Increasing carbs once fat adapted

(Sam) #1

So i have read on this forum and other sources that once you are fat adapted, you can increase your carbs and still reap the benefits of being fat adapted and still maintain that fat adaptability. Currently im usually sub 20 carbs and never above 30 carbs in a day.

If i increase that to ~50 carbs a day, is this going to completely throw my diet off?

Im not talking about adding in bread, but more salads/some carbier vegetables etc.

What would this do to my ketogenic diet, assuming fat adaptation?


Once you’re adapted ~50 from things like veggies and other lower GI stuff shouldn’t stop you from still spending a majority of time in ketosis. 20g really doesn’t change much.

Once I decided that metabolic flexibility was something I wanted to achieve back when I still cared about things like ketone levels and whether I was in ketosis or not I found I could get up to around 70g or so and still show ketones most of the time. I’m very active in both my job and gym which comes into play. I don’t check stuff like that anymore but I can go from a descent amount of carbs one day to fasting the next and I feel nothing, I can go from days of that to days of super strict keto without issue so I know I can flip/flop between fuel sources without issue.

Really just comes down to learning your metabolism, what you’ll tolerate and then if you need (most do) working towards getting that. As long as you stay low(er) carb and high(er) fat you shouldn’t loose your fat adaptation unless you stop eating this way for a while.

(Sam) #3

i assume when you are experimenting, trying to figure out those upper carb levels, you are using a ketone blood meter to measure how your body responds? Once you get the hang of it, you don’t need the meter anymore. If you are reading any ketones at all, say 0.2/0.3 after a 70g carb day, do you still consider yourself in ketosis? I know ‘ketone chasing’ is not the end goal, but how do you eventually figure out what that upper bound is, while still switching back into fat burning relatively quickly?

(UsedToBeT2D) #4

The point is, are you maintaining your health targets? Weight, blood chemistry, energy, digestive health? Only you can answer those questions. I would say experiment, just avoid processed food and sugar.


I did at one point, I quickly realized that ketone levels meant nothing. I lost 100lbs and my ketone levels rarely went above 0.3-0.5 so what was the point in caring? They’re not correlated to fat loss so they were meaningless to me. Plus, until I hit that point I wasted way too much money on strips! Same goes for blood glucose, although I do still sometimes check that. Once you realize ketone chasing is pointless you also stop caring about being “kicked out” of ketosis. Just eat the way you need to, watch how you feel and go on that. If I eat a bunch of carbs, I burn them, I pull all the carbs and eat strict keto for a while again (doing so right now) I burn it all. No energy issues, no brain fog, no carb hangovers, I simply burn the fuel I give my body. If you think back to when you started keto and how that felt, and think back to what it’s like to be hyper carb powered and being hangry felt, it’s very apparent when you then pick and choose your fuel and your body just goes with it. Only thing I don’t do obviously is eat high carb and high fat at the same time. But my carbs are typically pretty close to my workouts, I basically do a modified TKD/CKD with a hint of Paleo at this point.

Best thing you can do is track everything with something like Cronometer and move the dial slowly and see your results. You’ll know when you’re screwing it up or have surpassed what your body wants to deal with. Just remember depending on what you eat you have to factor in a little weight (bodyweight, not fat) gain for some extra glycogen stores.

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

Who knows? How insulin-resistant are you? How long have you been eating keto? What was your diet like before? Were you Type II diabetic or pre-diabetic? Was your reason for adopting a ketogenic diet metabolic health or fat loss? Do you care whether your insulin level goes back up or not?

It’s impossible to say what your carb threshold is. You’ll have to do some experimenting. Our 20 g/day limit is somewhat arbitrary, but the Dudes picked it because it’s a level at which almost everyone can be sure of getting into ketosis.


I am not sure one’s ketosis carb limit changes, mine apperently didn’t do a thing… I got fat adapted eating about 40g net carbs every day, I still got out of ketosis if I ate 50+ afterwards as far as I can tell. It seems pretty normal to me. I just kept my fat adaptation, it seems it’s extremely hard to destroy, even occasional high-carb days couldn’t do that, it seems.

I don’t know what your goals are and what you need to reach them, it’s individual. As time passed, I started to eat significantly less carbs, not more because I could do it at that point and when I tried, my body decided this is its new favorite and it has several benefits.
But if more carbs work for you better, do that. But I doubt most people can get away with 50g carbs, i.e. staying in ketosis… Surely many such people exist but 20g is way safer, fat adapted or not. As far as I know.
You probably want to experiment less if you have health problems where lower-carb is better but I am not knowledgeable about that at all.

