The Keto Diet Podcast Ep. #013: Protein Intake on Keto

By December 19, 2018

Protein Intake on Keto #healthfulpursuit #fatfueled #lowcarb #keto #ketogenic #lowcarbpaleo

Interview with Mike Mutzel, Functional Medicine Practitioner and author, chats with us about the importance of protein on a ketogenic diet, how your gut health dictates your ability to adapt, changes women can make to the ketogenic diet, and more.

For podcast transcript, scroll down.

Show Notes & Links


  • Microbiome support for fat-burning success (14:07)
  • Protein misconceptions on a ketogenic diet (24:13)
  • The key to burning more fat efficiently (42:34)

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Leanne Vogel: You’re listening to episode number 13 of The Keto Diet Podcast.

Hey, I’m Leanne from, and this is The Keto Diet Podcast where we’re busting through the restrictive mentality of a traditional ketogenic diet to uncover the life you crave.

What’s keto? Keto is a low-carb high-fat diet where we’re switching from a sugar-burning state to becoming fat-burning machines. If you’re in need of keto recipe food prep inspiration, I’ve prepped a free seven-day keto meal plan exclusive for podcast listeners. The plan is complete with a shopping list and everything you need to chow down on keto for seven whole days. Download your free copy at Let’s get this party started.

Hey guys, happy Sunday. If you’re celebrating Christmas, I hope Santa was really good to you, and that you’re enjoying all the wonderful time that you’re spending with your friends and family. And if you’re not celebrating Christmas, I hope you’re just having a rockin’ holiday season.

The awesome thing this week, and it’s so perfect for this time of year because if you’re making a turkey, you’re going to have a carcass just sitting there, and you can make broth. I have been making this amazing rocket fuel bone broth, the recipe is sort of on my blog, on one of the InstantPot posts that I’ve done in the past.

Basically, you just take about 1 1/2 cups, which works out to be about 350 ml of chicken, turkey, or bone broth, and you put it in the blender with 2 tablespoons of MCT oil, a scoop of gelatin…Vital Proteins gelatin, of course…and a pinch of finely ground grey sea salt, ground black pepper, and if you want to get a little bit crazy you can add your favorite spice blend, or some garlic, or ginger, anything.

Blend it up and it makes it really frothy. You can enjoy it by the fire, or working in your office, recording a podcast, which is what I got right here. It’s so delicious.

What we’re covering in today’s episode is the effect that your microbiome has on your ability to become fat-adapted, the misconceptions surrounding protein on a ketogenic diet, including talk about gluconeogenesis, as well as chatting about how you can use a thing called protein ups instead of carb ups for your training, or just feeling better on a ketogenic diet, as well as the importance of relaxation on a ketogenic diet in order to adapt and stay in fat-burning mode.

The show notes for today’s episode can be found at Let’s hear from one of our awesome partners.

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I got three announcements for you. Well, they’re sort of like news updates, they’re not really announcements.

The first one is, and ties so perfectly in with the conversation today, is I’ve been under a lot of stress. It is a lot of work to write a book, run a business, be a person that also needs to take care of their body, and I found that my digestion was getting really funky…oh, it was just brutal.

So I chatted with my friend Kelsey at Fluid Movements. I used to go to her a long time ago for colon hydrotherapy. Kelsey is an Advanced Certified Colon Hydrotherapist. She’s been practicing for over nine years. We were chatting about my digestion, and I knew that I needed a colon hydrotherapy appointment. I’ve actually gone a couple of times now because my digestion is just little bit funky, and the first place I notice stress is in my bowels. That’s just the way it is. TMI maybe, but c’mon. We’re all human, we all go through it. It’s a thing.

What I love about colon hydrotherapy is it just gets things moving very gently and it’s not invasive at all. In Canada here, it’s a lot more abundant than people in the US, I know that sometimes it can be hard to find, but it’s definitely part of my practice of taking care of my body.

I actually haven’t had to do it, like I was saying, in quite a long time, but them’s the breaks. What I noticed after seeing Kelsey after a couple of times is just way less bloating, way less pain in my gut area. I’m regular again, thank goodness. My skin is clear. So it just helped get things rolling again.

She’s actually going to be a guest on the show in the new year, so that’s very exciting. We’re going to be chatting more about gut health and colon hydrotherapy, and how it can benefit you if it’s something that you’ve been kind of curious about, but you’re like, “I don’t even know, like, what’s the process, and it sounds kind of scary.” We’re going to be going through all of it, because I know during my first appointment with her I was so scared. But there’s nothing to be scared about.

And there’s nothing to be ashamed about, either. It’s just another thing that you can add to your tool belt of things that, perhaps, can help you stay balanced. Today’s guest and I chat in depth about the health of the bowel, and making sure that you are eliminating frequently, so it ties in so well with today’s chat.

The second thing that I wanted to mention is that we had a guest on the show a couple of weeks ago, and while they didn’t engage in any fat shaming on the show, I was brought to my attention that this guest did a little bit of fat shaming outside of the podcast.

These individuals that heard them say that sent me an email concerned about the quality of guests on the show. While I would love to make sure that every guest follows exactly, does all the things that I think would benefit everyone, I mean, I can’t. I just can’t.

