More and more people are getting into ketosis for different reasons. Some want to lose weight while others simply want to stay fit and healthy. Ketosis is a natural process that enables people to achieve these goals without having to use any synthetic products. However, have little to no ideas on how to start the process. If you are among them and want to know how to get your body into ketosis, then this article is for you. From the importance of ketosis to tips to get into ketosis. It contains all the tips you need to know as you transition into ketosis.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is a natural metabolic state where the body burns stored fat for energy instead of using energy from carbohydrates, thereby resulting in the build-up of acids, known as ketones, in the body. When your body does not have enough carbohydrates and glucose (this is the preferred source of energy in the body). It burns the stored fat (therefore producing ketones) for energy. Once the ketone levels in your blood rise to a given point, your body enters into a state of ketosis.
Ketosis is associated with ketogenic and low carb diets. Though it can also occur during pregnancy, infancy, starvation, fasting, and in patients with diabetes. To go into ketosis, people force their bodies to use stored fat as the source of energy by cutting down on carbs and calories in their diet.
While ketosis is a normal metabolic process that the body uses to keep on working. It becomes dangerous when the ketones build up in the body to very high levels. High levels of ketones in the body can lead to dehydration and changes in the chemical balance of the blood. While ketosis has some side effects, you can avoid them by doing it the right and scientific way, to ensure that your body does not lack any important mineral.
How is ketosis useful to the body?
Ketosis has several benefits to the body, such as:
- Weight loss – by forcing the body to use stored fat for energy. Ketosis results in weight loss as the unwanted fat in the body is burned for energy.
- Increased levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) in the body – Low-carb diets, the backbone of ketosis, often have a high-fat content. High-density lipoprotein (HDL), often known as the “good” cholesterol, carries cholesterol away from the body into the liver, where it is either reused or excreted. High levels of HDL lower the risk of heart disease, and by eating a low-carb diet, you increase the levels of HDL in your body.
- Lower blood sugar and insulin levels – Carbs are usually broken down into simple sugars in the body. They then enter the bloodstream, thereby elevating the blood sugar levels. For most people, a quick insulin response in the body lowers this spike in blood sugar levels (which is otherwise toxic and dangerous). For some who have insulin resistance. However, the body doesn’t see this insulin, and therefore cannot bring it into the cells to either burn or store it. This can easily lead to diabetes. Reducing the carbs in your diet, therefore, reduces the chances of having high blood sugar.
- Reduction in blood pressure – high blood pressure is a risk factor for many diseases such as heart disease, kidney failure, and stroke. Reducing the carbs in your diet has been shown to result in lower blood pressure, which in turn reduces the risk of such diseases.
Ketosis and weight loss
By now you know that a low-carb diet is important if you want to lose weight. More and more people are using a ketogenic diet for weight loss for the simple reason that ketosis forces the body to use stored fat as a source of energy instead of carbs.
The mechanisms behind ketosis and weight loss include:
- Forcing the body to use stored fat for fuel instead of carbs. A low-carb diet helps in weight loss as any unwanted fat in the body is burned for energy.
- Gluconeogenesis – the process of converting fat and proteins into carbs for fuel in the body burns additional calories in the body.
- Appetite suppression – Ketosis is helpful in reducing appetite by altering the levels of hormones that affect hunger. It reduces your appetite, thereby leading to weight loss in the long run.
How to Get Your Body into Ketosis
1. Reduce your carb intake
This is the easiest way to get into ketosis. Normally, the body uses glucose, stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, as its main source of energy. If your carb intake is low, fatty acids in fat stores in the body are released, and the liver converts them into molecules known as ketones. These ketones are then used as the primary energy source in the body.
The amount of carbs required to get into ketosis depend on an individual, with the amount ranging from 30-50 total carbs (combined amount of the three main carbohydrates – starch, sugar, and fiber) or 20-25 net carbs (total carbs minus fiber and sugar). For those who are insulin resistant, 20 total carbs in the recommended amount of daily carb intake. In the beginning, your carb intake should be at a bare minimum. But with time, you can slowly increase the amount of carbs in your diet, as long as ketosis is maintained.
2. Eat enough proteins
Ketosis requires an adequate protein intake that is not excess. When making the transition to using fats for energy instead of glucose, the body may at some point try to get energy from the muscles, which may result in a reduction in your muscle mass. Having enough protein in your diet allows the body to maintain its muscle even when going into ketosis. Even if the body tries to use the muscles for energy, enough protein intake ensures that you do not lose any muscle mass.
