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Becoming fat adapted

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  • #16
    I went cold turkey because I knew that I would not be able to do it "gradually." I have little restraint and I can't have a "little" amount of something without wanting more. It was pretty much an all or nothing approach. When I first started, it was more of an Atkins/Protein Power style approach (less than ~30gm of carbs a day, from previously 200+ gm, probably even 300+ at some points) so I got the flu pretty bad the first time. I felt awful. Drinking broth/bouillon really helped though, because I think for me I was losing electrolytes because I lost SO much water weight initially. This lasted probably 1-2 weeks for me. I was dizzy, shaky, couldn't focus at work and starving all the time. I didn't work out back then at all and I have a desk job. I now fast almost every day with no problems and probably only eat one meal most days. It will pass though! I think if you're comfortable doing it gradually then you should, but it just wouldn't work for me.

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    • #17
      I went 100% paleo for a month when I started last summer... I noticed being dizzy, lethargic, couldn't think straight at my analytical job etc... but it lasted only a couple days around the second week. After I felt I was fully fat adapted, I started to bring more rice & potatoes into my diet as I perform heavy barbell lifts 3x a week + play hockey. I still manage to get by with 150g of carbs or less on training days, and of those 150g only about 30-50 being from a rice or potato serving. That was such a shock to me, as I've relied on carbs heavily for weight training in the past.

      I like the all-in approach, as it forces the body to adapt to change. Otherwise you are giving it that sliver of hope to cling on that it can bend your will and go back to using sugar for its primary energy source.

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      • #18
        Here's how I do cold turkey, when I feel like I've had too much sugar-creep and need a hard reset:

        Day 1: Eat every damn thing I want, as long as what I want is meat, fish, eggs, nuts, or avocado. This is my hardest day - the day I'm most likely to feel deprived. I don't worry about calories, and I don't try to balance fat and protein (though that pretty much takes care of itself). If I'm hungry, I eat fatty protein until I'm stuffed. I eat a lot of salt, too - it makes things taste better, and I think it helps with the "low-carb flu" as well. No exercise, because I don't want to risk getting too hungry.

        Day 2: Basically the same as day 1.

        Day 3: Feel a bit punk, so I rest a lot, and eat a lot of bacon, eggs, maybe a steak so I feel like I'm treating myself. Some salad with a lot of dressing and some veggies, to make sure I'm getting a cross-section of nutrients. This would be the most dangerous day for me to have any sugar at all. No exercise still because I feel achy and gross.

        Day 4: Already feeling better. Continue eating a lot of fat and meat, but I'm less emotionally needy of sugar/food, so it's a lot easier, and I probably don't eat as much.

        Day 5: Feeling pretty good. Calories are coming down, cravings are low and easy to manage. Weight is also down because I've dropped some water.

        Day 6: Diet is basically paleo-normalized, still avoiding sugar like it's the devil, but I can add in some nuts and berries and start thinking about rational menus again. Also feeling ready to start exercising again.

        Day 7: Pretty much back on track.

        The problem for me is that if I let any sugar creep in, it slowly takes over. Fruit is fine, because it doesn't seem to send me down any bad roads - which is good, because I eat fruit like a mad thing in summer, mostly berries and watermelon. But if I start putting honey in my tea, or sugar in my coffee, even in tiny amounts... it's a sure bet I'll be eating chocolate by the barrel a few weeks later.
        Last edited by merryish; 04-23-2013, 09:00 AM.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by GKL View Post
          I started by cutting carbs maybe in half (so half of the typical 400-500 grams) and ate a lot more saturated fat (all kinds). I incorporated 2-3 TBSPs of coconut oil every morning (work up to this amount slowly). I think the coconut oil was especially helpful because it is such a great energy source.

          Just eating a lot more fat will help your body start switching over to being fat adapted. Drop your carbs gradually. You should see a dramatic change in your metabolism and energy levels in a month or so.
          I second this suggestion. Reducing carbs from the SAD level is great, but your body still needs to get energy from somewhere, and the best place is from fat. Make sure you are eating plenty of fat, including coconut oil for MCTs. MCTs are metabolized more directly than other fats and provide a nice energy boost. I have also seen claims that they can assist the body in burining other fats once the MCTs run out, but I don't know if there is any confirmation of this. Coconut oil can upset people's stomachs when they first start out with it, so start with a smaller amount and work up to more as you build a tolerance.

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          • #20
            Thanks everyone, these suggestions are great! Anybody have advice on how many carbs I should stick to during the fat adaption phase- and how long I should stay at that carb level (should I increase after becoming far adapted? I'd like to lose weight but I'm also very active)

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            • #21
              I've always found even with an active lifestyle, around 100g of carbs is a decent number for good energy levels, derived from vegetables/fruits and a serving of starch. If you perform any activities that deplete your glycogen like barbell lifts, HIIT activities/sports etc then on those days you will want to up it by a serving or two of starchy carbs ~50-75g.

              You'll be amazed at the energy you get from fats

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              • #22
                Nobody get "fat adapted" since they are already perfectly adapted to burning fat by millions of years of evolution - what they really become adapted to is to feel better on less carbs...
                "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

                - Schopenhauer

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by dabears View Post
                  I've always found even with an active lifestyle, around 100g of carbs is a decent number for good energy levels, derived from vegetables/fruits and a serving of starch. If you perform any activities that deplete your glycogen like barbell lifts, HIIT activities/sports etc then on those days you will want to up it by a serving or two of starchy carbs ~50-75g.

                  You'll be amazed at the energy you get from fats
                  Thanks this is very helpful! Do you suggest I start lower and then do 100-150 once adapted, or can the adaptation process happen at 100-150?

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                  • #24
                    I think if you limit your carb intake to a serving of starchy carbs (~50g or less) a day, and consume vegetables/fruits, you will be hard pressed to hit 150g in the first place. It is more the type of carb than the amount, so by eliminating processed sugar, refined starch based carbs like bread/pasta/etc. and not getting ridiculous with fruit or potato/rice consumption you will force the body to become fat adapted.

                    If aren't doing any sort of HIIT sprinting or barbell weight lifting, and need a real life example... eat salads with meat on top for majority of your meals!

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