For the 50 grams per day or less ketogenic dieter looking to return to a normal diet with good health – and wanting to have an easier transition…
I’ve been getting questions a lot lately from people who have followed low carb diets for a long time that are looking to break free from the shackles. Although there are no set rules, the idea, when coming back to carbs, is to do whatever you can to improve glucose tolerance. Otherwise, when carbs sneak back in, you feel all the negative consequences of carbs going into a system that mismanages them (bloating, weight gain, emotionality, breakouts, and so on). Needless to say, it’s best to avoid that.
In my experience, the body seems to handle things best when they are isolated. In other words, eating a food by itself allows your body to deal with it most efficiently. Now, I wouldn’t advise doing this on a long-term basis, as eating foods all by themselves has long-term repercussions – making your digestion weak, causing some muscle loss, and having overall negative influences on your hormonal landscape. Short-term, used to achieve a very specific objective; however, it is perfectly appropriate.
Although some might argue that hurtling full-board back into carbohydrates might have some potential danger, I have my doubts, but it’s up to you as to whether or not there would be any significant reason for precautions.
I say, if you want your body to switch from running on ketones (super low-carb) to glucose, you better make it very clear that doing so is appropriate. Simply put, eat up them carbies. Pound them. Devour them. Feast upon them.
Personally, I think one of the greatest benefits of the “cleansing” or juice-fasting idea is that it can enhance glucose tolerance. Poor glucose tolerance is a sign of insulin resistance, meaning that when you ingest carbohydrates, your blood sugar goes up, insulin goes up, blood sugar stays up, more insulin is secreted, and then the whole thing comes crashing down as that excess insulin starts to clear glucose from the blood stream. Then you enter a hypoglycemic state. Basically, poor glucose tolerance is indicated by peaks and valleys in blood glucose levels outside of the realm of what can be considered normal.
Eating only carbohydrates – such as fruits, juices, vegetables, and starches such as potatoes and rice (contain a little protein), allows your body to return to using glucose as a viable fuel source without weight gain. I would be amazed if someone could eat ONLY these foods and gain weight. That would certainly be a rarity if it did occur. If you were to eat large amounts of these with your normal, low-carb diet amount of protein and fat, odds are you would get all the negative consequences of carbohydrate reintroduction including gargantuan, painful bowel movements and significant weight gain as your metabolism adjusted. This is because insulin resistance and bowel transit time is often worsened by prolonged ketogenic diets (due to reduced metabolism).
Going all carbs for, let’s say, 4-7 days, allows you to circumvent that issue so that you are instead adding in fat, then protein at the end to a high-carb diet by the end of that week.
If I were you, which I’m not, I would perform this carbomania by eating meals of steamed rice or boiled potatoes with lots of vegetables. This will be much more stabilizing for most people than just pounding fruit juice and munching on apples and bananas – although that’s certainly one option. I would literally eat as much as I possibly could stand. Get over the carb-phobic stigma.
After 4-7 days of this glucose metabolism rehab, I would then begin incorporating lots and lots of saturated fats. Buttered mashed potatoes, buttery vegetables, smoothies with coconut milk, and a ton of cream and berries all mixed together in a big bowl. I would continue this phase for several more days as well, and this should be quite enjoyable and quite stimulating to the metabolism – and easy compared to carbs only.
Finally, I would begin working protein into the mix. The first day, eat a few slices of cheese, have a scoop of peanut butter, or an egg with one meal only. The next day try a tiny portion with two meals. All three meals the next day – and then up protein levels until you reach a point of satisfaction and satiation. It’s at this point too that I would begin really tapering down on the sugars – opting mostly for a starchy diet with few, if any sweets.
Hopefully, after progressing through these stages, you will be able to eat lots of fat, carbohydrates, and sufficient protein all together as part of a satisfying, high-calorie diet without any weight gain – unlike what you might have experienced jumping right in – which would have worked out fine over time, but would have been terrifying for a long-time dieter.
If you still find carbohydrates problematic, it might be best to practice juice-fasting one day per week until you see some better improvements. Don’t give up though. If you have a weight problem, and issues with insulin resistance, you must get your metabolism into a healthy state. To do this, you need carbs. You can run from carbs, but you can’t hide. Your root problem (a low metabolism) will catch up to you in the form of constipation, irritability, ravenous hunger (not always, sometimes it’s the opposite, particularly with low-carb), fatigue, cramping, coldness, sleep problems, and other telltale symptoms of a low metabolism that are often confused with low-carb diets.
If you think carbs are the enemy, and that eating all those carbs in the initial stages can’t help you overcome weight problems, insulin resistance, and even type II diabetes – I suggest you consult with Joel Fuhrman, Terry Shintani, Richard Schulze, or study the work of Henry Bieler and others who have claimed to use the removal of most fat and protein from the diet to treat these conditions with remarkable success.
Doc Bieler on Diabetes:
“The best way to handle a diabetic case, I have found, is to take him off insulin and to put him to bed. If the patient will not accept this and the rather rigorous diet, then I am powerless to help. The diet consists of lightly cooked non-starchy vegetables, like celery, parsley, zucchini and string beans, liquefied in a blender and used as a soup. The patient remains on this until the urine becomes sugar-free by test. He stays in bed to conserve his energy in order to give the liver and the pancreas every possible chance to do their work unmolested form the acids of exertion. It may take from one day to four days or more to get the patient sugar-free.”