What Is Ketosis?
Ketosis: it’s the state in which your body runs on ketones instead of on glucose. While these scientific terms may sound like gobbledygook now, once you understand what they mean and actually spend some time living in ketosis you’ll find yourself enamored with this particular way of being. Accelerated weight loss, more energy, and even improved mood and focus are just some of the perks of being in ketosis.
Set your skepticism aside. Ketosis isn’t just a part of a fad diet nor is it a scheme. It’s been prescribed by doctors to help lose excess body fat, treat childhood epilepsy, and help lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. You’ve likely also seen the results of ketosis on magazine covers, the big screen, or even on social media when someone you haven’t seen since high school loses 80 pounds.
The great thing about ketosis is that it’s accessible to anyone who’s will to put in the effort to try it. And, unlike drugs that promise weight loss or mind altering experiencing, ketosis is all natural and the process of getting into ketosis entails doing what you’d do if you just wanted to live a healthier lifestyle. So, rather than doubt testimonials, you can just try being in ketosis for yourself. Here’s how.
Getting Into Ketosis
If you’re eating enough carbohydrates then your body turns those carbs into a simple sugar called glucose. Glucose travels the body providing energy to cells with the aid of a hormone called insulin. Alternatively, you can lower your carb intake to 5% of the calories you consume daily, which is roughly 30 grams for most people. When that happens, your body will burn all of its stored glucose and begin to transform fat into ketone bodies in the liver.
Ketosis is achieved once the level of ketones in your blood is between 0.5–3.0 mmol/L. This typically takes one to three days. During this time, certain negative symptoms may be experienced. This period is known as "keto flu". It's a result of the body adjusting to being in ketosis. Some symptoms include fatigue, stomach pain, difficulty sleeping, and decreased mental abilities. Keto flu, if experienced, passes quickly.
Being in ketosis may also change your body's mineral balance in such a way that you experience muscle cramps and stomach pain. This can be remedied by consuming 3,000–4,000 mg of sodium, 1,000 mg of potassium, and 300 mg of magnesium daily. Alternatively, drinking water with added salt may also relieve these symptoms.
Having a keto flu, however, is not how you test whether or not you’re in ketosis. The typical method is using keto strips, which are strips that test the amount of ketones you have in your urine. You either submerge the strip in collected urine or insert the strip directly into the urine stream. The keto strip then changes colors and you compare it to a guide that is usually printed on the side of the keto strip packaging.
Being in Ketosis
When you're in ketosis, one of the first things you notice is that your energy levels are more consistent. That's because the source of your energy, ketones, are themselves more consistent. Uniike glucose, you won't experience and food comas or sugar crashes when you're in ketosis. Additionally, you won't have any blood sugar spikes, so you won't become tired, unfocused, or hungry again soon after eating.
Then there’s the near instant weight loss. That’s caused by the fact that you burn up all your glycogen, which is a form of glucose that your body stores for the purpose of having fuel right when you need it. Glycogen retains water, so in the first couple days that you’re in ketosis you’ll find yourself dropping a couple pounds just from losing water weight. That’s weight that you’ll gain back if you start consuming carbs again, but until you do that water weight will stay off.
Then there’s the accelerated weight loss that results from your body using its own fat as its primary source of energy. This is one of the biggest perks of being in ketosis. As one study by the National Institute for Health (NIH) showed, ketones suppress a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is one of the hormones that control hunger. As a result, when you're in ketosis you feel full more often, and you're also able to cultivate an awareness of what it feels like to feel full and actually eat when you're hungry as opposed to eating mindlessly, out of boredom, or even just out of habit. Ketones also increase the presence of cholecystokinin (CCK), which also plays a part in keeping you full longer.
