To be fat or keto-adapted means you have developed the metabolic flexibility to seamlessly and efficiently utilize fat as the primary energy source.
Additionally, the liver has become efficient at converting fatty acids into ketones (Ketogenesis). Your mitochondria are also able to easily use the ketones as energy
So how is the Ketogenic Diet so successful?
The secret to the success of the Ketogenic Diet is its ability to change the way the human body fuels itself at the cellular level.
It’s actually quite amazing how the process works. I will use a car engine as an example. You have two main types of internal combustion engines, gasoline-powered and diesel-powered and they will only function with the proper type of fuel.
Now, imagine being able to put either gasoline or diesel in the same engine and having it run just fine on both.
That’s the miracle of keto-adaptation, you can seamlessly run on fat or glucose, so when you would normally get hungry and want a snack, your body just taps into your fat stores and you never feel the need to snack.
You can skip meals and Fast without any problem. The cravings for sweets and starches diminished greatly because you don’t suffer from drastic blood sugar spikes. Another benefit (see chart below), when following a Ketogenic Diet, when you exercise you burn significantly more fat.
When you are fat-adapted and break your diet by eating too many carbohydrates, it is much faster to get back into ketosis. When the average sugar burner starts a ketogenic diet he can struggle 72-96 hours before he actually gets into ketosis.
A fat-adapted individual can usually get back into ketosis in 24 hours.
The human Mitochondria are tiny little organelles that are the engines of the cells. They convert calories from food to the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The mitochondria can use either carbohydrates/glucose or fatty acids/ketones as energy.
Glucose yields 36 ATP molecules, and fat yields 48 ATP molecules inside the mitochondria. So our body and brains get more efficient energy from fat/ketones.
How do you get keto-adapted?
Fat adaptation is the process by which your body has become adapted to burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates/glucose. Since we have lived our entire life using glucose as energy, our mitochondria have lost the ability to efficiently use fat as fuel.
That’s why we get “hangry” between meals and feel like we need to snack. Your body runs out of glucose and expects to get more. When it doesn’t get the expected glucose it sends danger signals to your brain. The addiction to sugar is directly related to the euphoria involved in blood sugar spikes.
That’s the key to fat-adaptation on the Ketogenic diet.
You restrict your carbohydrate intake drastically and you trick your body into thinking it’s starving. Since you are eating a high-fat diet, your body senses the extra fat and is forced to use it as fuel.
Your body always wants to burn glucose before fat, so you keep the glucose low and force it to burn fat. Just like anything, the more you do it, the better your body gets at it.
You actually “train” your mitochondria how to burn fat and they become efficient at it. You recalibrate your metabolic machinery. This “fat adaptation” includes robust metabolic and enzymatic adaptations.
Being fat adapted means eating and living in a state where you enjoy the benefits of using fats and ketones as your preferred source of energy.
Ketones have been the primary source of fuel for the human species (hunter/gatherer) for the last approximately 2 million years.
Only about 7000 years ago did we start eating grains, and it’s only been since about the 1950s that we have adopted such a high refined sugar/carbohydrate processed foods diet.
Fixing your digestive health will also help your body adapt to keto.
*When you are increasing your fat intake make sure to eat more good fats and less bad fats. Beware of Lazy Keto.
There are very limited studies on the fat-adaptation process on human subjects, but in a low carbohydrate environment, after prolonged exercise, a small amount of muscle glycogen synthesis occurs, presumably due to hepatic gluconeogenesis providing a source of glucose for glycogen.
Horses supplemented with fat after exercise showed impaired glycogen synthesis, but 3 weeks of a high-fat diet resulted in similar glycogen repletion as horses fed a high-carbohydrate diet.
In Mark Sisson’s book “The Keto Reset Diet” he talks about resetting your metabolism in 21 days. The specific time course of metabolic “fat adaptations” is variable depending on your initial metabolic health, but at least several weeks (3-6) are necessary to completely transition to optimal fat utilization.
How does being fat-adapted benefit you?
When you become keto-adapted from consistently eating a ketogenic diet (including intermittent fasting), the body cannot anticipate its next meal. So, instead of breaking down protein to maintain blood glucose, metabolism shifts to conserve blood glucose and to spare protein by increasing fatty acid oxidation and the increased production of ketone bodies.
