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What does it mean to become fat-adapted, and how can you get there? Find out how to charge your fat-burning powers with the right eating habits.
You might think that it sounds counter intuitive to want to become fat adapted. Adapted to fat? Surely that’s the opposite of your weight loss plan!
Don’t worry: if fat burning is your aim, then becoming fat adapted is the way to go. This is because rather than adapting to fat, you’re adapting to burning fat, and that’s the key.
We’ll delve a little deeper into the science of what it means to be fat-adapted, but put plainly, it means that you’re in a state of commanding your body to burn its fat stores for energy.
Table of contents
Doesn’t the Body Always Burn Fat?
No. These days, most people eat a high carb diet, thanks to the enormous popularity of foods like potatoes, rice, and pasta. And then there is the mass consumption of sugar.
When we eat a high carb diet, the carbs are transformed into glucose, which we use for our energy.
It means that while the glucose might give the energy to keep us going, we’re not tackling the stores of fat that we’re slowly adding to.
To lose weight, we need to tackle fat stores. So, we need to tell our bodies to burn fat instead of glucose.
And to do that, you need to become fat-adapted with the help of a ketogenic diet plan.
A carb-free diet isn’t a new idea. It’s the oldest diet in the world. Our ancestors lived on a strictly paleolithic diet of meat, fruit, fish, and nuts.
It was a high-fat diet that gave the cavemen of the day the energy they needed, without any dairy, sugar, processed oils, or carbs.
They relied on fatty acids to give them all their energy throughout the day.
To become fat-adapted, you need to follow a strict diet where you will eat as few as 20g of carbs per day over several days.
Reprogramming Your Body
There are many reasons for wanting to break out of the high-carb cycle. The desire to lose weight is the most common reason for this lifestyle overhaul. But there’s also a myriad of other health benefits that come from keto.
Carbs are massively satisfying; there’s no doubt about it. Their high glucose levels give us a sugar rush that feels great: but it’s short-lived.
Once our blood glucose levels drop, we begin to feel sluggish and can develop headaches as we crave the carbs once more.
And so, the cycle continues.
A ketogenic diet can change that because it changes the way our body fuels itself.
By ditching the carbs and eating larger amounts of protein and healthy fats, it can lead not just to weight loss but to us feeling less hungry, having more energy, and waking up with a clear head every single morning.
By training your body to source its energy from fat, you’ll improve its metabolic flexibility. Along with exercise, a carb-free, high-fat diet will give your metabolism a huge boost. So you’ll drop the pounds and feel great, all in one fell swoop.
It’s not going to happen overnight, but once you get there, you’ll realize that you’ve never felt this good.
Get Fat Adapted!
To start burning only body fat, you need to reach the state of ketosis.
This is the whole point of the keto diet: removing the glucose source and instead tapping into fat stores.
When you burn fat instead of carbs, you go from producing glucose to producing ketones instead.
It’s not easy at first, but nothing worth doing ever is! In the first few days and weeks, you may find that you miss the carbs. Of course, that’s normal.
When the body’s used to the same pattern over and over, it gets thrown into what feels like a state of mass confusion when it’s forced to try something different.
In the beginning, there’s a good chance you’ll feel pretty rough. You might be more tired than usual, with little energy and a thumping headache.
This is known as ‘keto flu’ and it occurs because your body is having withdrawal symptoms as you’ve cut off its carb supply and it’s wondering what on earth is going on.
The keto flu will soon pass, and once you’ve smashed through the wall, your energy will lift, and your head will feel much clearer, so stick with it, and be sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water.
Don’t Give Up!
Once you’re in ketosis, you’ll need to stay on your low-carb, high-fat diet for another 4-12 weeks before you’re truly fat-adapted, when you have made the transition from burning carbs to fat oxidation.
Being keto-adapted isn’t the same as being fat adapted. Fat adaptation happens first when the liver begins to break down fat after discovering there are no carbs for it to use.
But true keto-adaptation comes later when you’ve trained the body to zoom in on fat cells before any other immediately.
If you’re an athlete and already in excellent physical condition, you may enter the stage of fat adaptation more quickly, but if this is your first time attempting it, it’ll take longer.
Give Fat Adaptation a Boost with Intermittent Fasting
Whether you choose the 16:8 (16 hours without food, then an 8-hour eating window) or the 5:2 (eat normally for five days, restrict calories for the other 2) methods, or whichever way works for you, intermittent fasting can significantly help push you into fat adaptation.
Once you’ve fasted for 12 hours, your body automatically begins to burn fat instead of glucose. By keeping up with an intermittent fasting plan, you practically double your chances of entering a state of fat adaptation much quicker.
Fat adapted is when your body’s been trained to burn fat instead of glucose for energy.
Anywhere between 4 and 12 weeks. It’s easy to enter ketosis but takes more work and endurance to stay carb-free long enough to become fat adapted.
You’ll notice several changes in the way you feel. Of course, one big sign is fat loss. But you’ll also find that you’re sleeping better, your head’s clearer, you have more energy, and your endurance levels are much higher.
The best way to stay fat adapted is to stick to the ketogenic diet. It can help to introduce intermittent fasting, too, forcing the body to burn fat because you’re not constantly topping up its energy supplies with more food.
How long’s a piece of string?! It’s impossible to put time limits on these things. Still, you can certainly cut down the average time of 4 weeks to enter fat-adaptation by introducing intermittent fasting, that’s for sure.