In the aftermath of a series of Thanksgiving week indulgences that led to an unexpected 10-pound gain, I found myself at 214 pounds, eager to get back on track. It was the perfect time to test out the SiBio continuous ketone meter (CKM), a sleek device that attaches to the back of one’s upper arm and sends blood ketone measurements to an app on a smartphone.
I’ve long been aware of the many potential benefits of a ketogenic diet – including increased fat burning capabilities, reduced appetite, steady energy levels, improved mental clarity and focus, and better blood glucose control, among others.
I’ve taken advantage of all those benefits over the past six years on a therapeutic carbohydrate reduction diet that helped me lose 80 pounds of body fat, and I’ve learned a great deal about the incredible power of n=1 experimentation as a tool to improve one’s health, fitness and quality of life.
When I was offered a sample of the SiBio CKM, I jumped at the opportunity. Having tested ketones previously with a Keto-Mojo finger stick blood and ketone meter, I was extremely enthusiastic about seeing a graph of my ketone levels across an entire day, and being able to track that data for two entire weeks.
The extra body weight I had accumulated over the recent holiday provided a great opportunity to experiment with a diet aimed at eliminating a few pounds of body fat, so I was eager to get started.
The instructions for applying the device were straightforward, and the process was uneventful. After a one-hour “warm-up” period, the app began displaying current ketone levels, and allowed me to view graphs of the past 3, 6, 12, and 24-hour time frames.
The CKM allowed me to see the impacts of my dietary choices, meal timing, exercise, and other factors on my state of ketosis. It immediately became apparent that the continuous stream of data would alert me to things I had never been aware of when I was only taking three or four readings per day.
I should mention that the accuracy of the SiBio CKM has impressed me greatly over the first week. There have been no unexpected hiccups or abnormalities, and I have compared it to readings on the Keto-Mojo meter three times – twice the readings were identical and once they differed by just 0.1 mmol/L.
After nearly a week with the device, I’m seeing that I spend a good amount of time in nutritional ketosis (0.5 - 1.0 mmol/L), which is a lower level of ketosis than I would have been in when I had an abundance of body fat.
As part of this experiment, I cut my daily carb intake from 50-90 grams per day to 30 or less, and most of the Thanksgiving weight has disappeared, but my energy levels and strength have actually improved to what feels like a record high. In the past week, I’ve hit lifetime PRs in the weight room, not necessarily because of the ketones, but it’s great to know that cutting carbs isn’t cutting into my gains.
It’s important to note that what works well for me today–as a marathon-running 59-year-old who can do 15 pull-ups and bench press 300 pounds–is considerably different from what might have worked best for me 8 years ago when I weighed 278 pounds and got winded climbing a flight of stairs.
Thinking back to those days when I really had a great deal of fat to burn, I truly wish I’d had this CKM available back then. I would have been eager to raise my ketone levels to the optimal fat-burning range (1.5 - 3.0 mmol/L), allowing my body to primarily fuel itself with its own fat.
Nowadays, having lost most of my excess fat, my goal has been primarily to maintain the fat loss, while working on keeping myself as strong and fit as possible. As I approach age 60, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, and I’m coming off my first marathon last March in Los Angeles.
Previously, I was under the belief that the goal of ketosis was to do everything possible to get one’s ketone levels as high as possible, but I have learned that nuance is important.
Contrary to popular belief in the keto community, I've found that maintaining a high protein intake is not only beneficial but crucial for my goals. Targeting around 200 grams of protein per day (one gram per pound of ideal body weight), I noticed significant improvements in maintaining my strength and building muscle, while achieving excellent satiety and keeping my fat levels low. The CKM has been instrumental in helping me strike this balance, ensuring I spend ample time in nutritional ketosis while meeting my protein needs for muscle growth and overall health.
Focusing solely on ketone production isn't the most effective strategy for me. Instead, it's about overall body composition and energy levels. The CKM has helped me realize that a successful keto journey isn't just about maintaining high ketone levels. It's about using those ketones efficiently, as reflected in my lean muscle mass growth and energy levels.
The CKM as an accountability tool
The CKM is a tremendous accountability tool, and anyone who’s followed my journey knows how important accountability has been as I lost (and then maintained) an 80-pound fat loss over the past six years.
Just knowing there’s a device on me that is recording how much fat I’m burning provides some additional much-needed structure into my life, and makes it easier for me to make the right choices.
I’ve learned through trial and error over the past 6 years that each individual needs to find the specific plans that work best for them, depending upon their own challenges and what part of the journey they are on.
The CKM as a learning tool
Years of experience have taught me a vital lesson: Attentiveness to one's own body can yield profound insights. My journey with the CKM, chronicled on my Biggest Comeback Twitter account, has sparked conversations and a learning curve that continues to steepen. In the weeks ahead, I plan to dive deeper into these experiences, sharing detailed accounts and analyses. To enrich this exploration, I have been reading, listening to podcasts, and engaging with leading experts in the field of ketogenic diets. Their scientific expertise will provide context and clarity, shedding light on the intricate dynamics between the ketogenic diet, the CKM, and the nuanced responses of the human body.
This endeavor goes beyond personal narrative—it's a journey towards a more profound comprehension of how innovative tools like the CKM can play a role in optimizing health and wellness strategies. As I continue on this journey, I'll be sharing what I've learned in upcoming articles, focusing on the impactful interplay between diet and technology.