.

Thyroid hormones are also something to consider. They have several function, including the maintenance and regulation of carbohydrate/energy metabolism. The T3 (or euthyroid) is the most biologically active form of the hormone, and is linked to dietary carb consumption. T3 levels have shown to decrease in response to carb restriction below a certain threshold (which varies from person to person).8 The result may be fatigue or difficulty focusing through the adaptation period. Conversely, lowered T3 is also hypothesized to bring several benefits if thyroid function is normal. This includes improving longevity and preserving muscle mass.

While discomfort may result during the transition, you can rest assured that lowered T3 does not appear to be indicative of hypothyroidism.9  

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Solutions to Common Symptoms

Symptoms of the keto flu vary from person to person. But there are easy solutions one can leverage to help combat these symptoms.

If you're looking for a supplement to help with keto flu, try HVMN Ketone, our flagship product. HVMN Ketone can give you an energy boost without the need for carbs, while keeping your blood ketone levels elevated. Try it here.

Headaches

In ketosis, headaches can occur due to electrolyte imbalance and dehydration. With low insulin levels, the kidneys go into a diuretic state, so potassium, water, and sodium are excreted. A silver lining here is the loss of excess water weight (and thus weight loss) with the decrease in stored water. Conversely, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance are the reasons for many keto flu symptoms. Monitor salt and water intake while on keto, and consider supplementing with electrolytes.

The necessity of electrolyte management is underestimated on low-carb diets. Even if macronutrient intake is monitored correctly, maintaining the correct balance of electrolytes often goes overlooked. The cause of electrolyte imbalance? Usually, it's eating too few mineral-rich fruits and vegetables when transitioning to the keto diet. Removing salt-laden, processed foods means the body is now cut off from the sodium or electrolyte sources it once had. While many keto dieters are weary of increasing sodium intake and raising blood pressure, removing processed foods from the diet and reducing carb intake already has a significant blood pressure-lowering effect.10

Supplementing other minerals is also vital. Magnesium is important for the body, contributing to muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and protein synthesis.11 Potassium is also helps proper functioning of the heart, digestion and muscle function.12 Foods rich in potassium and magnesium include tomatoes, avocados, salmon, nuts, leafy greens, and animal protein. Bouillon cubes, homemade stocks (like beef broth or chicken broth), and sea salt are all rich in sodium and minerals. One should consume these to minimize the risk of headaches. 

Cramps

Cramping is the most common sign that electrolytes are out of balance.

The common mistake is not drinking enough water to compensate for water during the keto transition phase, which may result in low blood pressure and constipation, other than just cramps.6 Causes for cramps can also be caused by low potassium or low magnesium. Animal protein is an excellent potassium source, and the juices from cooking meats should be retained for this purpose. For magnesium, seek out leafy greens; the darker the better!

Constipation 

This may be a result of the digestive system transitioning on keto. Any dramatic lifestyle changes impact gut microbiome, inevitably altering bowel movements. Dehydration can worsen constipation (because of the increase excretion of fluids by the kidneys). Eliminating high-carb fruits and vegetables can also reduce dietary fiber and contribute to constipation.

Eat plenty of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, exercise and drink plenty of water every day. But be warned–eating excessive fiber can also lead to constipation, so finding a balance is necessary. That balance is something that can only be determined from personal experience.13 MCT or medium-chain triglyceride oils are a solution. This may help to relieve constipation, as fat can help push bowel movements through. Finally, care should be taken to ensure your calorie intake is adequate, as not eating enough calories can also contribute to constipation.

Bad Breath

Some keto dieters experience bad breath, discerningly fruity or similar to nail polish remover. Besides the oder, this might be positive–it's an indicator of a body in ketosis. However, it's usually reported to go away within a week or two, once the body adapts to the new metabolic state it is in. Maintaining good oral hygiene, increasing water intake, and using gum or breath freshener can help mask or reduce the smell in the interim while the body is still adapting. 

Fatigue, Low Mood, and Cravings 

As the body adapts to ketosis, decrease in energy levels and weakness are often reported, which can impair physical performance. Fatigue can last anywhere from three days to weeks as the body prepares new enzymes for the diet.

The tiredness may be caused by thyroid hormone and cortisol changes; the body is trying to compensate for the lowered carbohydrate intake by releasing more cortisol, which raises blood sugar. The possible result? Irritable mood and reduced sleep quality. Since cortisol levels are likely to reduce again when the body becomes keto-adapted, these symptoms should be temporary. To lessen fatigue, water and mineral intake should be carefully monitored (and likely increased). B vitamins, particularly B5, are vital for helping with fatigue and lethargy. It's crucial to eat enough calories from fat for sustenance, as being under-fueled can also cause fatigue.

Removing glucose from the diet can affect mood and cause cravings. Replacing foods you crave with low-carb alternative or removing food "triggers" can help reduce the psychological (and thus physiological) symptoms of carb withdrawal. While there are low-carb recipes for some of your favorite treats, many people who have successfully transitioned to the ketogenic diet say that just going “cold turkey” on sweet-tasting things and refined sugars helps to get rid of those nasty cravings sooner.

