Have you heard about ketosis? It is a metabolic process when the fat in the body is converted into compounds called ketones, which is the main energy source. This process offers several health benefits as well.
Furthermore, some researchers have discovered that those diets that lead to ketosis are very useful because they suppress the appetite and lead to weight loss. Also, ketosis is very beneficial in the treatment of several conditions, some of them type 2 diabetes and neurological disorders.
For this process you need to plan and make an actual effort, it is not as simple as eliminating carbs.
Thus, we are here to present you with 7 steps on how to enter the state of ketosis.
7 Steps to Make the Body Convert Fat into Energy
1. Reduce the Intake of Carbs
Having a diet that is full of low carbs is perfect for achieving ketosis. This is due to the fact that the cells use the sugar or glucose as the main energy source. However, they still use other sources as well, like fatty acids and ketones, known as ketone bodies.
The glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles and if there is low-carb intake, the stores are reduced and the insulin level is lowered. This way the fatty acids will be released from the fat stores. The liver will turn some of these fatty acids in ketone bodies like acetone, acetoacetate, and beta-hydroxybutyrate, which the brain can use as fuel.
Some people need to reduce some net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) to 20 grams daily, and some can consume more. This depends on the individual. Thus, the Atkins diet recommends you to limit the intake to 20 or fewer grams daily for 2 weeks to make sure that ketosis is achieved. Afterwards, you can increase the carbs.
There was one study which involved overweight people with type 2 diabetes who reduced the carb intake to 21 or fewer grams a day for a whole week. The result showed that their daily urinary ketone excretion levels were 27 times higher than the baseline.
Another study involved adults who had type 2 diabetes and were allowed 20-50 grams of digestible carbs daily, depending on the number of grams that allowed them to maintain the blood ketone levels within a target range of 0.5- 3.0 mmol/L.
Also, therapeutic ketogenic diets that are used for epilepsy or as an experimental cancer therapy limit the intake of carbs to fewer than 5% of calories or fewer than 15 grams a day to drive up ketone levels.
Thus, if you reduce the intake of carbs to 20-50 grams a day, it will reduce blood sugar and insulin levels and release stored fatty acids which the liver turns into ketones.
2. Increase the Intake of Healthy Fats
If you were to consume more healthy fats daily, it will increase the levels of ketones and help you achieve ketosis. Actually, a low-carb ketogenic diet is low in carbs but high in fat.
Ketogenic diets for metabolic health, weight loss, and exercise performance get between 60-80% of calories from fat, while the classic ketogenic diet that is used for treating epilepsy is higher in fat. Typically, 25-90% of the calories are from fat. This does not need to mean that the fat intake will lead to high ketone levels every time.
There was one study which involved 11 healthy people for three weeks that analyzed the effects of fasting with different amounts of fat intake on breath ketone levels. They discovered that the ketone levels were similar in people who consume 79% or 90% of the calories from the fat.
Due to the fact that fat is a huge part of the ketogenic diet, you need to always use sources like avocado oil, coconut oil, lard, butter, olive oil, and tallow. However, it is true that if you want to lose weight, you need to consume less calories. However, the consumption of at least 60% of calories from fat will increase the ketone levels. But, make sure you choose the healthy ones from plant and animal sources.
3. Incorporate Coconut Oil in Your Diet
Another thing that can aid with entering ketosis is the consumption of coconut oil. This oil is high in fats called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are absorbed quickly and taken into the liver. The body can use them for energy or convert them into ketones.
This is actually the best way of achieving ketosis in the case of Alzheimer’s disease and other nervous system disorders. This oil has 4 types of MCTs, however, half of the fat comes from the lauric acid.
Some researchers say that the fat sources which are rich in lauric acid can produce a more sustained level of ketosis due to the fact that they are metabolized more gradually than other MCT types.
Other studies have discovered that a diet that is high in MCTs contains 20% of calories from carbs and gives effects that are similar to the classic kektogenic diet. This will provide fewer than 5% of calories from carbs.
Therefore, this leads us to the conclusion that you need to add coconut oil to your diet, just so that you can prevent digestive side-effects, like stomach cramping or diarrhea.
You can start with one teaspoon a day and increase to 2-3 tablespoons a day. Thus, the oil will provide MCRs, which will be absorbed very fast and turned into ketone bodies by the liver.
4. A Proper Protein Intake
If you take the needed dose of protein it will lead to ketosis as well. The classic ketogenic diet of epilepsy patients is limited in carbs and protein to maximize the levels of ketone bodies. Also, it is very beneficial in treating cancer, due to the fact that it reduces the growth of the tumor. However, if there is protein reduction it will boost the production of ketones, which is very healthy.
The sufficient intake of protein is essential so that the liver can get the amino acids it needs for the gluconeogenesis, for production of new glucose. It also needs the few cells and organs which cannot use ketones as fuel, like the brain and kidney areas and the red blood cells.
What is more, the intake of protein is also important for maintaining the muscle mass if the intake of carbs reduces during weight loss. Most of the times, the weight loss will lead to both fat and muscles loss. However, the intake of protein on a very low-carb ketogenic diet can preserve muscle mass.
Some studies have discovered that you can preserve muscle mass and maximize physical performance with a protein intake of 0.55-o.77 grams per pound of lean mass.
Some weight loss studies have also shown that very low-carb diets with protein in this range lead to ketosis.
One particular study which involved 17 obese men who followed a ketogenic diet, consisted of 30% calories from protein for a month. They discovered that their blood ketone levevls were 1.52 mmol/L on average, which is within the 0.5-3.0 mmol/L range of nutritional ketosis.
In order to learn the protein levels that the body needs on a ketogenic diet, you have to multiply your ideal body weight in pounds by 0.55 to 0.77.
Thus, we can see that the low protein intake causes muscles mass loss. While if you intake it a lot, it will suppress their production.
5. A Short Fast or a Fat Fast
If you do not eat food for a couple of hours, you can achieve ketosis too. A lot of people do enter a mild ketosis between dinner and breakfast.
In fact, epilepitic children often fast for 24-48 hours before a ketogenic diet. This is so that they could reduce the seizures sooner, as they enter the state of ketosis faster.
Moreover, you can achieve ketosis by intermittent fasting, which involves regualr short-term fasts.
Another approach to ketone boosting is fat fasting. This is when the effects of fasting are immitated. It will allow the consumption of about 1,000 calories a day, 85-90% of them come from fat, and the low calories, and high fat intake will lead to ketosis.
A fat fast is low in caloreis and protein. Thus, to prevent loss of muscle mass, you need not follow it more than 3-5 days. However, fasting, intermittent fasting and fat fasting will help the body achieve ketosis quickly.
6. Physical Activity
Other studies have discovered that ketosis is also good for athletic performance, like an endurance exercise. Also, physical acitvity helps the body achieve ketosis as well. This is due to the fact that exercise depletes the glycogen stores. However, if you reduce carb intake, the stores of glycogen will be low. Plus, the liver will boost the ketone production.
One study also discovered that exercise boosts the production of ketones in the case of low blood ketone concentrations. Still, if the levels of ketone are high, they will not rise with exercise and they might decrease for a short period.
Aso, the combination of fasting and exercise is optimal for increasing ketone levels.
Furthermore, there was another small study on 9 older women. They did exercises before or after a meal. This showed that the blood ketone levels were 137-314% higher when they did it before a meal.
Nevertheles, you need to also note that the body might need 1-4 weeks to adapt to ketones and fatty acids.
This leads us to the conclusion that physical activity does raise the levels of the ketones in the case of a restricted intake of carbs. Also, the effects will boost in a state of fasting.
7. Test Ketone Levels and Adjust Your Diet
Last, but not least, you need to test ketone levels so that you can achieve your goal. The three types of ketone, which are acetone, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetoacetate can be tested with urine, blood or breath.
Thus, we will present you three methods which can help you in testing the ketones. This way you can see if you need to make some adjustments for ketosis.
Acetoacetate tests through urine. All you need to do is dip the ketone urine strings into the urine. The different ketone levels will color the strips in different shades of purple and pink. If the color is darker it means that the ketone levels are higher. These strips are easy and cheap, however, their accuracy is under quesiton. If the person follows a ketogenic diet, the urinary ketones can be highest in the morning and after diner.
Another way to measure ketones is through the blood ketone meter. It is similar to the glucose meter. Actually, you put a small blood drop on a strip and then into the meter. This will evaluate the levels of beta-hydroxybutyrate in the blood and the ketosis levels. However, there is a disadvantage here as well, and that is that the strips are very expensive.
On the other hand, the acetone is in the breath. Some researchers have discovered that testing the acetone breath levels is a succesful way to monitor the state of ketosis in people who eat a ketogenic diet.
The ketogenic meter will measure the levels in the breath. Then when the person breathers in, a color will flash to indicate if the person is in ketosis. Also to show how high the ketone levels are.