WHAT IS KETOSIS? A GUIDE TO THE FAT-SHREDDING METABOLIC STATE
Time to read 12 min
Time to read 12 min
Gone are the days of restrictive dieting and yo-yo weight loss. By transitioning your body to burn fat instead of carbs for fuel, you can finally ditch stubborn fat, curb cravings, optimize brain health, and tap into boundless energy.
That fat-burning state is Ketosis! But what is Ketosis exactly?
Whether you're a seasoned keto veteran or just dipping your toe into low-carb living, this comprehensive Keto Collective guide will illuminate everything you need to know about achieving a state of ketosis.
You'll uncover how ketosis impacts your body on a metabolic level, how to enter into ketosis through nutrition and lifestyle strategies, tangible benefits ranging from weight loss to enhanced cognitive function, and potential side effects to be mindful of.
Let's get to it!
Ketosis occurs when the body switches from burning carbohydrates to burning fats for fuel. This happens when carb intake is extremely low, triggering the liver to produce ketone bodies from fat. Ketones are then used as the primary energy source.
Contrast this with the regular metabolic state where carbs are plentiful. Here, the body relies on the glucose from carbs as the primary fuel.
Ketosis is not to be confused with ketoacidosis - a pathological condition in uncontrolled diabetes where ketones build up to dangerous levels.
Instead, nutritional ketosis induced through low-carb dieting promotes numerous health markers. Weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, and neurological benefits are some advantages.
The drastic reduction in carbs needed to reach ketosis is the basis of ketogenic diets. But ketosis is not for everyone. Consult your healthcare provider before embarking on this metabolic shift.
For those who can adapt well, entering ketosis through the targeted restriction of dietary carbs can unlock lasting health changes. But the journey requires patience and self-awareness.
RELATED: If you want to know more about getting started on Keto, you may want to check out our Beginners Guide To Keto
The ketogenic diet has blazed the trail for ketosis through carb restriction. Keto aims to drive the body into ketosis by slashing carb intake and emphasizing fats. This metabolic switch is why keto is lauded for benefits like weight loss, blood sugar control, reduced blood pressure, and reduced seizures.
But keto isn't the only path to ketosis. The Atkins, Dukan, and other low-carb high-fat (LCHF) diets share the goal of carb-cutting to reach ketosis. But the specific carb, protein, and fat ratios can differ across low-carb diets.
Research shows low-carb approaches excel at trimming body fat and managing diabetes. But not all carbs are equal. Some nourish health, so total exclusion isn’t best for everyone.
Shifting metabolic gears into ketosis can take a few weeks as your body adapts through various stages. The first week often brings "KetoFlu" - headaches, moodiness, brain fog, and fatigue. This carb withdrawal stems from the body's adjustment from glucose to ketones for fuel. It typically resolves within a week.
One perk of entering ketosis is initial water weight loss. With carb restriction, glycogen stored in muscles and liver decreases. Each gram of glycogen binds 3-4 grams of water. So depletion releases associated water. While encouraging, remember - this isn't fat loss! If you start eating carbs, this water-weight will refill quickly in your body!
In the first weeks of the keto transition, your body improves at tapping fat for energy. Hunger and cravings often decrease. But ensure adequate calorie and nutrient intake for your needs. With the body still adapting to ketones, physical performance can temporarily decrease. Mental clarity may rise.
Patience and attentiveness to your body’s signals are key in transitioning to fat-burning. Support the process with ample hydration, electrolytes, rest, and personalized carb intake. Within time, your body will adapt to efficiently utilize ketones for energy.
When carbs are scarce, the body breaks down fatty acids into ketones. The liver converts these ketones into the main fuel source. That’s why ample fat intake sustains ketosis. Focus on healthy sources like avocado, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.
One benefit of ketosis is metabolizing the body’s own stored fat into energy, leading to fat loss. This happens as the body becomes efficient at burning fat stores for fuel.
Protein intake also matters. Too little risks losing muscle mass as the body scrambles for energy. But eating adequate protein while minimizing carbs preserves muscle while burning fat.
Some amino acids from protein can even be converted to ketones! So those following vegetarian keto diets can still produce ketones without as much dietary fat.
In summary, generous fat intake is the ketosis cornerstone. But sufficient protein prevents muscle loss while reinforcing the fat-burning state.