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Summary

Keto flu systems are often transient, disappearing completely after keto-adaptation.

Lifestyle determines length and severity of the keto flu for the individual, with symptoms likely greater for individuals who ate a high-carb diet previously. Even during transition, the symptoms can be alleviated if treated smartly. A well-formulated low-carb diet can progress without significant symptoms if the common mistakes of poor mineral intake, lack of fiber, electrolyte imbalance, and dehydration are addressed.

Avoid falling into the common trap of assuming your body is not suited to the low-carb diet after just a few days, and instead, consider careful monitoring of water and mineral intake particularly for the days/weeks it takes your body to adapt. Have a look online for some keto support groups if you have questions, and perhaps think about trying exogenous ketones, like HVMN Ketone. Exogenous ketones can give you an energy boost as beta-hydroxybutyrate without the need to take in carbs.

Have you experienced keto flu symptoms while transitioning onto the keto diet? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Scientific Citations

1.Ahmed SH, Guillem K, Vandaele Y. Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care. 2013; 16(4):434-9.2.Desimone ME, Weinstock RS. Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia. [Updated 2017 Sep 23]. In: De Groot LJ, Chrousos G, Dungan K, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK355894/3.Manninen AH. Metabolic Effects of the Very-Low-Carbohydrate Diets: Misunderstood “Villains” of Human Metabolism. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2004;1(2):7-11. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-1-2-7.4.Balcı AK, Koksal O, Kose A, et al. General characteristics of patients with electrolyte imbalance admitted to emergency department. World Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2013;4(2):113-116. doi:10.5847/wjem.j.issn.1920-8642.2013.02.005.5.Rubenstein AH, Mako ME, Horwitz DL. Insulin and the kidney. Nephron. 1975; 15(3-5):306-26.6.Artunc F, Schleicher E, Weigert C, Fritsche A, Stefan N, Häring HU. The impact of insulin resistance on the kidney and vasculature. Nature reviews. Nephrology. 2016; 12(12):721-737.7.Waldman HS, Krings B, Basham SA, Smith JW, Fountain BJ, McAllister MJ. Effects of a 15-Day Low Carbohydrate, High-Fat Diet in Resistance-Trained Men. (1533-4287 (Electronic)).8.Pasquali R, Parenti M, Mattioli L. Effect of dietary carbohydrates during hypocaloric treatment of obesity on peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism. Journal of endocrinological investigation. ; 5(1):47-52. [pubmed]9.Fontana L, Klein S, Holloszy JO, Premachandra BN. Effect of long-term calorie restriction with adequate protein and micronutrients on thyroid hormones. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism. 2006; 91(8):3232-5.10.Chen L, Caballero B, Mitchell DC, et al. Reducing Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Is Associated with Reduced Blood Pressure: A Prospective Study among U.S. Adults. Circulation. 2010;121(22):2398-2406. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.911164.11.Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals, NIH12.He FJ, MacGregor GA. Beneficial effects of potassium on human health. Physiologia plantarum. 2008; 133(4):725-35.13.Ho K-S, Tan CYM, Mohd Daud MA, Seow-Choen F. Stopping or reducing dietary fiber intake reduces constipation and its associated symptoms. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG. 2012;18(33):4593-4596. doi:10.3748/wjg.v18.i33.4593.

Lactate threshold is misunderstood

Article used with permission from hvmn.com

If you want to start a debate in a group of runners, mention lactic acid and lactate threshold. The topics are two of the most confused and misunderstood in the running world. For the last few decades, lactate was presumed to be all bad–causing only muscle soreness and dashing dreams of personal records.

But that’s only half the story.

Lactate threshold is the exercise level at which lactic acid builds up in the blood. This accumulation of lactic acid is associated with fatigue, and most people assume the burning sensation of hard exercise is caused by lactic acid.

Endurance athletes specifically focus on lactate threshold as a measure of efficiency and fitness. For many, the goal of training is to maintain increased power and speed without crossing over this threshold. Most athletes want to stave off blood lactate accumulation, training so they clear it faster and produce less.

That’s why lactate is generally considered a four-letter-word, thought to be a waste product linked to muscle fatigue.

Research on the issue makes muddy waters more clear: producing and burning lactate provide essential fuel for cells throughout the body when oxygen is depleted.1

Lactate & Lactate Threshold Basics

There’s a nuance to lactate responsible for its bad rap.

Lactate: More Protons, More Problems

Also known as lactic acid, lactate can be produced throughout the body naturally.2 It’s a result of rapidly burning carbohydrate when the demand for energy is high, and oxygen availability is low, such as during sprinting or other high-intensity workouts.

Glucose is the body’s most readily available fuel, easily transported around the body and broken down to support short bursts of intense exercise. Glucose gets metabolized by a process called glycolysis, resulting in pyruvate. There are two possible uses for pyruvate: anaerobic or aerobic energy production.

When there is plenty of oxygen, pyruvate is turned into energy in the form of ATP through the aerobic pathway. Without enough oxygen present, pyruvate has another fate: anaerobic conversion to lactate. So all that huffing and puffing during intense exercise is used (among other things) to fuel the metabolic reactions that make our muscles work.

