There are two ways your body generates energy, one is from drawing on glucose, ie. sugar, the other is fat. Sugar is the more readily available fuel source. However once sugar is significantly used up, the body’s metabolism changes and the body begins to burn fatty acids from stored fat for energy. This is what we call going from a sugar-burner to a fat-burner. When this transition to burning fat for energy is made, the body begins producing ketones and is said to be in a state of “ketosis”. You can measure your level of ketones using a device like a Keto Mojo.

Once you reach a state of ketosis, many of the benefits of fasting start to kick in. For example, growth hormones kick in at 13 hours, whereas autophagy is thought to kick in at 16-18 hours. MIT research shows that at 24 hours intestinal stem cells will begin repair and 24 hours is also when you start to see weight loss. There are so many benefits to ketosis. 

Ketosis all the time?

But the question I’m exploring here is, if ketosis is so healing and so amazing, shouldn’t we just be in ketosis all the time? The answer is no, and here’s why. If you were in ketosis all the time, you would lose the benefits of metabolic switching. 

Ketosis is a state of metabolic challenge, it’s outside of our default state of burning sugar for fuel. Ketosis works like a hermetic stressors on the body, forcing the cells and body to adapt, change and grow. This is why we get so many of the health benefits of ketosis. 

What this study found is that we are designed for intermittent metabolic switching, this means switching between cycles of metabolic challenge (ie. ketosis), followed by periods of recovery, specifically they mention eating, resting and sleeping. I call these feast days. Researchers found that it is this switching between the two states that optimizes brain function and resilience throughout our lifespan, improving “neuronal circuits involved in cognition and mood…promoting neuroplasticity and resistance of the brain to injury and disease”. It is believed that the rapid development of our brains resulted in part from the feast-famine lifestyle.

Integrating metabolic switching into our lifestyle means staying in ketosis for the majority of the time, optimizing the benefits of metabolic challenge, then stepping out of ketosis with recovery days of eating, sleep and rest. For this, I find that the 5-1-1 diet variation works best. 

A 5-1-1 Variation

  • 5 days a week of Intermittent Fasting with ketobiotic eating. This entails consuming 50g net carbs, 50g protein, 60% food from good fat with lots of vegetables as source of carbohydrates.
  • 1 day a week of 22-24 hours of fasting, breaking your fast with a ketobiotic, carnivore or high-fat, low-carb meal. This is also called OMAD, one meal a day fasting.
  • 1 day a week of feasting, leaning into nourishing, healing foods like beans, potatoes, squashes, lentils and fruits. Here’s what a healthy feast day looks like!