Metabolic Flexibility - Get Real


You should be asking… Why are people addicted to carbs in the first place? That they have to go as far as make up words so they can consume their crack.

Carbs raise serotonin. They are just as essential as caffeine and other serotonin stimulants in those who aren’t producing any serotonin themselves.

(Eric - The patient needs to be patient!) #42

I think there can be gut flora problems that are different from metabolic derangement or carb intolerance. Most days I’m very low carb but more importantly I’m meat and fish heavy. I can no longer eat my wifes thai curry chicken or thai basil chicken. It may be the carbs but it is likely the fish sauce or thai peppers. 1 hr later I’m on the can. This is not the inability to digest or process the carbs. Because I can have refried beans or meat chilli with tomatoes and red bell peppers and not have to be on the can.

I do like this discussion and I do think that many of us are deranged in carb processing. I am, but I’m not super sensitive. Just can’t over do it.

(Eric - The patient needs to be patient!) #43

I’m considering carnivore in late February after my next set of blood work but I’m very nervous about losing the ability to eat certain plant foods. I don’t track but I do eat these foods almost weekly in small doses and hope to retain the ability to process them:

  • coffee (daily)
  • onions
  • garlic
  • avocado
  • olives
  • pickles and sauerkraut (actively fermented)
  • refried beans
  • a selection of hot pepper sauces (almost daily)

I have given up all nuts except macadamia, no peanut butter and sadly no chocolate.

(Eric - The patient needs to be patient!) #44

I think many people miss the differences in gut flora issues versus carb intolerance or auto-immune issues.

The more I lean towards carnivore (carnivore adjacent?) the more I find old foods have me running to the can. Pune intended. Thai basil or curry chicken is one that my wife is great at cooking that I can no longer tolerate. I’m assuming this is not a permanent intolerance but is very annoying if I want to eat those dishes I have to work towards building up the flora.

I have a non-keto daughter that is back form 4 months overseas and she is on the can a lot. She was asking my opinion and I told here I think mostly it is the gut. Some may be bad oils as well.


Why is it nonsense? We SHOULD be able to eat something without a horrible punishment, regardless of whether that meal is “healthy” for us on paper. You really don’t think your body completely over-reacting to something is a little much?

Many can do it! I’ve done just that on many occasions. I can’t pull that off on a sedentary Sunday, but as we speak I’m getting coffee’d up and heading to the gym for my 5x5 of heavy Squats, Deadlifts and Rows, I’ll follow that up with about 20min HIIT and then some cardio while I watch whatever movie they got going for a while, then zone out in the sauna for a while. I can absolutely eat 100g on a day like today without an issue, burn it all off, flip back and keep the ketones rolling before I burn off everything already in my blood. No headaches, sick feeling, toilet time…nothing. How’s that a bad thing?

I’ll agree that some people, mainly people newer to this WOE still mentally highjacked by sugar in most cases use either (what they call) a CKD protocol or they just binge on garbage at random and claim “flexibility” when in reality they never got over the sugar in the first place and that’s why they can pull it off. But that’s not what most of us that use that term do.

When I eat say a burger w/fries now my blood sugar doesn’t spike and crash anymore, I’m able to handle that meal like a normal person without the downsides, that’s a GOOD thing. My A1C is sitting pretty even with 2-3 meals that are “normal” a week. My ketone levels when I check them are always good. I can’t think of a situation where turning your metabolism into a functional hybrid is a bad thing. I think the biggest problem is that the argument constantly gets changed, it’s like the political left and right. One side says that metabolic flexibility is a good thing, the argument back is that we don’t need carbs. That’s TRUE, but that’s not the discussion. We’re saying we want a metabolism that can seamlessly flip-flop between fuel sources without repercussions. Then the response would be something like we said we want to go from steak to cupcakes and back… and again, not what we’re advocating for. I think it’s also assumed that when people like us eat carbs that means a bag of chips, some candy and half a loaf of bread, again, simply not true. Most of my carbs are from lower glycemic healthier carbs like oatmeal, some fruits, sweet potato etc. Basically my carbs (when I eat them) are more what a normal low carb eater would eat. The burger and fries type meals are pretty minimal.

