DIETINGWELL

Fat-Adaption: The Goal of Low-Carb Dieting

WHAT DOES FAT-ADAPTED MEAN?

Becoming fat-adapted means making a significant shift in your body’s fuel source. Instead of relying on glucose (sugar-based energy), you transition to utilizing ketones produced by fat metabolism.

In simpler terms, it involves eliminating sugars and starches that are processed as glucose in the body. Glucose provides quick but unstable energy, leading to fluctuating insulin levels, energy crashes, increased hunger, and mood swings. By reducing simple sugars and increasing fat intake, your body adapts to rely on fat as its primary fuel source.

This transition to fat adaptation offers more stable energy levels, improved satiety, and a reduction in cravings. It allows your body to tap into its stored fat reserves, promoting weight loss and providing sustained energy.

 

Why do humans  prefer ketones for energy?

The human body has a preference for utilizing fat-derived ketones as an energy source for several reasons.

Fat metabolism provides a more sustained and consistent energy release throughout the day, unlike the quick burn of glucose. Glucose tends to cause energy spikes and crashes, necessitating frequent refueling. This cycle of consuming more glucose-producing foods can lead to calorie intake increase and weight gain. Additionally, our bodies prioritize burning glucose as fuel before tapping into fat stores, delaying the utilization of dietary fats.

By becoming fat-adapted, one can bypass the need for glucose-producing carbohydrates and instead rely on the energy provided by ketones, which are produced through the breakdown of fats. This shift is achieved by following a high-fat diet. By reducing carb intake and increasing fat consumption, the body adapts to using ketones as its primary fuel source, enabling the efficient burning of stored fat.

Choosing a fat-adapted state allows for greater fat utilization, potentially leading to weight loss and a more stable energy supply throughout the day. It breaks the cycle of relying on glucose and offers the benefits of sustained energy, improved satiety, and a reduction in excess fat accumulation.

 

KETONES EXPLAINED

To grasp the concept of ketones and their role in the body, let’s dive into their production and utilization:

Traditionally, many of us have been led to believe that dietary fat is harmful while sugar is acceptable (thanks to misleading information from certain Harvard scientists). This misinformation has made adopting a low-carb diet seem radical and difficult to accept.

 

Contrary to the prevailing notion, dietary fat is, in fact, the preferred fuel source for our bodies. By consuming a higher proportion of fat, you stimulate your liver to initiate a process called beta-oxidation.

Let’s break down the steps involved:

  1. Beta-Oxidation: This process breaks down the fatty acids you consume into a molecule called acetyl-CoA, which aids in cellular repair.
  2. In the absence of a high glucose load (low-carb intake), the excess acetyl-CoA is transformed by the liver into ketones, which are then utilized as energy.
  3. Once your body becomes fat-adapted and accustomed to converting acetyl-CoA into ketones, it begins to actively seek out and utilize these ketones for energy.
  4. This is where the magic happens: Stored fat is tapped into and burned to sustain the ongoing ketone cycle, facilitating weight loss and improved energy levels.

 

In essence, utilizing ketones for energy is akin to fueling a campfire with substantial logs, while glucose derived from carbohydrates is comparable to feeding the fire with newspapers.

The crucial point to note is that our bodies can only burn one fuel source at a time. If glucose is present, it will be preferentially burned off. However, by eliminating glucose through low-carb intake, your body will create and burn these remarkable ketones, allowing for the utilization of stored fat that we all wish to shed.

 

Vegetables and carbohydrates counting top view

HOW TO BECOME FAT-ADAPTED

Achieving a fat-adapted state and triggering the production of ketones for fat burning can be accomplished with a simple two-step approach:

 

Step 1: Cut the Carbs

To begin, reduce your carbohydrate intake to below 20 grams per day. This is a fundamental aspect of a low-carb diet, and although it may seem challenging, it’s crucial for fat adaptation. Cutting carbs involves making strategic choices in your food selection to ensure your total carb intake stays under 20 grams.

Carbohydrates are commonly found in fruits, most vegetables, rice, and grains, which we’ve been conditioned to include in a balanced diet. When starting out, it’s advisable to track everything you eat using a tracking app. Monitoring your macronutrient intake will help you stay accountable and provide insight into how different foods impact your carb consumption.

 

Step 2: Embrace Healthy Fats

Yes, there are healthy fats that you should incorporate abundantly into your diet. Once you’ve identified your preferred sources of healthy fats, embrace them wholeheartedly! Consume these good fats to the extent that they make up around 70% of your daily caloric intake.

By supplying your body with an ample amount of healthy fats, you switch off the glucose supply and stimulate the production of ketones. This marks the point at which you become a fat-adapted machine, geared towards burning stored fat for fuel.

 

A Quick Warning: Since good fats should comprise 70% of your diet and carbs should make up around 5%, it’s essential to ensure that your protein intake does not exceed the remaining 25% of your calorie consumption. Consuming excessive protein while being fat-adapted can lead to glycogenesis, a process where excess protein is converted into a glucose substitute that inhibits fat adaptation.

Remember, transitioning to a fat-adapted state requires commitment and awareness of your macronutrient ratios. By cutting carbs and embracing healthy fats, you can unlock the benefits of fat adaptation and embark on your journey as a weight-burning machine!