The majority of lactate released into the blood is mopped up in the liver where it can be converted back into glucose via a process called gluconeogenesis, and then released back into circulation.1 For example, the brain can directly use it as fuel (along with other parts of the body).

Lactate itself isn’t at all that bad for the body. The bad part is the acid associated with it.

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Lactate caries a proton (an acid) when it’s released, and the build up of protons decreases the pH of the blood. When the body gets more acidic, function becomes compromised because the protons interfere with energy production and muscle contraction.

All this time, athletes have been blaming lactate like it’s a referee. But they should be blaming those protons.

Still, generally, lactate is pretty much always associated with protons, so there is a strong relationship between high lactate and fatigue.

As speed increases, lactate production reaches a point where it increases exponentially

Lactate Threshold: Recycling is the Name of the Game

Blood lactate levels rise gradually as one exercises. The harder the exercise, the higher it climbs; this is an indicator of a shift in our energy production from aerobic (lots of oxygen) to anaerobic (less oxygen).

Before reaching the lactate threshold, blood lactate concentrations increase gradually. But upon arriving at the lactate threshold, the blood concentration of lactate begins to exponentially increase. Usually that intensity hovers around 80% of an athlete’s maximum heart rate, or 75% of their maximum oxygen intake–but you can also link it to speed or power.

Recycling lactate is true north of endurance training, which aims to maintain an intensity below the lactate threshold. When the recycling process can’t keep up, lactate produced by the exercising muscles begins build up in the bloodstream.

Well-designed training programs target both sides of the lactate threshold; there should be some training sessions working at or above LT. These sessions are harder on the body, but this forces adaptations that ultimately increase speed on race day.

Why Does Lactate Build Up Happen During High Intensity Exercise?

Lactate buildup is a result of the rapid anaerobic breakdown of carbohydrate.

Cells break down carbs and fats from our food to produce a molecule called ATP (the body’s energy currency), which is then used as energy by exercising muscles. ATP is produced from carbs through a three-step process: Glycolysis, Krebs Cycle and Electron Transport Chain (ETC). Products from Glycolysis feed Krebs which feeds ETC.

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ETC is what generates most of our ATP. Energy generated from ETC is effective enough to sustain moderately-intense exercise...but the process doesn’t happen fast enough to keep up with the energy demand of high-intensity exercise. This means rapid-release energy from glycolysis is required to keep going. Glycolysis increases to supplement the difference but, as we know, this leads to lactate production.

Oxygen delivery rate also becomes limited during high intensity exercise. The ETC absolutely relies on oxygen for its function. We can’t breathe enough, or pump blood fast enough to our muscles when they are in overdrive to keep the ETC going. This necessitates oxygen-free energy production via glycolysis and lactate production.

That extra lactate (along with its acidic proton) ends up in the blood and decreases our pH. Our brains aim to keep a steady state of pH, and sensing this imbalance in pH, cause us feel nauseous. This leads to a feeling of fatigue, then a decrease intensity, then decreasing ATP demand, then glycolysis slows, leading to a better match between oxygen demand and oxygen delivery. Ultimately, this match allows lactate clearance from the blood.

Exercise above the lactate threshold can only be sustained for a limited amount of time: the body runs out of glycogen (stored carbs) to convert into lactate, and the increasing acidity of the blood causes fatigue.

Better athletic performance comes from training with LT in mind, geared to a higher production of speed or power at the lactate threshold.

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How to Figure Out Lactate Threshold

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Testing protocols to determine lactate threshold are sport-specific. Many consider the running speed at lactate threshold (RSLT) to be the best indicator of running fitness and the most reliable barometer of endurance performance.

In cycling, step-tests (where power is increased at regular intervals until you are exhausted) are the gold standard for measuring physiological performance markers, such as lactate threshold.

Upon completing the test and finding a personal lactate threshold, one can begin incorporating lactate threshold training to target specific adaptations for the body to make.

There are a few different ways to test for a personal lactate threshold, and factors to consider when doing so. It’s important to remember everyone is different, and lactate threshold changes in response to training (or sadly, de-training).

Lab Testing: Accurate But Expensive

The most concrete way to determine lactate threshold is to take a series of blood samples as exercise is conducted at increasing intensities. This type of lactate testing occurs at an exercise physiology laboratory, and tends to be expensive (but worth it).

In a lactate threshold test, athletes exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike while increasing intensity every few minutes until exhaustion. A blood sample is taken during the each stage of the test–similar to testing for ketones, through the fingertip or earlobe–illustrating blood lactate readings at various running speeds or cycling power outputs. Results are then plotted on a curve to show the speed or power at which the lactate threshold occurs.

However, lactate threshold changes as more training is done to build your aerobic base. So in order to maintain an updated understanding of your lactate threshold, you’d have to visit the lab again after a block of training.

During her time on the Great Britian Rowing Team, HVMN Research lead, Dr Brianna Stubbs, did lactate threshold testing every 2-3 months. She recounts the collective effort to find lactate threshold.

"The gym even got gory on step-test days, with athletes dripping blood from the testing holes in their earlobes."Dr. Brianna Stubbs

"Seeing results change over time was interesting," she said. "I recorded my highest power at lactate threshold toward the end of the winter training block, which made sense because that’s when we did most of our endurance work."

