First 60 Days of Nutritional Ketosis

BJJI officially started my n=1 experiment on nutritional ketosis on 12/12/2012 (you can read about why I started it here), and I wanted to write a summary about my experiences and what I’ve learned after completing my first 60 days.

60 days weight

I weighed 180.0 lbs on day 1, 12/12/2012 and on day 60, I weighed 179.2 lbs, for a loss of 0.8 lbs!  I know, not very impressive but I do feel that my body composition improved over all.  I started receiving more compliments from people who thought that I lost more weight, and I noticed that my body started having a little more definition.  Veins also started popping out of my forearms which is something I never had before.  My weight bumped up to 184.0 lbs after my trip to New York where my diet definitely went off the deep end.  I also ran out of test strips and didn’t have access to a scale accounting for the lack of data you see in the middle.

My body circumference measurements changed from before the experiment to day 60 as follows:
Abdomen: 34.5 -> 33.9 inches
Hips: 38.5 -> 38.1 inches
Right Thigh: 21.5 -> 21.9 inches
Left thigh: 22.0 -> 22.0 inches
Total Change in Inches: 116.5 -> 115.9

So I had a total loss of 0.6 inches which corresponds with my subjective sense of an improvement in body composition.  This certainly isn’t as dramatic as the changes Jimmy Moore experienced after his first 60 days, but I’m willing to take any improvement at all!

60 days glucose

As you can see, this diet helped me keep my blood sugar in a pretty tight range.  My highest reading was 93, and that came after my trip to NYC.

60 days ketones

My blood ketones were kind of all over the place, but I managed to stay above 0.5 mmol for the majority of the time.  I only had 6 recorded days when it was below 0.5 mmol, and 5 days when it was exactly at 0.5 mmol.  That means my body experienced 49 total days of primarily using fat as fuel!  One issue I came across was that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep my ketones consistently above 1.0 mmol.  This was pretty frustrating for me since I saw that others were able to keep them in the 2.0-3.0 mmol range… it really gave me ketone envy!  But then Jimmy noticed the same phenomenon in his most recent post where is AM ketones fell into the same range mine were and it really got me thinking.  Here is the comment I left on his blog trying to come up with a way to explain this:

“Regarding your AM ketones, I’m surprised to see that they are so low! What is your body fat% now? I’m at around 20% and am noticing that no matter how hard I try, I can’t keep my ketones consistently above 1.0 mmol (even though in your recent conversation with Ben Greenfield, he said over 1.0 mmol is optimal for performance). I’ve been tracking my diet rigorously (I post the macro break down every day) and no matter how low carb I go and how high fat, my ketones stay under 1.0 mmol most of the time.

I wonder if after a certain body fat%, your ketones just stay low… if this is the case.. then I don’t have to continue being so befuddled as to why my numbers are so low when other out there such as yourself a few months ago could consistently get higher than 2.0 mmol.”

I came across the blog of someone else trying nutritional ketosis and she reported that she noticed her ketones jumped above 3.0 mmol after cutting her protein down.  She got to the point where she was eating around 50 gm of protein!  Since I’m pretty active and want to preserve my muscle mass, I don’t think I’d be willing to cut my protein intake to less than 100 gm in an effort to get my ketones up…. although it would make for an interesting 1 or 2 day experiment hmm…  maybe this will have to be my next n=1 experiment… but I’m not entirely sure what the benefit would be since it wouldn’t be a sustainable way of eating for me.  I’ll have to think about this more.  If anyone out there has additional thoughts, I’d definitely appreciate it.