I try to get guests on the show that will provide really solid information for you all, but some people are going to do some crazy things. Just because they do those crazy things does not mean that I advocate that in any way. I think with any podcast, or video, or book that you read, you really have to pick the details that work well for you and leave the rest on the floor. Really see these individuals that are sharing information as a vehicle of information.

When I stopped getting so personal with the people I was listening to, and really got attached to them as a person, it really helped me detach from all the emotions that can come up when they do something that I don’t approve of, or that didn’t work for me.

So see all the information that we share on the podcast, and everywhere on the blog, and in my videos, as just a vehicle for information. And if some sticks, that’s great. And if other things don’t, that’s totally okay.

Know that I do not support fat shaming of any kind. I’m a huge believer of the Health at Every Size movement, and encouraging healthy behaviors. That’s the key thing.

The third thing I wanted to chat with you guys about really quickly is that episode six of the podcast, I chatted a little bit about my new experiment, and that I was going to be fasting a little bit more, and making sure that I was eating enough, and doing a little bit of carb ups but not too many. It’s actually going really, really, really well.

In fact, it’s phenomenal. When you actually eat enough and set the intention to fast, it’s a lot easier. Just yesterday, actually, I broke the fast around, I think it was two o’clock in the afternoon, and I ate from two to six. Then when I went to bed, I was like, “Oh my gosh. I didn’t have anything before bed like I normally do.” And that’s been happening a lot.

I’m finding that when I do a carb up, because of leptin and leptin being such a satiating hormone, when we are doing carb ups on a low-carb eating style it actually helps our leptin sensitivity. Which has been proven time and time again with me, because when I do a carb up I can fast longer, and better, and stronger, and I’m satiated, and it’s awesome. So it’s actually going really, really well.

Hopefully I’ll be doing an update in the new year about all the things that I’m doing, and how I’m manipulating what I’m eating because it’s an ongoing thing.

If you have an idea for a podcast episode, or want to submit praise over and above your review, which you can leave by going to, you can reach me at

Today’s guest is Mike Mutzal. You guys might know him from High Intensity Health. He has a podcast, he’s fabulous. He has a B.S. degree in Cellular Biology from Western Washington University, and an M.S. in Nutrition from University of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He has completed the Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice, AFMCP, course, and all six of the Advanced Practice Modules, APMs, at the Institute for Functional Medicine.

Since 2008 Mike has broadcasted hundreds of webinars and video interviews on the latest integrative health developments, and regularly speaks at seminars throughout the US, Canada, and Asia.

He is the author of Belly Fat Effect: The Real Secret About How Your Diet, Intestinal Health, and Gut Bacteria Help You Burn Fat.

I’ve been following Mike for quite some time, so I was so honored that he was totally down for recording with me. The standard ketogenic approach says that moderate protein is key to the success of a ketogenic diet.

I wanted to have Mike on the podcast to kind of start a conversation that maybe that isn’t part of the success, and in fact, when we’re not eating enough it’s actually not a good thing.

I don’t prescribe to that approach, and I find that so, so, so many women out there are not eating enough protein on their ketogenic diet. So I wanted to have him on the podcast to chat all about high protein, low protein, moderate protein, gluconeogenesis, and all of that good stuff. So let’s cut over to the interview.

Hey Mike, how’s it going?

Mike Mutzel: Doing wonderful, thanks for having me on.

Leanne Vogel: Yeah, you bet. We have a really exciting show. I’ve got lots of questions for you. For listeners that may not be familiar with your work, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Mike Mutzel: In brief, I’ve been in the functional medicine space for about 10 years, and got interested in fitness when I was just a little kid. I used to watch Jean-Claude Van Damme and Arnold Schwartzenegger movies, and just had aspirations to be a bodybuilder.

Never actually became a bodybuilder, but my first year of college got my personal training certification, and back in 2001, when I graduated high school, I started working at a gym.

While I was going through college and got introduced to all kinds of different diets, one of which being the ketogenic diet. A lot of bodybuilders back then were using this, and I was honestly turned off by it because their breath would smell bad. And, yeah, they would get lean, and preserve lean muscle, but we didn’t know about the science and all of the epigenetic effects, and how it can influence cancer metabolism, and all these beneficial things that we now know and I’m sure we’ll talk about. That’s kind of the back story.

And then went to college, got a degree in Biology, and then I landed in this field called Functional Medicine, which is getting at the root cause of various diseases. I work with a lot of integrative holistic doctors, pharmacists, naturopaths, chiropractors, and started doing webinars and lectures for these doctors in 2007.

Started the podcast in 2014 to open up this information that we were kind of holding within this practitioner network, to the world at large. So that’s a little bit about me and where I come from.

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Leanne Vogel: Very cool. What sort of protocol do you gravitate toward for your own health?

Mike Mutzel: Yeah, Leanne, awesome question. I’m really excited about intermittent fasting. And a ketogenic modified approach, with focusing on…I think we share similar views here…focusing on gut microbiome and phytonutrients.

I’m not one of these people that have bacon and eggs. I’ll have eggs, and a lot of kale, and Swiss chard, and curcumin, and ginger. So my shtick is really…Because I wrote a book called Belly Fat Effect, which is all about gut bacteria, and how our gut hormones affect metabolism and fat burning. I really think that, and researchers agree with this philosophy, that the bugs within our intestines outnumber the metabolic functions that our most metabolically active organ garners to our body, and that’s the liver.

