I have people asking me about Keto all the time. There is a lot to research and learn, I’m not going to lie. Because this is so research-heavy and something that is such a large life choice, I don’t feel that I can paraphrase or play any of this down. So. In order to make sure I’m giving you 100% correct info, I will be telling you exactly what is on PerfectKeto.com. I would HIGHLY recommend this website to you if you are looking to go Keto but need to know more about it. I’m going to credit this entire blog post to Perfect Keto, honestly. I will give my personal experiences and opinion, though. This is going to be really in-depth, so get ready for some straight-up Keto knowledge. It’s a lot to take in, so skim if you like. There will be different parts to this blog for organization purposes. (All of the quoted material can be found at PerfectKeto.com but I am putting into three condensed blogs for you guys since I am asked about it so often).
**** First. What is KETO? ****
It’s short for Ketosis. What is KETOSIS? “Ketosis is the metabolic process of using fat as the primary source of energy instead of carbohydrates. This means your body is directly breaking down its fat stores as energy instead of slowly converting fat and muscle cells into glucose for energy. You enter ketosis when your body doesn’t have enough glucose (carbohydrates) available. The prime function of the ketogenic diet is to put the body in ketosis. Ketones are byproducts of the body breaking down fat for energy that occurs when carbohydrate intake is low.”
**** So, how does Ketosis even work? ****
“Step 1) Cutting Off Carbs
When there isn’t a sufficient level of available glucose and glycogen levels are depleted, blood sugar and insulin levels decrease, and the body looks for an alternative source of fuel (fat).
Step 2) Breaking Down Fats
The body breaks down fats for energy. This process is known as beta-oxidation, where there is an increase in acetyl-CoA, which turns into acetoacetate. Acetoacetate then shifts to beta-hydroxybutyrate, the ketone body that floats around in your blood to then provide energy to the body and brain.
Step 3) Using Ketosis
Many people use ketosis for benefits like:
– Weightloss: When your body is using fat directly as a source of energy, you lose weight more readily because your body taps into your own fat stores for energy instead of the sugar you eat.
– Improved energy levels: Without surges of glucose, your body has more consistent energy levels because you can use your own body fat for energy (no sugar crashes or food comas).
– Increased mental focus: Fat is a more consistent source of energy, and preferred by the brain, meaning you don’t have ups and downs in energy and focus.
– Longevity and disease prevention: Ketosis has been shown to decrease inflammation, Alzheimers, and benefit cancer patients and diabetics.
– Increased physical performance: Ketosis uses oxygen more efficiently and avoids physical crashes of low blood sugar.”
Back up. Ketones? What?
There are three types of ketones.
“Acetoacetate (AcAc) – the first ketone created from breaking down fat. This then leads to the formation of Beta-hydroxybutyrate. Acetone is created spontaneously as a side product of acetoacetate via decarboxylation.
Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) – Formed from the acetoacetate.
Acetone – Created simultaneously as a side product of the acetoacetate.”
Why do our bodies use ketones?
“Humans have always relied on ketones for energy when glucose sources were scarce (i.e. no fruits available during winter). It is a normal state of metabolism. In fact, most babies are born in a state of ketosis. However, with abundant sources of carbohydrate, people rarely access ketosis and it becomes a dormant metabolic pathway. Our ancestors likely had frequent periods of time when high carbohydrate food wasn’t immediately available. For this reason, our bodies are amazing at adapting to burning of ketones for fuel.”
**** Ketosis Benefits! ****
“Optimal nutrition is different for everyone, there is no “one-size-fits-all solution.” That being said, a whole-food based ketogenic diet provides most people benefits including:
Decreased body fat
Improved insulin sensitivity
Improved memory and mental focus
Breaking that down even further;
Weight Loss Benefits of Ketosis are…
“Increased Fat Oxidation: In ketosis, your body burns dietary fat and your own body fat as its primary source of fuel.
Hormone Regulation: Ketosis can help sustain weight loss by regulating hormones that affect weight. That means eating a ketogenic diet can help you avoid cravings for unhealthy foods, reducing the chance of gaining the weight back.
Appetite Suppression: Feeling full, even on a weight loss diet means you can better listen to your body’s true hunger signals.
Blood Sugar Regulation: Weight loss diets that include high carbohydrates can create blood sugar spikes that leave you feeling hungry again soon after eating—as well as tired and unfocused.”
Exercise Benefits of Ketosis are…
“Preventing crashing when doing prolonged exercise
Maintaining blood glucose
Adapting the body to burning more fat, which helps the body preserve glycogen in the muscles
Improving the function of mitochondria, enzymes, and fat usage to improve overall health and physical performance long-term.
Using oxygen more efficiently, leading to better performance for endurance athletes.”
Mental Focus Benefits of Ketosis are…
“An unbalanced diet can lead to lack of mental clarity, showing up as foggy brain, having a hard time remembering important facts, or struggling to stay focused on tasks.