I’d say I eat Keto 90% of the time, LCHF 10%. Also a reason I don’t like to refer to Keto as LCHF. It is of course, but Keto is always LCHF but LCHF isn’t always keto.

(Windmill Tilter) #46

Wow. That’s fairly stunning. Actually it’s a little alarming.

The topic of discussion is: “metabolic flexibility is simply an excuse to eat carbs; change my mind!”. We’ve agreed that the definition of metabolic flexibility is the ability of an organism to adapt fuel oxidation to food availability. We both agree (you proposed!) that the inability to metabolize carbohydrates efficiently is a metabolic derangement and therefore metabolic inflexibility. From the following, it logically follows that “metabolic flexibility” is not merely an “excuse to eat carbs”, but rather a legitimate and prudent effort to correct a metabolic derangement. I’m starting to get the impression that no living person could any more change your mind on this question than one could persuade a hard-core vegan that steaks are good for you.

When I was a vegan, I often felt a little uncomfortable with some of my fellow travelers. They seemed utterly convinced that the way they ate was the one true way. It ceased to be a rational thing. Veganism has a reputation for this. The thing I liked least about being vegan wasn’t the food, it was the stigma of being vegan!

I see more and more stuff like that around the forums with keto and carnivore. It makes me a little uncomfortable frankly. I think keto is great, and I love extended fasting, but it’s just food.

Chopsticks are a “way of eating”. Keto is a metabolic tool, not a religion…

(Bob M) #47

Interesting. Hot sauces cause me immediate allergy symptoms (my eyes water, I get congested, etc.). I still eat them on occasion, but have mainly given them up. In fact, we bought Sriracha for a recipe over the holidays, and I was using that. Got allergy symptoms each time, so I tossed it. That’s too bad, because I was once the guy who could eat “wings of DEATH!” with no problems.

Raw sauerkraut affects me poorly, though cooked sauerkraut does not. On the other hand, fermented pickles (Bubbies) do not affect me.

Onions I think affect me poorly, though I still eat them periodically, like last night.

I don’t like avocado, never have, never will. Guacamole is OK, but I eat this rarely. I also saw a comparison between the fatty acids in avocado (a “healthy” fat) and lard (an “unhealthy” fat), and they were remarkably similar. I’d rather eat something fried in lard.

I’m conflicted about chocolate. If I eat it with too high of a percentage and too late at night, I sleep poorly… So, I have low doses or try to eat it earlier in the day. I also eat it with calcium/fat to limit the effects of oxalates.

I personally will eat beans, like if I order chili from a menu and it has beans in it. But I think they are filled with so many anti-nutrients (lectins, etc.), that I try to avoid them. Refried will lesson the amount of anti-nutrients, though, but you have to watch what they are fried in. Lard would not be bad.

So, I guess we each have to figure out what affects us.

As for gut flora, if there was ever research that was all over the map, this is it. It’s terrible. While there is some truth to the gut issues, the microbiome in my opinion is completely overblown. Say you want to find out what your microbiome looks like. Sample from two different poop locations, get two different results. Send same sample to two different labs, get two different results. Give someone probiotics, then give them a pill to swallow that measures actual biome in their actual digestive track, and it’s completely different from what a poop test shows.

And don’t get me started on resistant starch and probiotics. Talk about scientific garbage.

On the other hand, I’m sure there are biome issues for some people, maybe even me. But trying to figure out what they are is impossible. As a scientist, I like to test things. But there are no tests you can take to see if you have a microbiome issue that actually work.

Anyway, I’m off to go jogging (HIIT on a dreadmill), then do some abs, then do cold therapy by walking outside in the cold with reduced amounts of clothing.