Staying In Ketosis
Not all carbs are created equal. So, when you’re in ketosis, you need to measure the total carbs vs net carbs in the foods that you consume. Total carbs are the total number of carbs in your food; net carbs are the number of carbs that actually count toward your daily carb intake. Fiber is not digested in such a way that it gets turned into glucose; neither are many types of sugar alcohols. So, subtract the grams of fiber or sugar alcohols from the total carbs and you end up with the net carbs per serving.
Sugar alcohols, however, aren’t all the same. Erythritol, for example, has five net carbs for per 100 grams, but maltitol, xylitol, aspartame, are 67, 60, and 85 net carbs per 100 grams respectively. The result is that if you start to indulge on candies sweetened with xylitol you risk getting knocked out of ketosis.
There are, however, a few tricks that you can use to stay in ketosis if you end up feeling like you’re going to get knocked out. One of the things you learn if you want to know how to eat sweets on the keto diet is that if you do enough cardio, particularly high intensity interval training, you can burn up all the glucose in your body. There is even a technique among those who practice the ketogenic diet known as targeted ketosis, where you eat some carbs before or after working out so that you can push yourself to workout harder.
You can also consume exogenous ketones, which, like the name says, are ketones that are created outside of your body. Most often taking the form of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), a ketone body that the human organism naturally makes on its own. BHB supplements are useful if you want improved energy or clarity, need to stay in ketosis, or need help getting into ketosis in the first place.
Of course, you can also always just eat some more fat. Nut butters are a popular choice; and pork rinds are a less healthy route as well. One of the most popular picks among ketosis enthusiasts is MCT oil. MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides, a form of fat that, due to its shorter length, gets turned into fat faster by the body. Just one serving could be enough to give you a blast of energy as well as keep you in ketosis. MCT oil can also contribute to fat loss by producing the hormones that promotes feelings of fullness, YY and leptin.
Health Benefits of Ketosis
There are many conditions that are associated with or aggravated by having excess body fat. As a result, changing one's lifestyle to be in ketosis more often than not may lessen the likelihood of developing or exasperating conditions such as type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. There are also, as research suggests, benefits to powering the brain using ketones rather than glucose, which may prove to be promising in reducing one’s susceptibility to brain cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
Currently, over 400 million people are the world live with type 2 diabetes. Also known as adult-onset diabetes, type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that entails regular disruption of your body's insulin levels to such a degree that one cannot maintain normal blood sugar levels. Studies have also shown that, unfortunately, more and more children are developing type 2 diabetes thanks to the rise of childhood obesity. Some symptoms of type 2 diabetes include fatigue, increased first and hunger, blurred vision, and even weight loss due to an inability to fuel one's body using glucose, which results in the body using alternative sources of energy. Several studies by the NIH have suggested that a ketogenic diet may severely lower one’s need for diabetes medication, and potentially eliminate the need for medication at all.
The CDC has reported that 610,000 deaths are caused per year by cardiovascular disease, making it the leading cause of death among Americans. A study by the NIH has shown that a ketogenic diet may help reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. When a disease causes one in four deaths, anything you can do to lower your chances of succumbing to that disease is something you should do.
According to the Epilepsy Society, the ketogenic diet may be used to reduce the prevalence and/or severity of seizures in children. 70% of children use anti-epileptic drugs, but these drugs may not go far enough. For such cases, the ketogenic diet may be helpful. Ketones, as well as decanoic acid, which is also produced when the body is in ketosis, may help reduce seizures.
Ketosis and Weight Loss
Ketosis left its mark on the popular consciousness thanks to its role in helping countless individuals lose weight. High-profile celebrities like Halle Berry and Gwyneth Paltrow live a ketogenic lifestyle. In other cases, superstars like Chris Pratt owe their transformations to either strictly ketogenic diets or diets such as the paleo diet that entail dipping in and out of ketosis regularly.
Being in ketosis leads to accelerated fat loss. It also makes it easier to maintain fat loss because you feel fuller longer and your energy levels are up. Additionally, simply the dietary changes required to be in ketosis lead you to losing weight and feeling healthier. That’s because to get into and stay in ketosis you have to avoid foods with added sugar.That means cutting out sugary drinks, most sauces and dressings, and even being cautious when it comes to foods like bacon and jerky.