Ketones improve the efficiency and energy levels of the mitochondria, which produce energy for cells of the body and brain.
Eating healthy fats is essential. Every single cell in our body needs fat to function, especially our brain cells. The brain is the fattiest organ, comprised of over 60% fat and prefers fat for fuel.”
Now that you have a little bit more of an idea about this so far, let’s dive into what the Keto diet is.
**** The Keto Diet ****
“The ketogenic diet is an approach to eating that is high fat (70-80%), moderate protein (20-25%) and low carb (5-10%). This is designed to induce the body into ketosis. The quality and types of foods are vitally important for crafting a nourishing ketogenic diet.”
For most people, a range of 20-50 grams of carbohydrate intake per day is ideal for the keto diet. To get a visual understanding, see our post, What Does 30g of Carbs Look Like?
Protein should be kept to adequate proportions. Eating too much protein is undesirable because our bodies have a metabolic process named gluconeogenesis. The way to figure out adequate protein levels is by using the Perfect Keto Macro Calculator.
The remaining 70-75% of your calories come from fats. Since fat is the main source of nutrition on a ketogenic diet, it’s important to source high-quality, healthy fats.”
“Optimal nutrition is intensely individual, it is not a one-size-fits-all prescription. Therefore, each persons macronutrient distribution will vary.”
There are different variations to Keto:
“The Standard Ketogenic Diet(SDK) – Keto with the classic macronutrient splits.
The Targeted Ketogenic Diet(TKD) – Add carbs around exercise
The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet(CKD) – Go in and out of ketosis in planned intervals
The High-Protein Ketogenic Diet – Eat more protein than on the standard keto diet.”
How do you know what amounts to eat of each thing? Use the calculator to see exact amount of carbs, fat, and protein you need to reach your goal weight through the ketogenic diet, whether you want to lose, gain, or maintain your weight.”
Now if you’re doing this, you have to test your ketones.
“Testing your ketone levels is imperative in order to know if keto is working for you. Eating “keto” foods doesn’t automatically mean you are in ketosis. Ketosis is that it’s not just an idea, it is a measurable state of metabolism. Luckily this means we can test if our diet is adequately “ketogenic” to allow our bodies to enter ketosis. Excess carbs or protein can prevent ketosis. It’s a high fat diet, not just low carb.”
There are 3 methods for measuring ketone levels, but I recommend urine testing. Especially if you’re just beginning.
“Urine Testing – When ketone levels in your body increase past a useful point, they get excreted through urine. You can easily measure excess amounts of ketones with a urine strip. It’s easy to test at home, but not completely reliable.
Blood Testing – You prick a finger and squeeze a drop of blood onto a test stick to test the amount of the ketone called Beta-Hydroxybutyrate in your blood. This is the most accurate method for testing your body’s ketone levels, but the most expensive.
Breath Testing – You can measure the amount of acetone in your breath using a breath meter. This is the least reliable method of testing for ketosis.”
**** Safety is something to be aware of on this diet. ****
“Ketosis is a perfectly safe and natural metabolic state, but it is often confused with another, and highly dangerous, metabolic state called Ketoacidosis.”
Ketosis vs Ketoacidosis
“Ketosis: The metabolic state when fat is the primary energy source instead of carbohydrates. Ketosis is a perfectly normal state of human metabolism. Without ketosis, all humans would have died many thousands of years ago in times of carbohydrate shortages, such as winter and drought.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA): A dangerous metabolic state that is most commonly seen in people with type 1 diabetes and sometimes type 2 diabetics if they aren’t properly managing their insulin and diet. The condition can be deadly if untreated.”
Other Side Effects of Ketosis
“Dehydration: Transitioning to ketosis is frequently a dehydrating process. This is because:
-Glycogen and carbs are stored in the body with water. It takes 4 grams of water to store a gram of glycogen. As you deplete glycogen, you will lose water.
-High insulin levels cause water retention by inhibiting sodium excretion. The ketogenic diet lowers insulin levels, allowing excess fluid to be released.”
“Other temporary symptoms are byproducts of dehydration and low carbohydrate levels while your body is still trying to use carbohydrates as its primary energy source, including:
These symptoms often pass once the body has switched into ketosis. I had Keto-Flu for a few days the first time I went into Ketosis. It definitely passed, though.
**** Remedies to Ketosis Side Effects ****
Drinking lots of water to counteract dehydration
Adding salt and electrolytes
Time. Often your body just needs to get used to low carbohydrate levels and switch into ketosis.
Eating more fat. Higher proportions of fat in your diet will help getting into ketosis.
Taking exogenous ketones (you can find them and what they are on the website). Taking supplements containing ketones helps boost your body into ketosis much faster.
Man. That was a bunch of stuff, wasn’t it? Every part of this is important though, or I wouldn’t include it. Part 2 will consist of a lot more specifics on the diet. I’ll post it in 30 minutes!