A couple months ago, a study came out that seemed to show that cheating on your keto diet with a high-carb meal opened you up to severe blood vessel damage. Nine healthy, normal weight adults followed a keto diet (70% fat, 20% protein, 10% carbs). Then they ate a high-carb “cheat meal,” measured their blood sugar, and measured their endothelial microparticles—a marker of damage to the endothelial lining and potential harbinger of impaired vascular function. Their blood sugar went way up, and so did their endothelial microparticle count, leading researchers to conclude that keto dieting makes people more susceptible to hyperglycemia-induced endothelial damage.

So, is keto cheating unhealthy? Let’s take a closer look….

My Analysis Of the Study:

Here’s why I don’t think this study applies to most of you:

These people were on keto diets, but they weren’t keto-adapted (let alone fat-adapted). They’d only been doing the diet for a week. Bare minimum, it takes three weeks to a month for full keto-adaptation to occur—and often longer. We’d have to see what happens to endothelial microparticle count when someone who is fully keto-adapted is exposed to higher carb intakes.

The “cheat meal” was 75 grams of pure glucose. This is the oral glucose tolerance test—the disgusting, cloyingly sweet drink they give people to test for diabetes. It measures your ability to handle pure glucose. It’s not a meal. It’s not actually food even. There are no mitigating micronutrients. There are no other macronutrients included. It’s just a shot of pure sugar, down the hatch. I don’t know about you, but that’s not my preferred method of a high-carb cheat meal.

However, it does illustrate the importance of sticking with the diet—any diet—for way longer than a week before assessing the effects or stepping out to indulge.

Look at the big picture. Acute perturbations to endothelial homeostasis can look bad in the short term and good over time. Hell, when you ask overweight women to engage in a single bout of high intensity exercise, their endothelial microparticle count goes up just like it went up for the guys in this study who drank the glucose water. They “damage” their vascular function. But if they keep training regularly, their endothelial microparticle count goes down. Acute stressors can look bad when applied once and awesome when applied consistently. That’s not to say that drinking 75 grams of glucose consistently will suddenly become healthy. I’m just showing how looking at a single short term reaction doesn’t give the entire story, or even accurately portray the effects of the same stimulus applied consistently over the long term.

A Better Perspective On Cheat Meals

Cheat meals can actually help you lose more weight. In one study, women were placed on a cyclic diet consisting of three phases. For each phase, they reduced calories for 11 days followed by 3 days of ad libitum (i.e. at one’s pleasure) eating. After the three phases, they’d lost an average of 8 kg (about 17 lbs) of pure body fat. This surpassed the amount predicted by calories in, calories out. This study didn’t employ all-out cheat days, or call them cheat days, but the concept of “ad libitum” is pretty similar.

If you cycle in high carb days or high carb meals into your keto diet, and you end up getting leaner and performing better in the gym because of it, are you really hurting yourself? Are you really setting your vascular system up for impending doom? I doubt it. One of the best ways to improve endothelial function is to lose excess body fat. Whatever helps you get to that goal should also improve vascular function.

If You’re Going To Cheat On Keto:

Get fully adapted.

The people in this study were not keto-adapted. They’d only been eating the diet for a week before taking the test. Stay with the diet for two months—strictly—before venturing out with cheat days.

Don’t cheat with an oral glucose tolerance test.

While some folks undoubtedly get off on drinking 75 grams of pure glucose, there are better ways to cheat. Like with food. Also, food tends to include mitigating factors—phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins, minerals—that improve the metabolic response to the macronutrients contained therein. For instance, including some natural cocoa in the cheat meal can drop your endothelial microparticles by 60% alone.

Be relatively lean and experienced.

Cheat days are more effective for fairly lean-ish people to kickstart the loss of those last few pounds. They’re designed for long-time keto eaters to replenish glycogen stores and improve training. They’re designed for people who have been strict for long enough that they just need a break. They just aren’t going to work the same for obese people who’ve been keto for a little while who still have a lot of easy weight to lose on strict keto.

Cheat after a big workout.

Exercising increases insulin sensitivity. And if you lift heavy things, you increase something called non-insulin dependent glucose uptake in the muscles. That means your muscles can actually refill their glycogen content without using insulin to do it. If you’re keto and want to incorporate high carb meals/days or cheat meals, legitimate training is pretty much required. After all, why do you need the carbs if you’re not training?

Cheat if you need it.

