When your fat stores aren't sufficient / periodized carbs

(Nick D'Agostino) #1

I saw this tweet (screenshot below) from Dr Tro about cholesterol when you’re a lean hyper-responder.

I have several questions:

  • What’s the theory to why LDL increases when you’re going beyond your fat stores?
  • Why wouldn’t everyone have this problem (when exceeding fat stores) and not just genetic hyper-responders?
  • At which level of BF do you start running into this problem (is this just when your pounds of fat * 31 is lower than your energy expenditure?)?
  • What does the carb supplementation do?
  • Why carbs as opposed to fat supplementation?
  • Is the idea to eat just enough carbs that you burn in your exercise?
  • How do the carbs affect insulin and “fasting” when combined with exercise?

And, honestly, I think I have more questions but just not sure what they are yet. :slight_smile:


(Bacon enough and time) #2

I’m not sure what you are asking. What do you mean by “going beyond your fat stores”? The reason that hyper-responders’ lipids behave the way they do is apparently genetic. You could probably find more information by checking out Dave Feldman’s site, www.cholesterolcode.com. Feldman’s point is that even if LDL is high, the particle sizes fall into pattern A, the low-risk pattern. In hyper-responders, such a level of LDL is also accompanied by higher HDL and lower HbA1C, along with other markers that indicate low cardiovascular risk. Bear in mind, as well, that there is plenty of evidence to show that cholesterol levels have very little to do with heart attack risk, and that cholesterol, far from causing atherosclerotic lesions, is actually part of the body’s healing process.

As for “carb supplementation,” I have never been clear why it’s thought to be valuable. Carbohydrate intake above a certain level raises blood glucose to a level that damages the body, which is why the pancreas increases its secretion of insulin, so as to drive the excess glucose out of the bloodstream. And chronically elevated insulin levels damage the body, as well.

If you’ve been eating a ketogenic diet long enough to have become fat-adapted, you have spent a good amount of time and effort re-training your muscles to metabolise fatty acids in place of glucose. What advantage would there be to suddenly revert to metabolising glucose again? The reason most people become obese on the standard American diet is that the excessive amount of carbohydrate recommended on that diet gets turned into fatty acids and stored, and the accompanying chronically elevated insulin level prevents the fatty acids from leaving the fat tissue to be metabolised. Increasing carbohydrate intake to a level that risks reactivating this process seems counterproductive to me.

In my view, there are two main reasons people adopt a ketogenic diet: (1) to restore their metabolic health, and (2) to shed excess stored fat. Since carbohydrate intake that stimulate insulin secretion high enough to inhibit ketosis works against both those goals, I simply fail to see the logical point of it. Of course, as a sugar/carb addict, I definitely understand why someone would be looking for reasons to yield to the cravings, lol!

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #3

In my opinion eating more than incidental carbs associated with otherwise nutritious fats and proteins serves no useful purpose. Carbs are the problem, not the solution. There are a number of pretensions for eating carbs that all resolve into just eating more carbs for the sake of eating more carbs.


SomeGuy asked the same question in a different way.

Unsaturated fat still raises insulin (storage hormone) and kicks the metabolism out of ketosis. Eating more than once a day is a no no.

The beauty of ketosis only occurs when adipose tissue is very low, growth hormone levels are skyrocketing everyday from not eating and only eating once a day after rigorous exercise as if the meal is earned. Ketosis is discipline.

Wild animals that survive are lean and agile.

We’re in ketosis when we feel like standing instead of sitting.

Not everyone is here to be in ketosis. To be disciplined. Most people without a drive to improve are simply here to be food for carnivores. Carnivores would starve if every animal of every specie didn’t feel fear in their presence.

(Jenna Ericson) #5

I did some searching on the Cholesterol Code site and I don’t think that Dave Feldman believes that being a hyper-responder is necessarily caused by genetics. My understanding is that hyper-responders have upregulated their ability to burn body fat. Their bodies would have done this for several reasons — they have higher muscle mass requiring more calories, lower body fat so less calories available on the body, and they have low glycogen stores as a result of a ketogenic diet and a lot of exercise.