(Bacon by any other name would taste just as great.) #8

It’s different for everyone. I suspect I can get into ketosis while eating a fair amount of carbohydrate, but I feel much better (less arthritis, more energy) when I keep my carb intake as low as possible. There was an executive at DuPont, written up in a case study published in the 1960’s by the company physician, who lost weight on a low-carb, high-fat diet, but who would put weight back on if he at a single extra apple. So you are not alone!

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

Curious: why? Being in ketosis is better than not. There are a host of health benefits having your innards awash in ketones and a host of problems avoided. Based on what I’ve learned about human evolution and what was edible and not both during and pre-Pleistocene, I think it’s accurate to conclude that we are adapted to live our lives primarily in ketosis. I think ketosis is the best way to attain health, well-being and longevity and my only regret is not knowing 50 years sooner.

(Sam) #10

Thanks for all the replies. I do plan on sticking to sub 30 carb per day, and probably sub 50 carb longer term assuming my body can handle it. It looks like a trial and error type situation which makes perfect sense but was just curious as to others stories. Great feedback!


I think it works like this (but I’m not sure):

If we eat carbs, our pancreas will release extra insulin to deal with the carbs. It’s just the way it is, if I got it right.

Type 1 diabetics can even calculate how much insulin to take based on grams of carbs consumed.

Some of us will get the extra insulin, the insulin will do its job and we’ll move over. If we’re among the lucky ones, a little insulin will go a long way. If not, there’ll be more insulin needed than the next person.

But still: if you increase the amount of carbs, the amount of insulin will increase. For everybody, if I’m not mistaken.

Many of us: we’ll increase the carbs, we’ll get the extra insulin… and the next step won’t work so well. So, we get more extra insulin. Then, hopefully, the carbs are dealt with. But while this is going on, you’ll have the higher glucose AND higher insulin doing possibly bad stuff inside you.

The effect seems to be somewhat cumulative. The more it happens in the cranky way, the more it seems to be likely to happen in the cranky way next time. And it gets crankier, once it became cranky once.

To complicate matters further: there’s no easy way to know if, for instance, your blood glucose didn’t raise much because a little insulin did its job just fine, or if it didn’t raise much but only at the cost of a lot of insulin.

So, even measuring BG isn’t enough to know what is really going on when you consume the extra carbs. Why is it low? Little insulin did it, or you were washed inside with a lot of the stuff?

Overworking may cause also damage to the very cells that produce insulin, if I understood it correctly. Pancreas beta cells, or something.

So, one day, you may eat the carbs and your beta cells won’t be healthy enough, or in enough number to produce all that insulin you need to deal with those carbs.

Then, there’s something pretty scary to add to the problem: when we go very low carb, there’s the adaptive glucose sparing, or physiological insulin resistance. I think nobody knows what this really is, but blogs and youtube videos will tell you that it’s perfectly fine, that it’s just your cells letting the BG available for the cells that really need it, that can’t live from using fat as fuel, because they don’t have mitochondria, or something like that.

But the thing is totally terrifying: you won’t eat carbs at all and yet your BG is high in the mornings and after exercising. Many of us have this problem. Others, don’t.

A few of the questions only bloggers/youtubers know the answers to (because they can say whatever without the burden of proof and followers will be followers no matter what they bloggers claim to know… without proof) is: why all that BG isn’t being used by the cells that need it and the BG levels aren’t just normally low as one would expect if eating no carbs for weeks? Why would the extra BG not be harmful, if it’s higher than what is believed to be healthy? If the cells without mitochondria needed the sugar, why is it running free for hours in your body, like nuclear waste no one wants?

And the question I ask myself: if you start to eat more carbs on a few days, but keep very low on others, won’t the “good” insulin resistance (I don’t believe for a nano second it is good!) compound with the extra carbs you only eat sometimes, to create a bigger problem?

Say your BG is already high from the “good” insulin resistance (adaptive glucose sparing, or a rose full of thorns by any other name), then your insulin may be extra, too. Then you eat more carbs than you do most days, than your body is used to, then, boom, more insulin… and you do it again next week, or two days later… how could it be good? Cranky may get crankier.

I hope all the bloggers are right and the problem is only in my head. But I don’t know. Nobody does. It is up to each one of us to decide if that’s one more of the risks we’ll take, like driving on a busy road, diving with sharks (my favorite vacation activity)…

I personally want to take the risk, because I feel better when I eat a little more carbs. But I can’t tell you if it’s a good decision.

People tell you to see how you feel… I don’t agree much. You may feel perfectly fine and have a horrible tumor growing inside you. Why so many bad stuff is diagnosed (too) late? I think you really can only decide if you want to risk it being very bad. Knowing that perhaps it is just fine. So many people live long, happy lives eating lots of carbs!

