Are You Curious About Keto?
Ketosis is the metabolic process of using fat as the primary source of energy instead of carbohydrates. This means your body is directly breaking down its fat stores as energy instead of slowly converting fat and muscle cells into glucose for energy. You enter ketosis when your body doesn’t have enough glucose (carbohydrates) available. The prime function of the ketogenic diet is to put the body in ketosis. Ketones are by-products of the body breaking down fat for energy that occurs when carbohydrate intake is low.
1. Cutting Off Carbs
When there isn’t a sufficient level of available glucose and glycogen levels are depleted, blood sugar and insulin levels decrease, and the body looks for an alternative source of fuel (fat).
2. Breaking Down Fats
The body breaks down fats for energy. This process is known as beta-oxidation, where there is an increase in acetyl-CoA, which turns into acetoacetate. Acetoacetate then shifts to beta-hydroxybutyrate, the ketone body that floats around in your blood to then provide energy to the body and brain.
3. Using Ketosis
Many people use ketosis for benefits like:
- Weightloss: When your body is using fat directly as a source of energy, you lose weight more readily because your body taps into your own fat stores for energy instead of the sugar you eat.
- Improved energy levels: Without surges of glucose, your body has more consistent energy levels because you can use your own body fat for energy (no sugar crashes or food comas).
- Increased mental focus: Fat is a more consistent source of energy, and preferred by the brain, meaning you don’t have ups and downs in energy and focus.
- Increased physical performance: Ketosis uses oxygen more efficiently and avoids physical crashes of low blood sugar.
The Benefits of Ketosis
Optimal nutrition is different for everyone, there is no “one-size-fits-all solution.” That being said, a whole-food based ketogenic diet provides most people benefits including:
- Decreased body fat
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Improved memory and mental focus
- Physical Performance
Weight Loss Benefits of Ketosis
Ketosis can be a desirable approach to weight loss for the following reasons:
- Increased Fat Oxidation: In ketosis, your body burns dietary fat and your own body fat as its primary source of fuel.
- Hormone Regulation: Ketosis can help sustain weight loss by regulating hormones that affect weight. That means eating a ketogenic diet can help you avoid cravings for unhealthy foods, reducing the chance of gaining the weight back.
- Appetite Suppression: Feeling full, even on a weight loss diet means you can better listen to your body’s true hunger signals.
- Blood Sugar Regulation: Weight loss diets that include high carbohydrates can create blood sugar spikes that leave you feeling hungry again soon after eating—as well as tired and unfocused.
Exercise Benefits of Ketosis
Ketosis can be beneficial during exercise by:
- Preventing crashing when doing prolonged exercise
- Maintaining blood glucose
- Adapting the body to burning more fat, which helps the body preserve glycogen in the muscles
- Improving the function of mitochondria, enzymes, and fat usage to improve overall health and physical performance long-term.
- Using oxygen more efficiently, leading to better performance for endurance athletes.
Mental Focus Benefits of Ketosis
An unbalanced diet can lead to lack of mental clarity, showing up as foggy brain, having a hard time remembering important facts, or struggling to stay focused on tasks. Ketones improve the efficiency and energy levels of the mitochondria, which produce energy for cells of the body and brain. Eating healthy fats is essential. Every single cell in our body needs fat to function, especially our brain cells. The brain is the fattiest organ, comprised of over 60% fat and prefers fat for fuel.
Other Side Effects of Ketosis
Dehydration: Transitioning to ketosis is frequently a dehydrating process. This is because,
- Glycogen and carbs are stored in the body with water. It takes 4 grams of water to store a gram of glycogen. As you deplete glycogen, you will lose water.
- High insulin levels cause water retention by inhibiting sodium excretion. The ketogenic diet lowers insulin levels, allowing excess fluid to be released.
Other temporary symptoms are byproducts of dehydration and low carbohydrate levels while your body is still trying to use carbohydrates as its primary energy source, including:
- Brain fog
- Stomach pain
- Low motivation
These symptoms often pass once the body has switched into ketosis
Remedies To Ketosis Side Effects
- Drinking lots of water to counteract dehydration
- Adding salt and electrolytes
- Time. Often your body just needs to get used to low carbohydrate levels and switch into ketosis
- Eating more fat. Higher proportions of fat in your diet will help getting into ketosis