I had heard that a person could use 30-ish calories for every lb of body fat per day. So for example, if you have 25 lbs of body fat you would only be able to get about 750 calories from your body fat in a day. This may be accurate of most people, but what I think hyper-responders are doing is increasing how many calories they can retrieve from a lb of body fat in a day.

If someone has low body fat, high muscle mass and low glycogen stores because of Keto and exercise, they will have a higher demand for energy and less energy stored on their body. I think that energy demand could cause the body to upregulate fat burning so that one goes from, say burning 30 calories for every lb of body fat, to burning, for example, 60 calories (made-up number) for every lb of body fat per day. It’s my understanding that using body fat for fuel requires more LDL (I’m a little fuzzy on the specifics) but this would explain the elevated LDL in hyper-responders. This also means that these people would actually burn fat on their body faster despite having less of it. If that’s the case, that’s some amazing bio-hacking! Let me know if you think I’m misunderstanding!

(Bob M) #6

I believe Dave thinks if you get thin and exercise a lot (and eat keto/low carb/burn primarily fat – that’s a critical element) you will have higher LDL. The problem is that not every LMHR gets to the same LDL. The exercise and eating are not controlled, though. You’d have to have similar body types (male/women/weight/muscle mass) doing similar exercise and eating similar foods in order to see if they all had similar LDL. If not, then something else (possibly genetics) is contributing.

Even if Dave’s theory about LDL/other lipids have an energy transport component is correct, there’s not enough data to say whether anything other than energy delivery plays a role, although based on pretty much everything else we know, it would have to. Whether it’s a large role (lots of people’s high LDL is caused by this) or a small role (only certain people) is not understood.

(Erin Macfarland ) #7

@jennasaurus you explained the biochemical processes involved in how a LMHR utilizes energy pretty accurately- I am a LMHR so this subject is always fun to explore :grin: my understanding is that while a person that fits this description is indeed efficient at using FFA’s, they don’t necessarily become able to extricate larger amounts of energy from fat stores than other individuals. I may be wrong- but it would seem to be detrimental to someone like myself with very little body fat to extract more from storage. I’m not sure if there’s a way to quantify that- yes when I get a lipid panel my LDL is almost 300 and total cholesterol is almost 400, with trigs in the 30’s. So my body is torching energy in the form of fat- but I make sure I get enough from my food to supplement what my body can pull from its stores. I will say, based on personal experience, that if I am not eating enough and I stay very active, I will become quite catabolic and I know my body will start breaking down muscle. You bring up some interesting questions though!

(Nick D'Agostino) #8

Hi Paul,
What I mean by going beyond my fat stores is exceeding my body’s limits on either mobilizing or metabolizing the fat (I can’t remember which is the more limiting factor). I have ~35 pounds of body fat, and given the closest estimate we have of ~31.5 calories per pound of body fat, that leaves ~1100 calories that my body is able to metabolize daily from its own stores. Other responders refer to this below as well.

I don’t know if Dave still thinks these hyper-responders are strictly genetic. Either way, it seems to occur when your energy expenditure exceeds the body’s ability to keep up with fat mobilization/metabolism.

In my own personal experience, I’ve had very successful experiences with extended fasting and with extended exercise. However, I consistently have difficulty with both. I consistently end up feeling unwell if I expend too much energy while fasting. I posit that it’s b/c of this limit in mobilization/metabolism. So, I’m trying to experiment with supplementation of fat or carbs. Fat supplementation could potentially run into the same metabolic limitations, and carb supplementation is preferred by some athletes.

So, if I enjoy the exercise, some carb supplementation could potentially allow me to exercise better and recover better without exhausting my body’s ability to keep up. And, all the carbs are burned during the exercise.

(Nick D'Agostino) #9

This is where I was trying to go on the subject, and what I’m trying to understand more. Thanks.

(Nick D'Agostino) #10

@Emacfarland This is really interesting. I definitely feel this, though don’t really know if that’s what’s happening.

