Graham Mackenzie is a realtor from Boise, Idaho, an endurance and ultra-marathon runner, and a dedicated user of Biosense® for the past year. Here he reveals how he got started on Biosense® and the low-carb, fat burn lifestyle, how it has transformed his athletic performance and health for the better, and how Biosense® has made it possible to keep reaping the rewards.
How did you first learn about and start using Biosense®?
I actually came into it from a different way than most people, but when I discovered it, I was just blown away. I’m an endurance runner, and a friend of mine reached out to me on Facebook and said, “you know, you’ve really got to start burning fat for fuel. It’ll help your running and it’ll help change your world.” But at the time, I was reluctant. I was still very much thinking we need carbs. But a year later, I listened to him, and I wish I would have listened to him sooner. After six weeks of using it, the way I felt and how much weight I’d actually lost was incredible. As an endurance runner, you’d actually think I shouldn’t have any extra weight on, but if you look at marathon runners, a high percentage are overweight. So I basically realized that we’ve all been lied to. They say you have to eat all of these carbs, that carbs are essential and fat is bad. But my experience was so different from that, so I decided that I had to learn more about it.
What are some benefits you’ve experienced firsthand using Biosense®?
I’m 53 years old, and I feel better now than I ever have. I lost 31 lbs. in seven weeks when I switched to burning fat for fuel, and what I learned from it personally was that the traditional American diet we’ve been told was so great was not true. I developed a new perspective of what causes people to become overweight. I became a citizen scientist and started to study everything I could get my hands on. I learned to read research papers and medical journals and studies, and what I’ve found and why I’ve stayed with it has nothing to do with weight loss. Yes, it changed my weight and body composition. But also, I was not as sore after running and training. I had an Achilles injury that was there for years and years. Even when I wasn’t running it was still there, and that went away. I have ADHD and would get a lot of sensory overload, and I was able to get off of a lot of those medications. My moods really stabilized because I wasn’t hungry all the time. I didn’t have all those glucose swings. I went from eating every hour or two hours and shaking, to being able to go days without eating. I never really chose to do intermittent fasting, but it was just a byproduct, and that changed everything.
Which diet changes have you incorporated since adopting this new lifestyle?
I was probably one of the most carb-addicted people out there. I used to eat pizza three days a week and the other four days I ate pasta. It was nothing for me to eat three bags of candy in an hour. For those people who think that they’re addicted to carbs, there was no one that was more addicted and ate more sugar than I did. Now I eat a lot of meat, and when I’m training hard, I’m eating less than 20 grams of carbs a day. I eat lots of whole foods. My cravings for processed foods and sweets go away after two weeks in ketosis. I don’t snack anymore. I’ll work through lunch because I’m not on a sugar roller coaster. I don’t have to eat as much, and I’m not bloated all the time. When I was training for running, I used to eat an energy gel every half-hour. So for a half-marathon, I’d need four to six gels just to keep going. When I switched, now I can run 20 miles while fasting for 24 hours with no fuel, and as a progression of that, that’s how I’ve gotten into Biosense® and measuring ketones.
How often do you use Biosense®?
It depends on where I am on my journey, so anywhere from four times a day to just a couple of times a week. It just depends on what I have going on.
What do you see as the primary function of Biosense® in your life?
For me, it’s a tool that helps me understand how food impacts my ketone levels and it helps me know how quickly I can get back into ketosis once I’m out. It shows me how different foods impact me, how artificial sweeteners impact me, and how many grams of carbs or sugar I can get away with and still be in ketosis.
How does using Biosense® fit into your lifestyle?
It’s just easier in terms of how to test. I can pretty much test anywhere, and it allows me to test a lot more because it doesn’t cost money every time I use it.
Have you used any other programs in the past to enhance your health or your running performance?
I really haven’t used other programs in the past, other than just reading the common gospel out there about carb loading. It’s all about the carbs, so I think I’m very fortunate that I found this approach really quickly and easily.
How do you use the data you collect from Biosense®?
For me, it’s knowing that I’m in ketosis, knowing how deep I am in ketosis, and finding that sweet spot. There are certain levels that I like to be in that help my running. I want to make sure that if I’m starting training and going to fuel on fat, I want to be in ketosis for a good six weeks straight, and then I find my running is a lot better and a lot easier. More than anything, for me it’s just finding out what’s impacting it. Twenty to 30 ACEs is where I like to be, and the only way I can do that is to really cut back the carbs and do intermittent fasting. Otherwise, typically I’m at 10 or 15, but it’s just knowledge. I like noticing the correlation. If I notice my mood is good, then that means that my ketones are up. So it’s just figuring out the data points and correlation with my energy levels, and also knowing that there’s a point at which if I am too deep in ketosis, then my training suffers. You need a few carbs, and I try to cut back on ketosis if I’m too deep. My body can’t burn fat fast enough and my runs are sluggish.
How long did it take you to see the benefits?
It was a good two weeks of solid ketone readings of 15 or above when I really started to feel good. The hunger went away and the weight loss was pretty consistent. For my running, it took six weeks of being in ketosis for my body to realize that it could do equally as well without the sugar. But for all-around life, I always tell somebody, give me two weeks and your life will change. It happens that quickly. I started sleeping better when I was consistently in ketosis as well.
What have you learned about yourself since using Biosense®?
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that we really don’t need carbs. I went from carbing up on pasta and candy to get through the day and literally be shaky and swearing that that’s just how life was, to realizing that these aches and pains that I woke up with every day didn’t have to be there. Our bodies are designed to burn fat. We do really well on fat for fuel. Everyone claims that they have to eat a lot, they get hungry, they have low blood sugar, but that’s because your body’s been trained that way. You can train your body the other way, and I think that was the biggest eye-opener for me. This is coming from someone who ate every two hours, lots of sugar and carbs, to not being hungry, having a stable mood, better mental clarity, and sleeping better. None of these things have to do with weight loss. The weight loss is great, but if people understood how this could impact their life in general, they would be shocked and sad that they didn’t do it sooner.