5 Benefits of Ketosis
5 Benefits of Ketosis
1. Weight Loss
The ketogenic diet approach to eating is one that can often be maintained and incorporated into a lifestyle, while the same can hardly ever be said for diets that restrict calories and fat, because they simply leave you feeling too hungry.
When you eat more food than your body needs, it’s converted to triglycerides and stored inside your fat cells. The more often you keep consuming large amounts of glucose through carbohydrate foods, the less your body needs to tap into existing sources (your fat cells or stored glycogen in your liver and muscles) for energy, so your newly added fat cells remain intact and, therefore, weight loss is much more difficult.
On a keto diet, carbs provide only about 5 percent of daily calories, compared to anywhere between 40–60 percent on a “standard diet.” Reducing carbohydrate consumption this drastically means that the majority of empty calories from highly processed foods must be eliminated from your diet, including things like white bread and rolls, pasta, rice or other grains, sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts, etc. These are the same foods that tend to cause fluctuating blood sugar levels, cravings for more carbs and sugar, low energy and contribute to overeating in general.
With their absence, the body starts burning its own excess fat stores instead, promoting weight loss in a very high percentage of people. (4)
2. Suppressed Hunger & Reduced Cravings
In contrast to most other diet plans, remaining in ketosis doesn’t require counting calories, measuring portions or dealing with hunger pangs for the sake of eating as little as possible. In fact, most people feel satisfied and energized while in ketosis and find that they can go for longer periods without the need to eat (which is why intermittent fasting is commonly practiced with a keto diet).
Compared to meals that mostly contains carbs, high-fat, moderate protein meals are very filling and do a great job of controlling hunger hormones, often for many hours. This results in less need for snacking or grazing throughout the day, especially on junk foods or sweets.
Clinical results suggest both direct and indirect actions of ketones via modifications of various hunger-related hormones concentrations. While it’s not completely clear how ketosis reduces appetite, studies have found that ketosis is effective at lowering food intake and regulating appetite by altering levels of the hunger hormones including cholecystokinin (CCK) and ghrelin. At the same, ketone bodies seem to affect the hypothalamus region in the brain, positively impact leptin signals, and avoid slowing down the metabolism like most other diets do. (5)
3. Improvements in Blood Sugar Control & Heart Health
Aside from its benefits related to weight loss, the keto diet can also drastically improve other health conditions tied to factors like poor blood sugar management, overeating and poor gut health. These contribute to common health problems such as:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol or triglycerides
- Diabetes (6)
- Indigestion, including IBS symptoms or acid reflux (7)
- Cancer and tumor growth (8)
- The keto diet has also been used for decades to help control seizures and symptoms of epilepsy in both children and adults (9)
How can ketosis help reduce your risk various health concerns? It comes down to the benefits of stabilizing your blood sugar and decreasing glucose intake and usage. As glucose enters your blood, your pancreas sends out insulin to pick up the sugar and carry it to your cells so they can use it as energy. However, when your cells have used or stored all the glucose that they can, what remains is converted into glycogen to be stored in the liver and muscles OR converted into triglycerides, the storage form of fat.
4. More Energy & Enhanced Mental Focus
Not only do most people find that excess weight quickly drops off while on the keto diet, but many also experience improvements in terms of sustaining higher levels of energy.
After a period of time, your body becomes adapted to using ketones as fuel instead of glucose. Your muscles begin to learn to convert acetoacetate into a ketogenic substance called beta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB. BHB then becomes the new preferred ketogenic source of energy, including to fuel all brain activity. What is not needed is expelled from the body as waste.
Another process also happens during ketosis that helps keep your body energized, and it’s called gluconeogenesis. This occurs when glycerol (created during beta-oxidation) get’s converted into glucose that your body can use for energy. Protein in your diet can also be converted to glucose in small amounts. So as you can see, essentially your body is able to create its own source of necessary glucose without getting it from carbohydrate foods. The human body is very efficient, and it knows just how to convert other macronutrients (protein and fat) into useable molecules that can be dispersed throughout the body as needed.
5. Reduced Risk for Other Chronic Diseases (Especially Neurological)
There’s strong evidence that a keto diet can help treat or manage serious diseases including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and certain types of cancer. Studies show the diet helps to reduce disruptions in nerve and neural activity in the brain.
While it’s still not entirely clear how the keto diet helps treat these conditions, most experts believe that drastically cutting off glucose supply and entering ketosis helps elicit biochemical changes that prevent and eliminate short-circuits in the brain’s signaling system that are responsible for cellular damage, seizure and tumor growth.
