Ketosis: Filling up your fuel tank differently

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Our body normally uses glucose from carbohydrates as our main source of energy. Ketosis is a popular word used in the diet and diabetes worlds. Our body goes into a state of ketosis to keep itself working when carbohydrates are lacking. Our body makes ketones when carbs are scarce in order to now use fat as the main energy source. A normal diet doesn’t cause this, but when experiencing a pretty extreme caloric or carbohydrate deficit, the body kicks into ketone mode. This can also occur in diabetics who are not properly using insulin. The problem is that the body is only meant to temporarily perform this function. When asked to do so for prolonged periods of time, those ketones start to really build up in the blood. Now your blood becomes chemically imbalanced and dehydration can result.

Ketosis hit the diet world by storm when Atkins and Paleo were introduced. The concept of cutting carbs for weight loss had people using protein as their main source of energy instead. This advocacy for protein was that it burns fat and keeps muscle mass. The latest version is the Ketogenic diet that uses fat instead of protein as the main source of fuel. Making a cut down to 50 grams of carbohydrates or less usually puts a person into ketosis a few days from the start. Fasting is another method to jump start ketosis.

This low carb approach is also used for other reasons besides weight loss. Ketogenic diets have been known to reduce seizures. Often time doctors put people with epilepsy on this diet or eating plan. Eating low carb can also help diabetics, lower the risk of heart disease, and help people who are insulin resistant. When cutting carbs, processed food is reduced in the diet which has been shown to improve acne.

Versions

 There are a few different versions of the ketogenic diet. The standard is to consume 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. You can also do a cycling version which has re-feed days. An example would be eating ketogenic for 5 days and then 2 days of re-feeding which Is raising the carbohydrate count. Some people use their workouts to add carbs in. Others use more protein and do more of a 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs approach. Most people enjoy that they don’t have to count calories, they effectively lose weight, and they feel a new sense of energy. Sugars, grains, fruit, and alcohol are recommended to be eliminated in this process. More meat, butter, nuts, cheese, oils, and avocado should be consumed.  

Testing your ketones

You can actually self-check your ketone level at home. There are over the counter sticks to urinate on in which the color matches the level. Ketones can also be measured in your blood.

Side effects

Some people initially experience the keto flu which is feeling nauseous, fatigued, extra hungry, and having insomnia. You may need to add sodium and potassium supplements into your day. Once carbs are re-introduced the weight can come back. The ketogenic diet must be kept up in order to achieve long term weight loss results.

Taking it too far

Ketoacidosis is when the ketones have over accumulated in the blood. Your blood becomes acidic and this can lead to a coma or even death. This can occur in diabetics who do not take their insulin. Signs of ketoacidosis include frequent urination, dry skin, feeling very tired, throwing up, confusion, or your breath smelling fruity.

Every body type is different. Our nutritional needs for what our fitness and health goals vary. The choice is yours to try what works best for you. As always, sustainable, lifestyle habits create lasting results and are better for your overall health and well-being.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC297130/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22673594

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Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY's Fit. She has an M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, is a current candidate for her Doctorate in Health & Human Performance, and she's an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She's also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor.