What is Keto Diet ?
Ketosis [Keto Diet] is a natural metabolic state in which your body runs primarily on fats and ketone bodies, instead of carbohydrates (i.e. glucose). [ Read Top 5 Diet the skin needs]
Three Types of Ketones
There are three primary ketones the liver can produce from fats:
● Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) — This is the most well-known and abundant ketone, accounting for ~78% of the total ketone concentration in the blood. BHB can also been found under the names: 3-hydroxybutyric acid and 3-hydroxybutanoic acid (3HB) [Read: 5 causes and treatment for hair loss in women]
● Acetoacetate (AcAc) — second most abundant ketone, accounting for ~20% of total ketone blood concentrations.
● Acetone — least abundant ketone, accounting for a paltry 2% of ketones in the blood.
What is a “Proper” Keto Diet?
The goal of a ketogenic diet is simple — to facilitate the transition and maintain a state of nutritional ketosis.
Essentially, this is accomplished by starving the body of glucose and eating a lot of fat.
As such, a ketogenic diet is one that emphasizes dietary fat, provides modest amounts of protein, and allows for virtually no carbohydrates. [Read: 5 Effective ways to get effective sleep]
In terms of “real world” numbers, the typical ketogenic diet contains the following macronutrient percentages:
● Fat: 75%
● Protein: 15-20%
● Carbohydrates: 5-10%
The amount of carbohydrates you’re allowed on a keto diet is primarily a function of your exercise regimen and energy expenditure. Basically, the more high-intensity type training you perform, the more carbohydrates you can “get away” with eating and still remain in a state of ketosis.
Check out some creative Keto friendly meals to help assist with your dietary needs while staying within the proper ketogenic guidelines.
The reason for this is that high-intensity exercise (sprinting, resistance-training, etc.) is glycolytic in nature, meaning it’s powered by glycogen (glucose) primarily. Since you’re burning through more glucose when performing this type of training, you create a larger metabolic sink that can help “soak up” more glucose while still remaining in ketosis.
How to Reach Ketosis
Entering into ketosis sounds pretty straightforward — avoid carbohydrates and replace those carb calories with calories from dietary fat.
Typically, an individual will enter into a state of nutritional ketosis when their intake of dietary carbohydrates is <50 grams per day. In the absence of glucose, the body ramps up ketone production, and when blood ketone levels are at or above 0.5 mM, an individual is said to be in ketosis. Such a drastic reduction in carbohydrates and complete overhaul of one’s diet can be a bit overwhelming for some individuals. As such, it might be best to slowly work your way to a ketogenic diet by first experimenting with low-carb diets where you’re only consuming 100-150 grams of carbs per day. Over the weeks, as you become more and more accustomed to eating low carb, you can eventually make the full transition to a keto diet and (hopefully) experience less of the quintessential “keto flu” symptoms.
Benefits of Ketosis
Being in a state of nutritional ketosis may:
● Reduce blood sugar (as measured by HbA1c),
● Improve insulin sensitivity (as measured by HOMA-IR)
● Lower inflammation (as measured by white blood cell count and C-reactive protein)
● Improve cholesterol levels
● Support weight loss
● Potentially reduce seizures
● Increase longevity and lifespan (in rodents)
● Reduce risk of cancer
Now, it should be noted, these benefits are not exclusive to ketogenic diets, or being in a state of ketosis. Similar benefits are also found when individuals lose weight, achieve a healthy body composition, and live an active lifestyle.
This is why long-term trials show that low-carb diets may initially lead to greater weight loss than low-fat diets, but the differences evaporate by the one-year mark.
Side Effects of Ketosis
Transitioning to ketosis isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, especially if you’re someone who’s used to consuming copious quantities of carbohydrates each day. During the initial days of your foray into ketogenic dieting, you may experience symptoms of “keto flu”, which include:
● Brain fog
● Difficulty concentrating
● Muscle aches
The reason for this is multifactorial, and two of the biggest contributors to keto flu appear to be a bit a metabolic “inflexibility” coupled with a severe loss of electrolytes.
You see, when the body doesn’t get the amount of carbohydrates it is used to receiving each day, the liver starts pulling from glycogen (the storage form of glucose) for energy via gluconeogenesis.
Eventually, the liver won’t be able to create enough glucose to satisfy the energy demands of the body, at which point the body has to turn to its back up fuel source — fatty acids.
However, if you’re an individual who has routinely lived a high-carb lifestyle and/or hasn’t experimented much with fasting, it’s likely that your body may need some time to “recalibrate” and get its metabolic machinery in order to start burning fat at the rate needed to maintain stable energy levels.
Other short-term side effects that may occur during the initial days of transitioning to a ketogenic diet are:
● Bad breath
● Muscle weakness
● Low blood sugar
● Difficulty sleeping
● Decreased exercise performance
To minimize the possibility of experiencing these symptoms, first try experimenting with a low-carb diet for a few weeks and/or periods of intermittent fasting, so as to help your body get used to burning fat more regularly in the absence of dietary carbohydrate.