What Is Ketosis And The Ketogenic Diet
Trying to get back to a higher state of health is truly a journey. No matter what anyone says, there’s really no overnight solution. So if you wake up and really want to change your life, that’s the first thing that you have to understand. Yet there’s still hope for all weight loss fans – because amongst all the nonsense and hype, there are many different things that really do work. Ketosis and the ketogenic diet is just one of them – so let’s get started.
First, What Is Ketosis?
Ketosis is simply when the body is in a state where it burns fat for fuel (energy) rather than burning glucose (a type of sugar). We won’t bore you with the complete chemistry update, but basically burning fat for energy can really rev up your metabolism. You’re bypassing having the liver process all of that glucose, which can of course be a good thing.
Now as a part of that process of your body burning fat for energy it produces more ‘ketones‘. These are just natural substances that your body normally produces when fat is being broken down – such as acetone and acetoacetate etc. These are used in different areas of the body – your kidneys and heart for example would rather use ketones than glucose. But most cells in your body are able to use them for at least part of their energy. The rest it can generate it from other processes (like ‘gluconeogenesis’).
Why do we care about ketones?
Well, mainly because there is one ketone in particular, i.e. acetone, that the body can’t use. This just passes out of the body, mainly in your urine although some can also leave when you breath out (this can actually give you bad breath temporarily while the body adjusts).
This is useful to know because detecting acetone in our urine is how we know our body is in a state of ketosis.
So What Is The Ketogenic Diet?
Simply put, the ketogenic diet is losing weight by taking advantage of ketosis.
Let’s be clear for a moment here — ketosis isn’t necessary. You can still lose weight without going into ketosis, and we’re not saying that ketosis is supposed to be the one true way or anything like that. However, there are some significant benefits for those trying to lose weight, so it’s not a bad idea to look into “keto” as it’s often referred to by fitness fans.
A ketogenic diet that focuses on keeping you in ketosis will help you burn fat nearly immediately. This can cause rapid weight loss, even when you used to be stalled in the past. The ketogenic factor is actually why the Atkins Diet became so successful so quickly. People cut down their carbohydrate intake to the point where the body didn’t have a choice but to get used to burning ketones over glucose, and weight loss was very rapid.
The other benefit of ketosis is that it tends to blunt the hunger response in the body. If you’re constantly snacking, then you’re constantly having the body focus on digestion rather than utilizing the energy that it already has. You are going to be able to eat plenty and still be able to move forward with the rest of your life!
Also, when you’re trying to lose weight and build muscle, you’re going to need to eat more protein. Ketosis will allow you to free up protein since it won’t have to be converted to glucose as much for energy – because you’re using stored fat instead.
How Long Should We Stay in Ketosis
While you can indeed stay on a ketogenic diet for the rest of your life, there are some pitfalls in doing so. For starters, you may become even more sensitive to glucose intake, and this can make it hard for lifestyle reasons. If you ever want to enjoy a warm bowl of potatoes again without having glucose spikes, constant ketosis might not be what you want to actually pursue.
Your body also tends to follow a set point, after which it can be difficult to lose weight because the body is already comfortable with what it’s being given. You might have to mix things up. Some periods of time you might want to be in ketosis, while other periods of time you might want to actually go ahead and break out of ketosis.
You can always measure ketosis with KetoStix, the strips that measure the level of acetone in your urine. They’re not always reliable, but they’ll give you a fair idea of what’s going on.
Going Into Ketosis
To get started, you’re going to need to cut your carbs way back. So gone are the potatoes, the super starchy vegetables like turnips and onions, sweet potatoes and other high carb things like that. Also, you will need to get rid of the bread and pasta and most fruits. This isn’t a diet for everyone, and if you’re really going to aim for ketosis then you need to make sure that you’re really going to be committed to it.
You might be wondering at this point, “Well, what CAN I eat?”
There are quite a few foods out there — you can eat meat of all kinds, enjoy coconut oil in just about every form, butter, skim milk, eggs, tomatoes, cheese… you get the idea. You’re going to be carb counting, so make sure that you look at your labels. There are plenty of different tables out there that cover the amount of carbs in most foods.
You really want to also think about cutting out most processed foods. We know that you’re busy, and that’s understandable. However, if you really want to burn fat you’re going to have to start thinking about more than just convenience. Ketosis gives results as long as you follow the plan. It pays to cook good food in larger batches – then you can have the same meal again a few days later or even freeze your own meals for those busy days.
We recommend keeping track of what actually goes in your mouth so you have some data to look back on. Aim for 80% of your calories coming from fat, 15% from protein and 5% from carbs. That’ll give you access to say, carrots but not necessarily bread.
Again, there are a lot of low carb products out there, but don’t get hooked on that. It’s better to go with whole foods that you can prepare yourself and know what’s in them. It’s not just about carbs at all. It’s about the chemicals that are going into your body. Your time in ketosis will actually teach you quite a bit about chemicals in foods because you’ll always be reading labels.
This is a great time to explore your fat loss goals, so don’t forget to exercise well, sleep right, and enjoy ketosis to the fullest!