Healthy fats sources concept, top view

 

 

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME FAT-ADAPTED?

The time required to become fat-adapted varies for each individual, depending on factors such as the initial carb surplus in the body. It is crucial for the body to burn off carbs and glucose before optimal fat adaptation can occur.

The good news is that the process doesn’t take very long. Some individuals may experience fat adaptation within 24 hours, while for others, it may take up to 4 days. Considering the remarkable benefits awaiting you on this path of improved health and quality of life, 4 days is a relatively short time (3).

To expedite the fat-adaptation process, incorporating MCT oil can provide a significant boost of healthy fats, quickly stimulating your system. MCT oil acts as high-octane fuel, revving up your engine and enhancing performance (4).

Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is also beneficial in accelerating the adaptation process. It is crucial to consume ample water throughout your low-carb journey, as fat adaptation can induce a diuretic effect (5).

Engaging in regular exercise is another effective method to deplete excess glucose stores that hinder the fat-adaptation process. Grab a jump rope or engage in any form of physical activity to facilitate this process.

Once you feel you may be nearing fat adaptation, you can test your system to confirm. Alternatively, be attentive to the tell-tale signs of fat adaptation: fruity-smelling urine, metallic breath, a sudden decrease in appetite, temporary exhaustion, and, of course, weight loss (the “whoosh” effect).

Remember, the duration to become fat-adapted is unique to each person, but by employing these strategies and staying attuned to your body, you’ll be well on your way to reaping the rewards of fat adaptation.

 

FAT-ADAPTATION BENEFITS

Having understood the concept of fat-adaptation, the underlying science, and the steps to achieve this state, let’s delve into the significant benefits that extend beyond mere fat loss:

  1. Reduced Hunger:
    One of the remarkable advantages of being fat-adapted is experiencing decreased hunger (1). This can be a game-changer when it comes to calorie control, as hunger often acts as the primary obstacle to successful weight management.
  2. Increased Energy Levels:
    Once you surpass the initial stage of carb withdrawal during fat-adaptation, you’ll notice a surge in energy levels (7). Your body’s efficient fat-burning engine will provide you with more vitality and vigor than ever before, even surpassing the boost from caffeine.
  3. Enhanced Sleep Quality:
    Being fat-adapted can lead to deeper and more restful sleep, allowing you to wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated (8). Quality sleep is crucial for overall well-being and optimal functioning.
  4. Heightened Mental Clarity:
    Fat-adaptation can significantly enhance mental clarity (9). Your cognitive abilities will be sharpened, and you’ll experience increased focus, mental acuity, and improved overall brain function.

 

These are just a few of the immediate and noticeable benefits that come with achieving a fat-adapted state. Rest assured, there are numerous other advantages awaiting you on your low-carb journey, reaffirming that adopting a low-carb diet is a transformative decision for your health.

Embrace the journey and enjoy the multitude of positive outcomes that await you as you become fat-adapted.

 

Here at Dieting Well  we are dedicated to the low-carb lifestyle and educating people interested in joining our passion for health and happiness. Connect with us on Pinterest and Instagram to see what else we have in store!

 

REFERENCES

(1) Rizi, E.P., Loh, T.P., Baig, S., Chhay, V., Huang, S., Quek, J.C., et al. (2018). A high carbohydrate, but not fat or protein meal attenuates postprandial ghrelin, PYY and GLP-1 responses in Chinese men. PLOS ONE, 13, e0191609. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29385178.
(2) Masood, W. & Uppaluri, K.R. (2018). Ketogenic Diet. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing, Treasure Island (FL).
(3) Dehghan, M., Mente, A., Zhang, X., Swaminathan, S., Li, W., Mohan, V., … Mapanga, R. (2017). Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (Pure): a prospective cohort study. The Lancet, 390(10107), 2050–2062. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)32252-3.
(4) St-Onge, M.-P., & Bosarge, A. (2008). Weight-loss diet that includes consumption of medium-chain triacylglycerol oil leads to a greater rate of weight and fat mass loss than does olive oil. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87(3), 621–626. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/87.3.621.
(5) Phinney, S. D., Bistrian, B. R., Evans, W. J., Gervino, E., & Blackburn, G. L. (1983). The human metabolic response to chronic ketosis without caloric restriction: preservation of submaximal exercise capability with reduced carbohydrate oxidation. Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, 32(8), 769–776. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6865776​.
(6) Chang, C.-K., Borer, K. & Lin, P.-J. (2017) Low-Carbohydrate-High-Fat Diet: Can it Help Exercise Performance? Journal of Human Kinetics, 56, 81–92. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28469746​.
(7) White, H., & Venkatesh, B. (2011). Clinical review: ketones and brain injury. Critical Care (London, England), 15(2), 219. https://doi.org/10.1186/cc10020.
(8) Afaghi, A., O’Connor, H., & Chow, C. M. (2008). Acute effects of the very low carbohydrate diet on sleep indices. Nutritional Neuroscience, 11(4), 146–154. https://doi.org/10.1179/147683008X301540.
(9) Ketogenic diet reduces midlife mortality and improves memory in aging mice. (2017). Cell Metabolism, 26(3), 547–557.e8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2017.08.004.

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