If you’re planning on following the ketogenic lifestyle, you must understand the ketosis process and how do ketones work. Here’s your guide.
You may be thinking about trying a new diet to lose weight, such as the keto diet and its promise to help you burn fat for energy. But what does that really entail?
A keto diet is based on the idea that you will burn fat even at rest as long as your liver converts fat into energy in the form of ketones.
What Are Ketones?
Ketones are a chemical compound that the liver makes when the body processes fat as a source of energy instead of carbohydrates.
If you’re familiar with the principle behind the keto diet, then you’ll have a better idea of how ketones work in the body.
Glucose is the body’s primary energy source, which can be found in carbohydrates. During a keto diet, the body finds an alternate energy source instead of carbs since they’re unavailable.
The liver then processes fat in the body and turns it into ketones to fuel the brain and muscles, a process called ketosis.
When the body uses ketones for energy, it can lead to weight loss, improved cholesterol levels, repressed appetite, and increased energy.
There are three main types of ketones made in the mitochondria of the liver during ketosis:
- Acetoacetic acid (AcAc);
- And beta-hydroxybutyric acid (BHB).
The Keto Diet
The human body used to more frequently use ketones as its energy source because carbohydrate-rich foods were not yet readily accessible.
However, as more food sources became abundant, the human body naturally became dependent on carbohydrates and sugars.
A ketogenic diet focuses on consuming fats and minimizing consumption of carbs to make the body remain in ketosis and use fat as energy on a regular basis.
A person who does a keto diet usually consumes only around 20–50 grams of carbohydrates per day and fill up their diets with protein and fats from meat, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils.
However, achieving ketosis usually takes weeks of fasting and diet modification. Even then, the level of ketones in the body can vary from person to person.
How To Achieve Ketosis?
If you want to start on a keto diet to lose weight, then try doing these changes in your lifestyle:
1. Limit Your Carbs Intake
You cannot reach ketosis if you have an ample glucose supply, so you need to limit the carbs you eat to 20 grams or less per day.
2. Don’t Get Comfortable With Protein
Since you have limited food options, you may think that the safest thing you can eat is protein. However, be mindful not to overeat since your liver can also convert it into glucose, which will hinder you from reaching ketosis.
3. Consume Fat To Burn Fat
Don’t be afraid of eating healthy fats such as nuts, since it can help your body transform fat into energy more efficiently.
4. Drink Enough Water
Get yourself hydrated, especially when on a keto diet, to help you fight cravings and suppress appetite.
5. Consider Taking Supplements
It can take you weeks before your body uses fat as energy, so taking a supplement can help you reach ketosis faster.
If you want to consider an alternative to help your keto diet, check out the best exogenous ketone supplements available in the market.
6. Try Fasting
Intermittent fasting can help your body achieve ketosis as well. At the same time, it’ll allow you to monitor the food you eat more closely.
How To Test Your Ketones Level?
To determine whether your body is under ketosis or not, you can test the number of ketones you have in your system.
You can test your urine with keto strips that change color depending on how many ketones you have in your system. This method is cheap and accessible, but it isn’t always accurate.
Another test that can determine your ketones level more accurately is a blood glucose meter, which is slightly more expensive than the strips but the results are more reliable.
Here is a breakdown of how you interpret your ketone levels:
- Very Low Ketone Levels: 0.6 millimoles per liter or less.
- Low to Moderate Ketone Levels: from 0.6–1.5 mmol per liter.
- High Ketone Levels: 1.6–3.0 mmol per liter.
- Very High Ketone Levels: over 3.0 mmol.
How To Determine If You’ve Achieved Ketosis?
Aside from doing a test to determine if your body is in ketosis, your body will also have apparent signs to let you know that you’re burning fat for energy:
1. Bad Breath
The unpleasant smell can be a result of acetone getting excreted through your breath. This can be a negative side effect, but it will disappear in the long run.
2. Weight Loss
One visible indication that you are in ketosis is if you are losing weight. Your body will burn fat for energy, which can also decrease your water weight, so you’re bound to see changes on you the scale.
3. Frequent Urination
A keto diet is a natural diuretic, so you’ll often urinate, especially because drinking water is needed to maintain ketosis.
4. Reduced Hunger
Your appetite will decrease as you go along with your keto diet, so your cravings and hunger will also lessen.
5. Increased Energy
You’ll also feel like you have more energy to power through the day as long as you do your diet correctly.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Keto Diet?
The drastic change in your diet can cause some side effects. Of course, this can be minimal and can go away over time.
Still, it would be best if you watched out for any of these if it gets too unbearable to handle:
You may feel that your heart will beat faster than average when you’re transitioning over to keto.
However, this should go away once your body gets accustomed to your new diet. If it persists for an extended period, then try to drink more water and consume foods that contain sodium.
2. Digestive Issues
Diarrhea and constipation are common side effects at the beginning of a keto diet. If you experience either of these, you can increase your water intake to help you feel better.
A keto diet is a diuretic, which means your body is losing a lot of fluids, which can cause cramps. Water and sodium intake can address this issue, but if you don’t see any improvements, try to take a magnesium supplement.
4. Low Energy
You may feel a little tired during your transition since your body is undergoing adjustments internally. Once your body shifts to using fat for energy, you’ll regain your strength and stamina.
Knowing how your body functions can help you better make choices good for your overall health.
If you wish to lose some weight or simply want to find a more efficient way to reduce your fat mass, consider doing a keto diet.
However, being on a keto diet will take more time than other diets, so be sure that you’re ready to commit to this fitness process.
Listen to what your body tells you, and don’t push your limits when it comes to getting fit.