Other mechanisms that have been suggested include: changes in ATP production making neurons more resilient in the face of metabolic demands, altered brain pH affecting neuronal activity, direct inhibitory effects of ketone bodies or fatty acids on ion channels, alterations in amino acid metabolism, and changes in synthesis of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. (10)
How to Get Into Ketosis
Inducing ketosis requires severely limiting your carbohydrate consumption, this way you cut off supply of glucose to your cells. In addition to severely restricting carbs, you also need to limit your protein consumption, since protein can be converted into glucose in small amounts. This is the exact reason that most low-carb diets (such as Atkins or the Paleo diet) do not result in ketosis, because they allow a high intake of protein that keeps supplying the body with enough energy that it doesn’t need to burn fat.
The Ketogenic Diet Food Plan:
- If you intend to follow a “strict” ketogenic diet, aim to get 60–80 percent of your daily calories from sources of fat. Between 15–25 percent of calories should be from protein sources, and only about 5–10 percent from carbohydrates.
- Based on the fact that most authorities recommend getting 45–65 percent of your calories from carbohydrates and only 20– 35 percent of your calories from fat, this will likely be very different than what you’re used to.
Transitioning Into Ketosis:
- For optimal results and the quickest improvements in terms of blood sugar and weight loss, it’s recommended you aim to eat between 20–30 grams of net carbs (total grams of carbs minus grams of fiber) a day.
- It’s usually best to include more carbs to begin with during your transition into ketosis, in order to help you adjust and avoid strong side effects (more on this below). Aim for around 50–60 grams net carbs daily in the beginning while you work towards decreasing to 20–30 grams if you wish.
- Keep in mind that the ketogenic diet takes into account net grams of carbohydrates, not simply total grams. Net carbohydrates are the amount of carbohydrates left over after you subtract grams of fiber from total grams of carbohydrates. For example, if vegetables you’re eating have 5 grams of carbohydrates total, but 3 grams come from fiber, the total number of net carbohydrates is only 2 grams, which is the number you add to your daily total.
- To figure out how many calories you need from each macronutrient group, first figure out how many calories you should be eating in total for weight maintenance or loss. You can use an online calculator, such as the one created by the National Institute of Health found here to help determine your energy/calorie needs. Then split up your calorie intake into fats, proteins and carbs.
- Make sure to drink plenty water throughout the day and also increase your intake of electrolytes, especially potassium from things like leafy greens and avocado.
- Exercise might also help you get into ketosis faster, although in the initial stages this may be hard due to low energy levels.
Remember that as your body changes — for example, you lose weight or increase muscle mass — your calorie needs and macronutrient ranges may also need to change. Always monitor your own biofeedback to make sure you’re fueling your body in the best way possible.
Precautions: Potential Side Effects of Ketosis
Before starting the ketogenic diet, it’s always best to consult with your physician if you have a history of existing health conditions including diabetes, kidney disease or damage, heart problems, a hormonal imbalance, or history with an eating disorder.
The ketogenic diet may not be safe for people with certain metabolic conditions or health conditions, especially:
- Gallbladder disease
- Impaired fat digestion
- History of pancreatitis
- Kidney disease
- Impaired liver function
- Previous gastric bypass surgery for weight loss
- Type 1 diabetes or impaired insulin production
- History of alcoholism or excessive alcohol
One particular concern to be aware of is the risk for ketoacidosis, which especially applies to diabetics. Ketoacidosis is a dangerous metabolic state in which excessive amounts of ketones are produced. In mostly healthy individuals, ketosis is regulated by insulin, which is the hormone that controls the creation of ketone bodies and regulates the flow of fatty acids into the blood.
People with type 1 diabetes do not produce enough insulin, so their bodies are unable to regulate ketones, which can lead to a dangerous environment. Always consult with your doctor if you have diabetes before changing your diet, and look out for warning signs of ketoacidosis including: excessive thirst, increased urination, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue and confusion.
Final Thoughts on Ketosis & The Ketogenic Diet
- Ketosis is the result of following the ketogenic diet (sometimes called “the ketosis diet”).
- While entering into ketosis it’s common to notice certain signs and symptoms of your body changing, which can be both pleasant or uncomfortable. These include reduced appetite/suppressed hunger, weight loss, changes in energy levels and sleep, bad breath, digestive issues or moodiness.
- The unwanted side effects of ketosis (nicknamed “the keto flu”) usually go away within a couple of weeks and can commonly be managed by eating more fat, drinking enough water, getting more electrolytes, resting and being patient during the transition.
If you want 370 “Fat Burning” Recipes check out the Ketosis Cookbook