Our liver, especially for women listening, it’s involved in hormone metabolism, blood sugar regulation, synthesis of glucagon and glycogen, and all the detoxification. There’s so many things that our liver does. Without our liver, we would be dead, and in a very short period of time.

It turns out that this ecosystem that we call our gut microbiome offers the human body as much or more metabolic functions as the liver. So it’s very important to keep that engine, that microbial engine, robust through clean fats and through healthy protein.

But most importantly plant-based phytonutrients, so anything that gives a food, or an herb, or a botanical, that color or that smell. What comes to mind is the purples in blueberries, and raspberries their reds, and collard greens and kale…All those things that we know that give, we call them phytonutrients, or phytochemicals, they really actually increase the diversity and the complexity and the stability of this microbial ecosystem.

And that in turn helps us to burn fat better. That makes butyric acid, which is very biochemically similar to beta hydroxybutyrate, the main ketone body that your listeners are probably familiar with.

So we need a healthy microbial ecosystem to detoxify estrogen, to balance our hormones, to reduce the risks of breast cancer, uterine cancer and so forth, but also to keto-adapt. There’s a lot of cross talk between the microbial ecosystem and their stability, and the mitochondrial function. And we know mitochondria are so key for keto-adaptation, for the processing of burning fat.

Back to your specific question, I love the idea of plant-based high-fat diet with moderate animal protein, and just a lot of vegetables from a wide array, from grain free. And so that’s the other thing too, so I know some of the human studies on improving bacterial diversity include whole grains. I’m not really a whole grain fan, we can talk about some of the reasons why, but…Yeah, that’s my approach. I think a lot of people, no matter where you are on the spectrum of low-carb, high-fat and so forth, we could all improve our health by just eating more green, leafy vegetables.

Leanne Vogel: We are so on the same page.

Mike Mutzel: Ah, yes.

Leanne Vogel: Yes, totally. Because I did the classic ketogenic approach, with the bacon and the eggs, and the bacon and the eggs, and the pepperoni, and the…you know, all the things, and I didn’t feel well.

Mike Mutzel: Right.

Leanne Vogel: I didn’t feel well. Although my ketones were registering really well, my hormones were horrible, my adrenals totally crashed, my thyroid crashed, so, I mean, yeah. And I know for a fact that you can have a ketogenic diet while also focusing on those phytonutrients, and I love that that’s your approach too, because I know for me personally, the other approach just did not feel good in my body, and a lot of others, too.

Your wife, she tried the ketogenic diet, and she mentioned in one of your videos just how different things were for her, like her and her body, and for women. Do you find that in your practice, that women’s bodies are a little bit different with this approach than men’s bodies?

Mike Mutzel: Yeah, that’s an awesome point. And it is so individual, and particularly gender specific. We’ve found clinically, and just a lot of feedback that we get through our eCourses online, and in communication with folks online, that for a lot of women that adaptation, the cyclical nature of hormones and stuff, there’s a lot of interindividual variability there.

Again, I think if we get lost in the weeds of only focusing on ketones, that’s where problems occur. Because, like you mentioned, you were eating “low-carb” foods like bacon, and cheese, and meat, and eggs and so forth, but those foods don’t really improve your body’s ability to detoxify, to metabolize estrogen, to get rid of synthetic hormones and compounds in our air, food, and water, that will affect hormone regulation and ovulatory function.

So I wonder, and my suspicion is that that is kind of the primary reason as to why, and there’s many other reasons. Right? But I think lack of bowel motility…I mean, this is kind of a total sidestep, but I’ll answer your question directly.

When I talk to different doctors, David Jockers and John Rowe, and others, that have a pulse on both the ketogenic diet and the microbiome, one of the things interestingly that they bring up quite a bit in terms of a variable, or a factor, that can help people keto-adapt is getting the bowels moving. Like, literally, going number two, on a regular, consistent basis.

Now, why is that? Because when we’re constipated, and we’re not eliminating the toxins from our body, and also the food that we’re not absorbing, things get recirculated. Estrogens get recirculated, compounds get recirculated, and that seems to effect keto-adaptation, blood sugar, stress and so forth.

The gut is so important here. I think a big kind of trend on the internet is just cut out your carbs, eat a lot of bacon, go back to the old-school Atkins approach, and that’s “a ketogenic diet.” That’s where we see people, like you said, ketones are high, but then they feel bad, or their menses is off and all that.

I think if we take a step back and just look at kind of the big picture of longevity, and optimal health, and fertility, and vitality, we definitely need to include these vegetables and so forth, and not really get caught up, or tripped up, with high levels of ketones.

Now I think if you have brain cancer, or metastatic breast cancer, and you’re really trying to keep millimolar ketones at over five, for example, for those reasons that’s a little bit different. But I still think it’s good to get those vegetables in.

And particularly for women to keep the hormones…If we’re not going to the bathroom, especially number two, on a regular basis, estrogen gets recirculated. It’s this process known as enterohepatic recirculation. You can literally just recirculate all the estrogen that your liver dumps. And then you can get increased risk of various estrogen-related cancers, and autoimmune diseases and so forth.

I think the big picture is…and women are much more intuitive and listen to their inner emotions compared to men, I’ve found…I think, just listen to your body. You know, if you’re craving a banana, or an apple, like, just eat it. Yeah, it may not be ketogenic or whatever, but just listen to your body.

