What happens to my body during ketosis?

When glucose is being used as a primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored. Typically on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy. By lowering the intake of carbs, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis. As carbs are reduced and fat is increased, the body starts turning fats into ketones, which are molecules that can supply energy for the brain.

After a few days or weeks on such a diet, the body and brain become very efficient at burning fat and ketones for fuel instead of carbs.  The diet being high in fat, moderate protein, and low on carbs, works by reducing insulin levels and fat burning is increased.

We should know that:

Mild ketosis is a natural phenomenon that occurs in humans during fasting and lactation.

In addition, ketosis has a significant influence on suppressing hunger. Thus, a ketogenic diet is a good regulator of the body’s calorie intake and mimics the effect of starvation in the body. (Acc. to research at NCBI)

Optimum ketosis for weight loss ?

  • Below 5 mmol/L is not considered “ketosis”. At this level, you’re far away from maximum fat-burning.
  • Between 0.5-1.5 mmol/L is light nutritional ketosis. You’ll be getting a good effect on your weight, but not optimal.
  • Around 1.5 – 3 mmol/Lis what’s called optimal ketosis and is recommended for maximum weight loss.

Can brain function without carbs?

It’s a common misconception that the brain needs carbs. The truth is that the brain happily burns carbs when you eat them. But if you don’t eat too many carbs, the brain is happy to burn ketones instead.

Your brain will work better in general when burning fat rather than glucose, as fat has been shown to be both neurotherapeutic and neuroprotective. While fats are unable to cross the blood brain barrier, ketones, being water-soluble fats, can cross it and feed your brain. Many times, improved cognition and mental acuity are among the first things people notice when entering nutritional ketosis.

Women’s hormones and  ketosis?

The high-carb, low-fat diet most of us have to transition from is just catastrophic for your hormonal health.

The Ketogenic diet, in its initial phase, is all about rebalancing and healing your hormonal systems. The sudden presence of an excess of good fats and a scarcity of carbs and sugars triggers your body’s natural healing process.

The ketogenic diet, in and of itself, doesn’t affect women’s hormones in a negative way.

Hormonal imbalance has other root causes:

  • Pre-existing hormonal imbalance (not caused by keto)
  • Hypo or hyperthyroidism (also not caused by keto)
  • Overtraining
  • Not eating enough (you are starving)
  • Stress

How to test ketone level?

Ketone levels in your body can be tested by one of the three ways

  • Blood meter
  • Urine strips
  • Breathalyzer

Today, there are reasonably-priced gadgets available for measuring ketone levels at home.

One needle prick of the finger, and in just a few seconds you’ll know your blood ketone level.Blood ketones are best measured on a fasted stomach in the morning (before breakfast, that is).

Ketone levels can also be measured in a more old-fashioned way, with urine test sticks. Ketone sticks give less reliable results for several reasons. They are, however, much cheaper.

Is the keto diet complete?

When followed correctly, the Keto diet is one of the most complete and nutritious diets on the planet.

In practice most people who begin following a Keto diet actually end up eating many more servings of nutritional low carb fruits and vegetables than they previously were.  Once you cut out all of the candy, chips and soda suddenly tomatoes, avocados, olives, spinach and broccoli start looking a lot more attractive.

Unlike proteins and fats, there’s no such thing as an essential carbohydrate.  There’s nothing a carbohydrate has to offer the body that couldn’t otherwise be obtained from fats and proteins.

In practice, you’ll probably consume more vitamins and minerals on a ketogenic diet than you did on a standard American diet (SAD), as long as you are eating whole foods (i.e., natural fats, meats, leafy green vegetables) and not packaged low carb junk food.

Ellen Davis
M.S. Applied Clinical Nutrition