RELATED: If you want to know more, you may want to read our article on the Top High-Fat Keto Foods
The metabolic changes of ketosis profoundly affect insulin and blood sugar levels. This can curb insulin resistance massively, but requires precautions for diabetics.
Insulin helps regulate blood sugar by enabling cells to absorb and use glucose. High-carb meals spike blood sugar and stimulate insulin secretion.
Ketosis flips the script. With carb restriction, blood sugar and subsequent insulin levels drop. This improves insulin sensitivity as less insulin is needed to keep blood sugar in check.
In ketosis, blood sugar stays low because dietary carbs are scarce. The body taps its fat stores for fuel. This metabolic flexibility helps regulate insulin and blood sugar.
Not having these horrendous mid-afternoon sugar crashes are a real game-changer on Keto. Not having to refuel on carbs and caffeine to get through a working day is a real blessing!
Those with insulin deficiencies like Type 1 diabetes require enough insulin to prevent ketoacidosis. So they should not attempt ketosis without medical supervision. For others, ketosis can support healthy blood sugar control. But dietary carbs should still be enough to support general health.
RELATED: If you want to know more about the impact of keto on blood sugar levels, you may want to read our article: The Keto Diet & Diabetes
Ketosis offers alluring benefits, but also potential downsides. Let’s examine the pros and cons:
On the Benefits side, Ketosis can:
However, Possible side effects include:
Working with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner when adopting a keto diet can minimize risks while maximizing results. They can help determine if ketosis aligns with your health goals and guide you through the process.
RELATED: If you want to know more, you may want to read our article on The Benefits of Keto
Ketosis is often used strategically for weight loss goals. By tapping body fat as an energy source, many see rapid drops on the scale.
One advantage is that ketosis prompts the burning of fat while preserving calorie-burning lean muscle mass. This happens because keto provides adequate protein for muscle maintenance even with low carbs.
But remember - rapid weight loss on keto often isn't sustainable long-term after the initial water weight drop. For lasting success, embrace lifestyle factors like mindful eating, stress management, and joyful movement.
Ensure adequate nutrients on keto. Consult a nutrition professional to determine your needs. With patience and lifestyle balance, ketosis can be used strategically for healthy weight management.
While ketosis offers proven benefits for some conditions, it can be risky for others without oversight.
In type 2 diabetes, ketosis can lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. But unmanaged ketosis in type 1 diabetes can lead to the dangerous diabetic ketoacidosis.
Ketosis shows promise for metabolic and neurological conditions like obesity, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. But more research is still needed to understand the mechanisms and risks.
Anyone with chronic conditions should work closely with their healthcare team to determine if ketosis is appropriate. Collaborative conversations are key.
Testing ketone levels helps ensure you’re achieving ketosis based on your individual carb intake. There are a few options available to you.
Urine test strips offer the most affordable option, but results aren’t as accurate. To use these, all you need to do is… You guessed it… pee!
Within seconds of urinating on a test strip, it will change colour and show you if you are currently in ketosis, or not! Keep these in a cool dry place, and remember to secure whatever contains them.
There is nothing worse than realising all of your keto strips have gone bad because moisture got to them!
Another method of testing is via blood ketone meters. Blood ketone meters measure levels through a finger prick, so if you struggle drawing blood, these won't be for you! However, if you don't mind seeing a bit of your own plasma everyday, these are more accurate than urine test strips!
Other ketone testers also include breathalizers that pick up ketones via simply breathing onto them. Amazing!
Intermittent fasting (IF) can accelerate ketosis by prolonging periods where carbs are not consumed. This metabolic break shifts the body’s energy source from glucose to stored fat.
Practices like 16:8, where eating is restricted to an 8-hour window, allow the body to more readily enter ketosis between fasts. This on-off cycling amplifies fat burning.
If you are serious about getting and staying in ketosis, intermittent fasting should become your partner on this journey. Nothing gets you into ketosis quicker than fasting!
When applied strategically, intermittent fasting can intensify and sustain ketosis. But never force long fasts that leave you drained. Work with your body’s natural rhythms and fuel needs.
RELATED: Want to know more about this keto cheat code? Check out our article on What is Intermittent Fasting?
Exogenous ketones are supplements that provide the body with ketones directly, claiming to skip the process of getting the user into ketosis naturally. Popular supplements include ketone salts and esters.
