So you’ve heard about the wonders of the ketogenic diet, but aren’t completely sold on it yet.
Give up carbs? That HAS to be bad for you?
Isn’t “ketosis” bad for you?
In this article I’m going to be your professor for all things KETOSIS.
What Is Ketosis?
Ketosis is a metabolic process in which the liver produces ketone bodies from stored fats in the muscles.
Those ketone bodies, or “ketones” will be burned to produce the energy for the body. The process of ketosis takes place when the body is depleted of carbohydrates, which the body is currently using as a fuel source (known as glycolysis). When this depletion happens, the body then relies on fats to be used as a fuel source.
Getting Into Ketosis
Entering ketosis, or becoming “keto adapted”, takes place when your metabolism is transferred to relying on fat-based sources for your main source of fuel, rather than depending on sugar or glucose sources.
The time it will take you to enter ketosis will depend on how high your carbohydrate intake currently is.
The more carbs you eat, the longer it will take. Those addicted to sugar (yes, carbs are sugar) take anywhere between 2 weeks and 6 months to completely train your body to get into the process.
Other than carb intake, there are several factors affecting ketosis, so
be sure to customize your plan of action. Consider your lifestyle, dietary history, goals and preferences while determining your plan of action.
To enter ketosis, you will need to completely deplete your glycogen (sugar and carb) stores.
To do this, you will need to allow yourself to consume as few carbohydrates as possible.
Keeping your intake to 20-30 grams a day will allow your body to use up the glycogen stores.
Once your body has burned through your stores, it will need to find a new way to fuel the body. To do this, your liver will used stored fats to begin to produce ketone bodies, which will then be used as fuel.
When your body gets used to the state of ketosis, you will no longer feel hungry and weak even when you are on a low-carb diet.
On a Standard Keto Diet of 20-30 grams of carb intake per day, it usually takes 5 days to get in to ketosis.
Ketosis In A Nutshell
Ketosis is the process of burning fat, instead of carbohydrates for energy.
The state of ketosis is the optimal fat burning state, and actually increases
your fat burning capability.
Foolproof Tips For Getting Into Ketosis
I’ve written about ketosis killers in the past, so how about a few tips for getting in ketosis!
PLAY DOWN YOUR CARB INTAKE
Mainly, you need to quit the carbs, minimizing your consumption to 5 to 10% of your daily intake. Optimally, your carb intake should be between 20-30 grams, but this will be customized to each person.
ADD SOME COCONUT OIL TO YOUR DIET
Coconut Oil contains MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) fats, which help to
boost ketosis. The liver can easily absorb and immediately convert the MCTs
into ketones. According to a study, consuming coconut oil is the best way to
elevate ketone levels in Alzheimer patients. Begin with one teaspoon daily,
then add it up to two tablespoons daily within a week.
MAXIMIZE YOUR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Be active! During a workout, your body first uses up your glycogen stores.
Then, your liver is forced to work hard to produce more ketones to fuel your
body as there won’t be any glycogen or carb that could be used to refill them.
A study shows that exercising with an empty stomach clearly increases ketone levels of the body. However, you may initially experience a decreased performance level as your body adjusts to the new fuel source.
INCREASE YOUR HEALTHY-FAT CONSUMPTION
Eating a high-fat diet boost ketone levels and helps you attain ketosis. The
classic keto diet for treating epilepsy contains 85 to 90% of fat, while weight loss keto diet contains 80%. It is important to consume healthy, plant and animal-based fats like olive oil, coconut oil, butter, ground beef, chicken broth, etc.
According to a study, epileptic children sometimes fast for one or two days
before starting a keto diet. Popular fasting approaches, other than the regular fasting, include intermittent fasting (regular short-term fasting) and fat fasting (consumption of 1000 calories daily 90% of which come from fat). These alternative fasting approaches mimic the effects of fasting.
CONTINUE MODERATE PROTEIN INTAKE
Maintain a moderate protein intake to maximize the production of ketones.
Reduce protein consumption too drastically will negatively affect your body, as the body needs some amino acids to function properly and maintain its muscle mass in a shortage of carbs. Consuming more than your optimal intake may suppress the ketone production.
Want To Get Into Fat-Burning In 24 Hours?
Though it will not be easy, nor will it be fun, there are proven ways to enter ketosis as fast as possible.
First, your goal is to cut down your carb intake into less than 20 net grams.
The less carbohydrates you eat, the faster you will enter ketosis. Moderate physical activity can also help at this stage. This way, you will easily burn the small amount of carbohydrates into your system, allowing your liver to then then your produce more ketones for energy.
It is also best to eat more fat while you are doing this. At this stage, it’s not necessary to count calories, just carbs. The main focus during the first few days in the keto diet is entering ketosis, not losing weight.
You can eat as much fat as you can to satisfy your hunger, (you can also maintain your protein intake to keep your muscles healthy) just not carbohydrates.
Eating extra fat will actually help your ketosis process, by increasing fat deposits in the liver.
This will be very helpful once your body switches to fat burning.
