I am experimenting with ketogenic versions of the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) & I am starting to get a lot questions from people who are considering a ketogenic approach to healing. As many people have similar questions, I thought I would answer three common ones here:
Hello! I recently found your website and am really interested in starting the Wahl’s Paleo Plus. I’m unsure where to start or what to do?! I’ve been on a sugar cleanse for the past 2 months hoping that would heal some of the joint pain I’ve been experiencing & give me more energy, unfortunately I’m not seeing much improvement. I think maybe I’m consuming too much meat/protein. I’ve been paleo, dairy free, gluten free for a few years. Help!! Any insight or shove in the right direction would be very much appreciated!
My first recommendation in starting the Wahls Protocol would be to read Dr Terry Wahls book. I would also recommend reading Keto-Clarity by Jimmy Moore for more information about ketosis.
The key with ketosis is getting keto-adapted. I’ve gone into ketosis twice in the last year & both times it took 40 days to get keto-adapted, though apparently some people get there in 2-3 weeks. Getting keto-adapted is different than getting into ketosis, which usually takes just a few days. Once you are in ketosis, hunger will be reduced so it is easier, but those first few days can be hard. You could go in with a fasting approach, in which you eat 2 high fat meals per day & experience the hunger before ketosis kicks in, or you could continue to eat according to your usual schedule & just shift your meals to align with the WahlsPaleo+ guidelines until you are in ketosis & then switch to 2 meals a day (fasting in between). It’s your experiment: you’re in charge!
Once you are in ketosis, but before you become keto-adapted, you will likely experience a decline in performance. This is the period when many people give up on ketosis altogether. As mentioned, it seems to take 40 days for me to get keto-adapted & as soon as I am, my energy levels pick back up & I’m able to do all the physical activity I love. When you are keto-adapted your body has fully switched from running on glucose to running on ketones. That’s the physiological shift. But going ketogenic (or making any other significant change) also requires psychological shifts. Stages of Change talks about some the psychological processes involved in making a major change like this.
My naturopath told me she read a direct quite from Dr Terry Wahls about having a cheat meal once a week/ month. I really wish that’s true; however I have not seen any reference to this. Do you know anything about this?
Cheat meals seem really, really important before you begin (I know!), but once you’re keto-adapted the concept becomes almost irrelevant. I now feel so satiated that I have no desire to cheat.
I have never seen Terry Wahls mention a cheat meal. What she does include in her ketogenic protocol (WahlsPaleo+) is higher carb vegetables (like root vegetables or winter squash) twice per week, but this is entirely dependent on a person’s ability to maintain ketosis. If you can maintain ketosis, she recommends including the nutrient density provided by these foods.
What Dr Wahls has done with her ketogenic protocol is create an out-of-the-box program that will work for most people
. But we vary enormously in our tolerance for carbohydrates & protein when in a ketogenic state. Once keto-adapted, you can play around with higher-carb vegetables or increased protein to find your own tolerance levels. But some people (particularly post-menopausal women) may find they need to actually reduce the carbohydrate & protein levels to maintain ketosis. If you want to experiment to create your own personalized program, consider investing in a breath ketone analyzer
to get accurate reading of your ketones.
Ultimately, biohacking is all about the experiments you set up for yourself to achieve the objectives you
want to achieve, so whether or not to include cheat meals is entirely up to you. Keeping in mind, my husband Matthew has been on a strict dietary protocol for 10 months for his autoimmune conditions. He cheated once (with macadamia nuts & gluten free bread) in the early months and as that cheat set him back a full 2.5 months
in his healing process, so he has been completely strict since. He’s not ketogenic, but on a low-FODMAP version
of the Autoimmune Protocol.
Do you do follow the intermittent fasting protocol (e.g. 12 – 16 hours between the evening and morning meal) and then only two meals a day?
I do! My preferred pattern is to eat at about 10am & 5pm, with fasting in between. That’s what I do on weekends, but on weekdays I often eat both earlier & later in the day because my workday has to fit in between. If I’m really un-hungry before work, I sometimes bring my breakfast with me to eat mid-morning at my desk. When I eat enough fat, I’m not at all hungry between meals.
Some ketogenic people eat once in 24 hours. I’ve experimented with that, too, but I need to eat so much fat at my one meal that I actually feel a little too full for the first 6-8 hours. (Then pretty perfect for the next 8 hours & slowly more inclined to eat over the final 8 hours). After experimenting, I’ve found that I prefer to break my daily food up into 2 meals with a longer overnight fast.
Some other ketosis-related posts