Here are a few other things I discovered along the way:

  • Being in nutritional ketosis helped me avoid the post workout hypoglycemic crash I used to get after playing a hard game of basketball or rigorous BJJ session.  Before this, it was standard for me to have a severe head ache and require a nap of around 2-3 hours just to recover.  So it was great to no longer be subjected to this.  I also didn’t bonk out during intense activity such as Crossfit.  I attribute this to the more constant source of energy that ketosis provides without having to undergo the dramatic peaks and troughs of normal glucose metabolism.  Of course, like everything, there were exceptions
  • I no longer experienced the post-prandial-after-lunch wave of sleepiness that would knock me out in the afternoon before.
  • Other than the above two situations, I didn’t really notice any improvement in my energy level or any correlation with blood ketone levels.  The main thing that correlated with my energy level was the amount of sleep I had… I generally felt good as long as I had 7 – 7:30 hours of sleep (also sleeping in my own bed always made things better).
  • After reading this experiment I decided to cut out all diet soda from my diet.  I haven’t had a diet coke since the start of my experiment… although I do enjoy an occasional Vitamin Water Zero or Sobe Zero, which are sweetened with stevia which Volek and Phinney don’t seem to have a problem with.  They also seem to be ok with Xylitol.  Not sure how they feel about sucralose, but I’ve come across a few articles online stating that it’s bad for the good gut bacteria.
  • I no longer experience the profound craving for the goodies I used to go nuts over on my epic cheat days (donuts, pizza, fries, cake, ice cream, danishes, pastries, cheesecake, etc…).  I can now look at these things without feeling the urge to pounce on them.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say that a small part of me, like 2%, still wants to indulge!
  • It’s actually very difficult to follow this diet while eating out.  You have to try really hard to ask restaurants to hold corn starch or any other hidden sources of carbs.  This means burgers without buns.  Steaks and subbing potatoes for steamed vegetables.  It was always easier for the diet just to prepare my own food.
  • Tracking blood ketones in the evening wasn’t really helpful (you can read more here and here) because of the effect that the most recent meal could have on my measurements.  This also helped save some $$ by using less ketone strips.
  • I found that the most consistent way to raise my ketone levels on the next morning was by exercise.
  • Being in ketosis has controlled my sugars extremely well and helped me maintain an average fasting blood sugar of 83 over the past 60 days.  I can say for sure that I would recommend this diet to any diabetics that I know.  It’ll be interesting to see what my followup HbA1c is.
  • Red velvet cake is definitely not good for ketosis…
  • I discovered how revealing and useful keeping a food log could be.  Even with this way of eating, it can be easy to over eat if you’re not paying attention, at least in the beginning.  I kept a food log for over a month and it gave me a pretty good idea of the macronutrient content of the different things I was eating so I could adjust them accordingly for more ideal ratios.  Since I have a pretty good sense now, I’ve decided to stop keeping the food log, and will probably just do it once in a while just to make sure things are ok, or if my ketones stay too low for a while.   If you’re considering this diet and are just starting out, I highly recommend keeping a food log.
  • One of things that really attracted me to this diet was the purported ease of experiencing satiety, leading to consuming less calories over all.  I really struggled with this in the beginning and didn’t really consistently experience the satiety until about 45-50 days into the diet.  I still haven’t quite gotten to the point where I can accidentally fast, but my hunger pangs have certainly decreased in intensity, and I’ve been ok skipping meals more often than before without any hunger at all.
  • New Years Eve in NYC is not good for ketosis… but good for the soul!
  • Checking ketones in the morning is actually a lot of fun for me (I know… I’m a weirdo) and it also holds me accountable.  I’m more motivated to eat healthily when I know there will be something irrefutable facing me the next morning.
  • Consuming enough protein in the form of meats along with fat in my meal is more satiating than fat alone.
  • Chinese food is not good for ketosis…
  • Calories still do matter
  • While good for ketosis, xylitol can be tough on digestion when too much is taken…
  • It’s important to keep an eye on your overall protein intake because of the possibility for gluconeogenesis which can lower ketone levels.