Do-it-Yourself Field Test: You Have a Few Options

Many endurance athletes choose to estimate their lactate threshold by measuring heart rate and/or VO2 max at different training zones (there’s even a portable lactate blood analyzer some use to further cement results).

There are several different methods to estimate running speed at lactate threshold:

VDOT (or VO2 max) Chart

  • VDOT chart is an adjusted VO2 max chart (created by esteemed running coach Jack Daniels) that uses some of your most recent run times (at max effort) to identify training pace that will maintain your lactate threshold. There are two corresponding chats that work together to illustrate max effort and training paces for different distances (we've simplified it above)

  • For example, running at a 7:49 mile pace at max effort corresponds to a VDOT number of 36. That VDOT number illustrates the pace at which training should be done to maintain lactate recycling: 8:55. For a more in-depth analysis of interval training and different distances, refer to these charts here

Conconi Method

  • Using a heart rate monitor set to a five second recording interval

  • Begin running and increase speed every 200 meters until exhaustion. The goal isn’t to maintain a steady state of exercise, instead increasing incrementally to test yourself

  • Plot heart rate against speed; the deflection point in the graph (where your heart rate goes up much more than your speed) roughly corresponds to speed at lactate threshold

Time-Trial Method / 30-Minute Test

  • Research has shown that doing a 30 minute flat out time trial is one of the most accurate ways to find your lactate threshold without using fancy equipment3

  • Start by warming up

  • Then, on a track or treadmill, run for 30 minutes at the fastest sustainable pace. 10 minutes into the run, obtain and note your heart rate. Then, after the final 20 minutes of the test, obtain and note your heart rate again

  • Add your heart rate at the 10-minute mark to heart rate at the 30-minute mark–that's your lactate threshold heart rate. And your average pace for the entire 30-minute test (assuming it was steady) is your lactate threshold pace

Both elite athletes and weekend warriors can benefit from understanding personal lactate threshold to maximize results. However, lactate threshold is impacted by training and changes over time. So keeping regular on these types of tests will indicate an improving lactate threshold through focused training.

Optimizing Lactate Metabolism

Lactic acid gets blamed for muscle soreness, but the production of lactate is an important metabolic process. The idea that lactate is pure waste and leads to fatigue is somewhat outdated. Nevertheless, a higher speed or power at lactate threshold is still one of the key goals of aerobic training.1

Different strategies can help minimize lactate buildup during exercise.

Warming Up: As Important as Cooling Down

Warming up is important to reducing risk for injury and minimizing potential lactate buildup. During a warm-up, heart rate increases, and blood vessels dilate, meaning there is more blood flow and more oxygen reaching your muscles.

When exercise intensity picks up the pace, there’s less mismatch between oxygen needs of the muscles and blood. Therefore, you don’t need to do as much anaerobic respiration, and you don’t build lactate early in the run.

Equally, cooling down and stretching immediately after a workout is especially important. Gentle exercise (slow jogging or spinning on a bike) or using a foam roller can help clear lactic acid buildup from the muscle by stimulating blood flow and encouraging lymphatic drainage.

Nutrition and Supplements: Replenishment is Key

The key to dealing with high lactate production is dealing with the acid associated with it (that pesky little proton). Two “buffer supplements,” sodium bicarbonate and beta-alanine, work by mopping up that proton. This means lactate levels can go higher than before without triggering fatigue because the proton is taken care of.

Beta-alanine works inside the muscles to clean up protons before they affect muscle contraction. Compounding effects of beta-alanine powder (~5g per day) happen after several weeks, but studies show around a 2-3% performance boost.4

Sodium bicarbonate is better for short-term boosts in proton buffering. Bicarbonate is the main buffer usually binding protons to stop blood from becoming too acidic. About an hour before exercise, taking bicarb powder dissolved in water, at 0.3kg per body weight, has shown to improve performance.5 Be weary of stomach aches when first introducing bicarb. But there are bicarbonate gels that provide the same buffing effect without the side-effects.6

Lactate can only be produced by breaking down carbs. Sustaining an exercise intensity that is producing lactate means the depletion carbohydrate stores (glycogen). When the glycogen gas tank reads empty, we hit a wall.

Exogenous ketones can lower lactate production. By drinking pre-workout exogenous ketones, like HVMN Ketone, your body can use the ketones for energy instead of carbohydrates–glycolysis decreases and therefore, so does lactate production.

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Having ketones as a whole new source of fuel means the body doesn’t need to dip into its existing carb and protein stores: athletes using HVMN Ketone show a decrease in the breakdown of intramuscular glycogen and protein during exercise, compared to carbohydrates alone.7

Exercise: Training Toward Adaptation

Regular training forces the body to adapt; what once felt like an unsustainable pace becomes easy. And adopting a training plan helps accelerate how that adaption will progress.

Looking at the whole body, the heart muscle gets stronger, building more small blood vessels. These small blood vessels mean more oxygen-rich blood can be transported to the muscles, requiring less demand for anaerobic respiration and lactate production.

