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NK N=1 Addendum: Hourly Weight, Blood Glucose And Blood Ketone Testing

I’m coming up on the 9-month update of my n=1 experiment testing the concept of “nutritional ketosis” (NK) this next week, but I decided to do something over the past week as an addendum to the regular testing I’ve been doing. If you’ve been following my progress on this NK journey since I started it in May 2012 (if you missed any of my monthly updates, check out Day 1-30, Day 31-60, Day 61-90, Day 91-120, Day 121-150, Day 151-180, Day 181-210 and Day 211-240), I’ve been testing my blood glucose and blood ketone levels in the morning and at night as well as my weight first thing when I wake up. But just out of curiosity I wanted to up my game a bit and test every hour on the waking hour for one week examining my weight, blood sugar and blood ketone levels.

I’ve noticed during my experiment that my ketone levels tend to be lower in the morning and higher at night, but I didn’t know what was happening in the hours throughout the day and wanted to know. Plus, I’ve been wondering what was going on with my blood sugar after meals and exercise. And just for fun (because the fluctuations that happen throughout the day are pretty much irrelevant), I tested my body weight fully clothed every hour as well. My poor fingers took a pummeling with about 20 finger pricks a day on average (sometimes the lancet didn’t go deep enough to produce enough blood with just one finger prick), but this information was totally worth the temporary pain. Let’s take a look at what happened along with a few observations:

DAY 1 – SATURDAY, JANUARY 26, 2013

Fun first day of testing. My blood sugar ranged from 70-94 (AWESOME!) with the greatest rise predictably after eating. Even still, the increase in blood glucose wasn’t that pronounced (predictable considering I’m eating very high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb). Blood ketones started to rise above 1.0 millimolar around 6:00PM–curiously, that’s when it gets dark outside. Is there something that happens allowing for ketones to suddenly spike in the early evening? Higher melatonin production? I dunno, but I’d love to know what’s going on with this.

DAY 2 – SUNDAY, JANUARY 27, 2013

Sunday morning gets me up a little earlier than normal to get ready for church which is why I didn’t have any readings of my weight for four hours. This was also my first weight lifting day during the experiment and I did it in a fully fasted state of around 23 hours before having my lunch meal. Blood sugar ranged from 80-91 today which I couldn’t have been more pleased with. Blood ketones were higher in the morning today, dipped down after lunch and then rose back up above the 1.0 millimolar mark at 6:00PM again. Great day!

DAY 3 – MONDAY, JANUARY 28, 2013

The start of the work week today saw very low blood ketone readings until the afternoon. I’d love to know why I dipped below that .5 blood ketone threshold for nutritional ketosis until late afternoon when I went above 2.0 millimolar after sundown. Very odd. Blood sugar ranged from 76-98. I’ll take that! Weight did a big jump after lunch today. Not sure why, but it was a curious thing to observe today.

DAY 4 – TUESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2013

The middle of this experiment period saw my fasting blood sugar a little higher than normal at 90 today. Blood ketones were also on the lower end of the nutritional ketosis spectrum until after playing some frisbee golf with Christine. What resulted after having a little fun in the sun throwing some discs into a metal chain hole was probably the most curious findings of the week. You’ll see my blood sugar jumped up to 115 right after this fun-filled exercise in the mid-afternoon. Blood ketones stayed above 1.0 millimolar for the rest of the day.

DAY 5 – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2013

Outstanding blood sugar to start today staying in the upper 70′s/lower 80′s all morning. It was a weight lifting day again today and a funny thing happened today that hasn’t happened in a while–there was a dramatic rise in blood ketones up to 4.2 millimolar! WOWSA! I don’t know where that huge spike came from but it was cool. Funny thing is they dropped back down below 2.0 millimolar around 10:00PM. Did you notice what happened to my blood sugar during those five hours of blood ketones up above 3.0 millimolar? Yep, they were in the mid-to-upper 70′s. Correlation with meaning? It was fun to watch!

