How to become Fat Adapted on the keto diet
So you’ve already learned the concept that you in order to burn fat, you need to be able to access your fat-burning pathways in your body.
This sounds great, and I bet you can’t wait to get started.
There is one thing you should know before starting a high fat diet, and that is that you need to become adapted to eating a lot of fat before you can really start the diet.
Let me explain. When you are in ketosis, your body will be able to start tapping into your fat reserves on your body, burning that fat as a fuel source and helping you to lose weight, feel great, and look awesome.
The best way to access your fat-burning pathways is to cut down your carbohydrates to 25 grams a day, which we’ve talked about previously. This forces your body to switch from using carbs as fuel to using fat as fuel, since you stop the steady stream of carbohydrates from coming into the body.
The next best thing you can do for your body to get into fat-burning mode is to become fat adapted.
Not everyone is fat adapted. In fact, unless you’ve been eating a keto-ish diet like paleo or primal, chances are that you aren’t fat adapted. Most of the other diets - especially diets like Weight Watchers or variants of the raw diet - are pretty low fat.
You can’t just throw a whole bunch of fat into your diet and expect it to go smoothly. If you do that, you’re going to cause yourself a world of hurt due to the cramping, indigestion and nausea that too much fat too soon will incur.
The best way to become fat adapted is over a period of time. I think most people can accomplish it in about two weeks or so without having the negative side effects usually associated with adding more fat to the diet.
There are some side effects of too much fat too soon
When the body gets something that it thinks is a toxin or poison, it will try and evacuate it quickly. Lik ean airlock, it will jettison things like parasites, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, poisons, toxins, and yes, extreme amounts of fat out of the body by way of the colon.
You would better know this as disaster pants, or the opposite poopies.
Do you remember Olestra? That fat in the nineties that was undigestible and wouldn’t let you gain weight when you at it?
it was only around a short period of time because people got diarrhea from it. As good as feeling skinny would have been, people didn’t like running for the bathroom.
In the same way, if you introduce too much fat at once, your body is going to have no idea what to do with it. And since it’s not used to it yet, it will try and get rid of it in a hurry.
You can prevent the oopsie-poppies by starting slow when adding fat to your diet - maybe half a teaspoon to start off with, then gradually increasing your amounts until you are eating a ahealthy amount of fat every day.
In order to digest fat, you have to do what we call emulsification.
Have you ever seen a slick of grease or oil on top of water when washing the dishes? Yeah, try as you ought, you won’t be able to get them to mix too well - you’re going to need something to blend them together.
The same ay that you add a squirt of soap to the dishwater to allow the fat to break up, so does your body release bile from your gall bladder to break down fats.
Bile works the same way as soap does - allowing the fat to break down into tiny little fat bubbles that are then able to be handled more easily.
The body doesn’t produce anything that it doesn’t need however. The same way that your body doesn’t keep your bicep muscle the same way it did when you were back in high school and working out, your body isn’t going to encourage your gall bladder to produce bile if you’re not eating a lot of fat.
If you’re not eating a lot of fat - which is the majority of people - then your gall bladder will need a while to catch up to the keto diet as far as the amount of fat it contains.
Too much fat too early, and your gall bladder won’t produce enough bile. Without enough bile, the fat you eat won’t get digested well, which will end up causing you an upset stomach or nausea.
Again, take it easy on the fat. Start off small, then gradually ramp up your fat over a two week time span.
3. Dietary Intolerance
You may also not be able to tolerate certain fats. I know for myself I do well with heavy cream and grass fed dairy butter - I have no issues digesting it at all. Same worth olive oil.
But coconut oil on the other hand, I have o be careful with. I can eat a fair amount of it (I especially like it blended into a keto coffee for a treat) but it does take me a while to build up my tolerance to it. it’s a fairly strong and powerful fat with all the medium chain triglycerides, which means it can give me nausea if I eat too much of it before I am used to eating a lot of coconut oil.
All of this advice basically boils down to ensuring that you take things slow and don’t introduce too much fat too quickly. Your body needs time to adapt to fat - some people may need a longer time to adapt than others - but it will get there eventually.
Make sure to listen to your body and what it is trying to tell you. If it says less fat, then eat less fat. If it says it wants more fat (feeling of hunger and cravings in my case) then eat more fat!
And when you’re FINALLY fat adapted….
Once you are able to eat fat, then you’re well on your way to become a fat adapted keto machine. As you continue to eat few carbs and a generous amount of fat, you’ll find that your body starts changing as it starts becoming fat adapted and used to keto.
The fun part about this is that once you have become fat adapted, it doesn’t go away - even if you start eating higher carb. I have found that even when consuming a higher carbohydrate diet (to fix my thyroid or to compensate for increased physical activity levels) I can return back to a high fat keto diet as a reset without having to go back through the whole reintroduction process of fat to my diet.
Like a groove worn into a staircase with repeated wear and movement, so does your body easily fall into habits.
I mention that because once you go keto and low carb, your body is automatically going to want to stay in ketosis. It’s not well understood why your body does this, but it gets easier to get into ketosis and burn fat if you’ve done it successfully before.
As with any health advice you get on the Internet, be cautious if you have digestion issues regarding fat - for instance if you’ve had your gall bladder removed or are having issues keeping food down.
Check with your doctor if you have any questions regarding whether or not a higher fat diet is for you, especially if you have major health issues or concerns. Most doctors will be willing to talk with you and warn you if a high fat diet would present a major concern for you.
Lastly, if you’re interested in learning more about the keto diet and see if it might be a good fit for you, check out my beginner’s guide to keto here!