Carnivore Diet 90 Day Review, Part 3

Literature review of ketones, caffeine, performance, cold showers, and recovery; statistical analysis of a carnivore diet

Carnivore Diet 90 Day Review, Part 3

First we looked at caffeine and performance, then cold showers and recovery. There were some other things that came to my attention throughout the trial period that I wanted to look deeper at. These included the relationship between Fat:Protein ratio and blood sugar or ketones. I also wanted to include a follow up study to my previous pilot on electrolytes and cardiovascular load.

Research and Methods: Fat:Protein Ratio and Blood Sugar / Ketones

Typically my fasting blood sugar is around 100, which is normal, though I’d like to see it a bit closer to 70 or 80. It was higher (87) than on a general ketogenic diet for me, but I suspect this is due to gluconeogenesis. While on keto my fat to protein ration was around 3:1 (by calorie) and sometimes 4:1. Typically on carnivore it is around 2:1, though I did push this hire (see annotated raw data). Your body produces about 50–80 grams of glucose per 100 grams of protein ( r, r).

The m ore i think about it, the more I like the metaphor of the blood stream as a highway; which is accurate from cholesterol to sugar to vitamins and minerals — less traffic jams from sugar and insulin or wrecks from triglycerides equals more efficient delivery of other nutrients and clean up by HDL. increased ketones can decrease triglycerides and alleviate insulin resistance while reducing fatigue and overuse of IGF-1 ( r, r).

Clearly there are some benefits to ketones, I’m just not super convinced that more is always better (obviously you can work yourself into DKA) and certain there is a point of diminishing returns. Beyond having a minimal or trace ketone presence (perhaps a minimum effective dose), I’m more concerned with what’s going on with my glucose / insulin levels ( r, r). Recommended ranges of ketones are from 0.5–3 mmol/L (9–54 mg/dL), though ancestrally levels were probably between 0.1 and 1 ( r). Usually I am in the 5–15 mg/dL range (urine). It’s pretty easy to pee on a stick though, so it’s worth keeping track of. Urine ketones are cheap to measure, but they are not the most relevant as you won’t be excreting as many ketones (even if you are producing them) if you’re extremely active and burning them up as fuel ( r).

Corresponding “safe” blood glucose levels for the above urine ketones would be 40–75 mg/dL (fasted); less than 40 or over 200 being dangerous, but over 75 (for sure over 100), being non-conducive to ketosis ( r). Blood sugar may also go up when fasting due to glucose being squeezed out of the liver (where it’s been stored)( r). I’d expect this to normalize or decrease over time ( r) especially if gluconeogenesis isn’t an issue (e.g. high fat carnivore diet). Morning ketones, even trace, indicate depletion of glycogen in liver and allow body to do “house keeping” (especially when followed with exercise?); increased liver glycogen increases fat storage ( r).

Research and Methods: Electrolytes and Cardiovascular Load (follow up)

Robb Wolf ( r) and Mark Sisson ( r) have suggested on many occasions that for low carb athletes, 3–5g / day of sodium is not unusual and that the “upper limit” (particularly in hot and humid environments) may require upwards of 7g / day. Paul Saladino and Robb Wolf had a good discussion about sodium on The Fundamental Health Podcast where Paul speculates that ancestrally we consumed about 3g / day. However, they did come to the consensus that environment (humidity) and intensity of activity matter greatly. Typically I’m doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Georgia, USA.

I have done previous research on sodium ( r, r) which was somewhat inconclusive. Reducing sodium didn’t help my blood pressure, though it hurt my recovery and overall functioning — headaches, fatigue, poor sleep, muscle soreness. However, increasing my sodium helped my recovery and functioning, but didn’t hurt my blood pressure. Of note too, my sodium fixation began in 2019, but I really started ramping it up that summer; as I was training about 10 hours per week.

Recently too, I’ve taken an interest in cardiovascular load (mean arterial pressure * resting heart rate) over blood pressure alone. Something else I haven’t considered is caffeine. My usage fluctuates greatly. I may be on a “detox” phase where I’m only drinking 3–4 cups / day; or I may be in a critical work period (mental health) and consuming upwards of 6 cups per day. This also doesn’t include caffeine use as a performance enhancing drug (see previous posts). So, it’s worth noting that caffeine causes us to deplete sodium at about 3.3–4.8 (mean 4.05) mg / mg of caffeine ( r). So, if I were drinking 4 cups of per day then I’d need 1,600 mg of sodium just to cover caffeine depletion and at least 4,600 mg / day (3,000 + 1,600). With all those numbers thrown around, and a lot of variance between then, when environmental and depletion factors are considered, my 6–7g / day is a rather sane amount.

I have briefly looked at electrolytes overall, but have been curious about sodium:potassium ratio as well; something I can easily incorporate into the follow up study — as well as total electrolyte balance.

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