I’ve now hit 12 months into this experiment of living without carbs. Well, almost without carbs as it is very hard to cut them out completely. I still allow myself some minimal amounts once or twice a week. For example, a glass of wine with lunch on Thursdays since it’s a company lunch and I might have some rice on other occasions. Nevertheless, the amounts are minimal when compared with everything else over the whole week.
One other point I have to make here – I eat fruit but not many vegetables. This is purely from convenience point as fruit is much easier to eat due to minimal preparation required. Some would argue that fruit contains fructose and it still is a carbohydrate. Technically yes, however, you need GLUT transporters to absorb fructose. Their release is triggered by insulin (all 18 of them except GLUT-4, which is insulin independent as far as I know). I believe that in my case I would not produce much of them so I would not be absorbing much fructose. Therefore, in my mind, it is of no consequence. Besides, fructose is safe for diabetics as it does not raise insulin much due to its low GI value.
Otherwise, my diet mainly consists, in no particular order, of: meat, fish, eggs, butter, cream, coconut oil, cheese, kefir, some sauerkraut and mushrooms. Also, sometimes I have no-carbs noodles made out of root of konjac plant as a pretend pasta. These noodles, and fruit would make up the most of my fibre intake.
So, how does it feel to live on protein and fat? To be honest, after an initial period of adjustment, there is no marked difference. Any advantages are very subtle and gradual. My weight has dropped by a couple of kilograms since my last update and then recovered, but that could be explained by reduced food intake. I no longer can be bothered, nor feel the need, to eat 5 times a day. Now, I have just increased my intake of fat – mainly butter cause I like the taste. Some noticed effects are: less bloating after a meal, no feelings of hunger even after long periods without food, and no ups and downs in energy levels. Unfortunately, I do not experience any more energy than before, it’s just more stable – there never is a need for a coffee and a donut after lunch, although I was still craving them for a while. Cravings for any food item are mostly gone, and that includes alcohol. I bought a 6-pack of beer about 2 months ago, and still have 5 left in the fridge. A couple of years ago I would buy 6 to 12 beers per week. Also, this year’s flu season seems to have bypassed me altogether with not even a cold, whereas same time last year I was sick a couple of times.
Now for drawbacks. One obvious one is not eating some foods that I enjoyed in the past. Namely bread, pasta, pastries and cakes. I am not mentioning other carbs like rice or potatoes since they are not as enjoyable as the former ones… Another one is change in frequency of bowel movements due to no carbs and lower intake of fibre. This has however come back to normal although took a while to do so.
One other thing to mention is extra intake of salt. Apparently, insulin’s other function is to make the body retain sodium (and water). Therefore if my body is not producing much insulin due to no carbs in the diet, I take extra salt dissolved in my drinking water. Maybe that’s why my keto flu was very mild – almost not noticeable.
Are there any medical changes? After all, this is a high fat (mostly saturated) diet and high sodium. Heart rate is still 60bpm during the day, blood pressure is still 120/75, and extra weight. The weight gain was intentional and mostly muscle. Weight training 5-6 times a week probably had something to do with it…
To summarize all this, I have been functioning perfectly well on ketones instead of glucose but unfortunately without any miraculous benefits or super-powers. At least not yet. When I say ketones, I mean that I have tested myself for ketones in urine over a period of few weeks just to be sure. I understand that urine test is not as accurate as a blood test, but the tests consistently showed low to moderate amounts of excreted ketones.
Given that elevated levels of blood glucose are associated with development of insulin resistance and diabetes, I think that the less glucose the better. Is there a safe level though? I can find a lot of medical advice equating normal level with safe level but is it really true? If a substance causes damage in large quantities, is it be safe to assume that the same substance would be causing no damage in lower quantities? Or, just less damage… Logic dictates the latter is true but all the medical advice I find says otherwise. Could someone with more knowledge on the subject explain this to me?