On a muscular level, cells can produce more mitochondria, which are the site of aerobic respiration. This helps increase reliance on that energy system. Muscle cells also express more of the transport proteins for lactate, so lactate doesn’t build up inside the cells and compromise their function.8

Lactate threshold training switches up workout intensity, optimizing the body’s lactate response.

Peter Broomhall, who has been running ultramarathons for seven years, started incorporating lactate training into his regimen with his coach.

"I’ve trained with lactate threshold in mind this year more than any other year. It takes time to build up that threshold, but things like recovery become quicker. It compliments every aspect of training."Peter Broomhall

For runners, one way to work on lactate threshold is to breakdown a run into mile sections: the first mile or two should be run at a pace just below lactate threshold, while the proceeding mile section should be slower, thus allowing the body to process the lactate. Active recovery is more effective at clearing lactate than passive recovery.9 This allows a high volume of miles without going overboard.

Lactate, A Misunderstood Villain

Next time your running club gangs up on lactic acid, maybe you can remind everyone of its important role in helping our bodies produce energy quickly when oxygen is short.

We do know the combination of high lactate (and the associated increase in protons in the muscles and blood) can impact our ability to maintain peak athletic performance. But we now have a deeper understanding of blood lactate (and how to optimize it), thanks to monitoring tools outside the lab, structural training regimens and recovery techniques.

We’re altering how the body responds to lactate with nutrition supplements like HVMN Ketone and bicarb gels. And in the process, we’re rewriting the old story about lactic acid.

Train smarter for better results

Scientific Citations

1.Patrizia Proia, Carlo Maria Di Liegro, Gabriella Schiera, Anna Fricano, and Italia Di Liegro. Lactate as a Metabolite and a Regulator in the Central Nervous System. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Sep; 17(9): 1450. Published online 2016 Sep 1.2.Matthew L. Goodwin, M.A., James E. Harris, M.Ed., Andrés Hernández, M.A., and L. Bruce Gladden, Ph.D. J. Blood Lactate Measurements and Analysis during Exercise: A Guide for Clinicians. Diabetes Sci Technol. 2007 Jul; 1(4): 558–569. Published online 2007 Jul.3.McGehee JC, Tanner CJ, Houmard JA. A comparison of methods for estimating the lactate threshold. J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Aug;19(3):553-8.4.Hobson RM, Saunders B, Ball G, Harris RC, Sale C. Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids. 2012 Jul;43(1):25-37. Epub 2012 Jan 24.

Authored by Nate Martins • 

October 5, 2018

WHY YOUR NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS FAIL AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

As a health and fitness business owner, I am well aware of the majority of Americans who make a New Years Resolution to "Lose weight", "Eat healthier" or to "Get in shape".  I cringe every time I hear someone say this. Being a Licenced Mental Health Counselor, an Eating Psychology Specialist and a Certified Personal Trainer, I know that any person saying one or all of those phrases is doomed. They will not "lose weight", eat healthier" or "get in shape" next year. How can I be so certain? Because of the way they are stating their goals. These kinds of general goals are never achieved. Defining your goals by following the SMART rule is very important for new years resolutions. 

S- Specific: How many pounds can you reasonable and realistically lose? A safe way to estimate is to assume an average loss of a pound a week. Is it more realistic to have a body composition goal instead of a pounds lost goal (highly suggest this for those over 40!). Be specific: "I plan to reduce my body fat from 48% to 30%." 

M- Measurable: How will you measure this? Do you have a body composition scale or another way to measure it? How often will you measure it? How will you track it? What is the rate of change you are looking for? For example "I want to lose a pound a week at a minimum." 

A: Attainable: Again, setting a pie in the sky goal may make you feel hopeful and fill your brain with visions of you looking amazing in a swimsuit, but we need to bring you back to reality. To safely lose weight in a way that is sustainable (i.e. permanent) you may have to drop your standards a bit. I had a client ask me if she would ever have arms like mine. I said yes, but you may be looking at achieving this a lot further down the road than you may be willing to work at it for. Be realistic. That fad "30 pounds and 30 days" diet may work short term, but guess what, I have a roster full of clients who did those programs (some even several times over) and gained all the weight back plus some. Why? Because that 30-day lifestyle was not sustainable, and I argue, the methods used just are not safe for your health in the long run. Add to the A an accountability partner...actually several accountability partners. Research shows you are up to 90% more likely to achieve your goals if you make them public and regularly update and check in with your accountability partners. So yes, announce it on social media and ask people to hold you to it. And dont get mad at them when they call you out when you post a picture of the 3rd slice of pizza a bucket of fries you are having for dinner. 

R: Relevant:  One of the best excuses I received from a participant for not following the nutrition plan was "The nutrition plan is not conducive to my lifestyle." I had to do a double take and conceded that he was right. Some people just live a lifestyle of drinking beer and eating hot wings. It's their thing and they wouldn't be "them" without this. Look at your goal to fit into that size 2 dress and ask yourself, "Am I willing to give up the specific lifestyle that I have that keeps me from being able to fit into that size?" If the answer is "no", then you need to change your goal. How about a goal of eating on the plan from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm and have a chat window from 7:00 to 8:00 pm and not worry about making a goal to be a certain size, rather, eating healthy most of the time. 