(Eric - The patient needs to be patient!) #48

Humm. If you can eat bubbies and not raw sauerkraut that is just perplexing. I try to eat fermented food at least 2 / wk. I’m told there is K2 in it but I have no idea how much.

Each of us is “all over the map” probably on what we can tolerate. I eat mexican out almost weekly at one restaurant only.

I somethings go weeks without refried beans when I can a plate of ground beef (with some onions in it) and a side of cheese dip. Other times I get a steak (carna asada) that has refried beans on the side. I eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of the beans. I limit them because I do better on really low carb. I don’t seem to be sensitive to the toxins in the beans. I assume they are fried in lard because I can taste it.


(Bob M) #49

It is perplexing, and I could be wrong, as N=1 studies are always tough. although I’ve thrown away entire jars of raw sauerkraut because of these issues. And I’m partly of Polish descent, so I love sauerkraut. I am sure I’ll try this again, as there’s a Polish deli that has great pickles and sauerkraut.

If you want K2, and you don’t mind plants, natto (fermented soybeans) have a ton of K2. About the highest amount possible. People say they don’t like them, but I tried them for a while and with fermented (non-wheat) soy sauce, I didn’t mind them. Then again, I can take huge amounts of pills at one swallow, I actually like beef liver and other offal, and have taken all kinds of crap (metabolol, protein powders, etc.) with nary an issue.

This is where I got mine from:

You can freeze it, too.

For K2, though, I decided to go the animal route. So, I eat blue cheese and the like, or this or other cheeses made from raw milk, if I can find it. I haven’t seen any indication (unlike others) that cheese or any dairy really causes me “inflammation”, though again this is something that can’t be tested. I know some people are going to chime in and say to use the scale, but I’ve given up using that, as my scale weight can change 5+ pounds in a single day if I fast or return from one, and in my 6 years doing this, I’ve had many times when the scale showed no decrease but I’d lose a belt loop or even a pants size.

(Windmill Tilter) #50

This is a really good point. The reality is that for every post that I’ve read about someone discovering a new intolerance or condition, I’ve probably read 3 posts about people who have had decades old problems disappear. I read back over my previous post with a bit of a cringe, because I know there people here who have suffered from lifelong, debilitating autoimmune issues for whom keto/carnivore is genuinely a life-line. You’re one of my favorite people on the forum, and I know carnivore has been a total god-send for you. I could have been a heck of a lot more nuanced, but I opted for brevity and cheap rhetorical points. That was kind of shitty. I’m sorry.

This is a really interesting point too. It’s hard to fathom how decades old neurological pain, and migraines could be caused by “healthy” plants. But that was clearly the case for you. I’ve been following your accountability thread for about a year so I know it’s not BS. That said, I bet you could go to 100 doctors and 99 of them would tell you that it’s bullshit, carnivore is unhealthy and dangerous, and that the prudent solution would be opioids for pain management, a cocktail of immuno-suppressors, and the “Mediterranean diet” for overall health. They don’t have a clue. Nobody does!

But that raises an issue. If the presence of a particular food can cause complex and seemingly unrelated medical issues, does it not follow that the absence of one could be similarly problematic? Put differently, it follows that the presence of a toxin causes disease, but is it not likely therefore that the absence of a micronutrient could cause disease?

A clumsy example of this is vitamin C. It’s absence causes scurvy, but not immediately; it takes months for the symptoms to appear. I can imagine that more subtle deficiencies affecting a minority of people also exist. Who knows what they are? It seems naive to assume that walking away hundreds of foods that comprised the majority of calories for our fore-bearers over the last few millennia is entirely without consequence. Nobody really has a clue what the presence or absence of a particular toxin or micronutrient will do on a long-term basis. It’s possible that there are folks here who are triggering legitimate health issues in the absence of some foods. That was part of the point I was trying to make with my (admittedly cringeworthy) line about “bizzare and daily occurences of ketonians discovering new and terrible intolerances, allergies, and metabolic problems”.

