How Do You Feel After A Few Months On A Ketogenic Diet?

As far as I am concerned, Keto is a very powerful nutritional tool. But living in the KetoZone also has some drawbacks, problems and pitfalls over time, if slavishly adhered to.

SUMMARY: A Ketogenic diet is an appropriate dietary strategy for most people. A high percentage serious and dedicated dieters will be able to maintain the required discipline  of this type of diet without too much pain or suffering for a period of roughly 4–12 weeks. They can do this effectively and successfully, dramatically decreasing body fat levels. It is however, likely to be a double-edged sword.

I will explain myself a little better, please read on.

The Good

About 4 years ago, as the result of a £50 bet, a scheduled trip back to California (from Guernsey where I’ve been running a gym for the last 25 years or so), and a sort of “you’ll never do it” Facebook challenge from an advertising competitor, I embarked on an experiment in ketosis, determined to see it though, look good on the beach and be £50 richer.

The first couple of weeks was reasonably difficult. Up until that point, I had always felt that a life without CHOs was no fun and probably not worth living. From week 3 continuing through to week 10 on a strict KD (CHO intake of not more than 60 g/day), I was euphoric and felt tremendous, both mentally and physically.

Here are the benefits that I found:

1. Improved mental clarity, thought process were noticeably more acute. 

2. Blood glucose levels remained at rock solid straight line values. A very pleasant and energetic calmness (this calmness lead me to label the Ketogenic Diet as “Nutritional Prozac”).

3. A reduction in systemic inflammation. This was especially important to me as I have extensive vertebral and connective tissue damage.

4. Body weight loss of 20 lbs. while simultaneously experiencing a body fat level decrease from 18% to 8.1% as accurately measured by DEXA scan, performed at UCLA’s David Geffen Medical Center, (see copy in Footnote 1 * below.

5. Overall, I looked pretty ripped and felt really good, notwithstanding my age, 56 at the time of the experiment. (See photos below and *Footnote 2*).

START of Ketogenic Diet

 

Roughly 10 weeks Into Our Keto Experiment

The Bad

I have kept up a quarterly blood work schedule, fairly consistently, for the last 20 years. I maintain a large file of all tests conducted, as well as various other biometric data. I like to think that I try to keep things scientific to best assess results and to make sense of whether a protocol or theory that I have in mind is relevant or realistic.

About the 10th Week of Ketosis things started to get a little weird.

  1. My Cholesterol Levels went sky high (a quadrupling in cholesterol values from 4.5 mmol/L  to over 17 mmol/L)
  2. Blood Cortisol levels were measurably elevated: (@O8:00 = 750 nmol/L and @16:00 = 450 nmol/L).  
  3. I also felt that from week 8, the euphoria that had lasted up to then stopped. This beatific feeling had disappeared and was replaced with an anxious, ill-tempered mindset. It even went so far that my partner of 10 years began packing her bags and threatening to look around for more pleasant companionship. 
  4. While I have never been a heavy sleeper, I also wrestled with a great deal of insomnia during this period. Most probably due to decreased serotonin levels as a result of the low level of carbohydrate intake.

Conclusion

Throughout my youth and later bodybuilding career, the diet that I maintained was High protein/Medium-High Carbohydrate/Low Fat. My body fat (even in competition) had never dipped below the 10% level (usual maintenance average was about 13–15%).

After 9-10 weeks of strict keto discipline: Caloric Ratio: FAT >75% , PRO 10–20 %, CHO <5%, my BF reached a low of 8.1%.

In over 40 years of bodybuilding, half of that time spent competing, this level was the lowest level of BF that I have experienced, either before or since. This dramatic result was the direct outcome of strict adherence to a modified ketogenic diet.

NO FREE LUNCHES

KD is a great way to lose a substantial amount of body fat, reduce inflammation, sort out unwanted spiking in blood sugar levels and maintain an overall energy-rich, Zen-like attitude… for up to about 3 months. Beyond this period, depending on genetics, age and other factors, a subject is likely to suffer from unwanted side-effects, probably outweighing the positive aspects of remaining in Ketosis.

Footnotes:

  1. A copy of the first page of a DXA Scan performed about 2 weeks after stopping this experiment:

2. Obvious quality of the “after” photos is poor, a good argument against using a cheap webcam to document anything. But these photos should give the reader a feeling of the level of muscle definition and fat loss experienced during this experiment.

2 Comments on “How Do You Feel After A Few Months On A Ketogenic Diet?

  1. Pingback: Body Fat %: How Low Can I Go & Still be Healthy? - BodyWorks: Just Get Fit.

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