T: Time:  This is a big problem with Americans. Everyone says they don't have time to workout or to meal plan and prep, yet they binge on 6 hours of Netflix on a Friday night. If you dont give yourself a time schedule to achieve your small goals that lead up to your big goal, time will fly by and that goal will stay just as far away as it was a year ago. Schedule time in your day, every day to be active. Schedule time every week to meal plan, grocery shop and meal prep for the week. Your time reflects your priorities. Take a week and just monitor how much you spend watching TV or on social media. I bet its much more than you thought. If you would just cut back on a few hours each week on those sedentary activities and replace them with the activities that will get you closer to achieving your goals, no time is lost. You dont have to "fit in" anything extra in your life, you are just getting rid of some of those time-sucking behaviors that are getting in the way of your goals. 

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FTW Suspension System Workout

FTW Founder and CEO shows us an awesome suspension system workout.

Equipment needed: Suspension system straps

FTW HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL STEP WORKOUT

FTW Cadre Cory Sanden leads us through a high-intensity interval step workout.

Equipment Needed: Step or plyo box

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FTW 5 Minute Yoga

Evolve Fit Wear - Best brands in Yoga &amp; Activewear

FTW Cadre SGT Sanden leads us through a quick yoga-inspired stretch routine. All you need is a mat! We recommend the yoga mat from Evolve Fit Wear, they have some pretty awesome and unique yoga mats!

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FTW Super Set and Drop Set Workout

FTW Cadre SGT Cory Sanden shows us how he pushes past plateaus by adding super set and drop sets to his workout routines. This workout requires either a resistance band (we recommend having a couple sets with different resistance) or a couple sets of dumbbell weights.

CLICK HERE TO GET HOME FITNESS RESISTANCE BAND SYSTEM

CLICK HERE TO GET HOME FITNESS RESISTANCE BAND SYSTEM

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE DUMBBELL SETS

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE DUMBBELL SETS

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The best time of day to run

Experienced sprinters recognize that warming up with breathing exercises, lengthy runs, tempo runs, and speed work are all crucial to enhancing performance. What's more perplexing, perchance, is arranging these sessions so you get the maximum out of every work. "It's significant to phase your exercises appropriately, and a proportion of runners do it incorrectly," states Jason Fitzgerald, a Washington, D.C.— centered trainer, 2:39 marathoner, and creator of StrengthRunning.com.

Receiving the precise extent of a break in the middle of quality exercises and prior to races aids the body get better and adjust while knowing the perfect time of day to do particular runs can produce a more fruitful session. Evidently, at whatever time you can go out and run is when you have to run—but if you've got choices, here's exactly how to time everything accurately.

EARLY RISER

Early morning exercises are performed between 5 am and 7 am. For a lot of us with steady 9-to-5 careers and hectic family lives, physical activity needs to be done as the lark rises.

Advantages

•        Feels excellent in the summer while the dawns are bright and warm.

•        There are functional benefits to exercises in an abstained condition

•        Feels great to know you’ve already done your workout and now can face the day.

•        Forms mental strength: if you can do it as soon as you wake up, you can do it any time you want.

•        Less traffic, foot-travelers and other roads/path users.

Disadvantages

•        Tough to do in the winter when it’s icy and murky.

•        Can be pressed for time fitting it into a taut space.

•        Necessitates an early bedtime to make it for the morning routine

LUNCHTIME LEGEND

This is in the middle of 1 pm and 2 pm. For a lot of us, a mealtime run is an excellent chance to take a rest from the place of work, get some fresh air and bank some miles.

Advantages

•        Gets your run done during office hours so you can unwind after work.

•        Offers chances to run with other people if you can breed some eagerness at work.

•        Studies have revealed those who work out at lunchtime pay attention more and can be more useful at work in the afternoon.

Disadvantages

•        Restricts you time-wise as lunch normally takes an hour.

•        It may be that you have to hurry your lunch, and could possibly miss it.

•        If your place of work doesn’t have a decent shower, you could rapidly become very disliked by your colleagues.

MID-MORNING MAN

This is in between 10 am and 11.30am. Even though we may be at our maximum attentive mid-morning, it may not be practical for a lot of us to plan a run at this period.

Advantages

•        By this time, your body has completely awakened and you feel more equipped and primed.

•        Your muscles function and lung performance are up to the mark.

•        You’re emotionally at your daily peak.

Disadvantages

•        challenging to fit into a regular work timetable: Unless you’ve got a very considerate supervisor or are self-hired, you can’t merely down gears and go off for a swift run

EVENING EXERCISER

This time is from 5 pm to 8 pm. Evening running is good for a lot of folks. Can this be the ideal hours for nailing your exercise?

Advantages

•        It’s been scientifically revealed that athletes do an improved job when body temperature is higher. This characteristically rises early evening.

•        Lung function has been revealed to be healthier in the afternoon than at other times of the day.

•        It feels physically easier to run more rapidly, which means that your exercises quality is enhanced.

•        Your work day has ended, which means that you have dedicated time to devote to your exercise.

Disadvantages

•        It can be a tussle to find the enthusiasm. It’s easy to ignore and skip it if work runs over, children need picking up or life, in general, gets in the way. Once the window of running chance has left, it's left.