(Polly) #51

I would tend to say that the evidence only supports the proposition that some hominid/Homo sapiens population was cooking starchy roots. We do not know for sure what they were doing with the cooked roots nor how widespread the occurrence was.

(Eric - The patient needs to be patient!) #52

I will likely got meat carnivore for 30 days this year and add eggs, the dairy back to see if there is anything I need to be concerned about.

I eat blue cheese that I smoked 1 year ago but it is not made from raw mike I’m assuming that because it is blue it does not have to be from raw milk. Am I wrong?

If I don’t stay carnivore I will try natto.

I love fermented foods especially ones that are still active cultures. My wife is 2nd gen German with a aunt that is polish and she is so so on fermented foods but all in on other German and Polish dishes. My 23 and me genetics says I’m about 1/2 irish and 1/2 germanic. I’m all in on German and Polish foods.

(Joey) #53

@Don_Q Fascinating idea. Indeed, the role of those little “beasties” is too often overlooked.

I’ve recently read that we have more individual bacteria lurking in our bodies than we have own human cells… and that we’re 90% bacteria (whatever this % might mean).

Such figures don’t really matter. The larger point is that our own inherited genetics merely present us with a starting point. The role of epigenetics (i.e., to include the influence of environmental factors) then plays a highly determinative factor in how our actual health outcomes unfold.

Similarly, our ability to eat and efficiently digest (“enjoy”?) various food sources becomes an ever-moving target based on how we’ve led our bodies to adapt from meal to meal.

And those little critters throughout our digestive system play a far more significant role than we often appreciate as we explore the range of responses to various food sources.

It’s not just the food and ourselves responding at any particular point in time. It’s also how our little tag-a-long stowaway varmints react in the context of these factors.

To extend the thought: Not only are we each a unique n=1 experiment, with our own biospheres (b=1), but our ongoing self-experiments are underway across time (t=1, 2, 3, …) As such, what works well for me and my critters right now might not work so well for us later. {n=1 : b=1 : t=1… }

Thanks to @amwassil and all who’ve posted above for a great discussion thread thus far.

(Prancing Pony) #54

I always doubted the need for any higher carb days but about 11 months into strict keto I noticed dry eyes. I read the post below and tried the slightly higher carbs day to fix it and my eyes got instantly better. And all I did was eat a coconut flour bread roll I made not rice or anything.

Of course that is not metabolicly related but I imagine the T3 reference is as my T4 is always too much and my T3 in lower normal (I have hypothyroidism and on replacement hormones).

Still no reason to eat huge amount of carbs though

(Eric - The patient needs to be patient!) #55

An interesting theory is that mitachrondria actually were baceteria that inhabited a host cell and then formed a partnership with the host. There are two competing theories of which the more interesting one (to me anyway) is:

An alternative theory posits that the host that acquired the mitochondrion was a prokaryote, an archaebacterium outright. This view is linked to the idea that the ancestral mitochondrion was a metabolically versatile, facultative anaerobe (able to live with or without oxygen), perhaps similar in physiology and lifestyle to modern Rhodobacteriales. The initial benefit of the symbiosis could have been the production of H2 by the endosymbiont as a source of energy and electrons for the archaebacterial host, which is posited to have been H2 dependent. This kind of physiological interaction (H2 transfer or anaerobic syntrophy) is commonly observed in modern microbial communities. The mechanism by which the endosymbiont came to reside within the host is unspecified in this view, but in some known examples in nature prokaryotes live as endosymbionts within other prokaryotes. In this view, various aerobic and anaerobic forms of mitochondria are seen as independent, lineage-specific ecological specializations, all stemming from a facultatively anaerobic ancestral state. Because it posits that eukaryotes evolved from the mitochondrial endosymbiosis in a prokaryotic host, this theory directly accounts for the ubiquity of mitochondria among all eukaryotic lineages.

