Keto 101: What is Ketosis?
Ketosis is defined as a metabolic state in which some of the body’s energy supply come from fat. More about that in a little bit, but let’s understand how energy is usually metabolized in the body.
Since most people use carbohydrates as their main source of fuel, usually most people’s usual metabolic state is known as glycolysis - which uses carbohydrates as a source of energy.
The body can’t just use carbohydrates or sugar as an energy source - it has to be broken down into a simple form known as glucose - which then can be used by the cells for energy
Ketosis on the other hand, uses fat - not carbohydrates or sugar - as its fuel source.
Instead of breaking down carbohydrates into glucose, your body breaks down fat into smaller molecules known as ketone bodies, which can then be used for energy.
These ketone bodies are important - because whether or not you’re in ketosis is defined by the presence of these molecules.
The Benefits of Being in KetosiS
There are a lot of benefits from being in ketosis including
Slowing the aging process/extending lifespan
Steady and abundant energy
Stabilizing blood sugar
Prevention and reversal of cardiovascular disease
Decreased levels of inflammation
Reduction of acne
Reduction of LDL levels
Sounds pretty amazing, right? The question is - how do we get these benefits?
Getting into ketosis
Being in ketosis is important for the keto diet - without it, you’re just going low carb but you may not be reaping the benefits of the keto diet that we previously mentioned.
Although everyone’s body does function differently on the keto diet, there are a couple key items you should keep in mind to get yourself into the state of ketosis
Keep your daily total of net carbs under 20 g
Keep your protein levels in moderation - I usually aim for around 100 g per day, give or take (although you may need to adjust your protein levels based on your lean body mass - this article from Keto Vale is particularly good at helping you calculate your protein levels)
Refrain from things that spike blood sugar and will kick you out of ketosis. The most common offenders are of course starches, sugars and grains, but even items like fruit or sugar alcohols can cause you to slip out of ketosis (some people are better able to handle sugar alcohols than others)
You should test yourself for your levels of ketones - it’s like checking your blood sugar if you’re diabetic to see where you’re at. We’ll get more into that later.
The biggest sign you’re in ketosis
There are numerous signs that you’re in ketosis, but there is one in particular that is most telling - and that is a reduced appetite.
When I was eating a more standard diet, I would be hungry about every three hours or so. I’d wake up and eat breakfast, then be hungry in a couple hours for lunch, hungry for a mid-afternoon snack, then dinner. If I missed any of these, I would start to really feel hungry - almost to the point where I would get shaky sometimes.
On the keto diet however, I would have a keto coffee in the morning and then not be hungry until maybe dinnertime in the evening. Even if I had a snack sometime during the day, it was usually something small - a handful of olives and a slice of cheese, or maybe some prosciutto, or another keto coffee.
How did I know that this was a sign I was in ketosis?
Well, when the body is burning fat instead of sugar, it has a plentiful supply of fat available. Not only the dietary fat you supply it with, but also the fat that is stored in and around your body.
Instead of with burning carbohydrates and your body only being able to store a limited amount, when you’re burning fat there is a virtually unlimited amount you can tap into. And when your body has everything it needs, it doesn’t ask you to eat something to supply it with energy.
BONUS: Even better, ketones have a natural appetite suppressing ability just by being present. That’s right - just by being in ketosis, your appetite is already suppressed.
Other signs of being in ketosis
Other signs can include all the benefits of ketosis - stable mood, stable energy, clear mental focus, changes in gut motility including constipation, diarrhea or smaller bowel movements, possible short-term fatigue or weakness or mental fog, and the dreaded “keto breath”. These are all expected signs, but they’re not quite as sure a sign of being in ketosis as the reduced appetite.
How do I stay in ketosis?
It’s easy to stay in ketosis - keep doing what you’re doing.
When you keep your carbohydrates below 20g, keep your protein moderate and stay away from foods that cause your blood sugar to spike, your body will be in a continual state of ketosis.
The good news is that once you have been in ketosis for a while, your body gets used to it. It gets acclimated to being in ketosis and will start adapting to burning fat, making it even easier to get into ketosis and stay in ketosis.