An important thing to remember with diet is that what works well for one person may not work well for another. However, there are diet frameworks that seem to work for groups of people and ketosis is a strategy that many have chosen to adopt either cyclically or long term. Here is a beginner’s guide to ketosis to get you started if you have decided that the diet may be beneficial for you.
What is Ketosis
Ketosis happens when liver glycogen is depleted and the body turns to fatty acids for fuel. The primary driver of the state is a low carbohydrate intake. Often, ketosis also requires a low protein and higher fat intake. Ketosis can also be achieved by fasting. The creation of ketones is a by-product of this metabolic state. Ketones are used for fuel just like glucose is used for fuel. Ketones, however, tend to have some added benefits.
What Role Does Ketosis Play in Health?
Ketosis has a positive impact on hormone regulation, specifically blood sugar regulation. If someone eats sugar or refined carbohydrates at every meal they are on a blood sugar roller coaster. The sugar and carbs spike blood sugar which triggers fat storage and future hunger. The blood sugar dysregulation that comes from carbohydrates causes hunger and cravings that can lead to fat storage due to a hypercaloric environment.
A person who avoids carbohydrates while keeping their protein moderate and getting adequate levels of fat is getting all of the micronutrients they need, assuming that they are consuming enough calories while keeping their blood sugar stable.
Starting The Ketogenic Diet
1. How do I start and what can I eat?
You can start by calculating your stats using the keto calculator. Carbohydrates should be <50 grams a day. Protein and fat should be adjusted according to your height, weight, and activity level.
Once your have your macros -fats, proteins, and carbs, head over to cronometer where you can start tracking your food intake. Cronometer is excellent because you can customize your daily nutritional targets. Input your macros and you are ready to begin your keto diet!
Next, it’s time to plan your meals. You can check out the keto diet page to get an idea of what foods to look for at the grocery store.
2. What foods should I avoid?
The keto diet is basically high fat and low carb. Avoid foods that are starchy and breaded. Look out for sauces that are high in sugar. Your carbs should mostly be coming from vegetables and nuts and you should keep your net carbs (regular carbs minus dietary fiber) under 50g/day and ideally closer to 20g/day. When in doubt, add some fat to your meals. The ketogenic diet isn’t just about eating fat and shedding fat, it is about improving your overall health. You can remain in ketosis while eating hot dogs and processed cheese but these foods often contain unhealthy chemicals which will not help your body THRIVE. When making food choices use your common sense. Eat real, organic, local, fresh ingredients.
3. How long will it take to reach ketosis?
How long it will take to get into ketosis can vary from person to person. Some people can get into ketosis after a day however it takes most people a few weeks to adapt and sometimes longer. Be patient and keep your carb count as low as possible. There are several factors that can inhibit ketosis:
Protein -It is important to not consume too much protein because excess amino acids can turn into glucose. You can use the keto calculator to determine your maximum protein intake
Exercise -Exercise is great but lactate can inhibit ketosis. While lactate has many benefits if your goal is ketosis you may want to suspend it temporarily. You can go for a walk instead which does not produce lactate
Artificial Sweeteners -These can raise insulin and increase the number of bacteria in the gut that create glucose, both of which can block ketosis
4. Can I drink alcohol?
Alcohol is allowed on the ketogenic diet, however, be aware of the calories and carbs it contains. Alcohol is broken down in the body before fat which means that while you are drinking alcohol you are not burning fat! Also, be aware that when you are eating low carb you will have a lower tolerance for alcohol so pace yourself and avoid drinks that are high in carbs such as beer and sweet wine.
5. How long should I stay on the keto diet?
You can stay on the ketogenic diet for as long as you want! Some people increase their carb intake when they have reached their weight-loss goals while others adopt the ketogenic way of eating into their everyday lives.
6. Will keto help with weight loss?
Yes, when you avoid sugars and starches your blood sugar stabilizes and the levels of insulin (the fat storing hormone) in your body drop. Lower insulin levels also leave you feeling more satiated.
Transitioning to Low Carb
6. I just started and I feel awful. What am I doing wrong?
If you haven’t eaten low carb before, your body will take a week or more to adjust to the keto lifestyle. During this time you may experience symptoms commonly referred to as the keto-flu. Don’t worry they will go away. During the transitional stage, stay hydrated, don’t over-exert yourself, and maintain an adequate salt intake.
7. I’ve stopped losing weight, what should I do?
It is natural to hit a plateau at times when it comes to weight loss. Try to only weigh yourself once a week and keep track of your macros with a food log such as cronometer. Be patient and try to keep your carb intake on the lower end 20g/day or less.
The Science Behind Keto
8. How does ketosis work?
Ketosis is the state in which you burn fat for fuel. Fat and protein are ideal sources of fuel for the body because they burn slowly which allows for a steady stream of energy. Ketosis is a normal metabolic function triggered by a lack of glycogen stores.
9. Can ketosis fight cancer?
Some people recommend ketosis for cancer claiming that cancer relies solely on glucose from the blood as a source of fuel. This is false. Cancer can use ketones and lactate for fuel as well. However, there are currently several trials underway funded by the National Cancer Institute looking at the ketogenic diet as an adjunct therapy for cancer treatment.
Description: A Beginners Guide to Ketosis