What John Kiefer had to say about the ketogenic diet and how he found the best way to optimize it for fat loss was very interesting, so I took the plunge and picked up his book.
Since amazon doesn’t offer a kindle version, I actually picked up the e-book version of it directly from his website.
The author is a physicist who was fat before and tried to get into body building. As he was training he discovered a very effective method for him to burn fat. After reviewing over 20,000 articles and synthesizing all that information he came upon this solution.
The main goal of the Carb Nite Method is to burn fat while preserving muscle. He stresses that this is a tool that should not be used for more than 6 months at a time and that this is NOT meant to be a lifestyle (as opposed to the idea of continuous nutritional ketosis).
The way he describes the most effective way to burn fat is to take advantage of the physiologic benefits of ketosis by eating an ultra low carb diet (less than 30 gm of carbs per day), with periods of once a week carb re-feeds in a window of 6 – 8 hrs.
According to his research, being in a state of prolonged ketosis actually causes the body to down regulate it’s metabolism, and this down regulation eventually works against you if your goal is fat loss.
This made sense to me since during my own n=1 experiment with nutritional ketosis, I didn’t experience the same dramatic weight loss that Jimmy Moore did in his experiment. After 90 days I only lost a grand total of 1.2 lbs and 1 inch off my abdominal circumference.
During the course of my experiment I developed a bout of hypothyroidism which is apparently common in the very low carb community, and is the body’s way of responding to it’s ‘perceived’ state of starvation during ketosis by trying to lower it’s basal energy expenditure. This probably accounted for why my weight loss was so minimal.
To counteract the drop in metabolism that comes with ketogenesis, Kiefer uses the carb re-feeds to cause large but brief spikes of insulin. The carb load during the re-feed window is meant to be substantial: having a carb laden early supper, late dinner, and bed time snack. The subsequent surge in insulin tells the body that there is actually plenty of food around and aborts the typical drop in energy. This is a similar concept Tim Ferriss employs with his Slow Carb Diet and weekly cheat days.
Now here’s the interesting part. The reason this carb re-feed window doesn’t make you fat is because when the body is ketogenic, it actually stops production of the enzyme that converts carbohydrate to fat! So keeping the body in a ketogenic state for the entire week ensures that this enzyme is inactive when the re-feed window rolls around. It’s important to restart the ultra-low carb immediately the following day because the large dose of carbs will actually stimulate your body to up-regulate that carb-to-fat enzyme again, until ketogenesis is re-achieved.
Kiefer found that utilizing this method not only prevented the body from slowing down it’s metabolism, but it actually caused the body to burn more fat for up to 4 days afterwards! He also claims that this eventually leads to the death of fat cells.
I actually don’t want to give too much away because despite the hefty price tag of $27, this is actually a great resource. The first 100 pages are dedicated to the science and methodology. This is followed by some testimonials and a really useful FAQ guide.
The majority of the book is actually filled with lists of foods that are ok to eat, specific sample meal plans for an entire month, and a list of recipe’s which as you can imagine is extremely useful, especially for someone who has never heard of ketogenesis or ketosis before.
At the very back he provides extensive citations.
In the end, I still recommend this book. My main gripe with this book is the price… again it’s $27, but if I had to do it over again, I would still purchase it. Another thing I wish he did was inject just a little more science. I understand that he wrote the book for lay people (which is one of the primary strengths of this book), but at least for me, it would be nice to know the name of the carb-to-fat enzyme.
The other thing I didn’t like was that he is ok with the source of carbs being food like ice cream, donuts, cake, etc. With all the data coming out about the perils of gluten, I’d still avoid those sources and instead turn to safe starches like rice and sweet potatoes.
I have to say that I came away convinced enough to make this the subject of my next n=1 experiment. I’m currently in the 3rd week of Carb Nite. Stay tuned!