Questions about Fat-Adaptation


emilyelowe

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I just finished my first Whole30 (though am going to continue for a bit before I start my re-introduction). I'm really interested in the concept of being fat-adapted, but am wondering if I made that shift during my Whole30 or not. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I might know if I'm moving in that direction? My primary concern for having not made progress is that I ate potatoes - both sweet and white - pretty regularly throughout my Whole30. I also was eating bananas before my workouts (I, of course, got to the part of It Starts with Food about working out, which says fruit is not a good choice, on DAY 29 - haha). 

 

I want to make sure I don't interrupt the fat adaptation process by introducing sugar and carbohydrates (even if in small amounts) during re-introduction. I'm also planning to eat compliantly on the regular, until there is something specific that makes me want to go off-plan, so I'm interested in how to maintain the process of moving towards being fat-adapted. 

 

Does anyone have any thoughts on (1) how long it takes, and in what state, to become fat-adapted, (2) how I might know that I am becoming/have become fat-adapted or (3) what Whole30-compliant foods to avoid while trying to become fat-adapted? (the non-compliant ones are pretty obvious  :) ).

 

And please - feel free to bring on the science-y stuff! Thank you!

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Try not to rely on the sugary pick-me-up and do your best to ensure nutrient-dense, satiating meals that include plenty of healthy fat as fuel. We’re trying to get you out of sugar-burner mode and into fat adaptation, and while that process takes many weeks to complete, it can start in just a few days. So do your best, and know that the banana is a way healthier choice than the coffee, Diet Coke, or candy you used to rely on at 3 PM.


Anna, see my comment to Suzanne above. Two medium carrots is about 6 grams of sugar, and should be a perfectly healthy choice for diabetics who are doing a good job controlling blood sugars. However, if diabetes is poorly controlled, it doesn’t matter what you eat – the body’s insulin response is going to be disproportionately high. The answer isn’t to stop eating carrots – it’s to control blood sugars with healthy dietary strategies in the first place.


Melissa


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Posted 02 September 2012 - 01:23 PM

"Folks mostly have it down here. Based on your meal descriptions and the fact that you can't make it from lunch to dinner without practically keeling over, (a) you're clearly very much still a sugar-burner, which means this "fat-adapted" transition is still underway and you need to be patient, and (cool.png you are absolutely not eating enough. )

Try eating more immediately. Add more protein, more carbohydrate, and perhaps more fat to every single one of your meals. If that's the issue, then you'll start to feel better right away - and I suspect that's exactly what will happen. "
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Does anyone have any thoughts on (1) how long it takes, and in what state, to become fat-adapted, (2) how I might know that I am becoming/have become fat-adapted or (3) what Whole30-compliant foods to avoid while trying to become fat-adapted? (the non-compliant ones are pretty obvious  :) ).

 

And please - feel free to bring on the science-y stuff! Thank you!

 

The length of time to become fat-adapted can vary a lot by person, but generally is a couple of weeks.

 

It's not so much that you should be avoiding certain compliant foods, but that you are timing them correctly.  Are you following the meal-planning template for pre-workout and post-workout meals?  Pre-workout you should be eating some protein and fat, with little carbohydrate.  If you're eating that banana (or potato) before a workout, your body will just want to burn that off first instead of dipping into its fat reserves.  Immediately following your workout, eat some lean protein and starchy vegetables, with little to no fat.

 

And your workouts might feel like you're dragging at first while your body adjusts.  

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I became fat adapted after about two weeks of the Whole30 AND I was eating two large sweet potatoes per day many days. You do not have to go low carb to become fat-adapted. The difference between eating bagels/donuts and potatoes is huge. :) 

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Are you able to go 4-5hrs or more without getting hangry? Or were you regularly snacking throughout your 30 days?

Do you have sustained energy?

 

Yes - I made a point NOT to snack during my Whole30. The only times I had more than 3 meals a day was if I was working out, having a pre and post snack, or if a meal got delayed by an hour or more I will NEED to eat. I don't get hangry or fuzzy as soon as I used too, for sure.

 

My last week of the Whole30 was the most difficult with both energy and cravings, but I think part of it was sleep. I was probably getting around 8, but I seem to require more like 9. Do you think that is normal? When I get less than 8.5/9 hours of sleep, I definitely hit a 3 p.m. craving sleepy slump. Those cravings have actually made me TERRIFIED of re-introducing sugar. I'm so nervous about the Sugar Dragon. 

