Keto seems to be a buzzword at the moment, with so many people in the fitness industry talking about this revolutionary way of achieving results. We want you to be as knowledgeable as possible when it comes to your diet and fitness, so here we will explain what exactly ketosis is, and some tips to get started if you think it will work for you.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is a natural metabolic process that happens within the body. When a person has reached ketosis, their body converts fat into compounds called ketones and begins using them as its main source of energy instead of glucose (sugars).
These ketones then leave the body and the presence of ketones in the blood and urine indicates that you have entered a state of ketosis. This can help you lose unwanted fat, as the body starts to break down fat stores for energy, instead of relying on carbohydrates.
5 tips for getting started.
1. Minimize carbohydrate consumption
Changing to a very low carb diet is the main key to achieving ketosis. Whether you are turning to the keto diet for weight loss, to decrease the risk of heart disease, or to control your blood sugar levels, you should aim to reduce your carb intake to 20 grams per day or less. This may be different for each person to reach ketosis, some people will need less, some will need more. When carbohydrate intake is very low, glycogen stores are reduced and levels of the hormone insulin decline. This allows fatty acids to be released from fat stores in your body and to be burnt off for energy.
2. Increase your physical activity
The more physical energy that you use during the day, the more fuel you will need, usually this fuel comes from glucose. Exercise helps you to deplete glycogen stores in the body. In most cases, when you eat carbohydrates, they will replenish your glycogen stores. If you are on a low-carb diet, you will not be replenished, so during exercise, the body will turn to fat stores to burn for energy. It can take up to four weeks for the body to learn to use ketones (fat stores) as primary fuel and you may experience fatigue and low physical performance temporarily as the body adjusts.
3. Try fasting
There are two types of fasting that can help you to enter ketosis. Intermittent Fasting, or going without food for a period of time, often 12-24 hours, once per week, or significantly reducing calorie intake two days a week eg to 500 calories one day, can help a person achieve a state of ketosis. With some people actually entering mild ketosis between meals.
Another form of fasting is ‘fat fasting’ which can vastly increase the effects of ketosis. This means eating around 1000 calories per day, with 90% of that food being fat. Please be aware that a fat fast is often so low in protein and calories, that it should only be followed for a maximum of three to five days in order to prevent an excessive loss of muscle mass.
4. Increase healthy fat intake
As carbohydrate intake decreases, most people replace the loss of carbohydrates with an increase in fats. Ketogenic diets usually provide between 60–80% of calories from fat. Because fat makes up such a huge percentage of the diet, it is important to choose high-quality sources. Some fats that you should incorporate
- coconut oil
- olive oil
- avocados and avocado oil
- flaxseed oil
However, for people looking to lose weight, it is important to keep the total calorie count in mind as well. Eating too many calories in a day can make it harder to lose weight.
5. Test your ketone levels
Like many things in nutrition, achieving and maintaining a state of ketosis is highly personal. It can be helpful to test your ketone levels to ensure you’re achieving your goals and this can be done through breath, blood or urine.
Studies have found that testing acetone breath levels, is a reliable way to monitor ketosis in people following ketogenic diets. A Ketonix meter is available to buy and measures acetone levels in the breath.
Ketone levels can also be measured with a blood ketone meter. Similar to the way a glucose meter works, a small drop of blood is placed on a strip that’s inserted into the meter. The disadvantage of measuring blood ketones is that the strips can be expensive.
Lastly, Ketone urine strips can be bought at a reasonable prince. These turn various shades of pink or purple depending on the level of ketones present. A darker color reflects higher ketone levels.
Using these methods to test ketones levels can help you determine whether you need to make any adjustments to your diet in order to get into ketosis.