The only thing between you and a better life might be your love of pasta and bread! It's certainly not your allegiance to chocolate because that sweet, delight is actually recommended for the keto diet because it's so high in fat. In fact, the ketogenic diet is very accomodating. You can do a vegan keto diet thanks to the abundance of options provided by foods like avocados, tofu, and nut butters. If you're in a pinch there are keto friendly fast foods. And if money's a concern you can even do the keto diet on a budget.
There’s actually a lot of overlap between how to do keto well and how to do keto affordably. Having meal plans will keep both your finances and your carb intake within the proper range. Avoid shopping hungry, just as you should avoid eating or preparing food hungry, so that you make good eating decisions.Bring your own lunch (or any meal) so that you exercise greater control over your nutrition as well as your money. Make your own coffee too maintain control over your bank account and the amount of sweeteners and dairy that goes into eat serving. And make sure to both shop and eat mindfully.
Of course, if ketosis is going to be a part of your weight loss plan then you have to do more than just monitor your carb intake. You’ll want to be doing strength training to burn more calories, build strength, and achieve that lean look once you lose the desired amount of body fat. There’s also a cornucopia of reasons for why you should do cardio on the keto diet.
Cardio burn calorie, by choosing to expose yourself to stress you end up training yourself to weather stress better, and doing cardio improves your metabolism. Doing cardio two or more times per week for more than 45 minutes also releases human growth hormone, which aides in building and repairing muscles and maintaining energy levels. Reducing your sugar consumption also raises the amount of HGH your body produces, so the ketogenic diet provides a double wallop of HGH gains.
If weight loss is one of your primary motivations for being in ketosis then you also need to know at least eight reasons you're not losing weight on the keto diet.You want to maintain a caloric deficit, which is easier if you're doing strength training, cardio, and maintaining ketosis. But you also want to make sure you're not getting too few calories since that too will impede your progress by making your body slow down its metabolism and even store fat. Eating mindfully is another way to make sure your diet goes well since it means only eating when you're hungry, as well as not binging when you sit down for your meal.
One obstacle to successful fat loss may actually be your own misconceptions of what fat loss looks like. For one, just weighing yourself isn't necessarily the best way to track how well you're doing. You may be gaining muscle rather than losing body fat, which is a good trade off to make. You may also have unrealistic expectations of how quickly the weight comes off. Some believe that because a pound of fat is 3,500 calories that burning that many calories leads to losing a pound of fat as soon as the 3,500 mark is reached. It takes more time than that for calories burned to translate into weight loss. Additionally, given that the body is a dynamic system, it's unrealistic to expect 3,500 to always be the amount of calories you have to burn to lose a pound of fat. Lifehacker reports that a better estimate is 7,000 calories burned for every pound of fat.
If you’ve been in ketosis long enough you may find that you don’t want want to a non-ketogenic way of living. It just feels too good to have improved mood, focus, and energy levels regularly. Plus, losing weight and keeping it off is also a real big perk that’s hard to abandon. Besides, not having bread, pasta, sweets, sugary drinks, and potatoes, etc isn’t really that big of a trade off if it means feeling and looking better. Especially if just having one serving of bread is going to make you gain enough water weight that you’re going to look a little puffy.
All these reasons and more make it clear why so many people who do the ketogenic diet end up adopting a ketogenic lifestyle. That’s good news because the NIH did a study on the benefits of recruiting participants with friends and increasing social support for weight loss and maintenance. Of those surveyed, 95% of people who commit to weight loss regimenes in groups end up finishing their programs and that 66% of those people keep the weight off. This is compared to people who do it on their own, 76% of which finish the program with only 24% keeping the weight off. If the family, friends, and partners who keto together keep the weight off together, that’s just another reason to share the joy of ketosis with others.