 

Does that help give a better picture? I'd love any advice you have!

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My last week of the Whole30 was the most difficult with both energy and cravings, but I think part of it was sleep. I was probably getting around 8, but I seem to require more like 9. Do you think that is normal? When I get less than 8.5/9 hours of sleep, I definitely hit a 3 p.m. craving sleepy slump. Those cravings have actually made me TERRIFIED of re-introducing sugar. I'm so nervous about the Sugar Dragon. 

 

Does that help give a better picture? I'd love any advice you have!

The others have explained really well up above how you can tell if you;re fat adapted, but it would be unusual for anyone who IS fat adapted to still get that afternoon slump, or the cravings, so it could be that you've been propping up your sugar dragon with fruit and/or an overkill on starchy veg.

Can you post a few days worth of your typical food intake along with activity levels?

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Pre-workout (~6:30 a.m.): banana.

Post-workout (~ 8 a.m.): nothing, or maybe half of a LaraBar.

Breakfast each day was (~9 a.m.): maybe 1/2 cup white potatoes, 1/4 cup shredded carrots, 2 whole eggs, one piece of bacon

Lunch (between Noon and 1) and dinner (between 5 and 7):

Last week I actually was using Pre-Made Paleo food service for lunch and dinner, so that would have been 5 oz. of protein and 7 oz. of vegetables for each of those meals. Some of the vegetable portions had sweet potatoes, squash, turnips and parsnips (which I think are starchy vegetables) but not all of them. Per instructions, I warmed the meat and vegetables with olive oil when on the stove (dinners), but no additional fat when I microwaved them (which I did for lunch at work). .

 

I made a point not to snack even if I got a hungry a little before dinner (which I did - I was usually hungry by 4:30/5, but not always).

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Fat adaptation will be different for everyone. I wasn't actively trying to fat adapt, but here's how I knew I was there:

1. I could run about 60 mins fasted, on those mornings when I was running late. (but I ran and recovered better with food)

2. I could skip a meal when the food available was less than ideal and survive just fine until better food came along

3. I no longer was up-down-up-down-etc in energy all day.

 

Don't know how long it took because I wasn't aiming for that, it just happened and I learned about it later. 

 

I still have the occasional afternoon slump. My cravings are greatly diminished but still there if I'm not careful - eating high carb sometimes sets them off. 

 

Now I know I said everyone is different, so keep that in mind here. On a day like today with 10 miles of running (a mid-distance for me) and ~1 hr biking, in terms of starches I'll eat over the course of the day a small fist-sized potato, an orange, 1/2c butternut squash, about 4 large carrots. For non-starches...well that list is loooooong!  :P  

 

I'm providing my food only as an example, not as what you need to do. You need to experiment on your own and find what works for you. YSMV (your starches may vary!). I have found that it's better to be over-eating starches than under-eating, as life during my 30 day low carb experiment in December was miserable. 

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Yep, as LucieB has said everyone's starch/carb requirements vary. I eat one serving of starchy veg only in my third meal because I've found through experimentation that that's what works best for me. Other than that I eat a HUGE amount of spinach & kale, with generous servings of all sorts of other veg thrown into the mix at every meal, depending on what's available at the Farm shop. I rarely eat fruit apart from the odd blueberry tossed into a salad. 

I think you'd do well in sticking with the pre & postWO recommendations.

Your banana is providing an immediate source of available fuel for your work-outs when you want to be encouraging your body to tap into it's fat stores. If there's glucose available it ain't gonna do that... Fruit also isn't ideal eaten on wakening anyway because of the impact it will have on blood sugars having fasted overnight.

Post work out aim for a lean protein & optional starchy carb - no fat as it slows down the absorption of nutrients to the muscles. Your larabar is fat & fructose which will preferentially replenish liver glycogen - if you want to restore muscle glycogen say after an intense work-out or a long distance run or a heavy cardio session then you want starchy veg to do that. Either way you want protein.

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You should also be eating at least as many non starchy veggies as you are starchy ones.   Based on your outline for that first day breakfast, your only veggies were the starches, add some greenery.

 

Woopsie!  See jmcbn answered too.