DAY 6 – THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2013

You may have noticed that I’ve only had one meal per day most of the week. If it’s comfortable to just eat once, then that’s all I’m eating. That’s totally cool with me as long as the hunger pangs stay away. But if I feel even a tinge of hunger coming on like I did today, then I’m eating some food. I got that inkling to eat in the morning today and then again in the early afternoon. It worked out pretty well today and ketones were not compromised. In fact, this was probably my best day for blood ketone production with readings over 1.0 millimolar after 1:30PM and over 2.0 millimolar after 5:30PM. KEWL! I missed my 7:30PM readings because I was in the middle of my LIVE recording of the “Ask The Low-Carb Experts” podcast. Blood sugar control today was amazing–72-88! Woot woot!

DAY 7 – FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2013

Final day of testing (my fingers rejoiced!) and blood sugar stability was awesome until after my supper meal. Yes, I ate twice again today because I had hunger hit me. Take a look at what happened to my ketones today. Now THAT’S what I’m talking about! I only had ONE reading below nutritional ketosis and that was .4. Steady ketone production throughout the day. If I could replicate this every single day, then I know I’d be in the sweet spot of where I need to be with NK. Although my blood sugar raised a bit in the evening into the 90′s, overall the glucose control was superb.

So that’s about it with this sidebar of my n=1 experiment testing nutritional ketosis. What did you think about this? Any thoughts about the numbers that you want to share. Feel free to share those in the comments section below. I’ll be giving my Day 241-270 update next weekend and it will likely be abbreviated so I can get back to writing my book. But we’ll keep chugging along documenting all of this information for you and sharing what happens. THANKS for reading!

  • docww

    Jimmy–Nice glucose readings! Can you give us an example of what you were eating?

    • LLVLCBlog

      Not sharing that info just yet.

  • LLVLCBlog

    I wonder if you become more efficient at using blood ketones that you don’t show as many in your blood.

  • LLVLCBlog

    My fat intake is generally the same. It’s very high at 80-85% of my caloric intake.

  • LLVLCBlog

    We still have so much to learn.

  • LLVLCBlog

    I don’t understand what you are suggesting, Sten.

    • rylandes

      I just meant that it’s always an insecurity in the meters. If you do 5 tests from the same blood, you’ll se how much it differs between samples. Some of the differences you see during the day is probably up to the blood meter.
      Sorry, don’t mean to rain on your parade.
      Sten R

      • LLVLCBlog

        I totally understand the variations, but testing 5 ketones strips at one time is $25. Multiply that by 16 hourly tests–no thanks. I don’t think this rains on anything. I get your point about the variance of meters.

        • rylandes

          You only need to do this once or twice to see the standard variation

          • LLVLCBlog

            Gotcha!

  • LLVLCBlog

    Thanks for following Kisha!

  • http://twitter.com/fossyg TJ Ghidella

    Well there goes my theory about only getting good ketones when your blood sugar is in a good range. I’m not seeing any pattern anywhere I’m afraid. It all looks pretty random. Did you see the weight loss you expected for the week ? The weight fluctuations are sort of depressing but I guess everyone is right when they say not to put too much emphasis on scale weight. It only proves to me how incredibly difficult and unpredictable NK is. If you can’t maintain consistent ketones with your level of commitment and persistence then a. It is not biologically possible to keep ketones above .5 all day, or b. it is so challenging it would require superhuman effort that I personally am not capable of – LOL.
    It sort of makes me feel a little better as I couldn’t get above 0.4 most days during my attempt and my bg’s were always above 110. So even if I could get my bg down to 80s it might not make that much of a difference. I would be interested to calculate your average ketone reading and see if there is any correlation with the ‘hungry’ days. But not knowing what you ate makes it all a bit too hit and miss. You are the only person who can make those comparisons and let us know if you see any patterns ( I totally get why you don’t publish it by the way) . But thanks for doing the testing and suffering the pain for our gain…

    • LLVLCBlog

      You’ve brought up a lot here and I’m on my iPhone. I theorize that the longer you do this the more adapted to efficiently using ketones you become–thus showing less over time. I dunno for sure.

  • Johannah Bushman

    Great N=1 experiment. What do you think would happen to your blood sugar and ketone numbers if you did not eat when you got hungry?

    • LLVLCBlog

      We’ll never know because I eat when I get hungry. ;) But my BG would probably drop and ketones rise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/frankaieta Frank Aieta

    Hi Jimmy, great post! I’ve been wondering about what time of the day is the best time to test blood ketones and low and behold you post this, great timing. It would be interesting to see what your cortisol levels are throughout the day. Cortisol follows a circadian rhythm with levels being highest in the morning and tapering off as the day goes on. Its interesting that your ketone levels are highest later in the day as cortisol levels reach their low point….just a theory but something to think about.