It’s the Russian roulette kind of thing. One more in life. Some of us will be fine.

Good luck with whatever you decide!


It’s less of your level changing to be in ketosis, but more of how fast your metabolism can chew through the carbs to get back there after the fact. Back at my worst when my metabolism was destroyed my RMR was around 1700, back then I’d absolutely feel like crap if I ate a real carb-y meal, my current RMR as of a couple weeks ago was measured at 3758! So if I eat a bunch of carbs they’re literally going to just be incinerated and once that happens I start burning up liver glycogen at that point and I’m soon back into ketosis again. I’d say I can (probably) swing around 100-150g and still see ketosis again at some point that same day now. Probably more on the intense workout days. Sounds like a lot with a standard keto mindset but in reality is still very much considered low carb otherwise.


I never could ‘climb the carb ladder’

my CCL was always very low. I had no UP on carbs.

So when I did Atkins in the ‘induction phase’ I thrived.

the minute I tried to add back carbs and go up that carb limit to figure out my personal ‘critical carb limit’ it was massive failure.

So yea it is experiment time for you. Each of us will be super different on that issue truly. So many factors come into play on ‘adding back’ up the carb ladder.

good luck finding you in it all!

(Jack Bennett) #14

Curious - how/where do you get your RMR measured? Is that something your doctor can do or is it more of a sports medicine specialty?


Either can do it, Doctors may want a “reason” to though at least if you use insurance. My first one I had done at a place that trains cyclists and the second one I had done at a gym. You pretty much just sit in a chair and hang out while wearing a face fask hooked to a machine that’s measuring your oxygen in / co2 out. Having as accurate body composition numbers as possible helps as that’s all entered into the machine. I had the 2nd one done as a combo package with a DEXA scan. Most of the higher end gyms have them for measuring vo2 max. I was pretty surprised to find a gym with a DEXA, but that place costs like $400/mo so they better have something impressive with rates like that!


The best way to be sure is to just get a blood ketone meter.

For some people, they may be able to eat up to 50g carbs and stay in ketosis. Some people need to stay under 25g carbs to stay in ketosis even after being fat adapted.

There is no point making assumptions. If the goal is to stay in ketosis, get a ketone meter. Then gradually increase your carbs and measure your blood ketones to see what level of carbs starts to kick you out of ketosis.

(KCKO, KCFO) #17

Atkins program has a ladder. It is just adding 5 grams at a time and seeing how you react to it. Different carbs will behave differently. I can eat lentals, my hubby can not. He can eat wheat based foods, I can not. You have to experiment with it. This is how I got started on my journey. While I may not care for the company, the method Dr. Atkins came up with is a good one and pretty easy to follow too.


To add to what @collaroygal said, also keep in mind (and track) each thing you add because on top of adding them in and seeing how you react, for many some stuff causes ravenous hunger or just off a week long fast binge type eating. For me, I can eat half of a (real) Pizza and be totally fine, no issues at all. Yet if I eat a TBSP or so of Peanut butter I’ll wind up eating the whole house… and that’s keto friendly! Our bodies are weird things!


Yep, peanuts are special to me too though not that very serious. But I totally can overeat them and they can trigger worse things, I am best without them. I even feel they aren’t good for my body anyway and it’s probably true.

It’s not the best idea for me to eat erythritol either but it’s common I think. I am fine but I don’t think it puts me to the right mindset? I don’t really know, I always ate it when I already had some problems eating properly. But it surely doesn’t help most of the time.

I am better with starches and worse with sugars but as sugars are sweet, no wonder they have some special effect on the ones with a huge sweet tooth and old sweets eating habits anyway.

It can be quite important when we add carbs too. It’s different to add a tiny bit while eating some suberb food - or jumping some sugar right away when hungry (I never do that, I don’t know how someone can eat sweet things when hungry unless there is nothing else - but it matters if I eat carbs when still in a big need of food). Eating carbs alone or together with a bunch or fatty protein… At one point I noticed that I may get slightly unwell if I eat a tiny but sugary fruit alone while doing very low-carb. But if it’s a tiny piece of a proper meal (and not the last item), no problem.

We don’t react to carbs the same all the time. My carb intake alone says little, many other factors are in play. Sometimes a problematic item causes problems due to its carb content, sometimes it’s something else in it. Or sometimes it’s a problem because of the other stuff we eat or don’t eat with it. It’s complicated but adding one thing a time and watching the other factors, we may figure out a lot of things.

(Diana) #20

Dude same! Something about nut butter is so triggering for me. I can stop myself after 2 tbs, but will then start craving other food and just looking to eat more.