The Ketogenic diet is not a new thing, it’s been around since the 1920’s to effectively control Seizure’s in childhood epilepsy.
Ketones play and important role
Ketosis is a normal and safe reaction in the body. The general thought is that fat is unhealthy, we have been brought up with the knowledge that fat is bad, too much fat is very bad for you! We’ve been told for the last 50 or so years that saturated fat’s and cholesterol are the major causes for coronary heart disease and obesity. – It couldn’t be more further from the truth! In doing some research this whole hypothesis stemmed from on man who’s science was flawed, that man was Ancel Keys.
Ketosis is a completely normal state to be in. Breast fed babies will go into ketosis within 12 hours of birth, according to paediatric physician Dr. Mary Newport, Breast milk has 10% of M.C.T.’s – Medium Chain Triglycerides which is converted into ketones by the liver. Breast milk formulas made today contain MCT oil and coconut oil which mimic the fats in breast milk.
Read more about Dr. Newport and her findings on Alzheimers, “What if there was a cure”. here
So, you say, why do we want to do this in the first place? – Good question. There are a number of reasons why you would really want to consider doing this…
What are the various benefits of Ketosis and Ketones?
- Weight Loss: Well weight loss is probably the most popular use for ketosis right now. However, it’s not the only reason to consider ketosis. The health benefits when in ketosis are in abundance. However, if your’e trying to lose weight then the ketogenic diet is one of the best ways to do it because it helps access your body fat so that it can be shed.
- Anti-inflammatory: Fat is a cleaner and healthier fuel than sugar is for our bodies as it uses far less ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) these are free radicals. By eliminating sugar from your diet you are decreasing your risk of chronic inflammation throughout the body.
Start burning your own fat stores
A low-carb diet encourages the body to start burning it’s own fat stores to use for energy.
- Reducing your appetite: Being in ketosis can also make you feel – satiated – (meaning: satisfied), no longer hungry or hangry!
# 1. This makes it easier to stay on this diet because you have the feeling of being satisfied for way longer than what you would on a high carb, low fat diet.
#2 . It is not required to count calories for weight loss. Your body will let you know when you are hungry.
- Maintaing your muscle mass: Carbohydrate restriction provides a stimulous Epinephrine (adrenalin) to the body which prevents muscle breakdown. In other words, when blood sugar levels are low, the body releases adrenaline which prevents muscle proteins from being broken down. While in ketosis, you will be putting mass on as “lean” mass without the extra fat so it seems slower however, it’s all lean mass, the good stuff. So carb consumption is not essential to maintain or build muscle. As long as you are eating the right amount of protein and calories for you. And of course you are working out correctly…that helps! The ketogenic diet is great for if your’e wanting to preserve muscle mass at the same time as losing fat. By keeping your carbs low you are stimulating both ketosis and adrenalin which reduces muscle break down.
- Blood sugar regulation: The standard diet (low fat, high carb) is hugely refined carbohydrates and sugars, this spikes the blood sugar. When you consume carbs, they are broken down into sugars. This causes your blood sugar levels to rise and leads to a spike in your insulin. Over time this can develop into insulin resistance which can progress into Type II Diabets. You feel can feel hungry quite soon after eating a low fat, high carbohydrate meal, which then results in more fat storage of all of the excess sugar. Insulin is an important hormone that we need however, Insulin is a hormone that stores fat. If your insulin levels are high, insulin stimulates an enzyme called Lipo-protein Lipase and drives fat into the fat cells rather than letting it remain in the bloodstream to be processed by the liver. Being in ketosis reverses that around to good quality, high fat, low carbohydrate with a moderate amount of protein this helps stabilise blood sugar.
* Too much protein can halt the process of making ketones. If you aren’t an endurance athlete and you expend a normal amount of energy each day then typically the rule of thumb would be around 0.7 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. I go on the high end on my workout days and then low on my rest days.
- Increased focus and energy: This is definitely one of my favourites and is why I practice a ketogenic lifestyle. While running your body on ketones, you are creating an abundance of energy which you hardly know what to do with. Gone are the days when you feel you need a nanna nap or 40 winks in the middle of the afternoon, not only are you feeling satiated, you’re also more energetic and your brain is lit! I can relate it to running on all 8 cylinders.