•        If you live in built up or city regions, roads/paths can be full of traffic and pedestrians.

NIGHT OWL

This is in the middle of 9 pm and 11 pm. For those working shifts or with very hectic work and domestic obligations, this may be the only time likely to plan a run.

Advantages

•        If this is the only time you can run, it’s still a lot better than not running at all.

•        Streets more expected to be silent.

Disadvantages

•        Your body might be exhausted, which means that you are not as open to exercise or possibly as adaptive to the profits.

•        You’re not certain when to eat: afore your run or subsequently? If later, this can mean that you’re going to bed late on a bursting stomach.

•        Perceptibility will turn out to be an issue.

Author Bio:

This guest post was written by Hassan Khan Yousafzai, he is passionate about Digital marketing. Along with educational background in Software Engineering he is bridging gap between marketing and development department. At Techvando, he has been consulting brands all over Pakistan to gain online traffic and profitable leads.

EATING LOW CARB AT THANKSGIVING...IS IT POSSIBLE?

Many of us who are watching our weight, or just really care about staying on plan struggle around the holidays. Every holiday party is packed with carbs and sugar. We fear being judged or having to deal with the backhanded comments from fellow gathering attendees “You are not fat, you need to eat” “It’s the holidays, can’t you just enjoy yourself?” or the lovely “Well if you think your fat and shouldn’t eat this stuff…then you must think I am a whale!” (yes, all said to me at holiday gatherings).

There is a way to enjoy the Thanksgiving gatherings and actually get to eat! There are plenty of traditional foods that are low carb friendly already found on the tables of most American Thanksgiving gatherings! Here are just a few:

Turkey

Ham

Deviled eggs

Side salads (minus croutons, those are easily removed)

And cooked green side vegetable (as long as it is not a casserole, those usually include flour)

Sliced meats, cheeses, olives and raw vegetables from traditional appetizer trays

Alright, feeling a little better? No? Our next suggestion is to bring 2 -3 things that fit your diet that you can share! Who knows? You may inspire someone to follow your lead and switch to a low carb lifestyle! We suggest bringing an appetizer, a side and a desert. Combine with the turkey and you have all the bases covered.

What is great is that you can take any traditional thanksgiving recipe and with a couple of changes, make it low carb (and just as good).

For example, lets take the traditional green bean casserole. Take the traditional recipe that uses cream of mushroom soup (that commonly has flour in it and also canola oil) and make your own cream of mushroom soup instead. Here is how to make your own cream of mushroom soup.

Ingredients:

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  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 pound button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

  • 3 tablespoons almond flour or arrowroot

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. When foaming subsides add the mushrooms and season generously with salt and pepper. Saute until mushrooms have released their moisture and the edges begin to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and stir constantly until incorporated, about 1 minute. Gradually add the chicken stock and then the cream, whisking constantly to avoid lumping. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens, 5-6 minutes.

Replacing the breaded and fried onions are easy as well!

Slice 1 whole red onion and skillet fry them in ghee or coconut oil and coat them with almond flour or pulverized pork rinds. Add salt and pepper to taste. This will make the perfect “breaded” (not breaded) onions for your casserole.

Lastly, make sure to get 2 pounds of fresh green beans (not those sorry soft canned ones) and boil them for 6 minutes. Put the green beans and home made cream of mushroom soup in a casserole dish, top with your onions and bake until bubbling at 375 for about 20 minutes.

For desert, substitute pretty much any traditional baking recipe flour for almond flour and sugar for swerve or stevia (whatever your preference is).

Here is a recipe for a low carb pumpkin bread:

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cup almond flour

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3/4 cup stevia or swerve

2 tsp Pumpkin pie spice

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp Sea salt

3/4 cup Pumpkin puree

4 large Eggs (lbeaten)

1/3 cup Butter 

1/4 cup Pumpkin seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with coconut oil or line with parchment paper so loaf doesn’t stick or use a disposable aluminium loaf pan.

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the almond flour, stevia, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, and sea salt.

  2. Add the pumpkin puree, eggs, and melted butter. Mix until well combined.

  3. Transfer the batter into the loaf pan and press evenly to make a smooth top. Sprinkle the top with pumpkin seeds and press them lightly into the surface.

  4. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing

Bringing your own low carb options that are delicious will not only make you feel great about sticking with your plan, but will impress your skeptical friends and family and possibly convince them that this low carb thing may be a great way to live!

Copyright 2018, Fire Team Whiskey, LLC All rights reserved.

How to grocery shop for 5 minute meals

Fire Team Whiskey Founder is BUSY! She runs two businesses, is a mom to 5 fur animals and has to keep herself and her Fire Team Whiskey Participants fit and in shape (which means she has to do the same for herself). Here is what CPT Lincoln does most weeks to ensure that her meals take less than 5 minutes to make, so she can get back to her day!

By the way we love these meal prep bento boxes to get everything prepared for every meal of the week. These are perfect for busy families and people who want everything prepared and ready to run out the door each day.