If things are stalling, and you’ve tried being even stricter to no avail, perhaps momentarily loosening up with a cheat meal is exactly what you need. Read this post to get the lowdown on why carb refeeds can help break weight loss stalls and how to do them.

This study shouldn’t be ignored. Big boluses of sugar are never a good idea, especially when you’ve only been eating low-carb or keto for a week and have yet to adapt. I find it plausible that such excursions can induce acute damage to the vascular system in anyone with impaired glucose tolerance—even if that glucose intolerance is transient, as it is in short term keto dieters—but I don’t think it means much for people with good heads on their shoulders who do keto the right way.

What do you think, folks? Do you cheat on your diet, whether you’re keto or just Primal? What steps do you take to make sure you’re getting the most out of your dietary excursions?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!

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References:

Durrer C, Robinson E, Wan Z, et al. Differential impact of acute high-intensity exercise on circulating endothelial microparticles and insulin resistance between overweight/obese males and females. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(2):e0115860.

Mcfarlin BK, Venable AS, Henning AL, et al. Natural cocoa consumption: Potential to reduce atherogenic factors?. J Nutr Biochem. 2015;26(6):626-32.

The post Is Keto Cheating Unhealthy? appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Just a heads up that this will be my last FTLOF post for a couple of months, as I’m going back on maternity leave. You can keep up with the baby rosebuds on Instagram @daryarose.

This week decide earlier to make healthier choices, more adults getting food allergies, and what “natural flavors” really means.

Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

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  Yes, you read that headline right. Stress can actually be a positive thing if we respond to it in a mindful way, says mindfulness and leadership expert Laurie J. Cameron. She’s the founder and CEO of PurposeBlue and the author of the The Mindful Day: Practical Ways to Find Focus, Calm, and Joy From Morning to Evening, and today we have her three tips for using those stressors to your advantage. 3 Mindfulness Keys to Turn Stress to Your Advantage The body’s response to stress — rapid heartbeat and breathing, narrowed vision, and a jolt of adrenaline — is…

The post 3 Ways to Make Stress Your Friend appeared first on Fit Bottomed Girls.

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Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week standing desks are overrated, the new EPA head is terrifying, and how mushrooms might save the bees.

Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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These days we’ve got trackers that monitor, well, just about everything: steps, workouts, heart rate, sleep, your dog’s activity … (We are truly living in the future.) via GIPHY And now we can add another thing to that trackable list (and it’s pretty darn cool): mindfulness. Yep, by monitoring breathing patterns that indicate periods of tension, relaxation and mental focus, the Spire Stone ($129.95) claims to reduce stress and anxiety while increasing mindfulness as you go through your everyday life. Does it work though? We tried it for a month and here are our thoughts! via GIPHY Spire Review: Pros The…

The post Does This Wearable Really Deliver Mindfulness? appeared first on Fit Bottomed Girls.

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Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week plastics are more dangerous than you think, farmers are in crisis, and mindful people feel less pain.

Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

 

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If you think that in order to create a ritual in your life you must burn sage and invoke specific deities with special mantras, think again. The act of ritual is simply bringing awareness to whatever you’re doing so that it elevates the activity and raises your consciousness. It’s this notion of mind-opening elevation that must be incorporated into the act, which means that when you become a slave to a habit, like smoking cigarettes, it can’t be considered a ritual. A ritual is fueled by love and it fills us with meaning. You may already be engaging in ritual…

The post How to Ritualize Your Regular Routine appeared first on Fit Bottomed Girls.

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Although it may seem ridiculous, turning irritation into mindfulness will allow you to quickly get over an annoying incident and be much happier in the end. Recently, I was given this challenge at home. My daughter, who had her hair dyed pink, took a shower and left the white subway-tiled bathroom magenta. Not just the tile, but the white grout as well. It was a mess. When I saw this, I was overcome by irritation. I had not asked for a pink bathroom! But as I was scrubbing bleach all over (thankfully it was working!), I started to pay extra…

The post 5 Ways to Turn Your Irritation Into Mindfulness appeared first on Fit Bottomed Girls.

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Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week low-carb is a bust, no edge to human longevity, and writing to improve body image.

Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Even after I fixed my diet, ditched the chronic cardio, and cleaned up my overall lifestyle to be more in line with our evolutionary upbringing, one big problem remained: my response to stress.