And then eat commensurate with your activity level. So on days that you’re really active, it’s okay to have a little bit more of carbohydrate, or if you’re menstruating and you’re craving dark chocolate, just have a little bit. Don’t go overboard, or beat yourself up over it. It’s really important to listen to that intuition.

Kind of the mistake that my wife was making is she was really orthodox, dogmatic, intermittent fasting, ketogenic, and would go for a month without getting her period, and she was very consistent throughout her life. And then she lost so much fat that, you know, libido changed and everything.

She didn’t really notice it right when she was doing it, she thought, “Oh, this will correct over time,” and, “I’m doing the right thing.” Because when you’re a hammer, everything’s a nail. Right? So if you’re focused on just ketogenic, you think, “Oh my gosh. Those onions, they have prebiotic. Oh, I can’t have that.” So we were cooking the same things that we’d been cooking, and she’s like, “No, no, no, don’t put leeks, or onions, or radicchio in that.” I’m like, “What? That’s weird. Okay, whatever,” I’m like, “Okay, well I’m gonna do it,” you know, kind of thing.

Once she realized that she was compromising her health at the expense of maintaining ketosis, that it probably was going a little bit too far. It’s not really worth compromising your long-term health, vitality, and increasing your risk of disease, to just have low body fat for an Instagram picture, or whatever it is. Right?

I think, to answer your question, it’s so individual, and that’s why there’s self-experimentation. Become your own expert. People always want to know, “What’s the diet? What do you eat every day? What’s the plan? What are your macros?” Everyone’s macros and diet is so different. So just start tinkering and testing with the Ketonix breath meter, or blood glucometers, blood ketones, and just figure out what works for you, because that’s going to change over time. And what works for you is going to be totally different from the guru, or the books that are out there. So, really, tinker and test.

Leanne Vogel: Yeah, words to live by, 100%. Totally. You mentioned moderate protein a little bit. Let’s get into protein on a ketogenic diet, because they’re, from my view, I find a lot of people on one end are very, very afraid of protein on a ketogenic diet. I’ve met women that are like, “I’ve had 10 grams of protein for four weeks, and I’m keto-adapted and I feel great.” And on the other end, eating probably too much protein. So what are your thoughts on protein on a ketogenic diet?

Mike Mutzel: Yeah, and this is an awesome point. And I agree with you, there’s so much confusion. Because I think…and there’s a lot of great “experts and gurus” in the ketogenic space, and I’m not trying to say that I’m one at all…but I do see people online talk about this fear-based thing about gluconeogenesis. This formation of sugar from other non-sugar substrates like protein and fat.

People get scared of protein because they think it’s going to raise blood sugar, and then that’s going to take them out of ketosis. But really, if you’re in a ketogenic state, like, your body’s making ketones, guess what? Your body’s also making glucose via gluconeogenesis.

These are mutually exclusive processes, meaning that if you’re making ketones, that you can’t have gluconeogenesis occurring at the same time. These are parallel pathways. So when insulin is low, and glucagon, and some of the counterregulatory hormones like norepinephrine, and epinephrine and so forth, are upregulated, when you’re intermittent fasting or when you’re keto-adapted, guess what? You’re also making glucose from anew, from proteins and so forth. This happens anyway, so don’t be scared of it. It doesn’t mean that you should have 60 grams of protein per meal, by any means, but don’t be too freaked out at having 15 or 25 or 30 grams of protein from a very clean source, whether it’s plants, or animals, eggs, grass fed beef, lamb, bison, elk, things like that.

Don’t be scared of moderate protein, because protein is very satiating. It’s very thermogenic, meaning it kind of stimulates fat-burning. We know it repairs lean muscle mass. You know, there’s a lot of benefits there. So really, don’t be scared of it. I think some people saw this gluconeogenesis and thought, “Oh, okay. Well that means that if you have too much protein, that converts into sugar, and then that turns off ketogenesis.” That really doesn’t happen.

My wife and I did make a video on this to kind of address that. And even Jeff Volek, one of the huge, modern-day pioneers of the ketogenic diet for athletes, and for optimal health, talks about that protein’s very thermogenic, it’s satiating, but that’s not necessarily bad. Again, if you’re making ketones, you’re backconverting, because the body does need sugar.

That’s why we notice, sometimes, when you’ve been keto-adapted, it’s not like your blood sugar’s at 50 or 60, sometimes it just cruises. It’s just the ebb and flow, and the troughs and valleys, of your blood sugar are more compressed, right? After a meal, your blood sugar might go up to like 110 instead of 180, or whatever. You’re still going to be making sugar.

If you’re weight training, if you’re doing CrossFit, if you’re even doing intense yoga, your body’s going to utilize sugar for that activity. And if you’re not ingesting the sugar from glucose and from foods, it’s going to take dietary protein and backconvert it. There’s nothing really wrong with that. It’s not the most energy efficient process for the body, but the body will do it.

The reason why I said that if you’re doing Crossfit, or resistance training, or something that’s anaerobic, there’s just not enough time for the…the muscles need that energy currency in the form of ATP, like right now. Right? So when you’re doing those short duration, high intensity activities, utilizing ketones to make ATP is wonderful, but you need more time. Meaning, that will fuel you through a hike, or a long walk, or a canoe ride, or cross-country skiing, but if you’re doing burst type training sessions, your body’s going to preferentially use glucose for that. That’s kind of the deal there.

