Blood, body and hormone changes on Keto or LCHF – what’s normal and when you should be concerned!
Blood Glucose – impact positive
Even among those with desirable blood glucose numbers, the switch to keto seems to get those numbers to an even better, consistently low (without being scary low) range. The rest of the story is this, when on keto, even if your blood glucose drops into scary low, you are not likely to slip into a coma.
Yeah, so this is far more serious than most ppl need. But for those of you curious, watch what Phinney says at min: to see more about this. In the old days when scientists could actually bring you within hairs of death for the sake of science, an experiment was run on fasted (therefore in nutritional ketosis) people. Despite the administering a substance to lower glucose to scary low levels within the blood – levels associated with someone IN a coma – the keto-adapted participants hummed along just fine as though nothing was happening. Doctors were stroking out, but the patients were fine. Cheating death one piece of bacon at a time.
So you seem to develop resistance to glycemic events when fat-adapted (or keto-adapted).
Blood Pressure – impact 0 to positive
If you currently have elevated blood pressure, the shift to keto is likely to bring down those BPs to desirable ranges. Those already in desirable ranges report no change.
Things to note – thanks for the Q! – your blood pressure can go up with your normal circadian rhythm. So first thing in the morning, your cortisol pops up, so too may your BP. When your body wants to stimulate you to wakefulness, expect your BP to pop up as well.
BP can also pop up temporarily just after exercise. If your top # exceeds 140 (systolic), measure at least 2 hours after waking or 2 hours after exercise. If you are regularly over 120 … that may be a signal of other challenges. Please chat with your doc.
Body Composition – impact increase lean muscle mass, decrease visceral fat mass
Visceral fat is the nasty stuff that accumulates out of sight, out of mind until you have a pot belly or love handles. This is the stuff that in excess is linked to increased cardio vascular risk factors, lung issues, fatty liver, etc. It also definitely harshes your mojo. You dig?
Eating fat increases lean muscle mass? Actually yes. The short version is this: your body utilizes dietary fat or snacks on your innards (mostly fat stores) once you are fat-adapted. The protein that gets gobbled (gluconeogenesis) is more of the recycling process of broken down cellular waste. So you’re not eating lean muscle mass, you’re recycling broken bits that needed to be cleared out anyway.
(Bare with me) We have cottonwood trees in Texas. They get tall very quickly but largely because they focus on up, not out. So by the time they are towering over your 2 story home, they have probably 40 years of up but are mostly hollow on the inside. Your house provided a buffer against big storms over that time, but now they’re high enough to catch more wind (above your house), and it’s a double whammy because the canopy catches the most wind (branches y’all) and that’s what is now hovering over your house. The floofy part of the tree – the part that catches the most wind – is no longer protected by the side of your house. The need to be “recycled” before our annual hail storm or you’ll be replacing the Koi pond, the roof and the deck.
So you chop it down to create firewood for the 4-7 days of winter you’ll get next year. The rest you grind to use in the side yard for mulch. Or you give it away. The point it, you change its form from potentially dangerous to helpful. You neutralize the potential threat.
Same thing with degraded cells parts in your body. They may not be causing any problems today, but you want to get those suckers cleared long before something hits. So when you hear someone mention gluconeogenesis in conversations about keto – they’re raising an alarm about gobbling protein, but we KNOW that the protein gobbled is this recycling not a degradation of quality, lean muscle.
Min 25: Dr Fung gets into the ideas of muscle degradation.
Athletic Performance – initial decrease in strength and speed.
Strength and Speed – explosive power – take 8 weeks to return. But once back, your capacity to exceed personal bests also increases.
Endurance – declines first 3-4 weeks of adaptation. You’ll be sucking wind. Yep. And this where some of my competitive friends say adios. BUT!! Once adapted, depth of fuel use increases. The current understanding is that you will tap your glycogen stores, but recycle them rather than exhaust them while you run (literally) on fat. Better VO2. New PRs. Find yourself an ultra-nut and ask what he/she is running on versus what her day-today diet is. The trend is fat-adapted training and small glucose load before proper race. Many seem to skip even the glucose before race. For more details, check out the Athlete Playlist:
What questions do you have?? Ask and I will dig!