Research is still emerging on their effectiveness. Some studies show exogenous ketones increase blood levels.
While intriguing, exogenous ketones aren't a shortcut to the benefits of ketosis. Focus first on low-carb nutrition, movement, and lifestyle. Then add supplements as an additional tool if desired.
Personally, I believe these exogenous ketone supplements do more harm than good. For example, you could eat 4 donuts, ingest exogenous ketones, and your pee test-strip would show you as being in ketosis! Thats not really the case. In reality, your body is overflowing with glucose, and you have simply added ketones to your system. This gives a false positive to the user!
We would always recommend fasting before trying supplements. You don't need supplements to do keto! The opposite actually. Less is more.
The brain requires a steady supply of fuel to perform optimally. Ketosis ensures the brain is well-fed through ketones.
The blood-brain barrier protects the brain by filtering substances from blood. Fortunately, it allows ketones to pass through and nourish the brain.
Ketones are an efficient energy source for the brain when glucose is in short supply, such as during fasting or keto dieting. The liver ramps up ketone production to meet the brain's needs.
Ketosis also fuels the brain through gluconeogenesis. This metabolic process releases glucose from protein, supplementing brain energy. Even without significant dietary carbs, the brain is sustained.
Research shows that ketosis often improves cognition, focus, memory, and mood. Protecting brain health is an important advantage of teaching the body to utilize ketones through well-formulated low-carb diets or intermittent fasting.
Ketosis induces widespread metabolic changes as the body adapts to burning fats and ketones for fuel.
The liver ramps up production of acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone - the three ketone bodies. Muscles and organs readily use ketones for energy in place of glucose.
Ketosis may reduce oxidative stress and inflammation since burning fat and ketones is less taxing than glucose metabolism. Enhanced insulin sensitivity also commonly occurs as blood sugar and insulin decrease.
In general, ketosis takes several days to achieve through carb restriction, but you can fast-track this process by fasting.
With sound nutritional ketosis, the body gracefully transitions between burning carbs and ketones as needed. This metabolic flexibility unlocks lasting benefits for health and cognition.
You should now have a solid grasp of Ketosis and how it impacts your body and brain. While the science may seem complex, the takeaway is simple: Ketosis is a powerful tool for transforming your health.
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body uses ketones from fat as its main energy source.
The ketogenic diet is a popular way to achieve ketosis and has been shown to improve blood sugar management, reduce seizures in epilepsy, and aid in weight loss.
To get into ketosis fast, then FAST! Intermittent fasting can really speed the process up.
Does the idea of unlocking your body’s innate fat-burning abilities get you excited? Or are you feeling unsure about taking the plunge? Either way is understandable.
Shifting your metabolism to run on fat and ketones instead of carbs is a big change. It requires commitment, patience with yourself, and a spirit of experimentation to find what works best for YOU!
RELATED: If you enjoyed reading this article, you may want to read our blog on The Facts on Fats
When your body enters a state of ketosis, it starts using fat as its primary source of energy instead of glucose. This can lead to weight loss, improved blood sugar control, and increased energy levels. Additionally, some studies have suggested that ketosis may have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects.
For most people, being in a state of ketosis is safe and natural. However, it is important to note that some people may experience side effects such as bad breath, constipation, and nutrient deficiencies. Additionally, people with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, should consult with a healthcare professional before attempting to enter a state of ketosis.
There are several ways to tell if you are in a state of ketosis. One way is to use a ketone meter, which measures the level of ketones in your blood. Another way is to look for symptoms such as increased thirst, dry mouth, and a fruity odor on your breath.
During ketosis, your body breaks down fat into molecules called ketones, which it then uses for energy. This process can lead to weight loss and improved blood sugar control, among other benefits.
There is no set time limit for how long a person can safely remain in a state of ketosis. However, it is important to monitor your body and consult with a healthcare professional if you experience any negative side effects.
There are several ways to enter a state of ketosis, including following a low-carb, high-fat diet (such as the ketogenic diet), fasting, or engaging in regular exercise.
Foods that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates can help you enter a state of ketosis quickly. Some examples include meat, fish, eggs, avocado, nuts, and seeds. However, it is important to remember that everyone's body is different, and some people may enter ketosis more easily than others.