Protein is also useful as it enables the body to achieve ketosis by providing amino acids to the liver which converts them into glucose for use in the areas of the body that can’t use ketones. Such as red blood cells and parts of the kidneys and brain. This is because if the body for some reason cannot use ketones, its best next option is glucose.
Too little protein intake results in muscle mass loss, while excess protein intake can suppress ketone production, therefore one should consume the recommended amount for ketosis – 1.2-1.7g per kg.
3. Eat many healthy fats
The work fat more often than not is associated with diseases in the body, but not all fats are bad for the body. Eating a lot of healthy fats helps the body reach ketosis faster as they help increase the body’s ketone levels.
A low-carb diet means that you have to increase your fat intake in order to make up for the caloric difference. You will still lose some weight if you don’t increase your fats intake. But you will easily gain back the lost weight once you switch back to a regular diet.
Some of the healthy fats that you can take include avocados (they are rich in monounsaturated fats which increase the levels of the “good” cholesterol HDL), butter from grass-fed cows, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, and Omega-3s.
4. Add coconut oil to your diet
You should include coconut oil to most of your meals, as it contains a healthy fat that helps your body get into ketosis. Coconut oil contains MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), a type of fat that is absorbed quickly by the body and is used for energy almost immediately. The liver also uses MCTs to make ketones, which are used as a source of energy in the body.
Coconut oil should, however, be added gradually to the diet, to give your body time to adjust, as too much of it, in the beginning, can cause digestive problems. While changing your diet will definitely cause your body to feel different, you should do this gradually so as to ease it slowly into the change, for best results.
5. Increase your physical activity
Exercise is a proven way of losing weight in many types of diets and is a given in a low-carb, ketogenic diet. When in ketosis, you will lose a significant amount of weight. To ensure that you stay that way without gaining the weight back. Physical activity should be part of your daily routine.
As you exercise, drain the glycogen stores in the body. These would normally be replenished by carbs in your food, which are broken down into simple sugars (glucose) then stored as glycogen. In ketosis, however, the carb intake is low; therefore the glycogen stores are usually low. Since the body cannot replenish the glycogen that has been depleted, the liver increases the production of ketones, which are then used for energy.
With the change in diet, maintaining your workout routine to get into ketosis may not be easy, as the body is still adjusting to the changes. You, however, have to keep on going.
6. Go on a fast
Going on a fast for a certain period of time helps your body get into ketosis. Intermittent fasting (periods of short fasts) is the best fasting technique so that you do not completely starve yourself. With intermittent fasting, you only eat at a set time, such as after every 8 hours.
When fasting, the body has to burn more energy as you are not eating much. It will have to find energy from available sources in the body, which is the stored fat. This will enable you to reach ketosis faster.
How to know you are in ketosis
There are several ways you can use to know if you are in ketosis. They include:
This is the easiest way to know if your low-carb ketogenic diet has worked, and you are in ketosis. There will be an initial rapid weight loss in the first week as the stored carbs and water are used up, and a slower but consistent weight loss in the following weeks.
This common side effect of ketosis is usually due to elevated ketone levels in the body. Acetone, a ketone in the urine and breath, is what is responsible for the bad breath. To counter this, you could brush your teeth several times a day, or use sugar-free mouth freshener gum. Be careful though, as some of the gums contain carbs. This is not a permanent side effect; it goes away after a while.
Increased ketone levels in the blood.
Ketosis usually results in a reduction in the blood sugar levels in the body, and an increase in the ketone level. There is a specialized meter that you can purchase to measure your ketone levels.
This is a side effect that often makes people quit the ketogenic diet before they get into full ketosis. Therefore losing out on the many benefits of ketosis. The fatigue is usually a result of the body adapting to a whole new system of getting energy from fat instead of glucose. This usually goes away after a while as the body gets used to ketosis.
Ketosis is an easy way to lose weight healthily, and anyone who wants to lose weight (or even have a healthy body) should get into ketosis. It may not be easy at first (going into means significant changes in the body) and requires some discipline. But in the end, it is worth it. Do not give up when the going seems tough, as it gets easier with time.
You should, however, note that in as much as ketosis is an effective method of losing weight. It has some side effects on the body, especially in the beginning. Digestive problems (constipation), headaches and nausea, heart palpitations, leg cramps, bad breath, fatigue, poor sleep, and decreased physical performance are some of the most common side effects of ketosis. Other less common but serious side effects. Such as ketoacidosis in breastfeeding women, kidney stones in epileptic children, and raised cholesterol levels have been observed in people in ketosis. You can mitigate some of these side effects by drinking lots of water, increasing your mineral intake (especially magnesium and potassium), and eating fiber-rich foods.