What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet.
There are two sources of fuel for the human body: sugar and fat. When the body burns fat, molecules called ketone bodies are created, and these are what our cells actually use for energy.
The goal of the ketogenic diet is to get the body to metabolize (burn) fat rather than sugar. Being a fat burner is referred to as being “keto-adapted” or “in ketosis,” and it is the preferred metabolic state of the human body.
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Is the ketogenic diet a good way to lose weight ?
When our meals are rich in carbohydrates, our body releases insulin owing to elevated levels of glucose in the blood.
Now the job of insulin is to signal the cells for storing as much energy as they can. The energy is first stored in the form of glycogen and then converted to fats.
The ketogenic diet eliminates the carbohydrate from your meals, which helps in preventing excessive insulin from releasing in the body. When the body’s insulin levels are low, it starts burning down the fats much faster, eventually resulting in a good amount of weight loss.
The Ketogenic Diet and Diabetes.
Since this diet requires you to consume a high level of fats, it is only recommended for people who suffer from type 2 diabetes. If you were someone who requires an insulin dosage, we would recommend you to contact your GP before you take up the ketogenic diet. Others, who are not on insulin, can actually benefit from this diet to a large extent, as it helps in maintaining a balance of your blood sugar levels.
How to Know If You’re Keto-Adapted?
When you burn fat, your body produces ketone bodies, which are what the body uses for fuel. There are three different types of ketone bodies: acetoacetate, which is found in the urine; acetone, which is found in the breath; and beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), which is found in the blood.
There are three ways to test your ketones, each of which has its pluses and minuses.
Testing Your Urine:
PRODUCT: Ketone urine test strips
CONS: Not as reliable once you’re keto-adapted (see below); drinking lots of water can affect results
Our bodies excrete excess ketones in two ways: through the urine or through the breath. When you test for ketones in your urine, you typically see higher levels in the early stages of keto-adaptation because your body isn’t using ketones for fuel yet. After you are fully keto-adapted (which takes two to four weeks or so), you will see fewer ketones in your urine because your body will be using more ketones for fuel instead of excreting them.
Urine test strips are also very susceptible to changes based on your state of hydration. The more hydrated you are (and we should all be drinking more water with a ketogenic lifestyle, since the foods we eat have less water), the lower your ketone level on the urine test strip will be.
Testing Your Breath:
PRODUCT: Ketonix Breath Analyzer
PROS: Low long-term cost ($99 upfront with no ongoing cost); accurate at testing acetone; easy to do
CONS: Doesn’t always correlate directly to blood ketones; alcohol consumption can give a false positive; drinking lots of water can affect results.
Breath ketone testers test your breath for acetone. This is what some people call “keto breath.” Testing your breath for acetone gives you a good idea of how much your body is turning fat into fuel, but it doesn’t correlate directly to the BHB in your blood—which is the most accurate measure of the ketones being produced in your body.
Testing Your Blood:
PRODUCT: Blood meter (I like the Precision XtraBlood Glucose and Ketone Monitoring System best)
PROS: Very accurate.
CONS: Expensive in the long term, $4 or more per strip; requires finger prick for blood
Testing your blood for ketones measures the amount of BHB in your blood and thus how much energy (in the form of ketones) is really available to fuel your body. The higher the number, the more your body is using ketones for fuel. This is the best indicator of your true state of ketosis. The optimal range is 1–5 (2–4 is great for weight loss).
When to Test Ketones?
Testing in the morning before you eat anything will give you the best idea of your body’s ongoing state of ketosis. In general, ketones are the lowest of the day at this time. A decent ketone level (1.0) at that time indicates that a state of ketosis is being maintained throughout the day.
What Is a Good Ketone Level?
Ketosis is defined as a blood ketone (BHB) range of 0.5 to about 5.0 millimoles (mmol or sometimes mM). This is the range in which the body is using ketones for its primary fuel source. The ideal range for weight loss and healing is about 2 to about 4 mmol.
More is not better when it comes to ketones. Many studies have shown that sustaining levels above about 4 to 5 mmol does not provide any additional benefit, and in some people, too high a ketone level—10 or higher—can lead to a state called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and in extreme cases can lead to death.
But this level of blood ketones is seen only in people with severe beta cell (pancreas) issues, such as type 1 diabetics.
How to get into Ketosis ??
When eating a high-carb diet, your body is in a metabolic state of glycolysis, which simply means that most of the energy your body uses comes from blood glucose.
In this state, after each meal, your blood glucose is spiked causing higher levels of insulin, which promotes storage of body fat and blocking the release of fat from your adipose (fat storage) tissues.
In contrast, a low-carb, high-fat diet puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. Your body breaks down fat into ketone bodies (ketones) for fuel as its primary source of energy. In ketosis, your body readily burns fat for energy, and fat reserves are constantly released and consumed. It’s a normal state—whenever you’re low on carbs for a few days, your body will do this naturally.
Most cells in your body use ketones and glucose for fuel. For cells that can only take glucose, like parts of the brain, the glycerol derived from dietary fats is made into glucose by the liver
The main goal of the keto diet is to keep you in nutritional ketosis all the time.
For those just starting the keto diet, to be fully keto-adapted usually takes anywhere
from four to eight weeks.
Once you become keto-adapted, glycogen (the glucose stored in your muscles and liver) decreases, you carry less water weight, your muscle endurance increases, and your overall energy levels are higher than before.
Also, if you kick yourself out of ketosis by eating too many carbs, you return to ketosis much sooner than when you were not keto-adapted. Additionally, once you are keto-adapted, you can generally eat up to 50 grams of carbs per day and still maintain ketosis.