Some other things that Jimmy Moore noticed that I haven’t really observed include:

  • “Mental clarity and memory have never been better” – I didn’t really notice a difference except that both get worse when I don’t sleep enough.
  • “Signs of inflammation in my body have vanished” – I didn’t have any inflammation in the first place, and my CRP (inflammatory blood marker) was normal when it was tested before this experiment.
  • “I’ve become much more intuitive in my eating” – This didn’t come automatic for me until I started keeping a food log.
  • “On a regular sleep schedule of 8 hours a night” – I found that it my sleep depended more on social factors and how busy I was rather than what I ate and what my ketone levels were.
  • “Increased productivity in my work schedule” – My productivity didn’t really change, except that it decreased when I didn’t sleep well.
  • “Improved mood and outward demeanor towards others” – Again, more correlated with my sleep.
  • “Ability to intermittent fast virtually at will” – Nope, I still need to eat at least 2 meals/day.
  • “Signs of acne are almost non-existent” – I didn’t have much to begin with and would only get a zit once in a while…which didn’t change.
  • “Skin tags I’ve had my entire life are shriveling up” – I don’t have any skin tags… luckily.
  • “The color in my face is healthier than it was before” – I didn’t notice any change… except that I may have gotten paler since it’s been snowing and I haven’t been able to spend much time outside.

22 Responses to First 60 Days of Nutritional Ketosis

  1. Owie says:

    Hi BJJCM, I have been doing the blood ketone & sugar tests daily since 1/1/2013, with the HFLC lifestyle. I plan to continue for another 3 weeks (The testing, not the lifestyle).
    My experience is similar to yours, with readings hovering between .5 and 1.0. I tend to binge on alcohol on the weekends, which had only a minimal impact on ketone levels. One thing I have come to realise is that to lose weight, calories really do matter, as you mentioned. Even though I was doing LCHF all the time (and have done for 7 months now), on the weekends I was consuming over 3000 calories a day (including alcohol). This really impacts on the weight loss.
    I have done several experiments over the last few months, and agree that any more than a couple of tsp of Xylitol = bad news. I never feel hungry anymore, which enables me to really tinker with fat and protein levels to see what works for me. I have heaps of energy when I go to the gym now, but I also don’t go as often. Maybe 2-3 times a week. Before LCHF, I used to get headaches every day, and now I don’t get them at all.

    Anyway, thanks for your updates. They have been very informative!

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Out of curiosity, what alcohol do you indulge in? I’ve limited myself to the occasional dry red wine, which I’ve heard is keto-friendly, and I think cabernet (which is my favorite) is considered a dry wine.

  2. Justin says:

    This is the master post! Nice work. I don’t see any comments here about strength. Did you see this loss in low-end power that Robb Wolf is always talking about?
    You say it took 45 days to experience satiety, so you really only had 2 weeks to work in earnest. People say it takes 30-60 days to make that first fat burning adjustment.

    I hope you will try less protein and continue the measurements at some point, if only so I don’t have to go out and buy the test strips. Considering the drastic nature of the changes you’ve made, it seems like it’s worth trying.

    I am curious if the “calories (from extra fat) don’t matter” might kick in if drop protein as well.

    Xylitol really gives me bad stomach issues in almost any quantity.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Glad you liked it!

      Yeah, I was surprised at how long it took to really experience the satiety… I guess its sort of a your mileage may vary type of thing. It’s interesting that it took so long despite the fact that I was already ketoadapted as confirmed by my blood ketones, albeit at the low end of the range.

      I think I’m going to try to keep my proteins at the bottom of my range, around 85 grams. I’ll see how that goes for around 2 days… I’m still really fearful of losing lean mass.

      Didn’t really notice any loss in power, except for that one bad BJJ day. Haven’t really gotten to the point in Crossfit where me measure my maxes yet so I don’t really have anything to quantify…

  3. Lori says:

    I just finished reading your blog.
    Like you, I’ve been doing the am ketone tests. My readings are similar, mostly around .6 to the low 1’s. I hit above 2 a couple times, usually after a long distance event. Instead of BJJ, I like to walk marathons and other ultra distances.
    I’m looking forward to reading about your next experiments. I’m going to try for a ketone streak above .5 like you are doing.
    Keep on keto-ing!