I will say, based on personal experience, that if I am not eating enough and I stay very active, I will become quite catabolic and I know my body will start breaking down muscle.

I don’t think I’m a hyper-responder, as I’ve never had an elevated cholesterol count (though I don’t really keep track). With this thread I’m trying to figure out both why I feel bad after exercising & fasting or how to supplement (with carbs or fat) to avoid this.

I’ve had experiences where I collapsed after significant energy expenditure (just from walking all day on an extended fast) and 4g of carbs immediately restored me to normal.

(Erin Macfarland ) #11

@nickdag, the type of activity will also determine what fuel your body will primarily use to fuel it- exercising in lower heart rate zones (or what we would call endurance or cardiovascular exercise) will utilize mostly fat, even in those that eat a mixed diet and are not fat adapted. Anaerobic activity, or short, intense bursts of exercise are more glycolytic, still using some fat but most glucose as fuel. If you’re fasting and walking a lot you’re using most fat. Assuming you get enough sodium, potassium and magnesium, you’ve been fat adapted for a while, and you ate well before your fast, you probably feed cruddy and sluggish because you’re pushing past a point, either through how long you fast or the activity you’re doing or both, where your body can sufficiently provide enough energy. So you can maybe add some fat if you want to keep fasting or ease up on your exercise :grin:

(Windmill Tilter) #12

This has been completely debunked. The 31.5 kcal/day/lb fat is complete nonsense. Phinney, Volek, and Noakes published a really interesting article where they compared the fat burning of competitive ultraendurance athletes, half of whom were “carb burners” and half of whom were LCHF. The LCHF athletes had an mean bodyfat % of 9.6%, and the carb burners had mean bodyfat of 7.8%. They are basically among the leanest, fittest men walking the earth.

Unsurprisingly, it turns out that LCHF athletes can metabolize fat at a staggering rate. It’s off the charts. It’s almost as if they became fat adapted! :yum:

Think about it for a minute. If a man weighs 140lbs, and is 10% bodyfat, that means he has 14lbs of fat. Using the 30kcal/day/lb bodyfat, that would mean he would be able to get 420kcal/day from his fat stores at a maximum.

These guys run a marathon in the fasted state as a “light warmup”. The 30kcal number is laughable.

I’m not suggesting that the rest of us are identical to these guys, they’re ironman winners after-all, but it is pretty compelling evidence that the metabolism can be trained to burn fat differently than your average SAD couch potato.

(Justin Jordan) #13

Yeah, that’s one of (many, honestly) accepted ‘facts’ that people are way too eager to grab onto. So what was done there is that the scientist took the data on lean mass and fat mass from the Minnesota Starvation Study and mathed it.

And that’s it.

So he (indirectly) looked at 36 white males from seventy years ago and derived an absolute limit for all humanity.

(To be fair, the paper’s author isn’t necessarily doing that - people interpreting it are)

And, more relevant to the forum, these guys were eating a mostly carb based diet. So assuming it’s an absolute limit in humans eating differently is pretty dubious.

Even IF you assume the Minnesota Starvation Study was able to track body composition precisely enough for the initial numbers to be right (which I am suspicious of - we can’t actually do that well NOW) and that the circumstances of the study apply to everyone…

The number is wrong. The paper’s author himself has said the actual number is 22(ish) calories per pound, because the initial number assumed perfect energy transfer.

But that hasn’t made it into the popular keto consciousness.

(Windmill Tilter) #14

Yup. I read the study where the 30kcal/day number comes from. It was just meant to be a WAG “wild ass guess”, but somehow it became gospel.

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

@Don_Q Thank you for the study link. We’ve still got so much to learn! Evolutionarily it makes sense. In the conditions of the last 2.5 million years of the Pleistocene, if our hunter ancestors had to refuel and refeed on carbs to keep up we would not be here.

(Jack Bennett) #16

Yeah, the assumed level of precision there is a little bonkers (31 POINT 5? Really?).

If it were quoted as 31 +/- 15 or something I would trust it more.

Related pet peeve: when people quote their macros down to the fraction of a gram or their energy in fractions of a calorie. Did you really have exactly 2071.6 calories yesterday? Do you know that for certain?

