(Note: check out my Biohacking Update from February 2015 for details about my sub-optimal results of my 3½ month super-low-carb experiment.)
I’d been in ketosis for 3½ months (on a ketogenic version of the Autoimmune Protocol) before I read Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet by Jimmy Moore with Eric C. Westman.
Even though I was in love with ketosis, I still had questions.
I’d tried online research, but everything I found was contradictory: ketosis is bad; ketosis is freaking awesome; more ketosis is better; there is no such thing as more ketosis, urine test strips are useful; urine test strips are useless; ‘carb cycling’ is necessary; or unnecessary; or we’re really not sure. That and incomprehensible scientific explanations about the biological processes involved in ketosis that I really, truly tried to read.
Even though I didn’t have all the information I wanted, I stuck with a ketogenic diet because:
- Terry Wahls says it’s good & she’s a wizard;
- It feels amazing; &
- It addresses my ethical issues about being paleo.
But I didn’t really, completely know if ketosis was a valid, sustainable approach to running my life in the long term. Until I read this book. Now I’m utterly convinced that ketosis is for me (and that it’s probably for you, too).
Moore (& Westman) have written a comprehensible & comprehensive book on ketogenic lifestyle.
It’s readable. As soon as it arrived in the mail, Keto Carity interrupted both the historical novels I’d been previously immersed in. I read it cover to cover.
Things I liked
- The book includes the expertise of 22 additional ketogenic experts, including medical doctors, researchers, elite athletes and influential paleolithic lifestyle people. Their perspectives were diverse and while they didn’t actually, actively contradict each other, they were disparate enough to give a good sense of the range of orthodoxies among keto-proponents. I liked that.
- The book has three chapters that review current research on ketosis: ‘Solid Science’; ‘Good Evidence’ & ‘Emerging Research’. What a friendly way to approach the subject. And what compelling evidence about proven & potential benefits of ketosis. Including for curing cancer.
- It outlines how to set up your own ketogenic n=1 (self-experiment).
- It provides comprehensive information about testing for ketones, including why urine test strips are not useful in the long term.
- It addresses women’s concerns, not excessively but sufficiently, including intermittent fasting for women; reduced ketones during menstruation; & metabolic changes during menopause that can affect carbohydrate tolerance.
- It explores of the common critiques of ketosis and the origins of these. Fascinating.
- It explains the connection between ketones & blood sugar: ketones up; blood sugar down. And vice versa.
- It references to My Big Fat Diet, an experiment in ancestral eating from my very own corner of the planet.
- Jimmy Moore is a blogger. I love that bloggers keep leading the way.
- And it might be just be me but I am uninterested in the real-life examples of real-life people that most self-help & health books are riddled with. I always skip them. But I also always wonder if the author hasn’t tucked some important information into one of these stories, so then I get stressed out & feel compelled to go back & skim them. If you are a fan of example stories, you’ll find them in Keto-Clarity. Happily nestled in their own chapter. Brilliant. It’s the only chapter I didn’t fully read, but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.
My critiques are minor. Nevertheless, here they are:
- Jimmy Moore uses too many cliches. In my humble opinion. That was a cliche. It’s easy to do. His worst offense was “Take a chill pill, people!” on page 182. That was really bad. But I also learned something about myself, because when he used the cliched phrase ‘through the rabbit hole’ I wasn’t ruffled. Because it’s a literary reference. So I learned that it’s not that I dislike all cliches, but that I am a cliche snob. So, even though I can’t condone the use of the phrase ‘chill pill’ under any circumstances, I appreciated the opportunity to learn that about myself.
- Jimmy Moore is into ketosis, not paleo & not the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). I don’t critique him for that. But I do critique him for being into ketosis in a SAD kind of way. For example, he recommends boullion cubes (a couple of times) as a way to boost sodium intake when in ketosis. Last time I checked (5 minutes ago) boullion cubes contained salt, sugar, partially hydrogenated palm oil, monosodium glutamate (MSG), cornstarch, disodium inosinate, & TBHQ (a chemical preservative). In other words, they’re not food. There are other ways to get salt. Like salt.
- Likewise, the recipes and menu plans are not AIP friendly, so were pretty useless to me. But, likewise, I can’t really fault him for that. Except for the recipe idea from Wendy McCullough to pan-fry under-ripe avocados. That is brilliant.
- I don’t like the design of dust jacket, but underneath, the book is rather handsome, with an elegant purple spine.
Ketosis & Physical Activity
At the end of the book I knew almost everything I wanted to know about a ketogenic lifestyle, including whether ketosis is compatible with high performance physical activity, which was my #1 lingering question when I was 40 days into my ketogenic experiment on the Wahls Paleo Plus.
The answer is: yes, but you need to get fully keto-adapted first and that can take time. Three to four weeks in most people. It took 4o days for me.
During the transition, you will probably experience a reduction in physical stamina (I did), which (understandably) leads a lot of people to give up on ketosis before they start to experience the benefits. Keto Clarity refers to a study on endurance training for elite cyclists that was almost abandoned after 2 weeks due to declining performance. Luckily they persevered until they became keto-adapted, resulting in improvements in VO2 max; amount of glycogen in muscle; and other markers. The moral of that is (another literary cliche), stick with it.
“There is a lot of misinformation and disinformation – if not outright, unwarranted hysteria – concerning the potential risks of a low-carbohydrate, fat-based ketogenic diet.” ~Nora Gedgaudas in Keto Clarity.