As noted earlier Dr. Newport has a fantastic website with several videos on the subject of Alzheimers
The ketogenic diet also has plenty of solid research to back up its benefits, in fact, it has been found to be better than most diets at helping people with:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Type 1 Diabetes
- High Blood Pressure
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Hormone Regulation
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Chronic Inflamation
- Heart Disease
- PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome)
- Fatty Liver Disease
Even if you are not a risk for any of the above conditions, keto can be helpful for you too.
Some benefits that most people experience are:
- Better Brain Function
- Improved Body Composition
- A decrease in inflamation
- An increase in energy
- Improved mood
How do you get into Ketosis?
Getting into ketosis remember is a low carbohydrate approach where you focus more on eating plenty of “real” whole foods like the “greens” – green, leafy salads, Spinach, all the cruciferous vegetables like Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Brussells Sprouts, Kale and Asparagus are low on the carb numbers and you should be having plenty of them.
Ketogenic diets are high in fat, adequate in protein and low in carbohydrates. The macronutrient ration varies in these ranges:
- 60-75% of calories from fat, can be more than this also,
- 15-30% of calories from protein
- 5-10% of calories from carbohydrates.
To find your exact amount of protein intake is by looking at you lean mass weight (your total weight without the body fat) also your activity level. The amount of fat you have depends on what your goals are – weight loss, weight gain or maintenance.
The main aim is to follow a plan that reaches a metabolic state of ketosis (burning fat as an energy source as opposed to sugar), once you are in ketosis your stored body fat is then being used as energy. You can’t burn fat when your metabolism is locked into being a sugar burner which promotes fat gain while stopping any possibility of burning it off.
Eating the “good” fat’s is nothing to worry about as long as you keep the carbohydrates low. Fat’s such as saturated fat’s – oil’s that are rich in Omega 3’s that are in abundance in “Grass Fed” red meat’s, cream, butter, ghee, lard, eggs, coconut oil.
Did you know -MCT’s – Medium Chain Triglycerides are unique fatty acids which is found naturally in coconut oil, they have an ability to stabilise blood sugar. These are saturated fat’s that digest very easily they are infact directed straight into the liver to be used as an immediate form of energy. MCT’s are also found in butter. These MCT’s are used to enhance performance and are great for fat loss, they are a great tool for reducing inflammation and enhancing cognitive function.
Everyone needs protein in their diet, the amount that is needed varies on the individual
As mentioned a little earlier, it is better to use your lean mass weight when calculating your protein intake. The ideal body fat for women should be 18-25% and for men 10-15%. The essential amount of body fat is the fat that we shouldn’t be trying to lose and it is 11-13% for women and 2-5% for men.
A great way that I have found to estimate and I do say estimate because there is always a varient in these tests so you don’t like to say 100% accurate but close enough to get you started. I use a machine which is actually at my gym that I use called Evolt, it’s a very people friendly deal, is totally painless and gives you your results of your body scan within like 5 or so minutes which then prints them out for you in an easy to read program. Lot’s of good information in there like your total fat mass, lean body mass, BMR, lot’s of other great information about what’s going on inside your body. It also comes with an app that you upload to your phone and can follow it that way also. You might be able to find one near you in a gym, you may be able to use their Evolt Scanner, maybe, if you ask nicely. There will be a fee of course.
Other ways of working this percentage out is you can use body calipers, there are scales out now that measure your percentage however, they are not truly accurate, you might be able to visit some sort of specialised center that has body fat testers.
Here is an example:
If your weight is in lbs, multiply it by 0.6 and 1.0 to get the minimum and maximum amount of protein in grams you should eat each day. If your weight is calculated in kg, multiply it by 1.3 and 2.2 to get the same range.
If your weight is 160 lbs and your body fat is 30% the lean mass weight is calculated as follows:
160lbs – 30% = 112lbs
Therefor your protein intake should be between:
112 x 0.6 = 67g of protein (min amount). 112 x 1.0 = 112g of protein (max amount)
Keeping in mind this would not be the same if you were an athlete, this, naturally would be higher.
How can you tell if you are in Ketosis?