So just to summarize, gluconeogenesis and ketogenesis, the formation of ketones, are parallel processes. They do happen at the same time. And I think what can throw you out of ketosis is excess dietary protein.

Also, we should qualify what type of protein. I just did a vlog on this and got a lot of comments and so forth. So milk, for example, is low-glycemic. It’s one of these paradoxical foods in the sense that it doesn’t spike blood sugar, but it’s insulinogenic. You’re going to downregulate, or turn the dimmer switch down on hepatic, or liver, ketogenesis. So the formation of ketones goes down. It’s inversely correlated with insulin.

So low blood insulin, high dietary fat, ketones, your liver’s going to make bunch of ketones. If you have high insulin, and you have high dietary fat, guess what? You’re going to make fat. You’re going to store fat.

One of the adaptations that occurs when people “keto-adapt” is the liver kind of reprograms its ability to make ketones more efficiently. Again, that process is known as ketogenesis. And a major down regulator of that is insulin. So any protein, or any food for that matter, that spikes your insulin is going to kind of keep you out of making ketones. Milk, for example, and dairy in general, is one of these proteins that can do that.

I think people get to the point where they go to a seminar and they hear that, “Oh, protein down regulates this,” and we really need to specify what type of protein, how much, what’s the context.

You know, a spike in insulin after an intense workout training, or a long hike, or cross-country skiing, or whatever, is a good thing. You want to repair your body and so forth, from that activity. But if you’re just sitting around, or you’re traveling, or you’re trying to lose weight, a spike in insulin would be a bad thing.

Eggs are not going to spike insulin, unless there’s something funky in it, and we obviously want locally prepared and healthy chickens and so forth, that are out free range. But grass fed beef, lamb, elk, and bison, they’re not going to spike insulin.

Yeah, if you have maybe 60 or 80 grams, and you have so much amino acids and protein in your body that you need to release insulin to deposit those amino acids for storage, then that can be a problem. But within the right context, 20 grams, 15 grams, up to 30 grams, I don’t think it’s going to be a major issue.

I’m not just saying this off the cuff. My wife and I, for the past year, have done a lot of testing, and have found the Ketonix breath acetone meter to be very indicative and accurate. When we have a high vegetable, high plant-based fat, avocado, nuts, and seeds for the fat sources, and a moderate amount of protein, we’re cranking out breath acetone in the 60s. That’s really suggestive of a mild to high nutritional ketosis. Make sure that you’re testing, that’s kind of the bottom line.

Leanne Vogel: Very cool. So many things that I need to ask you now…Gluconeogenesis. Can it supply enough glucose to fuel, say, high intensity interval training? Like you mentioned CrossFit. And, from what I understand, if people are training like CrossFit training every day, that pathway might not produce enough glycogen for your body to properly perform. Would that be fair to say? Or do you feel like gluconeogenesis could supply enough for somebody that’s doing those high intensity interval workouts?

Mike Mutzel: This is such an awesome question. I’m glad you asked this. It depends. And I know that’s not the answer that people want to hear. But it depends when your next training session is.

For example, if you do CrossFit Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and you’re really pushing it, at your lactic acid threshold; meaning your lungs are burning, your legs are burning, your arm, whatever body part you’re moving is kind of burning, and you can’t do anymore, what that is, is that’s lactic acid build up. Right?

So when we’re doing those type of anaerobic, high intensity, short duration type movements, what we’re doing is we’re…to fuel that, like, the cash that’s needed, the currency, it’s through a process known as glycolysis. We literally take glucose, snip it in half, and push it through this glycolytic pathway. And the byproduct of that is a lot of lactic acid. That’s why your lungs burn. That’s why your legs hurt. You’re not needing oxygen for that.

Here’s the thing. You build up a lot of metabolic waste in the form of lactic acid. You really deplete your body’s stores of…Within the muscle your muscle stores glucose, and also your liver stores glucose in the form of glycogen. So you’re going to deplete that.

Now if your training session is 24 hours later, you’re going to have enough time to what’s known as replenish that glycogen. Even if you’re consuming a high fat diet…Jeff Volek has shown this.

He’s been studying a group of like 25 or 30 keto-adapted athletes for a while. This is very interesting, Leanne. What he’s found is that keto-adapted athletes actually replenish glycogen better than carb-adapted athletes, which is totally counter to what you would think.

So we were like, how is a body able to do that? What’s really interesting is, and this is why people get such great results with CrossFit, or with weight training in general, when you deplete your glycogen…Remember I talked about glycolysis, splitting of sugar, making a lot of metabolic waste…when you do these short duration bursts, what you do is you totally deplete your body’s glycogen. When you’re done with that training session, your body’s like, “Oh my gosh, we have to replenish this. What are we gonna do?” Then fat burning increases, ketogenesis increases, while the body is replenishing the glycogen. That’s one way.

So when you do cardio training, like, for example…let’s just pause with that thought of glycogen replenishment, and take a small sidestep.

When you do long distance walking, hiking, running, you’re burning primarily fat for fuel. Right? Because you have a lot of time, you know, when you take the ketones through the mitochondria, you need a lot of oxygen, that’s why you breathe heavy when you do running and so forth, cycling, and it’s a very efficient way to burn fuel and to make ATP, to make cellular energy to move your muscles. Right? And you don’t burn a lot of glycogen. So while you’re burning fat during that activity, there’s not much fat burning that occurs after endurance type training.