Doing all of these will not be that easy though. You will experience the effects of carbohydrates deprivation. You will be very tempted to eat carbs because of hunger. Don’t give in.
Even a small amount of carbs can knock you out of ketosis. You will also experience some negative effects due to loss of minerals in your system. These effects are normal, and can be fought.
Maintain your high fat intake, drink lots of water and increase your consumption of salt and magnesium.
If you complete all of these actions, you will easily enter the ketosis state.
Once you are in and your body is adjusted to very low carbohydrates, then you can adjust your calorie intake accordingly to get to your desired weight loss.
What Are The Signs You’re In Ketosis?
Once you have achieved ketosis, you will notice changes in your body, physical state, and mental state. If you are working towards ketosis, and notice these changes, you may be in ketosis! The only way to know, for sure, that you are in ketosis, is to test for it.
Increased Mental Clarity
Many keto dieter report an increase in mental clarity once they
achieve ketosis. Among other reasons, this happens because the
brain actually prefers being fueled by ketosis. The process actually
increases the capacity of your brain cells!
You will notice a sudden change of odor in your breath when ketosis
starts. Bad breath is one of the ketosis indicators, because it means
an increase in your body’s ketone level. The specific ketone that
causes this unwanted breath smell is acetone. Although it’s not a
great side effect, you’ll be happy when you experience bad breath
because it means your keto diet is finally working!
While on a ketogenic diet, many people say that they lost their ap-
petite to eat. They don’t feel hungry despite the very low-carbohy-
drates intake. You’ll experience the same thing as well. This is a result of the increased amount of fats that you eat. Also, the brain is
believed to be affected by the ketones, suppressing the urge to eat.
When you achieve ketosis, your body will begin dumping water
weight that it was storing. This, along with your change in diet changes causes an increase in thirst.
That’s a good thing! Make sure you’re getting enough water and electrolytes. Since you’ll be eating less fruit and carbs, in general for the first few days or weeks, sometimes it’s a good idea to supplement with electrolytes.
Decline in Physical Performance, Followed By an
Increase In Pysical Performance
If you are engaged in sports or any physical activities, and you no-
tice a decline in your performance, then you are already in ketosis.
This is caused by the low-carb intake. The glycogen, from which
your body gets energy from is depleting. Nutrients and minerals are
also lost because of reduction of fluid in your system. That is why
you will feel weaker in training and workouts. This will pass, and
eventually your body will have more energy from your keto diet, and
will experience an increase in your physical performance!
A positive sign of getting into ketosis is that you’ll notice significant
weight loss in just a few weeks of dieting caused by the burning of
stored fats in the body, and your body’s release of water weight.
If you are working towards ketosis, and notice these changes, you
may be in ketosis! The only way to know, for sure, that you are in
ketosis, is to test for it.
Testing For Ketosis
When it comes to Ketosis, there is only one way to know that you are in it: Testing!
Currently, there are three main ways to test for ketosis; Urine testing, blood testing, and breath testing.
Urine Testing: Ketone Test Strips
This test is easy to take. You simply need to pee on the stick, tap
any excess urine off, then wait a certain amount of time (usually
45-60 seconds) to see if there are detectable levels in your urine.
Refer to the package for amount of ketone bodies in the urine after a
certain time from peeing on the stick. Normally, the darker the purple color on the strip, the more ketone bodies.
Urine strips can be a great method if you are just starting to get into
ketosis and want to see the transition, but aren’t the best long term or consistent measure once you’ve been in ketosis for a longer period of time.
Pros: Quick, Easy, and Affordable
Cons: Can get messy. Only accurate some of the time. Not a precise measurement.
Ketone Urine Strips can be purchased online, but initially you are
going to want to have some handy while you wait for your online
order. You can find these in your local drugstore, stored with the
Blood Test: Ketone Meter
Blood testing is the most accurate way to measure your ketones.
Once again, this test can be purchased online, or found at your local
drugstore with the diabetes supplies.
Testing levels of ketones by looking at amounts of beta-hydroxybutyrate may be done in the blood. This can be done simply and at home just the same way those with diabetes check their blood glucose. You will prick your finger, squeeze a drop of blood out, tap it on a little stick and have the machine tell you how much is BHB is in your blood.
Unlike the urine test, your blood is a very tightly regulated system and doesn’t get diluted or changed with different factors of hydration. This is a very consistently accurate way to measure your ketone levels.
That being said, some people may have strong aversion to pricking
themselves with a needle and using their blood for a measurement.
Also, the strips are considerably expensive, usually $5-$10 per test.
This can add up if you are testing a couple times a day to track
changes in ketone levels.
Cons: Needles, Expensive
Breath Test: Ketone Breath Meter
One of the key advantages of a Ketone Breath Meter is that it
is reusable and a one time purchase. Though you will have a
significant up-front cost, the unlimited use brings down the cost per
test over time.