Three of the most common ways to measure for ketosis
1. 3-Hydroxybutyrate – Blood testing with a blood meter
Blood ketone testing is the most accurate method of testing the Beta-Hydroxybutyrate This is the most abundant ketone.
Measuring blood ketone levels is by far the most accurate way. If you are serious about checking and tracking your ketones to see how your body performs at certain ketone levels then this is the most recommended method to use based on its accuracy level.
2. Acetoacetate – Urine Ketone Strips
Urine ketone strips can be useful during the initial phase of the ketogenic diet when you are just shifting into ketosis. Test strips usually work up until about a month or two then ketones measure’s no longer show up. A this stage the strips are measuring the level of Acetoacetate – excess ketone bodies thar are not utilised by the body and are excreted via the urine.
3. Acetone – Breath testing – “Breathalyzer”
A non-invasive and cheap alternative to measure breath Acetone concentration. Acetone is one of the ketone bodies that results from a break down of acetoacetate. It’s another ketone body that is produced when your body metabolizes Beta-Hydroxybutryate (BHB). Breath testing is considered less accurate than blood testing but it can be a good option if you don’t want to deal with pricking your finger, dealing with blood and purchasing blood or urine strips.
Ketosis is a metabolic state that happens when you consume a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein, high fat diet. Eating in this way is what makes your body go into Ketosis, simply put, your body switches over from burning its primary source of fuel which is Glucose to running on Ketones. Ketones are a byproduct when your liver breaks down fat stores to make glucose. When there’s not enough glucose it then switches over to fat burning.
Switching over from burning glucose and getting into ketosis and burning fat can take up to 5 to 10 days or dependant of various other factors can take weeks, when coming off a standard diet. The transition from the standard diet to getting into ketosis can cause “Keto Flu”, this is keto adaptation which Dr. Bergs video down below will help you understand more about Keto Flu.
How Long Will it last:
Keto flu will usually last around 1 week however, everyone is different. With me, I had a headache for a day that was it. It does not impact everyone. Some people can experience some of the symptoms for up to a month dependant. Those it does will experience it differently. Sometimes it will last a week other times longer.
How to ease Keto Flu
The best way to approach it is to get prepared in advance. Don’t rush into going into ketosis head first. Some of the reason for getting the keto flu is not being hydrated enough and ranking up the electrolytes, I’m not talking about the sugary electrolyte drinks that are wasted carbs. I mean you should aim to add 2 teaspoons of high quality salt (Pink Himalayan Mineral Salts) added into your food each day, add a pinch to your water, I personally love black coffee with added salt. Taking salt will help replace the electrolytes you will be losing as you keto adapt. You should also be taking in Potassium from as much whole foods as possible, a good example is Avocado’s, a nutrient dense food rich in potassium, as well as Vitamins and Heart Healthy fats, they are the highest in Potassium – 975 mg of Potassium in one avocado! Keeping up on the Magnesium as well which you can get from green leafy vegetables, such as Spinach, Cruciferous vegetables such as Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower etc. These are a real staple on keto as they also happen to be low GI foods. Taking Exogenous Ketones at this time will also help you get through the Keto Flu and of course supplementing with good quality supplements from a reputable company to take up the slack.
NOTE: Did you know that the recommended daily allowance (RDA) states we should be having 4,700 milligrams of Potassium per day! Most people are deficient in this Mineral. A Banana (not keto friendly) has only 422 mg, that would equate to eating 12 bananas per day…by the way there are around 28 grams of carbohydrate in just one banana.
You should also look to consume a lot of trace mineral rich foods such as:
- Bone Broth
- Wild-caught Seafood
- Sea Vegetables
- Pickles (not in brine made with sugars)
- leafy and cruciferous veggies
- Sauerkraut (homemade is the bomb and so easy to make)
Symptoms of keto flu:
- Body aches and pains
- Keto breath
- Upset stomach
6 Ways to prevent Keto Flu
- Slowly reduce carbs from diet
- Increase your fat intake
- Increase your salt and mineral intake (salt is your friend, I promise)
- Keep well hydrated
- Get some exercise like walking
- Reduce stress
There are many misconceptions surrounding exogenous ketones – they’ve been getting a reputation as a “magic bullet” or “shortcut” to ketosis, weight loss, and other health benefits…all without needing to follow a keto diet.