This had always been an issue for me. Part of it was that I kept a full plate at all times. Whether it was my training load, my businesses, my overall type A personality, stress was simply unavoidable, I thought.

How did I approach the situation and manage my stress differently over time?

First, I agonized over the existence of stress. My entire modus operandi throughout life had been to handle problems when they arose. I didn’t let things fester, I didn’t accept bad situations and learn to deal. I took care of things. If a problem didn’t resolve quickly , I assumed I was doing something wrong. Applied to stress, though? Man, what a disaster. I quickly realized that it was impossible to avoid stress, or eliminate it altogether. I needed a new approach.

So the first major step was admitting that stress is a fact of life, that stressors would arise, and what mattered was how I responded to them. My response could make the stress worse, or it could make it more manageable.

The first way I figured out how to improve my stress response was with smart supplementation. When I was still competing and doing the chronic cardio training required to succeed, I developed a supplement you might recognize by its old Primal Calm label and now called Adaptogenic Calm—designed to mitigate the negative effects of all that training stress. Both Brad Kearns and I used it, and it actually became an underground hit in the endurance scene. Athletes of all kinds were taking it and seeing great results. Of course, most of us just used it to allow our bodies to train even more and accumulate even more stress, which was one of the problems that got me into this mess in the first place.

The next step was realizing that even if I couldn’t eliminate stress entirely, I could eliminate unnecessary stress. First on the list was my training. You’ve heard the story before, so I won’t get too deeply into it. Suffice it to say, I was engaged in way too much endurance training—what I call chronic cardio—and spending way too much time out of the aerobic zone in the no-man’s land of moderately high-intensity that leads to sugar-burning and depresses fat-burning. This training was killing me, taking up all my time, necessitating an inflammatory high-carb, high-sugar diet that led to chronic GI distress and joint pain, and getting in the way of living.  If any of you can identify a big stressor upstream of a bunch of things going wrong in your life, take action and eliminate it. Changing how I trained led to the development of the Primal Blueprint and the resolution of most of my health problems.

Meditation always intrigued me. Even before it became an Internet sensation and every podcaster/blogger/CEO/coach out there credited their success to their morning meditation routine, I was surrounded by meditators. My wife, Carrie, has done it for decades. Lots of my athlete friends used it to—you guessed it—fight stress. And Malibu, CA, where I lived until a few months ago, is no stranger to yoga studios, health food stores, and other similar hives of mindfulness. I tried it. But it didn’t work for me. My mind was too active to become aware of its (lack of) self. Still, the science was convincing and I didn’t want to give up on what looked to be a potent anti-stress tool:

If sitting meditation didn’t work, maybe there was another way to get to a similar mindstate.

In a post I wrote about meditation alternatives, I gave 15 options and readers followed up with dozens of awesome suggestions in the comments. Standup paddling, hikes (or just hanging out) in nature, and guided meditations were my alternatives. They help me achieve the hyper-present flow state I’d only had glimpses of during “real” meditation. And sure enough, stress melts away as I’m doing the activity, I’m far less reactive to stressors (I have an extra split second or two to decide how I want to respond) throughout the week, and I appear to have greater resistance to stress. It’s almost an adaptogenic effect: rather than blunt or eliminate the stress response across the board, I’m able to call forth cortisol when the situation is serious. A car honking at me doesn’t trigger it, in other words.

Where am I today?

Stress is still there. It won’t ever go away, and I’m okay with that. I’ve got a growing food and supplement business, I’m as busy as ever with the writing, I just moved to Miami.

Meditation has gotten easier, but I’m still not a “meditation guy.” I don’t expect to be doing a 10-day silent retreat anytime soon.

Adaptogenic Calm remains a staple for me. The nutrients it contains are supraphysiological responses to the supraphysiological doses and durations of stress we receive in the modern world.

I welcome stress. If I align myself with the things I truly find meaningful and maintain active participation in life and avoid becoming a passive character in someone else’s storyline, the stressors become obstacles that make the narrative of my life more interesting. They propel me forward. Without stressors, I’m not living. I’m not doing anything. Stressors indicate action. They mean you’re bouncing up against reality and testing its mettle (and it, yours).

What’s your stress response journey? I’d love to hear how you’ve handled stress in the past, what you’ve learned along the way, and how you handle it now. Thanks, everybody.

I’ve got a contest coming up later this morning, so be sure to check back.

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The post How My Response to Stress Has Changed Through the Years appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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