Transitioning back to carbs from ZC



Day 16 now ZC.

My diet has been 99.9% Animal protein/fat, eggs, coconut oil and eggs. I went on a small hike (Elevation 225M) Thursday morning with my toddler in a backpack carrier.

My lower body feels like it got hit by a truck still. The kind of pain is nothing like I have ever felt after the most intense leg days in the gym, more like a high fever ache and pain. My strength level is similar to when I was 11-12 years old. Feels absolutely terrible.

Example I sold a small black chair today that weighed maybe 50lbs and it was an absolute struggle to help the lady get it into her car. Typically I walk most medium-large refrigerators down the street into a tall moving van with ease.

I plan on continuing this way of eating until 21-30 days then transitioning back to a carbs for superior strength and anaerobic performance.

Funny enough aesthetically looking at the mirror my muscles have never looked “flat” or “depleted”. They look full and strong.

-My main goals were to reduce insulin resistance and maximize sensitivity.

-Reverse metabolic damage from a diet too low in calories for too long.

-Just to try something new and see if I gain any of the many talked about benefits such as reduced inflammation etc.

I plan on consuming something very agreeable to my body, white rice. I intend on 100-300g or 80-240g of carbs in a beef broth stew with little to no veggies and lots of meat.

If anyone has experience with this transition I would love to hear from you.

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

We’ve all experienced it. More or less. It takes time - maybe weeks, maybe months - for your muscles to relearn that fatty acids and ketones are fuel. It takes time for mitochondria to use fatty acids and ketones efficiently and probably recover from actual damage from years of glucose/insulin (ab)use. Give it time and you’ll be OK.


Sounds a lot like Stan Efferding’s vertical diet.

I’m assuming you were consuming a fair amount of carbs prior to your ZC experiment? If yes, then it makes sense as to why performance and recovery are lacking–mitochondria still trying to become fat adapted.


I am aware of the benefit of being a fat adapted long distance runner or general endurance athlete. I used to love running long distance, soccer was my favorite sport.

Unfortunately I developed exercise induced asthma. I am capable of long hikes slow and steady (hiked 11kms, elevation 1,300m slowly) The ceiling is low in regards to my potential in the endurance space.

My point being is I enjoy what I can continue to accel at which is focused more on being strong, fast, and explosive.

Last time I checked the research pointed towards CHO being the most optimal source for that kind of energy output.

I am attempting to give it at least 21 and if I can 30 days before I move back to CHO so time will tell if I can hold out longer past that point.


I was consuming CHO based on activity level. Anywhere from 150g on sedentary days to 400-500 around high energy expenditure days on the high end.

As a relatively new father I became out of shape to my standards and dieted down too fast leaving me stuck around 11% BF not able to lose any more adipose regardless of intake to output. It’s part of the reason I am doing ZC. To hit the reset button if you will.

Yes I was following a Stan Efferding like way of eating.


I see, calorie restriction to reduce body fat and now you’re thinking it messed up your BMR? This is possible.

11% BF is already damn good, but you want to fix your BMR. I would give yourself 6-8 weeks of carb restriction below 20g total carbs per day then reassess. Since you’re doing ZC, try to focus on upping your fat by adding butter or cream in some amounts to see if the energy gets better. Make sure you’re getting enough electrolytes.


My intake was typically 2,600-2,800kcal prior to going ZC. Since going ZC I remain the same body composition wise while consuming 3,000 - 5,000 calories. Fat intake is over often 300g/day.


You just eat the carbs again man, no transition needed. But I’d keep it around 150 or so, you don’t want to crash like a rock after. The rice is a good call as it’s very easy on the system to digest. On the other stuff just so you have a realistic outlook though…

If you’re actually IR, that takes months sometimes longer to fix, sensitivity comes much quicker.

That’s done with reverse dieting, doesn’t matter whether it’s SAD, Keto, ZC etc.


No there was no evidence I was IR.

Agreed. I would not say I was that far gone anyways, just getting there via crash dieting for a few months. Not consuming CHO I have been able to increase calories ~50% while maintaining the same body comp. That has too be a good sign.


Yup! A very good one! Congrats on that one! More fuel to keep the mass on!

(A fool and his bacon are soon parted) #11

Your profile doesn’t mention when you started a ketogenic diet, but we should let you know that there is an adaptation period, during which endurance and explosive performance take a hit.

The reason is that chronic excessive carbohydrate intake damages the muscular mitochondria over time, and also the lack of fatty acids to metabolise causes the muscle cells to down-regulate certain cellular processes involved in fatty-acid metabolism. Adopting a ketogenic diet means that, before fatty-acid metabolism can again become the cell’s main metabolic activity, the mitochondria need to be healed (and new ones need to be created), and those other cellular processes need to be reactivated.

The upshot is that, for the first six to eight weeks on a ketogenic diet, your endurance will be low. It will gradually return, and many people report that they find themselves performing even better than before, once they become fat-adapted. Explosive performance lags behind endurance, but it eventually returns to pre-keto levels, as well. Unfortunately, no one has researched precisely how long the return of explosive performance actually takes, and I haven’t read any anecdotal reports on the subject, either. We do know, however, from a recent study, that it definitely takes less than two years (I’d be willing to guess that it’s more like a matter of months, but there’s no research to confirm that guess).