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Thanks, everyone!

 

Based on your recommendations, I will experiment with this next week:

  • Pre-workout: hard boiled egg whites
  • Post-workout: chicken and sweet potatoes
  • Breakfast: eggs, peppers, onions, spinach, potatoes (sweet and white), maybe meat, maybe avocado
    • I am also reintroducing next week, so I will have a flour tortilla on Monday in place of the potatoes
  • Lunch and Dinner: stay away from potatoes, specifically, and incorporate more greens (do asparagus and green beans count as greens? I know leafy greens are best but I can only handle so much before I become a sad-sack. :P)

 

Please let me know if I mis-interpreted anything you suggested!

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Oh, also, not sure if this is relevant, but my workouts in the morning consist of lifting and small bursts of cardio (I'm not an endurance athlete, as it sounds like some of you are). From It Starts with Food, I don't think that changes the recommendation, but just wanted to mention it for context. 

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Thanks, everyone!

 

Based on your recommendations, I will experiment with this next week:

  • Pre-workout: hard boiled egg whites
  • Post-workout: chicken and sweet potatoes
  • Breakfast: eggs, peppers, onions, spinach, potatoes (sweet and white), maybe meat, maybe avocado
    • I am also reintroducing next week, so I will have a flour tortilla on Monday in place of the potatoes
  • Lunch and Dinner: stay away from potatoes, specifically, and incorporate more greens (do asparagus and green beans count as greens? I know leafy greens are best but I can only handle so much before I become a sad-sack. :P)

 

Please let me know if I mis-interpreted anything you suggested!

Personally, I'd say the opposite - starches at night, greens & other veg throughout the day. But that's what works for me - it's maybe something you need to play around with.

Your specific type of training doesn't change the recommendations - endurance/distance athletes have a bigger need to replace the glycogen as theirs is unlikely to normalise on a daily basis otherwise, but adding some starchy veg post WO won't do you any harm.

ETA: You could eat the whole egg...

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OMG, ran hills this morning and my legs were on FIRE! :( Really looking forward to this fat adaptation kicking in!

 

Pre WO I had a HB egg, post WO I had 2 small sweet potato pancakes (1/2 a serving). 1st Meal was half of a 3-egg omelette with spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms with some potatoes and very little fresh fruit. And a little coffee.

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OMG, ran hills this morning and my legs were on FIRE! :( Really looking forward to this fat adaptation kicking in!

 

Pre WO I had a HB egg, post WO I had 2 small sweet potato pancakes (1/2 a serving). 1st Meal was half of a 3-egg omelette with spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms with some potatoes and very little fresh fruit. And a little coffee.

*twitch

When you say pancakes you mean something else though, right? 

Your first meal was also light in protein - 3 eggs would be closer to the normal serving of protein for a female.

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Oh yes! My sweet potato pancakes are mashed sweet potatoes with 2 eggs beaten, some spices (cinnamon, ginger and tumeric) then cooked in a little coconut oil. So it's high carb veg with some protein & fat. No SWYPO food!

 

Really?! 3 eggs? I thought 1 egg was enough for pre WO. I thought it was just supposed to be a half protein serving. And they have fat as well. Is there something else you'd recommend, or am I good with the eggs - just add more? I can't cook anything pre wo because my family is still sleeping when I'm getting ready to head out. And I am not one of those people who get tired of eggs. I love them and could eat them at every meal! :D

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Oh yes! My sweet potato pancakes are mashed sweet potatoes with 2 eggs beaten, some spices (cinnamon, ginger and tumeric) then cooked in a little coconut oil. So it's high carb veg with some protein & fat. No SWYPO food!

 

Really?! 3 eggs? I thought 1 egg was enough for pre WO. I thought it was just supposed to be a half protein serving. And they have fat as well. Is there something else you'd recommend, or am I good with the eggs - just add more? I can't cook anything pre wo because my family is still sleeping when I'm getting ready to head out. And I am not one of those people who get tired of eggs. I love them and could eat them at every meal! :D

What's the egg to sweet potato ratio in these 'pancakes'? 

PreWO one egg is fine. Your meal one was light in protein - you said you have half of a 3 egg omelette - the whole would have been good.