In contrast, when you do these short duration, high intensity resistance training…and this can be even intense yoga, too, like power yoga, or Vinyasa, hatha yoga, where you’re going through the motions very quickly and you get kind of winded. It doesn’t have to be under a barbell, although that is a great method…you’re breaking down that glycogen, and then guess what? Your fat burning increases for hours and hours after the exercise, as a way to help your body to maintain its energy demand while replenishing that glycogen. Okay?

It’s almost like, I don’t know how to create an analogy, but, you know, kind of the tortoise and the hare, kind of thing? Where the tortoise would be more fat-burning, and then the hare, the fast rabbit, would be kind of sugar-burning. You’re burning all the sugar during activity, the hare’s running really quickly, then the tortoise afterwards is going to just kind of take that load. That’s where the fat-burning kind of increases after the exercise.

That’s why we see so much better metabolic benefits and fat burning benefits long-term with resistance style training, those short duration, high intensity, because your body tends to burn fat for hours and hours afterward.

What does this really mean on a practical level? Okay. If you’re competing, if you’re doing back to back workouts, you might need to replenish your glycogen, and especially if you’re not totally keto-adapted yet. Like yeah, you might have heard two months ago about this ketogenetic diet thing, so you start eating more avocados, and walnuts, and whatever, but you’re still eating carbs, then you don’t really need worry about it.

If you’ve been keto-adapted for years, then you can train no problem. For me, it’s been a year and a half or so of really being serious about this. I can do consecutive high intensity, short duration workouts without having to replenish glycogen in the form of, say, sweet potatoes, or starches, we don’t eat a lot of starch, but it would be butternut squash or sweet potatoes, or maybe some fruit. I don’t really need to worry about that because the enzymatic machinery has been upregulated through years of doing this. Right? Through this keto-adaptation period.

But for newbies, people that are just kind of dabbling with this, you might actually be weaker initially, because those enzymes and metabolic pathways involved in resynthesizing that glycogen that you really deplete during the workout are not totally there yet.

So keep at it with the high-fat dieting, but you might need to, in the post workout window, have some sweet potatoes, some butternut squash, some apples, blueberries. It doesn’t mean go out and get a bunch of processed carbohydrates, maybe a little bit of rice, and things like that, but you don’t need a bunch of pasta, and all that.

Leanne Vogel: Yeah, and this falls so perfectly in line with my Fat Fueled program where, when people are first getting going, if they’re training and they haven’t built up that enzymatic process, it’s really helpful. I’ve seen multiple times, as well as myself when I was first getting going, to kind of have carbs once in a while when I needed them. But now I find I can go long, long periods of time with those really intense yoga sessions and my body feels just fine.

I know my brother-in-law, he is a coach, and we always talk about gluconeogenesis and we argue back and forth on whether your body can supply enough glucose, so I’m really going to share this episode with him, because I totally win.

Mike Mutzel: Yeah, right.

Leanne Vogel: Another question that I had for you. You were talking about not having enough protein, we just touched on that lightly. Let’s say that somebody’s not eating enough protein, and their body requires a little bit of that glucose, so it’s going through gluconeogenesis. What happens if there isn’t enough protein?

Mike Mutzel: Totally, yeah. You’ll just be fatigued and weak. That’s the thing. You won’t be able to embark on this glycolytic process. And you might notice that you’re smaller and less muscular.

I know for men, this is a little bit more…Men generally have more muscle mass, but I know a lot of women know what I’m referring to is water retention, as well. Around menses, you’ve retained a lot of water and you can look bloated and full. Well, when you start keto-adapting as well, you’ll notice that your muscles just have this tighter look, and you’re going to get more vascular. That’s literally the glycogen, because you’re thriving more on fat-burning, your body doesn’t need to store as much glycogen to maintain some of the processes and so forth. So you do shed some of that water weight.

What people would notice if they’re kind of new to this, and they’ve really dropped the carbohydrates, dropped the protein very dramatically, and they’re just kind of doing a lot of fat, maybe some fiber, they’ll notice they get weaker. Their recovery after an exercise is not very good. Their ability to maintain lean muscle mass wouldn’t be very good.

While they’re performing that activity they’ll notice maybe they could do, I don’t know, let’s say, whether it’s Downward Dogs, or Warrior 2, Warrior 3, some of those moves that require a lot of muscle activation, or bench press or squats, whatever, they’re going to start failing where they didn’t used to fail. They’re going to be like, “Gosh, why am I weaker? Why am I so tired? Why do I feel fatigued, lethargic?” That’s what that would mean.

We just go back to the drawing board. We cut it too far. I mean, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just means that, okay, we need to increase the protein, maybe not do so much intermittent fasting, throw in another meal, or increase the calories at some level. It’s very easy for people, because they hear what the guru does, and they do what the guru does, and it doesn’t work for them. So you’ve just got to, kind of, tinker and test. There’s going to be a lot of trial and error as people are trying to figure it out for themselves.

When you’re first doing this, like you mentioned, Leanne, and you’re doing intense work, you might actually, what we call in the endurance space…I used to do competitive bike racing and stuff…we would call it bonking. What that means is that your blood sugar and your glycogen is totally depleted.

