Biohacking Update: 10 months of Ketosis

petra8paleo_2For 11 months I have been experimenting with ketogenic versions of the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).

11 months: 10 of them ketogenic.

Quick Summary

Last April I started the Wahls Paleo Plus. I tweaked it to be compliant with the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).

I loved being ketogenic~.

I did that for 3½ months & then experimented with a super low-carb ketogenic version of the AIP for 3½ months. I wanted to find out how low I could get my carbohydrate levels, and what that would do to me.

In between those two protocols, I did a regular AIP for a month, to remember what running on glucose feels like.

Both times it took me 40 days to get keto-adapted.

Since December, I’ve been experimenting with my third ketogenic protocol, the Bulletproof Diet. It’s naturally compliant with the AIP except in one respect: Bulletproof Coffee is a core part of the protocol, so I’m including low-toxin coffee & grass-fed butter in my diet, neither of which are AIP.

The Results

Wahls Paleo Plus

Dr Terry Walhs: Up from the Chair ~photo by KC McGinnis

Dr Terry Walhs: Up from the Chair ~photo by KC McGinnis

The WahlsPaleo+ was developed for nutrient density to promote cellular health, particularly brain health, as it was designed to reverse multiple sclerosis.

It includes coconut oil at every meal to maintain ketosis at higher carbohydrate levels, as it relies heavily on the nutrients available in vegetables. For more information I highly recommend The Wahls Protocol (2014).

I read this book when it came out last Spring & immediately decided to try the WahlsPaleo+. Not just for my own health, but also as a way to address my concerns about paleo economics & nutritional ethics.

I integrated fat as my primary food group & found ways to include liver and heart in my diet on a regular basis.

Dr Wahls is formulaic about carbohydrates: both quantities and types of vegetables. I tracked my food & found that I had better energy & clarity on the days I followed her vegetable recommendations strictly: if I included colourful, sulfur-rich and dark green leafy vegetables, not just every day but in each of my two meals.

By May, I started living in a state of ‘flow’ much of the time, & having regular peak experiences. By July, it became apparent that eating this way might have enormous potential for my career.

Through experimentation, I found my way to a semi-ketogenic version of the Wahlspaleo+ (which I was pleased to later find as a component of the Bulletproof Diet).

Super Low-Carb Ketogenic Experiment

Me

Reading Keto Clarity

Going in, I knew that a super low-carb ketogenic diet was rumored to cause hormonal imbalances, disrupted sleep and weight gain.

Particularly in women.

And especially in women over 40.

But after reading Jimmy Moore’s Keto-Clarity, which advocates a super low-carb ketogenic diet, and even goes so far as to say that achieving ketosis through the use of MCT oil might be ‘cheating’, I decided to try it for myself.

I wanted to find out what happened to my performance and energy levels when I reduced carbohydrates substantially. I ate carbs in high fat foods like avocados, olives & coconut, as well as small servings of sauerkraut, cucumber, and greens. I kept the MCT oil in.

The results?

I can totally surviove on a super low carb diet, but I don’t thrive. As predicted, a super low-carb ketogenic diet seems to cause hormonal imbalances, disrupted sleep and weight gain~.

Other factors:

  • I pulled off the most auspicious & intense season of my career ever while on this variation, but without the superhuman benefits I experienced on the WahlsPaleo+;
  • I was also experimenting with reduced exercise; &
  • 66.6% of my children had fairly significant crises that added substantially to my stress.

I learned (again) that I’m optimized when I eat more carbohydrates.

Bulletproof

Reading The Bulletproof Diet

Reading The Bulletproof Diet

The Bulletproof Diet book was released last December.

I switched before I’d even finished reading it.

It’s a semi-ketogenic protocol that, like the WahlsPaleo+, is aligned with the AIP. But with some important variations.

