Counting Macros: Is it the Total Carbs in a Day, or the Total Carbs per Meal, that Counts?
The Great Debate: n=1 Case Study
This is just one of fifty or so points of contention that have cropped up over the years as the ketogenic diet, for weight loss especially, has gained popularity. But rather than go searching for the research to make a case either way, I'm going to stick with sharing my own experience with this. Because, ultimately, it seems to me that literally every one of those points of contention are debatable because everyone's body is an individual body with unique internal traits.
Not really, but for context, I do have a significant degree of insulin resistance, having been diagnosed with PCOS shortly after beginning a ketogenic diet, as well as issues chronic Lyme disease, chronic stress, gut dysbiosis and intestinal permeability, PTSD, and a Type A personality.
My Evolving Journey
When I began a ketogenic diet, I heeded the experts' advice, and stuck to 20 grams of net carbs per day. At least, that had been the average consensus amongst them, I found, but granted, there were other variations, too. I saw lots of people on the support forums and such saying that they could "get away with," for example, a bag of popcorn at night, because they hadn't eaten any carbs at all, all day long. Intuitively, I knew that I wouldn't benefit as much as I needed to if I framed "my keto" in that same way. In other words, I didn't want to "get away with" anything; I wanted to learn what my body thrived on, and do that 97.28% of the time. *chuckle*
Given my known insulin resistance, I invested in a blood glucometer practically right away. THIS, ladies, gentleman, and agender folk, was how I came to figure out what would work best for me, and I can skip all of the details to tell you that 20 grams of net carbs in one sitting did not. I came to find that out when I began intermittent fasting, or OMAD, (one meal a day), btw.
After 3 years, I can confidently say now that 20 grams of total carbs is how I feel my best, and how I can still successfully do OMAD without seeing a significant impact on my blood sugar. More on why I do OMAD most of the time in a future post.
Some other points I found out for myself include:
1.) I don't need to include erythritol in my total carb count, so I don't. Call me confusing if you wish, but that's exactly why I'm clarifying my definitions here.
2.) I don't even need to include fiber in my carb count, in terms of blood sugar/ketone optimization, but I do, anyway, because plant matter, (other than nuts and seeds), make my digestion...shall we say, troublesome? NOTE: this is my situation. I do not advocate a "nutty carnivore" diet for all keto-doers, whatsoever. I also hope that through healing my gut, I'll be able to eat copious amounts of salad veg & cooked broccoli, chard, and collard, (my faves!) once again someday.
3.) Proof that the #1 and #2 are true: I can eat half a bag (5 servings) of our Peanut Butter Cup Gra-POW! Cookie Granola and see my blood sugar be in the 70s two-three hours later, despite that that would technically be 24 total carbs/9 net carbs. Again, nuts and seeds do not hinder my digestion, and digestion is the reason that I do not load up on fiber, like it's "free carbs," anymore.
3.) PROTEIN: despite that I am only 5'2" tall, and am mostly sedentary, (except when I'm baking, and more on why I don't exercise in the traditional sense anymore in another future post), I actually, apparently, require more protein than other women report needing, and even some other men! For 3 years, I ate 60 grams or less protein per day, as that was what every "keto macro calculator" told me to do, and guess what? For 3 years, I suffered with a case of COMPLETE AND TOTAL amenorrhea, (i.e., loss of female cycling). A few months ago, I finally experimented with 80-100 grams of protein per day, and guess what? Within 1 month, I got my cycle back. HELLO, INDIVIDUALITY! I even found that I could all of that protein within a 2-4 hour time period, and not see any apparent gluconeogenesis, (i.e., the creation of glucose from "excess" protein), per the use of multiple blood glucometers. It's been said by many that gluconeogenesis is driven by supply rather than demand, especially in the case of significant insulin resistance, but it's been said by seemingly as many that it's the complete opposite. I think both are correct, it just depends on the person!
Honor thy Body
To conclude this post, I'd just like to reiterate that your body is unique. Try different things, make mistakes - it's all good, baby. Just do what YOU need to do to feel your best.
If you're interested, the meter I use to test my blood sugar is the same one that I use to test my ketones, and that is the Keto Mojo meter, which you can find at www.bestketonetest.com. I prefer this one to all of the other meters I've used, and I've used many, because I find it to be the most accurate, though it is also the easiest to use, and overall, the cheapest.
With love and ketones,