Your liver is out of storage, your muscles are out of storage, and you’re not totally keto-adapted, or you’re doing too much anaerobic activity, so literally your adrenals and everything is firing to try to raise blood sugar and backconvert protein, like via gluconeogenesis. You’re going to be very shaky, light-headed, you’re going to want glucose right away. If you’ve ever had that feeling, you know it’s very uncomfortable.

People will probably, if they’re pushing themselves in the gym, or in the yoga studio, Pilates, Pure Barre, whatever it is, if you’re pushing yourselves, and you’re keto-adapting, you might experience that periodically.

That just means that your body’s adjusting, that you probably didn’t have enough carbohydrates, and your ability to resynthesize glycogen and keto-adapt was not there, but specifically you were doing a lot of anaerobic activity, and you didn’t quite have enough glucose and so forth. That might mean having a small piece of fruit before you train, or after you train, and yeah, making sure you’re getting enough protein.

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Leanne Vogel: You mentioned cortisol a little bit. How would adrenal dysfunction play into all of this? Because a lot of women listening have been pushing themselves at the gym for 20 years plus, probably haven’t been eating enough, and they’re adrenals are a little bit sad. Would that also affect their ability to fat-adapt, or be able to feel pretty good on a ketogenic diet?

Mike Mutzel: Yeah, that’s a really good point. I think that there’s a huge role there. You know, cortisol is very involved in blood sugar regulation. I don’t know the specifics on how cortisol directly effects ketogenesis, but we do know that it effects insulin and insulin sensitivity.

If you’ve really been burning the candle at both ends and not taking care of our body, and looking out for everyone else, and working hard, and doing excessive cardio because you heard the calories in, calories out model was the way to stay lean, then definitely take it easy. Right? There is some low grade, I hate to use the word metabolic damage, but kind of some low-grade insulin resistance going on.

What we see in that kind of situation where there’s been a lot of calorie restriction, a lot of excessive cardio, is definitely insulin resistance and thyroid issues, and like you mentioned, adrenal issues. And actually, we need adrenaline and noradrenaline. These are “counter regulatory hormones.” These hormones actually help us burn fat, believe it or not. They’re released from the adrenals, so if you have HPA axis, so the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis, it’s all interconnected. Right?

So when you’re overtraining, where you’re not meditating or doing any mindfulness-based activity, that whole axis becomes dysregulated at some level.

I have a video with a hormonal health expert, Carrie Jones, and the title was somewhat controversial and got some kickback from it, but it was Does Adrenal Fatigue Really Exist? And it may not. Yeah, we know that the adrenals become dysfunctional, but is it within the brain? Or is it within the adrenals? Or the periphery?

There’s so many moving parts, and at some level it doesn’t really matter, but we need to make sure that people, while they are keto-adapting, or even if they’re not keto-adapting, if they just want to be healthy, embark on some stress reduction, mindfulness-inducing behavior.

One of my favorites is meditation. There’s a great app called the Muse Meditation Headband, Insight Meditation Timer is wonderful. But very simplistically, people can do heart rate variability analysis. That would give you some feedback as to whether or not you “have some of this metabolic damage,” whether you’ve been burning the candle at both ends for a while. Because that will show up in that the beat-to-beat variability within consecutive heartbeats will be minimized or reduced.

At first that may sound like a good thing, but it’s actually a very bad thing. We know that a lot of beat-to-beat variability within the heart is a strong suggester that, a strong biomarker if you will, that you’re in a parasympathetic tone, and that our nervous system has kind of partitioned into the sympathetic fight-or-flight response, and then the parasympathetic is rest-and-digest and procreate.

When we’re feeling really Zenned out after a yoga class, after Tai Chi, even after activity or exercise, or interestingly, like a cold shower. You know, if anyone takes a cold shower, which I would recommend, that’s a great way to increase your heart rate variability. But anyway, this could be a proxy for this overtraining type syndrome, or overworking syndrome, or overparenting. We know a lot of women, they feel like they need to help everyone else out first, at the expense of their body.

I was watching a video yesterday. A friend of mine, he’s in the personal development space, and he was talking about when you go on an airplane, they say should the airplane depressurize and the masks come down first, if you’re traveling with someone else, put your mask on first.

At first that may seem kind of selfish, and like, what? Wait, shouldn’t you help your daughter or your son or something? But if push comes to shove and there’s limited oxygen, and you’re trying to fiddle around with your child’s face mask to supply oxygen and it doesn’t get on correctly, you both could die. Right? And you wouldn’t make it.

We need to kind of come back full circle, especially as women, and mothers, and parents, and grandparents, put yourself first. Not to be selfish, but you need to consider your own health. And part of that is really slowing down and taking a breath, and learning how to meditate. And learning how to unwind. Because when you do unwind, when you do slow down and so forth, you increase these gut hormones.

There’s 26 different hormones released from our intestine, that regulate insulin sensitivity, insulin release, and guess what? Keto-adaptation. They downregulate inflammation. So if you’re always go, go, go, you’ve been overtraining for a while, you’ve been doing chronic cardio, calorie restriction, that these gut hormones are totally suppressed.