(Windmill Tilter) #17

Oh, I think that they absolutely did refuel and refeed and refuel on carbs, it’s a question of frequency!

I think if they came across a carb source like a wild raspberry patch in the fall, they didn’t leave until everything was gone. That’s how bears behave even now. That season was brief though. My guess is that this is why we have the reaction to carbs that we do, and why it’s so addictive.

It’s a good ice-age survival strategy. The folks that got big dopamine hits eating sugar/carbs and just stayed in the berry patch for a week got fat enough to survive the winter and pass they’re genes down. Those that ate a few berries and kept walking in search of antelope died before spring. I suspect carb addiction kept the human race alive in the non equatorial climates, and may well have been what inspired agriculture in the first place (I’m tired of goat, I want some fried potatoes, and I want them now!).

That’s total non-scientific conjecture on my part, but it kind of makes sense… :yum:

(Justin Jordan) #18

The macros thing kind of relates to why (I believe) people like things like the ‘31.5’ get taken up - people do not like uncertainty.

Not a profound insight, but in keto as in life there’s a lot of stuff that’s…truish, basically. ‘Insulin prevents fat loss’ for instance, isn’t really true, but it’s useful shorthand most of the time. But people grab onto that, because they want to Know. Capital k know.

It’s the same deal as worry about your macros - say you want to eat a gram of protein per pound of lean mass. People mostly ignore that…

  • You don’t know your lean mass that precisely. Not even with DEXA

  • You don’t know the exact protein in what you’re eating. Not even protein powder.

  • Even more abstractly, it treats all protein as the same.

That’s not to say these rules are wrong, just not to stress too much about the precision. Trying to get to one gram per pound or whatever is fine, but if you get 163 or 167 well, remember your numbers aren’t really right to begin with. Good enough is good enough.

Which, this includes me, literally today I had to remind myself that TODAY.

(Jack Bennett) #19

The moment I think I know something with exactness, I look at the plot of my total body weight over time. The measurements (red) bounce all over the place in response to hydration, eating, elimination, and so forth. Even though I weigh myself in underwear in exactly the same spot at the same time of day. I’d like to know things with more precision but I know I can’t.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #20

No doubt anything edible was consumed when discovered, including leftovers from another animal’s kill. Our ancestors scavenged as much as they hunted. What many of us forget, however, is that during the glacial maxima of the Pleistocene the available flora was very different from what it is now. Even in the tropics and subtropics which were glaciated only at high elevations, the overall temps were lower and edible flora very different. Consider this.

I lived for the better part of a decade at Lake Laberge, Yukon. This is a ‘sub-arctic’ climatic region that I suspect resembles the subtropics during glacial max. Short, warm summers and long very cold winters.

During the summer berries of various descriptions grow quite extensively. Unfortunately for humans, the most prolific are not particularly edible: a bushy shrub known as ‘buck brush’ that produces a small red berry called ‘bear berry’, and a ground hugging cover plant known as ‘kinnikinick’ that also produces a small red berry. Both these berries are high in cellulose and very low in digestible carbs. Bears and ruminants with the guts to digest cellulose eat these berries and put on fat. But they’re useless to humans, even assuming you get past the bitter, pasty taste.

Strawberries and blueberries also grow extensively in specific locations. But these edible berries are very much smaller than what we know now as strawberries and blueberries. We called our homestead ‘Strawberry Fields’, not only from the Beatles’ song, but because wild strawberries grew in the open fields surrounding our property. The strawberry plants only produced berries in years when very specific conditions of rain and temperature occurred on just the exact timing of the late spring. These conditions only occurred every 2-3 years, never in succession. Even in years of abundance, these strawberries were so small that the time and energy required to pick enough for a meal were far away more than the energy got from eating them.

So I don’t think our Pleistocene ancestors derived more than a pittance of nutrients from plants. There was no ‘fattening up’ for the winter eating carbs. They just weren’t on the menu until the agricultural revolution began the human love affair with plant-based carbs. In my opinion.

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