    • LLVLCBlog

      If I can afford the testing, I’d love to do the cortisol

  • LLVLCBlog

    Thank you! We’re all learning.

  • LLVLCBlog

    Working out RAISES ketones.

    • Christopher Haddock

      It doesn’t always seem to for me. I work out about 2 to 3 hours a day and on many days my ketones go down after the activity. You had 3 bouts of physical activity in your data, two which were primary anaerobic (weight lifting) and one which was (I assume) aerobic (Frisbee golf). If you look at the 3 readings before the activity and the three readings after, your ketones went down after the anaerobic sessions (0.93 to 0.4 for the first session and 0.37 to 0.2 for the second session) and up after the aerobic session (0.43 to a whopping 1.4 after). My very limited knowledge base suggests that most research seems to have been done on ketone production and aerobic exercise…not exercise which largely uses the glycolytic or phosphagen systems. But from what I have read your pattern of results makes sense. Thanks for indulging me and I appreciate your blog. I find this all very interesting.

      • LLVLCBlog

        Nice analysis.

        • http://twitter.com/fossyg TJ Ghidella

          Perhaps ketones don’t always rise with exercise, perhaps this is an individual thing. Just as some people’s blood sugar rises with exercise. Just have to find what works for you.

          • LLVLCBlog

            That’s a good point DJ. And perhaps the numbers shift over time once you’ve been fat-adapted efficiently.

  • LLVLCBlog

    Hour by hour is meaningless. Week by week and month by month more important.

  • LLVLCBlog

    Since the holidays, I’ve stepped up my weight lifting again and presume it’s muscle gain. I’m getting another DXA scan done this week, so we’ll see.

  • LLVLCBlog

    Lets know how the meditation goes.

  • saicho bob

    hi jimmy,
    i see most of the days you have only one meal. can you get all the protein you are supposed to have daily in one go? or do you think if you do most of it gets converted into glucose?

    • LLVLCBlog

      If I have one meal, it’s pretty substantial.

  • Galina L.

    Jimmy, it is very possible your body at the moment resists a weight-loss with a full force, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1105816 regardless of diet or life-style, however ketosis should prevent extreme hunger.

    • LLVLCBlog

      I definitely have NO hunger…in fact, today I went 29 1/2 hours between meals. :D

      • Galina L.

        I think it is realistic to expect after a massive weight-loss your body will resist the continuation of a weight-loss more and more efficiently, whatever your ketones levels are.

        • LLVLCBlog

          Yep, that’s my thinking too.

  • LLVLCBlog

    Doing all the testing I can to hand over to a researcher when this is finished.

  • Jennifer

    After studying Jimmy’s ketone readings I’m thinking he gets higher ketone
    readings 5-6 hrs after eating, not after long fasts. I wonder if, even though, he’s not hungry, his body may slow the metabolism with the long fasts and then saves fat. Thus, the weight lifting, and eating, increases the metabolism, and his body burns fat, esp 5-6 hrs later.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Interesting theory, Jennifer. I’ll explore this more.

  • Chris Adams

    Hi j,
    Sorry if this has already been suggested but it would be really interesting to repeat this expt in the height of summer. I wonder if the increase in ketone concentrations wll move with sunset
    cheers chris

    • LLVLCBlog

      Would be interesting but my testing ends in May.

  • bjjcaveman

    It’s interesting for me to see that your ketone levels also drop immediately after an exercise activity. From my research, this most likely results from glycogen being broken down releasing glucose and causing a bit of insulin exposure!

    • LLVLCBlog

      That’s probably exactly what is happening.

      • LLVLCBlog

        If this researcher can get my results published as a case study, then that could open doors to the prospect for an even larger study in the future. I’m tracking the time of day, the duration and what I did with activity. My morning ketone readings before going to Australia were regularly around 1.5-2.0. Now they’re .3-.7. I don’t have an exact level of body fat percentage, but I’d guesstimate it’s 27%. My ketones do go up at night which is curious. Email me and we can discuss. Glad you’re inspired buddy!