Copyright Fire Team Whiskey, LLC 2018 All rights reserved

HOLIDAY TRAVEL: 5 TIPS TO STAY ON TRACK

According to AAA, 107.3 million Americans will travel over the holiday season. We all have had our experiences with holiday travel. Some good, some bad, some UGLY. What we all have in common is the interruption of our health and fitness efforts during this holiday travel season. We are out of our routine, we may not have access to a gym, Grandma keeps giving you seconds (and thirds) of her delicious banana pudding. We end up arriving home bloated, exhausted, lethargic, and feeling oh so very far away from those health and fitness goals we were so committed to before we left. Here are 5 tips to keep you on track during the holiday traveling season.

1. DO A RECON: In the military, a unit normally doesn’t enter enemy territory without some sort of recon. This means someone took a look at the area, gathered information and made a smart plan of attack. Treat your travel in the same way: do a recon. Know where you are staying? Do a google search and check if there is a grocery store near your hotel. Contact the hotel and ask to have a room with a refrigerator. Find out if the hotel has a gym, and if so, what type of equipment. If not, what gyms are nearby or are there other workout options in the area such as running trails, crossfit gyms or yoga studios. Make sure to pack your workout clothes and running shoes!

MPG Black Friday Event

2. MAKE A PLAN: Make a plan in advance to swing by a grocery store on your way to the hotel and pick up healthy snacks and drinks for the room. Contact the gyms ahead of time and inquire about drop in rates or temporary memberships. Or, use your Fire Team Whiskey subscription to do workouts from your hotel room, because no equipment is required! Schedule your workouts for each day of your vacation so that it will not interfere with your other plans. Plan out your meals and snacks to ensure that you always have something available that falls within your eating plan.

3. PRACTICE YOUR ASSERTIVENESS SKILLS: Nothing is more awkward than being put in a situation to refuse a person’s hospitality. We suggest that you contact the family members you may be visiting ahead of time and politely ask that food that complies with your eating plan needs be a part of what they are offering. Or better yet, offer to bring a dish (that happens to be a healthy choice that you can eat) for everyone. When pressed to have something you do not want to eat, say politely but firmly “Thank you, it looks delicious, but I am just so full I couldn’t eat another bite.” Some may be more insistent than others, be firm and just say no thank you.

4. GET REINFORCEMENT: It is very hard to be the only one in the room not chowing down on mac and cheese, cake, pie and bread rolls. You may even get some snide remarks about you needing to eat “because your so skinny”, “you don’t need to lose weight” , or “you should live a little, it’s the holidays”. Ahead of time, ask someone who will be at the event to be your battle buddy. Ask them to stand with you and help support you during these attacks on your willpower. Your family member can say “Joe Schmo has been working so hard and looks fantastic. I can really tell that this new way of life is making him/her feel great. We should support Joe Shmo and not push her/him to violate that commitment that means so much to him/her.”

5. THE ONE CHEAT RULE: We are certainly not suggesting that you not enjoy anything “off plan” during your holiday travels. The trouble is, it is easy to completely annihilate weeks of hard work in a period of a few days. Make a goal of having ONE CHEAT per day during your holiday travel that would be normally considered off plan for you at home. One means one. Not my cheat today is having beer and you drink 7 beers. If you normally limit yourself at home to one drink, then your cheat would be an additional drink. If you normally don’t have desert at home, have a small desert. Be strategic about it so you truly enjoy it. This means you may have to pass up on a potential cheat earlier in the day in order to have a treat later that you were looking forward to having.

We hope these tips help you stay on track during your holiday travels. Don’t have plans yet? If you haven’t already heard, you can get free vacations for military families at Westgate Resorts during their upcoming Military Weekend Giveaway. Also, check out Westgate’s portfolio of military discount hotels if you’re looking for a deal on your next getaway. They have awesome deals on Orlando Vacation getaways! Have you ever been to Disney during Christmas? It’s amazing! Plus, it’s Florida, the place to be in the winter. Check out their hotel deals for Military Families!

Copyright 2018 Fire Team Whiskey LLC

Pumpkin Spice Latte Shake

Fall is in the air and pumpkin spice everything is EVERYWHERE! The problem is, almost everything with pumpkin spice in it, has a ton of sugar and carbs in it. If you are a pumpkin spice latte lover, you are going to love this “spiced up” version of the Fire Team Whiskey SpecOps® Shake! Wave as you pass up the Starbucks run and make your own ZERO added SUGAR version at home or at work! This recipe does require a blender. We recommend the Ninja Blender (CPT Lincoln owns two, she has one at home and one at work).

Ingredients:

One packet of Fire Team Whiskey SpecOps® Shake

1/2 Frozen or fresh ripe banana

2 TBS of pumpkin puree (make sure to get the canned pumpkin puree with no added sugar)

A dash or two of organic cinnamon (we promise you it’s way better than regular cinnamon)

1 TBS of raw pumpkin seeds

DIRECTIONS:

Place all the ingredients in the blender with 8-12 ounces of water. Add ice if you want to make it “milshakey” in texture. Blend. If you want to get fancy top off with a dash of cinnamon and a few pumpkin seeds. ENJOY!

Copyright 2018 Fire Team Whiskey LLC, All rights reserved.

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