Here is a very interesting study that shows that restricting carbohydrates can mimic the benefit of actual fasting. So when we Fast and follow a Ketogenic Diet between our fasting period, we can continue reaping some of the benefits even after our fast is complete.
Low glucose equals low insulin, and in the absence of insulin, mobilization of free fatty acids from adipose tissue (fat) continues to increase.
Ketogenesis produces ketone bodies (acetoacetate and β-hydroxybutyrate) and they are metabolized to acetyl-CoA and used for energy production by many tissues (muscle, brain, kidney).
Acetone, a ketone formed spontaneously by decomposition of acetoacetate, is what gives you bad breath when you are in ketosis.
Once you become keto-adapted and do fall off the wagon you can generally get back into ketosis and start burning fat again within 24 hours.
This Keto-Adapted Diet Plan will give you some ideas of what to eat.
The fat-adaptation phase of the Ketogenic Diet requires plenty of healthy fats to be eaten to stimulate the body to use that fat as fuel. Our bodies are very efficient, if all you are giving it is fat, the body will figure out how to convert it into energy (Ketogenesis).
Keto fans on our Ketogenicinfo Facebook Group consistently ask the question:
How to Speed up Keto Adaptation?
- Workout in a fasted state
- Take 1 tablespoon of extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil
- Take 1 MCT oil with cod liver oil
- Eat 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts to break a fast
- Eat avocados and pasture-raised eggs with salt
- Drink 1 Keto Flu drink (tonic) daily
- Go on a 3-day keto egg fast
- Go on 48-hour water only fast
- Take the weight loss supplement Forskolin during your fast
- Put butter in your coffee and make a keto coffee
Try the Speed Keto plan to put you in a state of ketosis.
Keto Fat Adapted Signs:
- Reduction in hunger
- Improved moods
- Fewer sugar cravings
- Stable blood sugar
- Lower A1C levels
- Normalizing blood pressure
- Blood triglyceride levels are reduced
- Fasting becomes much easier
- Increased concentration/less brain fog
- Ability to work-out without pre and post-workout drinks
- Aerobic exercise (endurance) improves
- Accelerated fat burning
- Reduced muscle loss
- Swelling (edema) is reduced
- Sustainable weight loss-no more Yo-Yo dieting.
How did this whole Keto-adapted thing get started?
A little History:
Most people think of Dr. Robert Atkins as the father of the Ketogenic diet. In 2002, the commercial success of the Atkins’ diet plan led Time Magazine to name the doctor one of the ten most influential people. Contrary to popular belief, he didn’t die of a heart attack. Dr. Atkins died on April 17, 2003, at the age of 72.
Nine days prior to his death, Atkins fell and hit his head on an icy New York sidewalk. But… there was someone long before Dr. Atkins:
In 1928, arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson professed the virtues of the Ketogenic diet. Of course, they didn’t call it the Ketogenic diet back then. Stefansson had been exposed to the diet after an extended stay in the Mackenzie Delta of the western Arctic in 1906.
When a ship carrying his supplies failed to materialize, he instead depended on the hospitality of a local family for food. At first, he struggled with the high fat, low carb diet. “When I got home I would nibble at it and write in my diary what a terrible time I was having,” Stefansson wrote later.
Keto adaptation is born
Stefansson gradually became fat-adapted to the boiled, frozen, and fermented fish that he was forced to eat. He primarily ate fish and meat from seals, whale, caribou, and waterfowl, and the short summers offered very few carbohydrates from the limited vegetation available.
HeVilhajalmur found that he and his fellow explorers were very healthy and had plenty of energy on such a diet. He lived in the arctic eating like that for four years! He discovered his body could function perfectly well, remain healthy, vigorous and slender. The keto-adapted arctic explorer ate only as much food as his body needed and never felt hungry.
When Stefansson returned to the USA there was widespread skepticism when he reported his findings of the virtues of high fat, mostly meat diet. At the request of researchers, Stefansson was asked to eat meat only as an experiment.
There were no deficiency problems during the experiment and he remained perfectly healthy. He ate an average of almost eighty percent of his energy from animal fat and almost twenty percent from protein.
His daily intake varied from 100-140 grams of protein, 200-300 grams of fat, and 7-12 grams of carbohydrates. Over the years, this research was largely ignored.