Because people don’t often talk about these gut hormones, as you know, Leanne, so when I discovered this research back in 2000, let’s see, it was 2009, I was blown away that scientists found that when people restrict their calories, and do yo-yo diets, and chronic cardio, these gut hormones that I mentioned are so critical for all our metabolic and fat-burning processes, can become downregulated for up to 18 months after just a two month calorie restricted, yo-yo type diet.

Imagine someone that’s been doing this for years and years, and then they hit 40, or 50, or 60, and they’re like, “I’m doing everything right, and I just keep gaining weight, like, what am I doing?” I think these gut hormones play a huge role.

Again, to come full circle, how can we augment that by slowing down, by meditating, like, this is therapy, especially for the ketogenic style dieter, learn how to meditate, or do heart rate variability, or biofeedback. Because that can really…first of all, it will improve your life, and slow down hair loss, and graying of hair and aging, but it will really help you to keto-adapt.

Leanne Vogel: Yeah, two things that I swear by is acupuncture, because I get so Zenned out by that. And you mentioned a couple of apps, too. I really like the Calm app. It teaches you how to meditate, from the very beginning through, and it’s just a really nice way if people are like, “Meditation, I don’t even know what that is.” It’s a really nice way of introducing yourself to it. Those are really, really awesome tips.

Now, we talked about how eating too much protein can cause, we’re talking, like, way too much protein can cause an increase in glucose. Just throwing the idea out there, if somebody is adapting, and they haven’t quite built up those enzymatic processes yet to be able to handle burning fat for fuel efficiently throughout all different sorts of activities, we mentioned having carbs, having a little bit of carbs to mitigate that. Could somebody also use protein to mitigate that instead? Would that work?

Mike Mutzel: That is super interesting and I haven’t really thought about that. I’m sure there wouldn’t be an issue with that. Again, it’s so much easier to undergo when you’re doing the burst training and so forth, that glycolysis, it’s very easy to just split sugar in two and make ATP that will fuel your muscles. Whereas when you backconvert gluconeogenesis and so forth via protein, it’s not as quick.

So yeah, people can try and experiment with that, and, I mean, it’s not like the idea is that outlandish. A lot of competitive bodybuilders and fitness models, they do this very thing. They keep their calorie intake the same as when they’re bulking, maybe a little bit more when they’re bulking, but when they’re cutting they don’t want to lose muscle. Right? This is inevitable if you’re going to lose fat. Right? You’re going to lose some muscle, mostly. Not a whole lot, but a, maybe, half pound a week, or a quarter pound a week, something like that, if you’re doing a lot of cardio and a lot of cutting.

Anyway, what the bodybuilders and fitness models will do is…some of them are not totally in tune, by the way, with this whole ketogenic style of fat loss…but what they’ll do is have multiple meals a day, keep the protein very high, 300 to 500 grams protein per day …

Leanne Vogel: Wow.

Mike Mutzel:    …and like almost no carbs. They’re still training at a high level, they’re still doing cardio, but they’ve just kind of supplanted, or replaced, any carbohydrates with dietary protein. Again, why? Because protein is thermogenic, it helps fat-burning, it’s satiating, and it can help preserve the lean muscle mass, and so on.

Someone that would do what you said, replace the carbs with the protein, they might still notice a little bit of fatigue. The cool thing about when you’re keto-adapting is when you do throw the carbs in, you can have like the best workout of your life. You’re like, “Oh my gosh, like, what is new? This is, like, crazy.” And you feel this pump, and this vascularity and so forth.

I would just make sure that, especially if fat loss, or preventing weight gain over time, is someone’s primary goal, just make sure that you’re doing a “higher carb day” one to two days a week, and just put your carbs before or after exercise. That’s when our body utilizes them the most.

I kind of look at carbohydrates almost like I look at caffeine. I’m not going to have caffeine right before I go to bed, I’m going to have caffeine when I really need that extra boost. And that’s generally when I’m feeling sluggish, or want to go on a long, vigorous hike, or cross-country ski, or hit the weight room. That’s when I want to take that caffeine. Interestingly, that’s also a good time to have your carbohydrates.

Leanne Vogel: Brilliant. Amazing. Thank you so much. You shared so many things. I have lots of notes to put in the show notes, and you mentioned a couple of things that I’ll also put in the show notes, including the link to your book, some of the videos that we mentioned, I’ll link out to your YouTube channel so people can watch those if they’re more curious about all the things that you do. Yeah, thanks so much for being on the show, Mike, you totally crushed it.

Mike Mutzel: My pleasure. My pleasure, Leanne, thanks for the opportunity. This was fun.

Leanne Vogel: Yeah, you bet.

And that does it for another episode of The Keto Diet Podcast. Thanks for listening in. You can follow me on Instagram by searching Healthful Pursuit, where you’ll find daily keto eats and other fun things. And check out all of my keto supportive programs, bundles, guides, and other cool things over at and I’ll see you next Sunday. Bye.

This entry was tagged: eating high-fat, eating keto, eating low-carb, fat-adapted, how eat keto, keto basics, keto diet, keto for women, keto life, ketogenic diet, ketogenic for women, ketosis, low-carb paleo, protein, what is keto

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Hi! I'm Leanne (RHN FBCS)

a Functional Medicine Practitioner, host of the Healthful Pursuit Podcast, and best-selling author of The Keto Diet & Keto for Women. I want to live in a world where every woman has access to knowledge to better her health.

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