Energy Levels 6 months and still struggling

(Mark Humphreys) #1

I started my Keto journey on the 1st January 2020 and have been very focused all the way through. I was a runner and cyclist but stopped the running (2015) when I developed vascular compartment syndrome, this was eventually diagnosed and following surgery (which was a bit of a disaster) I was cured but I never went back to it with the same intensity and I had lost a lot of speed and endurance.
So Keto has treated me well, 15 kg lighter with a clear head and good sleep patterns I can’t complain. I restarted my running when we entered semi isolation, just 4 miles every other day and I continue this but my energy levels are terrible. I expected to be a lot slower, so the speed wasn’t a concern, but the effort is massive and after three months I am still struggling with little improvement. Am I getting something wrong?
Any advice appreciated.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #2

Without knowing more specifics, it’s not possible to offer advice. 6 months is a long time to regain something approaching previous energy levels. But everyone is unique and there is likely something holding you down. Maybe your prior physical issues are showing up again, maybe you have low grade illness, maybe your diet is not quite right for you, maybe not eating enough or enough of the right stuff. More details will help us help you.

(Mark Humphreys) #3

What specifics could I provide to get the best advice and help?


Are you tracking what you eat? I see this exactly complaint from runners a lot and most of the time it’s people under eating. Are you eating 3 good sized meals? Are you normally hungry around mealtime? More importantly are you LESS hungry overall than you used to be?

(Mark Humphreys) #5

I use myfitnesspal and record every item I consume. My diet split is 75:20:5 for Fat, Protein and Carbs and I am +/- 3% on this split and have been since 01/01/2020. I set a target of reducing from 99 kg (my starting weight) to 80 kg and followed the calorie reduction that myfitnesspal suggested and am currently at 1650 calories per day and weigh 83 kg, but I always allow my exercise calories as additional food which I do consume. I have 3 good meals and snacks and am definitely less hungry than I was before Keto.

(Bacon by any other name would taste just as great.) #6

The key to getting into nutritional ketosis is eating less than 20 g of carbohydrate a day, eating a moderate amount of protein (1.0-1.5 g/kg of lean body mass/day), and fat to satiety. I’d start there. Once that’s sorted, then look at such things as how insulin-resistant you are (requires blood-work to determine), the composition of your fat intake (should be overwhelmingly saturates and monounsaturates; polyunsaturates should be very low, because they cause inflammation).

If you are eating to satiety, snacks should be unnecessary. Since the goal is to keep insulin as low as possible for as much of the day as possible, it is advisable to eat enough at mealtimes that you can go many hours between meals without hunger pangs. It should go without saying that any snacks you eat should be low-carb, high-fat ones (bacon, pepperoni, pork rinds, cheese, etc.). If that 1650-calorie figure is the result of eating to satiety, that’s one thing, but if you are restricting calories because Myfitnesspal told you to, then either reset the app to Maintenance mode, or ignore it and eat to satisfy your hunger. If you increase your caloric intake and discover that you just aren’t hungry enough to eat three meals a day, that is fine; just go with what your body is telling you.

The whole concept of a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet relies on the fact that our caloric intake is much less important than the body’s hormonal response to the foods we eat. We are not what we eat, we are what our body does with what we eat. Low-fat, high-carbohydrate eating stimulates fat storage and metabolic dysfunction in many, many people, whereas a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet stimulates weight-normalization and a return to metabolic health.

(Mark Humphreys) #7

Thank you for that comprehensive reply Paul, as you say I was attempting to maintain Ketogenesis whilst restricting calorific input to enhance weight loss whilst becoming fat adapted. I will reset my intake to maintain my mass and monitor how I progress.

(Bunny) #8

I know you may know all of this already, and I think you do, and still does not mean you cannot be ketogenic, because all metabolically or physically fit people are ketogenic they just do not know it, and are whether they like it or not?

Some things you may want to think about when eating 20 grams of carbohydrates for a more metabolically fit person like yourself and doing that for prolong periods of time or indefinitely?

The bigger you are, fat or muscle, the more calories you burn in a 24 hour period and the less you weigh, the less you burn body fat when at rest as weight decreases in exponents?

If your not diabetic 20 grams of carbohydrates is way to low of a diet to power the type of muscles you have because of your level of physical activity days and whole body leanness, you will have a hard time holding onto that skeletal muscle mass because that is what your really burning when you start running and the “massive effort” you discuss is probably due to energy need demands not being met?