  4. […] the strongest hunger pangs I’ve felt since starting this experiment.  I concluded previously that protein is for satiating for me, and this experience only reinforces that further.  I had a […]

  5. Ian S says:

    Hello:

    I saw your post on Dr. Ede’s blog and came here to read yours. I’m on day 44 of my own NK. When I keep my protein down to 50g/day (170lb 48 year old male), I get my blood ketones up to 2.2-3.0 regularly , and up to 4.4-5.0 the day after an intense basketball game. Even ratcheting up the protein to 75g/day will drop my ketones way down to the 1.0 range. It makes me wonder if all the low protein advocates are right … if anything over 50g is just getting converted to glucose anyhow and ramping up my insulin response, maybe one doesn’t need as much protein as the athletic community thinks?

    I remember reading a few papers years ago that said that protein uptake in muscles was much greater when the protein was consumed with liberal fat. So maybe particlarly on a high fat diet, we can’t use more than 50g/day of protein anyhow? Since fat is such a taboo thing, there isn’t a lot of research, but it makes sense that the two go together. In the wild, it’s quite difficult to consume protein without a lot of fat along with it.

    Food for thought – great blogging.

  6. […] cheesecake), causing me to fall out of ketosis.  Then when I came back home and dug back into my n=1 nutritional ketosis experiment getting my blood ketones back up, that’s when the rash […]

  7. […] trying too hard to eat very low carb.  This is in stark contrast to my efforts during my initial n=1 nutritional ketosis experiment in which I felt like I had to keep track of every bite of food that entered my mouth and try […]

  8. […] trying too hard to eat low carb… unlike the militant way I was counting carbs during my initial n=1 experiment.  I know there were a some weeks when I was definitely eating very low carb and spent at least a […]

  9. […] First 60 Days of Nutritional Ketosis […]

  10. […] sleep tracking to help me better figure out how different things affected my sleep.  I tried a strict ketogenic diet and even played around with resistant […]

  11. […] spiked my blood sugar fell and vice versa.  You can see the charts here tracking my numbers after 60 days and then 90 days of nutritional […]

  12. […] 60 days of Nutritional Ketosis I showed that I lost more weight and inches and I tested my blood after 72 days of nutritional […]

  13. Michael says:

    Has anyone tried lowering overall protein intake, and testing whether leucine and lysine supplementation can improve satiety? Leucine and lysine are considered ketogenic amino acids (not glucogenic), and should not increase blood glucose levels. This approach may improve satiety (see links to research below). However, the daily upper intake limit (UL) should not be exceeded for certain amino acids because it can lead to toxicity (especially in the dumb and foolish that combine over-the-counter supplements and prescription meds without checking with their physician).

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1542005

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4113753/

  14. […] me, I think strict nutritional ketosis is too restrictive.  I know I need to have a treat every now and then, and I believe in both […]

  15. […] Slow Carb Diet from The 4 Hour Body, by Tim Ferriss, which got even worse when I experimented with Nutritional Ketosis, despite losing weight and improving my body composition.  I tried a cyclic ketogenic diet (Carb […]

Leave a Reply

Disclosures: Please note that some of the links provided are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.  Please understand that I have experience with all of these products.  If they're books, I've read them cover to cover, and if they're products or supplements, I've used and/or continue to use them, and I am not shy about giving my honest opinion of them, positive or negative.  The small commissions I make help me out a tiny bit, and if you've found my site helpful then feel free to purchase these products through the links I've provided.  If not, that's fine too, no pressure, I'll still continue to write!  Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites

Medical-Legal Disclaimer:

This site is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Through this site and linkages to other sites, bjjcaveman.com provides general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this site, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. BJJ Caveman and bjjcaveman.com are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site.

Privacy Policy

See the bjjcaveman.com privacy policy here.