“Ketosis” is the star actor in the ketosis diet and recent weight loss plans, and refers to the process whereby your body starts to burn your stored fat due to a lack of carbohydrates for energy. But does it really work? And is it safe? Here’s a complete guide to give you all the answers to your questions:
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is basically a metabolic state in which the main energy source of your body becomes ketone bodies. You don’t need any ketosis pill or “magical ketosis food” to start ketosis because it’s a totally natural process.
Usually, your cells use glucose as a fuel. But when you don’t have enough glucose in your body, your insulin level drops and fatty acids from stored fats are released into your blood. Fatty acids are too big to cross the blood-brain barrier, and thus they are transformed into small particles called ketones or ketone bodies in the liver to produce an alternative energy source that can reach every cell in your body.
Does ketosis work? Is it really beneficial?
Ketosis has several health benefits, including weight loss, balancing blood sugar, and improving brain health.
- Weight loss: Looking for an effective weight loss strategy? Turn your body into a ketosis machine. Ketosis is all about burning your stored fat, so it promotes weight loss while preserving muscle mass. Many studies show that activating ketosis boosts losing weight. (1),(2),(3)
- Blood sugar balance: Balanced blood sugar means that you have less insulin resistance, which is related to various chronic diseases. The good news is that you can improve how sensitive you are to insulin by making clever choices. Putting your body into ketosis is one of the best ways to regulate your blood sugar and improve your sensitivity to insulin, meaning you can welcome long-standing health benefits. (4)
- Brain health: Ketones have neuroprotective properties; they provide energy to your brain, reduce neuroinflammation, and lower the stress of your brain cells. As you age, you will be less likely to develop neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s through maintaining high level of ketones, in other terms, ketosis. (5) Autophagy of the old and damaged cells is also important to protect you from neurodegenerative disorders.
How do I get into ketosis?
Simply put, you must have consumed all your stored glycogen to enter the ketosis phase. Once your glycogen level is depleted, your body starts breaking down fat and generating ketones to get energy. Extended periods of hunger, special diets and regular exercise can speed this process.
- Ketogenic diet or ketosis diet: The keto diet, also called the ketosis diet plan, is an eating approach based on limiting carbs. Instead, healthy fats become a major part of your meal plans. Reducing your carb intake makes your body consume your stored glycogen faster, beginning to use fat as its main source of fuel.
- Intermittent fasting: Intermittent fasting is one of the best ways to get into the ketosis phase. This essentially means eating literally nothing for a certain period of the day and eating whatever you want in the remaining time. It takes approximately 18 hours of fasting to enter the ketosis zone. If you’re looking to fire up ketosis, you can combine intermittent fasting with the ketosis diet. Here is our Ultimate Guide of Intermittent Fasting. You can get your personal schedule by getting Fasting Kompanion and keep your fasting on track.
- Exercising: In addition to a low-carb diet and fasting, sweating helps you reach ketosis quickly. Through exercise, especially high-intensity types such as HIIT, jogging, or cardio workouts, you consume your glycogen stores, so your body enters the ketosis phase. You may be unwilling to exercise during the initial period of a keto diet or fasting. If you experience dizziness or fatigue, you can consider doing lighter exercises like yoga.
No food offers a golden ticket for entering ketosis. However, by including certain foods in your daily meals, you can easily adapt to a ketosis diet and benefit from the perks of ketosis more quickly:
- Chicken thighs (skin on)
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Leafy greens (kale, spinach, lettuce)
Foods to avoid during a ketosis diet
Avoiding or limiting some foods is key to achieving the metabolic state of ketosis:
- Baked goods, grains, pasta, or any type of refined carbs
- Honey and any form of sugar
- Starchy vegetables (potatoes, carrots, corn)
- High sugar fruits (bananas, figs)
Your body may react to cutting the carbs out of your diet with some flu-like symptoms in the short term, which is called keto flu. These symptoms may include:
- Poor concentration
- Foggy brain
- Sugar cravings
- Stomach issues
- Difficulty sleeping
Whether or not you experience keto flu depends on you as an individual; some people develop symptoms, some don’t. Keto flu is a sign of adaptation to a new diet program and takes approximately 1 week to get over.
Ketosis symptoms – signs that you’re in ketosis
There are common signs indicating that your body is in the ketosis state:
- Bad breath
- Decreased appetite
- Clear mind
- Muscle soreness
The bad breath and muscle soreness gradually disappear as your body gets used to your new eating routine. Like keto flu, they fade away as your adaptation increases.
You can also read your ketone levels to understand whether you’re in the fat-burning zone or not. We strongly recommend you to trust your bodily feelings and not push yourself too much while reading your ketone levels. A few methods to test your ketones are:
- Blood: The most reliable method, blood ketone testing requires a blood ketone meter. It basically measures level beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), the main type of ketone body in your body. If you have a reading of over 0.5 mmol/L BHB, it means that you have achieved ketosis.
- Urine: Urine ketone testing only works in the initial stages and measures levels of acetoacetate. When you’re newly in ketosis, you aren’t completely able to use ketones as fuel so the kidneys excrete ketones as waste products. Over time, your body becomes better at using ketones for energy. So urine ketone testing is the proper way to assess your ketosis state in the early phase. A reading of over 15 mg/dL acetoacetate is the sign that you’re on the right track.
- Breath: Breath ketone testing is not a popular way to test ketone levels. You need a breath ketone analyzer for this test, which mainly measures the breakdown product of the ketone body, acetone. If you’re reading anything over 2 ppm acetone, just keep doing what you’re doing.
All of these tests can be done at home. You can buy ketone test kits from drugstores or online platforms.
The Bottom Line
Ketosis is totally a natural physiological state that brings you fat burning, a clear mind, and balanced blood sugar.
Changing your diet drastically might cause side effects like ketosis flu. To avoid developing such symptoms, make sure that you gradually reduce your daily carb intake and drink plenty of water. Also, if you have a special diet or a health issue, we strongly recommend you to talk to your doctor before introducing ketosis practices into your life.