The above is from:

I’d like to pretend that I understand this well but that would be a big fat lie.

(Joey) #56

I recall reading something about this too, concerning the likely origins of mitochondria. The fact that they possess their own unique DNA seems to be telling.

Then again, perhaps we don’t really need to understand it - as long as the bacteria get all this - with our being 90% bacteria we’ve got it covered implicitly. :thinking:

(mole person) #57

Don’t worry at all. I hadn’t been upset at you post in the slightest. I have been quite enjoying this debate actually while ruminating on it privately. More on this later.

I reread my own post and realized that you might have though I was peaved because of my “ffs” but that was not meant to be directed at you or even any frustration with this discussion but rather I was aiming for a “wtf” at the bizzare finding that only eating meat could improve my health so much.

This actually made my day. :hugs:. I sometimes worry that my argument style comes off as overly cold and aggressive.

Soo funny…I finally told my doctor a few weeks ago that I was only eating meat. I knew that she was a Vegan and she’s told me before that the Vegan diet is the healthiest one so I knew it would be very unpleasant. But I really needed to be sure that after 6 months the diet wasn’t harming me so I wanted a bunch of blood tests of vitamin levels and blood markers.

Her reaction was amazing. She told me she thought I should take the pain and eat my veggies…lol. luckily she was so sure I must be dying that she ordered almost every test I wanted plus some so she could show me.

My every result was in normal range, including vitamin C. :grin:

I have a bunch more to say but I’ll start with this because I’m writing sloooowly today.

(mole person) #58

So as I’ve been reading this thread my own feelings about metabolic flexibility have evolved a bit. My initial thought was that the stomach aches etc. that some of us get from eating carbs did not really imply metabolic inflexibility. The fact that our gut bacteria are throwing a fit in our small intestines doesn’t imply that we aren’t metabolizing the glucose as well. Nothing in the definition of ‘metabolic flexibility’ says you have to feel 100% you just have to be using the fuel efficiently. Now, I’m not saying there is no good reason to want to eat some carbs and avoid feeling shitty while doing so, I’m just saying that the stomach aches do not necessarily imply specifically ‘metabolic inflexibility’.

But after I wrote my post yesterday where I distinguished between the two types of intolerances, I realized that I’d missed a big one. It’s one that actually hits me very hard and I do think it represents a real keto induced metabolic inflexibility.

When I eat a lot of sugar, for example an ice cream, I don’t get any sort of stomach ache like I get from things with fibre. But what I do get is basically a horrible hangover the next day. My mood crashes, my energy crashes, and I’m a walking zombie at least half the day. I was not a person that suffered significant brain fog prior to keto, but now if I eat much sugar I’m pretty wrecked the next day. Now I think this is just physiological insulin resistance and that it would subside in a week but even if it is, that means that for that week most of the cells in my body are rejecting glucose because that’s what they have been trained to do. And, during that week eating loads of carbs does cause out of whack energy metabolism.

So, yes, I do think keto leads to some metabolic inflexibility. In fact, I think ‘physiological insulin resistance’, which we know is a thing on keto, is pretty much the definition of a short term ‘metabolic inflexibility’.

Now, I think the question of whether or not that is something that we should be trying to avoid is a seperate one. More on this in a later post.

(Eric - The patient needs to be patient!) #59

I too love your posts. I have learned from you.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #60


If I drank a bottle of bourbon, got falling down drunk, sick and miserable for the next 3 days, would that indicate metabolic derangement? Would it be good advice to drink more bourbon to ensure my metabolic flexibility? Would I be better off if it took two bottles of bourbon rather than one to knock me out?

Everyone on this forum, with the exception of a few carnivores, consumes incidental dietary carbs every day. Those carbs don’t magically disappear. We digest, metabolize the glucose out and utilize it. All the while remaining in ketosis, metabolizing fatty acids and ketones. That does not sound like metabolic inflexibility or derangement.