What Is Ketosis?
Ketosis is when your body’s energy state uses an alternative fuel when glucose (blood sugar) is low. You can bring yourself naturally into this state by either fasting or lowering your carbohydrate intake.
Eating a diet low in carbs and high in fat creates ketosis and enhances this process but without the hunger of fasting. Infact when you wake in a morning you’re already in a state of ketosis.
The cells in your body create energy from the food you eat and the oxygen you inhale.
There are 2 types, Glucose and Ketone Bodies
- Glucose (Blood sugar) is the product of starches and sugars in our diet.
- Ketone Bodies come from the break down of fatty acids
When glucose levels are low, especially over time, most cells switch over to using ketone bodies for fuel, inc the brain and nerve cells. In addition they have some unique properties which make them a ‘cleaner’ fuel for your cells to utilise and create much more energy than they can from glucose.
This process can take several weeks but once the body is using ketones as a main fuel source there are some profound health benefits including;
- Reversal of type 2 diabetes
- Reduces tiredness and increased energy
- Weight loss and fat loss
- Clearer skin and reduced symptoms of eczema and psoriasis
- Increased concentration as the brain prefers fat for fuel
The main reason and one of the most popular benefits to ketosis is weight loss. When fat is being used as fuel rather than glucose the spike in insulin is avoided. This means your body will use utilise stored fat as fuel rather than use glucose (sugar.)
You can achieve ketosis naturally by lowering your carbohydrate intake and increasing your protein and fat consumption.
A Beginners Guide To A Ketogenic Diet
Firstly you’ll want to make sure you’re organised and prepared. It’s very difficult in the first stages to be able to eat on the go and expect you can pick up lunch from the local shop or canteen at work. This approach will leave you stressed out, unsatisfied and relying on will power to get you through the day. (Which will inevitably fail and you’ll be back to old ways.)
Create a food plan and prepare your meals in advance, especially lunches if you’re away from home, at the office or in meetings. Your meals shouldn’t feel like something is missing, for example, ordering your usual lunch of jacket potato, tuna and cheese and only eating the tuna and cheese and wasting the potato. Try to explore new dishes that are naturally low in refined and starchy carbs and lots of protein choices. Adding the high fat to your meals will increase satiety so you wont be left craving the carbs.
This is probably the most challenging as health authorities still promote low-fat diets for weight loss and it goes against what you’ve been led to believe for the last 40 years. I know it’ll feel a little strange to consume fat initially, however, you must consume fat to lose fat.
The Formula For Ketosis
It’s helpful to use an app like My Fitness Pal so you can record your daily intake of food to get the balance right. It’s an easy way to log your meals and to track what needs to increase/decrease as the day goes on.
I would suggest for you to set your macros (carbs, protein and fat) on the app to read:
- Carbs 20%
- Protein 40%
- Fat 40%
Aim to reach the grams of each macronutrient per day and just remember when entering your information during set up, to try and calculate your daily calorie intake correctly. More often than not this is under calculated. If you use the Harris Benedict Equation you can’t go wrong.
Your main carbohydrates source will be vegetables. Try to consume leafy greens and vegetables that are fibrous like broccoli, cauliflower and sprouts. Sweet potatoes, root vegetables and quinoa are other suitable alternatives to the starchy carbs and grains.
Mainly from animal sources like meat, eggs, fish and dairy. Protein is the power house for fat loss as its consumption has no effect on insulin release, but encourages the release of glucogen with helps utilise stored fat. Just a note on dairy – I’m referring to full fat natural yogurt and goats cheese rather than cows milk and cheese. This is due to the steroids and hormones present in it and the pasteurising process of these products.
This is what’s going to fuel your body and brain so choose good fat like oily fish, avocados, nuts, seeds, butter, olive oil, ghee and coconut oil. Steer clear of processed fats like vegetable oils sunflower and rapeseed, along with low fat spreads.
To keep hydrated. As your body enters the keto stage your muscles become depleted of glycogen. This can also cause your electrolytes levels to drop so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water especially if you’re working out. Coconut water contains about 252 milligrams of sodium per cup, so it’s good choice when trying to maintain your body’s fluid balance.
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