When your physically active you can burn some body fat and dietary fat for energy but that will get burned up fast and then it will switch to amino acids from your own skeletal muscle via cortisol when not enough carbs are available to spare skeletal muscle from being burned up? You can only spare muscle tissue from catabolism for so long with calorie restriction, carbohydrate restriction or time restricted eating without carbing up before lots of physical activity or exertion?

When a person has a lot of body fat, they burn fat, but as they get thinner they start burning muscle because of not enough carbohydrate to power more muscle so they stall out and plateau when trying to burn body fat.

What ever weight you start at, your metabolism is maintaining a much higher speed but as your weight reduces the slower the metabolism gets to power the muscle without increasing carbohydrate to slow the metabolism back down.

So when a person does fasting or time restricted eating that is not what slows down the metabolism it is the body fat to leanness ratios.

Then you have people who will say just eat more protein which works like a slow acting exogenous to endogenous carbohydrate (in reality) or an amino acid that will get converted eventually into glucose but that does not help the fact that you are still burning up muscle tissue (while in a state of physical exertion) and reducing its mass with cortisol and at the same time reducing your caloric burn when at rest, when you eat do eat more carbohydrates and when at rest, the smaller you get in whole body weight?

It is a very fine ultra delicate balance.


[1] “…Because of metabolic adaptations to prolonged changes in diet composition, the results of such short-term studies cannot be applied to longer-term situations. …” - Anssi H Manninen

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #9

Why don’t we jump right to the conclusion of the study quoted in the above previous comment. The quote lifted out of context (with no link) gives the impression, intended by the commenter, that low carb leads to muscle loss, when actually:


Although more long-term studies are needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn, it appears, from most literature studied, that a VLCARB is, if anything, protective against muscle protein catabolism during energy restriction, provided that it contains adequate amounts of protein.

You may also be interested in the remainder of the same paragraph quoted out of context in the above previous comment:

Thus, the authors concluded that, over a 10-day period, the energy value of body constituents lost during adherence to an 800-kcal is minimally affected by diet composition. Because of metabolic adaptations to prolonged changes in diet composition, the results of such short-term studies cannot be applied to longer-term situations .Young et al. compared three diets containing the same amounts of calories (1,800 kcal/day) and protein (115 g/day) but differing in carbohydrate content [3]. After nine weeks on the 30-g, 60-g and 104-g carbohydrate diets, weight loss was 16.2, 12.8 and 11.9 kg and fat accounted for 95, 84, and 75% of the weight loss, respectively. Importantly, underwater weighing was used to determine body composition. Although these results should be interpreted cautiously given the low number of subjects, this study strongly suggests that a VLCARB promotes fat loss while preserving muscle mass, supporting the notion that “a calorie is not a calorie” [2325]. Phinney et al. reported that subjects lost 0.7 kg in the first week of the eucaloric VLCARB, after which their weight remained stable [15]. Thus, they observed a reduction in glycogen stores, but excellent preservation of muscle protein.

And passim:

More recently, Willi et al. examined the efficacy and metabolic impact of a VLCARB in the treatment of morbidly obese adolescents [4]. Six adolescents weighing an average of 147.8 kg consumed the VLCARB (25 g of carbohydrate/day) for 8 weeks. The results indicated that the weight loss with VLCARB is rapid, consistent, and almost exclusively from body fat stores. Changes in lean body mass, as estimated from DEXA and urinary creatinine, were not significant over the term of treatment. Bioelectrical impedance measurements reflected a greater loss of lean body mass, but changes in total body fluid and electrolyte content, as a result of dietary ketosis, may complicate these measurements.

Volek et al. investigated the effects of a six-week VLCARB on body composition in healthy normal-weight men [5]. Twelve subjects switched from their habitual diet (48% carbohydrates) to a VLCARB (8% percent carbohydrates) for six weeks and eight men served as controls, consuming their normal diet. Although subjects were encouraged to consume adequate dietary energy to maintain body mass during the intervention, the results revealed that fat mass was significantly decreased (-3.4 kg) and lean body mass significantly increased (+1.1 kg) at week six (as measured by DEXA). There were no significant changes in composition in the control group. The authors concluded that a VLCARB resulted in a significant reduction in fat mass and an accompanying increase in lean body mass in normal-weight men. In other words, the entire loss in bodyweight was from body fat. A subsequent study by Volek et al. using a VLCARB during energy-restriction noted a greater decrease in lean body mass in men who consumed a VLCARB than in men won consumed a high-carbohydrate/low-fat diet. However, resting energy expenditure was maintained in men consuming the VLCARB but decreased on the high-carbohydrate/low-fat diet, strongly suggesting that the VLCARB group did not lose muscle mass.