To read your test results, plug the Ketone Breath Meter into a USB
port or into the included battery pack. Wait until the unit “warms
up.” Blow into unit until it starts flashing that it is reading your
breath acetone levels. Either use included software or the color and
number of times the color is flashing (less flashing = less acetone
per color level, more flashing = more acetone per color). Note
color and number of flashing to be able to measure relative levels.
Compare to other times.
Pros: Reusable device. One-time expense. No bodily fluids necessary.
Cons: Indirect measurement and sometimes Inaccurate
measurement. Takes a much longer than urine or blood tests to
get a reading.
Ketone Levels: What You Need To Know
Especially in the beginning of your keto diet, don’t get too caught up in the specifics of your ketone readings. Being aware of whether or not you are in ketosis is important, but, unless doctor directed, you won’t need to focus on the level of ketones you are achieving.
Just like many beginners will believe that the more your limit your intake, the faster you will lose weight, it is easy to fall into a similar trap when thinking about ketone levels. In reality, higher levels of ketones may actually slow down fat loss. Those who maintain trace levels of
ketones will lose fat more efficiently.
The Most Important Thing About Your Ketone Level
Don’t Chase Ketone Levels, Chase Results!!
Another important fact is that your ketone levels will change throughout the day. Those new to the Keto Diet, often test their ketone levels numerous times throughout the day. This not only lets you determine when your levels are highest, but also allows you to very closely track your ketosis, especially if there is an accidental slip out of it.
Staying In Ketosis
The great thing about ketosis is that it’s not just a diet, it’s literally a measurable state of metabolism, and you can always test where you stand. Literally,knowing whether or not your body is creating ketones is the most important factor in the ketogenic diet .
If there aren’t any ketones present, you still haven’t entered ketosis.
No matter what, remember that eating fewer processed, high-glycemic carbs is a great choice for you and your health in the long run. Maintaining ketosis can take a little trial and error and extra tracking at the beginning, but you’ll ultimately reap the long-term rewards from this lifestyle shift.
Getting OUT Of Ketosis
When you first start your keto diet, you will want to stick the the Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) for at least one year. In a year’s time, you will be able to get a handle on your cravings, your danger food, and social pressures.
Once you have completed a year of the SKD, you can begin to look at the variations of the Keto Diet, to see if one is a better fit for you. Often, this is not the case. Only special circumstances lead to a shift in your Keto DIet.
One change that you wll want to implement is a short period of cycling out of ketosis. Unless your body calls for it before you have successfully completed a year, it is not recommended in the beginning of your diet.
This is because you are still mastering the diet, and your sugar/carbohydrate addiction. There are no proven long-term negative side effects of ketosis, so cycling out is not required.
Why Would You Ever Want To Get OUT Of Ketosis?
Once your body has become keto adapted, you will be experiencing many
positive side effects. After maintaining ketosis for some time, you may notice a stall in your weight loss.
When you started the Ketogenic Diet, you reset your metabolism to work in a completely new way. This reset gave your a body a jump-start, and increased your fat-burning ability. To give your body a wake-up
call, cycling out of ketosis may be a good choice.
Adding Carbs to Cycle Out of Ketosis
Even if your body is responding well to ketosis, I recommend cycling out of ketosis every 30 days. This will reset your metabolism, and allow your body to restore its store of glycogen.
Since your muscles and liver will be depleted of glycogen, the carbohydrates you are ingesting will go straight to refilling them instead of being added to your fat stores. Because of this, your caloric and carbohydrate intake will be much higher than your normal diet. A typical “refeed” or carb-load” will consist of 450-600g of carbo- hydrates.
It’s important to remember that a cheat day can easily kick you out of ketosis.
Once you are out, you will be ingesting large amounts of fat each day, without the fat burning capabilities of ketosis. During a carb cycle, you will still want to be aware of what you are eating, and how those foods affect your body and your metabolism. Ideally, you will be eating complex carbohydrates, with limited fat, sucrose and fructose, and carbs from nutrient rich sources.
To transition out of ketosis, it is recommend to ingest carbs from nutrient rich sources. These include:
• Sweet Potatoes
• Carrot or Beet Juice
Don’t just buy a pizza, or jump right into a bowl of pasta. Carbohydrates are tricky, and the more you eat, the harder it is to go back to your ketogenic diet.
Just like taking a day off at the gym, you want to take a break, not stop your
health and wellness journey.
How Long to Stay Out Of Ketosis
It is recommended to keep your carb cycle to a maximum of 2 days or 48
hours. You can achieve the desired results in as little as 24 hours, but many
practitioners like to take an entire weekend for the process. Taking a weekend allows you to participate in social gatherings, and isn’t dictated by the regimented schedule of a work day.
It is important to note that the longer you stay out of ketosis, the harder it will be to re-enter it. 24 hours out of ketosis allows for a quick reset, without having to go through the full process of carbohydrate starvation again.
Resuming Your Ketogenic Diet
Re-entering ketosis is as easy as resuming your ketogenic diet. Once you resume your high-fat, low-carb intake, your body will be signaled to re-enter into an aggressive fat burning state.
You should notice a high amount of ketones being produced for a few days following your return to the ketogentic diet.