The following are the changes I’ve made in going bulletproof:

  • Getting strict about a 6-hour eating window, which means getting back in the habit of bringing food to work (which I loved being emancipated from). In the Fall I was eating 2 meals a day, with a long overnight fast but I wasn’t strict about the window, except on weekends. On weekdays I’d eat just before I left for work & as soon as I got home. When I could, I’d arrange to work from home in the morning or late afternoon to shorten the window, but that wasn’t always possible.
  • Increasing vegetables (I was eating minimal vegetables on my super low-carb diet).
  • Putting starches (root vegetables) back in. At present I’m eating starches thrice a week or so, but I’ll tinker with that until I find the perfect level.
  • I’m moving berry fudge from my midday to my evening meal. Likewise, keeping starches in my evening meal.
  • Removing mushrooms, which I am rather fond of.
  • Instituting Bulletproof Coffee daily. As mentioned, coffee is not part of the AIP: I was off coffee entirely when I went Bulletproof. Previously, I’d just fast between my 2 meals, but Bulletproof Coffee is a third (the first) meal on the bulletproof protocol.

Something I want to do regularly but haven’t been religious about yet (because I’ve felt that I’ve needed adrenal recovery time after my super low carb protocol):

I won’t consider my 3½ months on the Bulletproof Diet to have officially started until I start protein fasting on a regular basis.

What do I love about being in ketosis?

Here’s 10 things.

 

 

14 thoughts on “Biohacking Update: 10 months of Ketosis

  1. What kind of hormonal imbalances did you get when you went super low carb? Also I appreciate that more and more people are acknowledging that VLC isn’t always the best for women.
    This post is great. 🙂 I love your updates, especially because I haven’t been able to experiment as much as I’d liked to in the past year. I do something akin to bulletproof coffee – butter coffee – and I love it enough that when I don’t have to worry about potentially disrupting hormones, I’m keen on trying actual bulletproof coffee.

    • Hormonal disregulation: I ended up with all the symptoms of adrenal fatigue, which improved dramatically when I (recently) started adrenal supplementation (thereby reinforcing that super low-carb is not a friend to my adrenals: an experience that has been echoed by others). And menstrual weirdness, for which there is always the plausible rival hypothesis of being peri-menopausal. Except that now that I’m eating more carbs & having raspberry leaf tea daily (http://petra8paleo.com/2015/01/20/hot-woman-shake-aip-wahlspaleo/) the weirdness has disappeared.

  2. I am so thankful I found your blog. It is surprisingly difficult to find others who are experimenting with ketosis & AIP in conjunction. I have listened to Wahls & Asprey on various podcasts and have learned from the both of them. I haven’t strictly followed their particular protocols though. I have been doing Dr. Jack Kruse’s recommendations for about 6 weeks now…basically a ketogenic template with high DHA concentration and emphasis on seasonal eating. This approach is also highly focused on other factors outside of diet like sunlight, cold thermogenisis, EMFs, etc. Really getting in sync with nature. Have you ever read his blog? Mind numbing a bit..but he takes the “paleo” lifestyle to another level. I am sticking to his leptin reset protocol for now while doing my own n=1 and exploring which veggies and such work for me. I have appreciated reading your ideas & seeing how you make your meals!

  3. Petra – you are fast becoming the queen of biohacking for peak experience. I am very interested to know how the introduction of a protein fast and Tabata sprints fare… Interesting to see if you achieve regular ‘flow.

    Would you say that Wahls has been the MOST successful for you personally to date?

    • Yes! If the unit of analysis is ‘healing protocols’ & I take the Bulletproof diet out of the sample (because I haven’t given it a proper trial yet) the WahlsPaelo+ wins the top prize. For me. To date~.

  4. Fascinating article, Petra. I love seeing the comparison of the 3 ketogenic diets and your experience with them. I’m also surprised (and disappointed) that Jimmy essentially calls the Wahls ketogenic protocol “cheating.” Since the MCT ups the ability to eat veggies, and therefore has the potential to fix the nutrient deficiency of most ketogenic diets, I would think he’d see that as progress.

    • I agree, Eileen. I think his perspective is that ketogenic diets that rely on MCT oil to increase carbohydrates haven’t been scientifically tested. But they’ve been anecdotally tested, which is good enough for me. I’ve been back on a higher carb semi-ketogenic diet for 2 months now & I’m starting to feel all the benefits I experienced on the WahlsPaleo+ last Spring. It’s definitely the approach for me~.

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  6. Im a little confused, So you like the effects of a ketogenic diet, but you don’t like to drop your carbs very low? I thought you had to be under 20 to be in ketosis and eat a lot of fat. how many carbs are you eating?

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