And the following:

The perception that the VLCARB leads to progressive loss of muscle protein apparently comes from the poorly controlled “Turkey Study” published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1980 [12]. The authors of this study reported that the protein-only diet subjects were losing nitrogen yet gaining potassium. As pointed out by Phinney [13, 14], however, potassium and nitrogen losses are closely related, as they are both contained in lean tissue. This anomaly occurred because the authors assumed the potassium intake of their subjects was based upon handbook values for raw turkey, but half of this potassium was being discarded in the unconsumed broth. Deprived of potassium, these subjects were unable to benefit from dietary protein and thus lost muscle mass [14].

Or maybe just read the whole thing for yourself, it’s not very long:

(Bacon by any other name would taste just as great.) #10

Some decrease in muscle mass, resulting from the reduced need to haul around an excessive fat mass, should probably be expected, and we should consider it healthy. A decrease in excess of that amount should be considered unhealthy wasting.

(Bunny) #11

Yes, let’s and your misunderstanding about this; it is the authors caveat or WARNING; about those studies and doubtfulness (efficacy) about long-term very low carb eating?

Don’t think eating 20 grams of carbohydrates is a for sure science long-term or indefinitely it is still experimental? If your Diabetic maybe and still a BIG MAYBE?

Diabetes is an insulin problem not a glucose problem?

Dr. Peter Attia and my personal experience with this are primary examples of this, we found out the hard way? We both ran into the same wall, so has Dr. Eric Berg?

You will see people losing weight but keeping it off, no one has seemingly figured that out yet? And probably locked up in Virta Health’s safe as proprietary information?

Let us refer to the original nomenclature:

”…Starvation begins: when an individual has lost about 30%, or about a third, of their normal body weight. Once the loss reaches 40% death is almost inevitable. …” …More

Most people would be lucky to lose one-third of body weight which would most likely be lean mass only to gain it all back again with a 32% goal (yikes)?

That is why Dr. Fung has the right idea? Problem is people abuse “fasting” without proper guidance?

What ever you weigh in mostly fat you want to bring up in bone density and muscle mass so you really don’t want to lose weight?

Related References:

[1] Nitrogen Balance: NB methodology is a measure of the net status of protein metabolism. It does not provide information on the size of protein stores or nutritional status [21]. However, it provides a holistic assessment of protein balance, allowing insight into the relationship between energy status, dietary protein, and FFM (fat free mass). Several factors may precipitate a negative NB in the BS (biological science) setting. These include inadequate protein or energy intakes, imbalance in the nonessential/essential AA ratio, accelerated protein catabolism, and excessive diarrhea. A negative energy balance may have a negative and direct effect on the protein synthesis rate and, consequently, on SM (skeletal muscle) mass. …” …Chapter 49 - Protein Nutrition and Status and Bariatric Surgery

[2] NONESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS: Nonessential means that our bodies produce an amino acid, even if we do not get it from the food we eat. Nonessential amino acids include: alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine. …More


HI!! Welcome!!

I looked this up and wow. You went thru some tough stuff with this med situation. You ‘got cured’ but I would watch truly the intensity of what being a runner could do to you. Cycling to me would trump the pounding of a runner. Don’t know anything truly about your med situation thru it all but be kind to yourself and focus on what you can do and what ‘new things’ that might be easier on the body and maybe experiment with a new niche of that type of activity that would suit you better? Just saying, we have to adapt and change and sometimes that is scary and throws us off our game but in the end we grow and learn thru it and ya might find a new great activity that suits your situation now :sunny:

But also eat…you said:

forget snacks. no one ‘needs them’ LOL so make your meals way more satisfying to cut the snacking…not just cut it for cutting sake, but the meals you eat should easily mean you never wanna snack cause you are just fine and dandy and full and happy and don’t need them. Work on making meals the biggie here and never give that useless snack we truly don’t need and is usually not worth bothering for your nutritional needs any merit. Just eat more fat and protein. Key to it all.

and 6 months in with medical situations and not sure if ya have any others, but each person is very individual on what it takes and timing on that energy level to rise up and HOLD. We can rise up but can deflate again, rise and deflate til that one day, down the line, BOOM we are more healed internally and our bodies push us into energy all the time on high. But again, it is varied for all of us…but if tired, eat more protein and fat and also be sure to nap if you can, rest when you can, don’t push. Let the body heal internally as it needs and treat yourself very well thru any adaption times you are experiencing. Only great more good changes will come, just cruise thru the detox/adaption time/healing as ya need. Wishing you the best!

(Mark Humphreys) #13

Thank you for all the comments and information I will ruminate on it all and create a plan forwards.

I know where to come for advice and appreciate the efforts

Best Regards