(A fool and his bacon are soon parted) #12

That is because no one dares suggest that fat might be healthful and useful in the human body, at least not since Ancel Keys beat the American Heart Association into submission in the 1960’s with his fraudulent data. Fear of saturated fat and serum cholesterol have blocked the ability of researchers to look at their data objectively, even when said data directly contradict the conclusion they have been trained to draw.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #13


Fat and carbohydrate are important fuels for aerobic exercise. However, at a given exercise intensity and metabolic demand, there can be reciprocal shifts in the proportions of carbohydrate and fat that are oxidized. The interaction between carbohydrate and fatty acid oxidation is dependent on the intracellular and extracellular metabolic environments. The availability of substrate (both from inside and outside of the muscle), and the exercise intensity and duration can affect these environments. Experiments 50 years ago proposed intracellular mechanisms that could explain the ability of increasing fat availability to downregulate carbohydrate metabolism in the heart and diaphragm muscle. More recent work extended these findings to peripheral skeletal muscle. However, the regulation of fat metabolism in human skeletal muscle during exercise in the face of increasing carbohydrate availability and exercise intensity was not well studied. The past 10 years has seen incredible progress in the understanding of fat metabolism in skeletal muscle, and it is now realized that the regulation is complex and involves many sites of control. These include the transport of FFAs into the muscle cell, the binding and transport of FFAs in the cytoplasm, the regulation of IMTG synthesis and breakdown, and the transport of fat into the mitochondria. The discovery of proteins that assist in transporting fat across the plasma and mitochondrial membranes, the ability of these proteins to translocate to the membranes during exercise, and the newly discovered roles of ATGL and HSL in regulating and skeletal muscle lipolysis are examples of recent discoveries. This information has enabled a more complete understanding of the relationship between fat and carbohydrate metabolism during exercise and mechanistic proposals to explain the downregulation of fat metabolism that occurs when carbohydrate availability is increased and when moving from moderate to intense aerobic exercise.


I am VERY curious to find for myself if I can function equally in explosive anaerobic feats being fat adapted on a ketogenic diet vs a low CHO SAD one. I just don’t know if I have the will to carry on long enough for that to happen. I’m taking it day by day and hoping to at least reach my goal of 30 days. From there I will evaluate and see if I can go another 30-60.

This “adaptation” process has been detrimental to my life at home and that is the main barrier for me currently. Not physically being able to take my son and dog out on hikes or even hold him for as long as I used to. I basically feel like more like his great grandad more then his father right now.

It’s difficult trying to weigh out the pros and cons when the pros can’t even been known but the cons are actively kicking me below the belt every day.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #15

Maybe you’re genetically lucky. I was. I ate SAD for 70 years and never suffered any metabolically serious problems. During the decade of my 60s I slowly gained a bit of excess fat, mostly around my abdomen and buttocks. But nothing egregious. I lost all of it the first 6 months on keto. Maybe you’ll be OK, too.

I will say that had I know about keto 40 years sooner I would have transitioned without hesitation. I would have gladly sacrificed a few months of lower energy performance to gain a lifetime of enhanced health and vitality. I suspect that I enjoyed slightly elevated thyroid activity (inherited from my dad) that saved me from most of the negative consequences of SAD over the decades. I read the accounts of many folks on this forum who did not have that advantage over the years. Although I did not share their experiences and aggravations, I can certainly sympathize with what they went through.

In a lot of ways, life is a crap shoot. Maybe you’ll be OK. Best wishes.

(Doug) #16

In general that is certainly true - carbohydrates coming with substantially more oxygen already included, so the body has to supply less oxygen to aerobically metabolize them, versus with fat as fuel.

One thing that has been observed is that some ketogenic athletes (and perhaps people in general that use fat as fuel for extended periods of time) actually develop more mitochondria inside cells. I don’t know if this has been quantified or really studied in depth yet, but more ‘powerhouses’ in a cell means its energy output can be greater than with less, so this may bridge the gap between carbs and fat as fuel, to an extent.

(Butter Withaspoon) #17

Are you an all or nothing person? Going from high carbs to zero is going to be crushing for a while. I transitioned more gradually and certainly wouldn’t have appeared a different person to my family. But now that you’ve started ZC I suppose it makes more sense to continue the experiment. For some athletic types, ketosis can happen at higher levels of carbs

(Edith) #18

If you really want to reap the benefit and become fat adapted, you will definitely need to follow keto/carnivore for much longer. The fat adaptation is not a switch that suddenly turns on. It is a gradual process. You will notice your muscles becoming less and less lead-like as the weeks progress.

I was 50 when I started keto. It was about two months for me before I really felt like I was getting the lead out. For you, it will most likely be less time, but definitely longer than 30 days.


Day 16 is fab but in a way useless…you right now have nothing truly transition back to ya know. Just go back to Keto plan and enjoy.

Even on 30 days while it can show so much, I second VE’s post. Time is what zero carb is all about. The normal, back in the day best advice is at least 3 months, then it is actually best to commit to 6 but with everyone wanting instant results in a flash can barely give in 30 days LOL Not a reflection on you, just how this lifestyle of eating is treated…no results fast, done deal and useless but if not given the time needed to change the body and reset natural body process, it is a no win for someone jumping in and giving it a short go.

Plus there is real adaption time from even coming from a controlled Keto type plan into carnivore, which surprised many who think ‘they are there’ and past it but nope, many of us are shocked we are still adapting and have to handle these issues as we adopt carnivore plan. So adaption hits many. You are going thru that right now.

So you eat whatever you want, just go back to keto or give it your extra days to hit 30…best eat how you wanna eat and feel your life is taking you on what you want out of your eating plan.


Yea it’s a shame. I don’t know if I will ever have a time in my life where it’s reasonable to have the strength of a 12 year old. I have a family and child to look after it doesn’t exactly work. I need to take my family out and exercise which I can’t do if a 30min hike puts my legs on hold for 2 days.

If I were a rich man with no responsibility to others it would be a breeze as is the case with most people for most things.

The thing motivating me the most is I had knee pain that is almost completely gone since starting ZC and I I’m already this many days in I don’t want to start from zero again some time in a hypothetical future where my life better allows it.

For the record I have never been on a keto diet. This would be the first time.