PostWO you don't want fat - protein & starchy carbs only, so no egg yolk & no coconut oil - I think that sorts the problem with the 'pancakes'  ;)

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Personally, I'd say the opposite - starches at night, greens & other veg throughout the day. But that's what works for me - it's maybe something you need to play around with.

Your specific type of training doesn't change the recommendations - endurance/distance athletes have a bigger need to replace the glycogen as theirs is unlikely to normalise on a daily basis otherwise, but adding some starchy veg post WO won't do you any harm.

ETA: You could eat the whole egg...

 

I eat whole eggs when they're fried - I just REALLY don't like the super hard yolk. I love it when it's messy, and that doesn't work so well when I'm in the car, driving in the dark.  :)

 

Why do you recommend starches at night instead of right after the workout? Anything specific? Particularly as it's related to fat adaptation?

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Oh yes! My sweet potato pancakes are mashed sweet potatoes with 2 eggs beaten, some spices (cinnamon, ginger and tumeric) then cooked in a little coconut oil. So it's high carb veg with some protein & fat. No SWYPO food!

 

Really?! 3 eggs? I thought 1 egg was enough for pre WO. I thought it was just supposed to be a half protein serving. And they have fat as well. Is there something else you'd recommend, or am I good with the eggs - just add more? I can't cook anything pre wo because my family is still sleeping when I'm getting ready to head out. And I am not one of those people who get tired of eggs. I love them and could eat them at every meal! :D

 

Preeeaaaach. High five on the eggs all the time!  :D  :D  :D

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What's the egg to sweet potato ratio in these 'pancakes'? 

PreWO one egg is fine. Your meal one was light in protein - you said you have half of a 3 egg omelette - the whole would have been good.

PostWO you don't want fat - protein & starchy carbs only, so no egg yolk & no coconut oil - I think that sorts the problem with the 'pancakes'  ;)

The ratio is 1 large sweet potato with 2 eggs. I use the quarter cup and make 4-5 pancakes from each batch.

 

Ah! I get it! I would have eaten the whole omelette, but I felt full! I'm glad to know one HB egg pre WO is fine - I'll stick with that.

 

Got it on the post WO. I'm going to boil some sweet potatoes, mash them, and then eat some with some chicken breast post WO for now on. That sounds like it will make more sense, since the chicken is a leaner protein source and I won't have the fat from the egg or coconut oil. Thank you SO much for your input! I am very grateful.

 

This is only my 4th day, but I've noticed that the muscular pain in my right thumb is gone (it had been bothering me for about 6 months), my tennis elbow pain is greatly diminished and (sorry for the TMI, but) I am not gassy in the evenings as I was pre Whole30. This plan makes sense to me.

 

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I eat whole eggs when they're fried - I just REALLY don't like the super hard yolk. I love it when it's messy, and that doesn't work so well when I'm in the car, driving in the dark.  :)

 

Why do you recommend starches at night instead of right after the workout? Anything specific? Particularly as it's related to fat adaptation?

 

Starchy veg are absolutely fine postWO, but they are optional and you might just find that you don't need them is all - depending on your WO.... Like I said, everyone is different so what works for me might not work for you. Sometimes I take starchy veg postWO, sometimes I don't, but I always take protein.

As for starches in general I've found that for ME I feel better when I keep mine until meal three. If I eat potatoes at breakfast I could quite easily nap before lunch. If I eat potatoes at dinner I sleep better - and there are A LOT of people on the forums who feel the same way.

YMMV

 

The ratio is 1 large sweet potato with 2 eggs. I use the quarter cup and make 4-5 pancakes from each batch.

 

Ah! I get it! I would have eaten the whole omelette, but I felt full! I'm glad to know one HB egg pre WO is fine - I'll stick with that.

 

Got it on the post WO. I'm going to boil some sweet potatoes, mash them, and then eat some with some chicken breast post WO for now on. That sounds like it will make more sense, since the chicken is a leaner protein source and I won't have the fat from the egg or coconut oil. Thank you SO much for your input! I am very grateful.

 

This is only my 4th day, but I've noticed that the muscular pain in my right thumb is gone (it had been bothering me for about 6 months), my tennis elbow pain is greatly diminished and (sorry for the TMI, but) I am not gassy in the evenings as I was pre Whole30. This plan makes sense to me.

 

That sounds like a plan  :) 

 

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