A ketogenic diet (keto) is a very low-carb diet, which turns the body into a fat-burning machine. It has many potential benefits for weight loss, health and performance, but also some potential initial side effects.
A ketogenic diet is similar to other strict low-carb diets, like the Atkins diet or LCHF (low carb, high fat). These diets often end up being ketogenic more or less by accident. The main difference between strict LCHF and keto is that protein is restricted in the latter.
A keto diet is designed specifically to result in ketosis. It’s possible to measure and adapt to reach optimal ketone levels for health, weight loss, or for physical and mental performance.
A keto diet is well known for being a low carb diet, where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy. It’s referred to as many different names – ketogenic diet, low carb diet, low carb high fat (LCHF), etc.
When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin.
• Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so that it will be chosen over any other energy source.
• Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body.
Since the glucose is being used as a primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored.
Typically, on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy. By lowering the intake of carbs, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis. Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver.
The end goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories but starvation of carbohydrates.Our bodies are incredibly adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn fat as the primary energy source.
What is a net Carb?
Starting a Ketogenic lifestyle means you will need to learn how to read a food label, specifically how to find a NET CARB.
Some experts will suggest you count TOTAL carbs which is fine if thats what you would like to do, however it is easier to count net carbs and the method we suggest (you can do this however you prefer though)
If you are counting TOTAL CARBS it is recommended you stay below 50 total grams per day.
If you are counting NET CARBS it is recommended you stay below 30 Net Carb grams per day.
Although every body is different these are a general suggestion.
You take TOTAL CARBS and subtract DIETARY FIBER to get NET CARBS. Since dietary fiber doesn’t impact your blood sugar it isn’t counted towards your carb count!
What is Ketosis:
The “keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that it makes the body produce small fuel molecules called “ketones” This is an alternative fuel for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply.
Ketones are produced if you eat very few carbs (that are quickly broken down into blood sugar) and only moderate amounts of protein (excess protein can also be converted to blood sugar). Ketones are produced in the liver, from fat. They are then used as fuel throughout the body, including the brain. The brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day, and it can’t run on fat directly. It can only run on glucose… or ketones.
On a ketogenic diet your entire body switches its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat. Insulin levels become very low and fat burning increases dramatically. It becomes easy to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is obviously great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, like for example less hunger and a steady supply of energy.
When the body produces ketones it’s said to be in ketosis. The fastest way to get there is by fasting – not eating anything – but obviously it’s not possible to fast forever.
A ketogenic diet, on the other hand, can be eaten indefinitely and also results in ketosis. It has many of the benefits of fasting – including weight loss
To get into ketosis you need low levels of the fat-storing hormone insulin. The most important way to do that is to eat a strict low-carb diet, also called a ketogenic diet.
How do you know you’re in ketosis?
It’s possible to measure it by testing urine, blood or breath samples.
But there are also other telltale signs, that requires no testing:
1. Dry mouth.
• Unless you drink enough and get enough electrolytes, like salt, you may feel a dry mouth.
2. Increased thirst.
• Try a cup of bouillon or two daily, plus as much water as you need.
3. Increased urination.
• Another ketone body, acetoacetate, can end up in the urine. This makes it possible to test for ketosis using urine strips.
• It also – at least when starting out – can result in having to go to the bathroom more often. This is the main cause of the increased thirst (above).
4. Keto breath.
• This is due to a ketone body called acetone escaping via our breath. It can make a person’s breath smell “fruity”, or like nail polish remover. This smell can sometimes also be felt from sweat, when working out. It’s often temporary.
Other, less specific but more positive signs include:
1. Reduced hunger.
• Many people experience a marked reduction in hunger. This may possibly be caused by an increased ability of the body to be fueled by its fat stores.
• Many people feel great while eating just once or twice a day, automatically ending up doing a form of intermittent fasting. This saves both time and money, while also speeding up weight loss.
2. Increased energy.
• Perhaps after a few days of feeling tired (the “keto flu“) many people experience a clear increase in energy levels.
• This can also be experienced as clear thinking, a lack of “brain fog” or even as a sense of euphoria.
How to achieve ketosis?
There are many things that increase your level of ketosis. Here they are, from most to least important:
• Restrict carbohydrates.
• Exogenous Ketones (Keto OS / Max Formulas)
• Restrict to 30 digestible grams per day or less – a strict low-carb diet. Fiber does not have to be restricted, it might even be beneficial.
• Restrict protein to moderate levels. (not as crucial when supplementing with exogenous ketones)
• Eat enough fat to feel satisfied.
This is the big difference between a ketogenic diet and starvation, that also results in ketosis. A ketogenic diet is sustainable, starvation is not.
Avoid snacking when not hungry. Unnecessary snacking slows weight loss and reduces ketosis.
If necessary add intermittent fasting, like 16:8. This is very effective at boosting ketone levels, as well as accelerating weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal.