The latest in diet “fads” is the ketogenic diet. What is this diet that seems to be working so well for so many people? What about ketones? Aren’t they bad for us? What is an exogenous ketone? How do I get into ketosis? These are just some of the questions that we get a lot of at Free Form so we figured it was about time we take the frequently asked questions about ketosis.
What is Ketosis?
Ketosis is not some new state that we have created with the ketogenic diet. Ketosis is actually a very normal metabolic process that occurs in the body. When our body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to perform its daily tasks, or to workout, the body burns fat instead. In the process of breaking down the fat for energy, the body creates ketones as a byproduct.
How do I get into Ketosis?
In order to get into a state of ketosis, your blood needs to reach a certain concentration of ketones. For the optimal ketogenic diet state, you want to be between 2 – 7 milli-moles. You can test this in a variety of ways. There are keto-strips, which are an inexpensive way to test if you are in ketosis. You can find them on amazon for around $15. The only thing with these strips is that as your body maintains elevated ketone levels, the strips no longer read them. So if you are constantly testing, you may get a negative reading and think you’re out of ketosis, but really you’ve just stopped peeing them out. The best way to continuously test your ketone levels is with a breath ketone device like Levl but because this is a device that comes with a few more bells and whistles, it will cost you $700 USD.
What does a typical Ketogenic diet look like?
In order to get into ketosis you need to cut down your carbohydrate intake and up your fat and protein intake. Carbohydrate recommendations are typically under 50g/day. This is what makes this diet tricky for some people because the average North American eats 200-300grams of carbs a day! Healthy fats are a huge part of this diet, obviously, as fats are becoming your main fuel source. Remember – fat does not make you fat. You want to be picking really good, healthy fats, like avocados, nuts, full-fat creams and cream cheeses.
There are a number of instagram accounts, blogs, and youtube channels that do a great job of explaining the ketogenic diet, and provide recipes and tips for you to make the most of your ketogenic diet. Here are just a few of our recommendations:
@theketobox @ketofridge @ketogeniccom
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGeBP3Ju-k4BDBcbVW9t_Zg (vegan keto!!)
What are the Benefits of Keto?
In this cited review, they list a number of health benefits associated with a ketogenic diet. They are:
– Weight management/weight loss
– Managing insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes
– Reducing the frequency of seizures in individuals with epilepsy
– Controlling acne
– Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease
– Slowing the progression of some types of cancer (still in early stages of research)
– Managing PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) symptoms
– Potential therapeutic use for neurological disorders and diseases like Alzheimer’s,
headaches, Parkinson’s, sleep disorders, MS, autism, and brain cancer (again – these
are all in their early stages of research).
Is a Ketogenic diet Dangerous? (What is Ketoacidosis)
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition that type 1 diabetics are at risk of when too many ketones build up in the blood. As a diabetic, their body does not produce insulin and therefore cannot shuttle glucose into the cells. When an individual with diabetes cannot get insulin, the body is not using carbohydrates for fuel, so it switches to the ketone-producing pathway. The ketones then build up in the blood and, if not caught early, the build up becomes acidic and then leads to keto-acidosis. This can be treated with high-electrolyte fluids and insulin. Individuals with type 1 diabetes should talk to a physician before considering any dietary changes.
For those of us who are not diabetic, our bodies will not get into this keto-acidodic state because we can produce insulin. Therefore the blood cannot reach high enough levels of ketones to become acidic.
Have more questions about the ketogenic diet? Let us know and we will put together another FAQ post for those questions! Until then, here is a sample, 1 week ketogenic diet plan from DietingWell.com.