ALL ABOUT KE­TO­SIS

IF YOU WANT TO TACKLE WEIGHT LOSS WITH­OUT THE HUNGER, READ ON TO DIS­COVER HOW KE­TO­SIS CAN HELP YOU SHED THE KI­LOS.

LOSE IT! - - Contents -

What it is and how to get and stay there

bant­ing fever has swept South Africa with the fer­vour usu­ally re­served for sport. ‘Are you eat­ing low carb or low fat?’ is the cur­rent equiv­a­lent of ‘The Storm­ers or the Bulls?’ And with good rea­son – it’s helped many over­weight peo­ple drop ex­cess kilo­grams for the first time. Even so, there’s still some con­fu­sion about how best to adapt the life­style for your par­tic­u­lar needs, with hun­dreds of ques­tions about meal plans (You’re in luck! We’ve got just the thing – see page 12), the cor­rect ra­tio of fats, pro­tein and carbs, and whether you need to be in ke­to­sis in or­der to lose weight. Wait up, who men­tioned ke­to­sis?

WHAT IS KE­TO­SIS?

Our bod­ies burn ei­ther glu­cose or fat for en­ergy, which­ever is in greater sup­ply at the time. Gen­er­at­ing en­ergy from glu­cose is called gly­col­y­sis, while ke­to­sis is the body’s fat burn­ing mode. Glu­cose is stored in the mus­cles and liver as glyco­gen. Nu­tri­tional ke­to­sis can be achieved through fol­low­ing a low-carb diet with an in­take of 25–60g of carbs a day. This leads to a much lower glu­cose level in the blood­stream, forc­ing the body to burn fat for fuel. The fat comes from food you eat and your body’s own fat stores. The liver con­verts fat into ke­tones, which are en­ergy mol­e­cules in the blood that fuel the

body’s cells, in­clud­ing those in the brain and heart. In fact, ke­tones are the pre­ferred fuel source for the mus­cles, heart, liver and brain.

Re­mem­ber, you can’t burn body fat stores if your body is con­tin­u­ally burn­ing glu­cose. Re­move the carbs, and your body very hap­pily adapts to burn­ing fat in­stead. That is why it is so ef­fec­tive for weight loss.

Ke­to­sis should not to be con­fused with ke­toaci­do­sis – a con­di­tion that can oc­cur in Type 1 di­a­bet­ics be­cause they don’t pro­duce in­sulin. This doesn’t mean Type 1 di­a­bet­ics can’t follow low-carb di­ets, but it’s im­por­tant to do so with guid­ance from a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional to en­sure med­i­ca­tion is main­tained at the cor­rect lev­els.

WHAT ARE THE BEN­E­FITS OF A KE­TO­GENIC DIET?

The main ben­e­fit is that it in­creases the body’s abil­ity to use fats for fuel – that abil­ity wears off a bit on a high-carb diet. When eat­ing a high-carb diet, your body gets a steady en­ergy source from glu­cose. But in a state of ke­to­sis, your body be­comes ef­fi­cient at mo­bil­is­ing fat for en­ergy.

There are many rea­sons to try to achieve a state of ke­to­sis. It can be an ef­fec­tive strat­egy for weight loss with­out hunger, and of­ten you’ll see other re­sults like in­creased en­ergy, glow­ing skin, ap­petite con­trol, re­duced in­flam­ma­tion and nor­malised blood pres­sure. Ke­to­sis is used to man­age health con­di­tions like epilepsy, Type 2 di­a­betes and meta­bolic syn­drome; many en­durance ath­letes are also mak­ing the switch to a fat-burn­ing diet as they ex­pe­ri­ence bet­ter per­for­mance and re­cov­ery. There’s even grow­ing in­ter­est in ke­to­genic di­ets as a pos­si­ble treat­ment for can­cer.

HOW DO I GET INTO KE­TO­SIS?

The pri­mary way to tran­si­tion to ke­to­sis is by fol­low­ing the LCHF way of eat­ing. But there’s a common mis­con­cep­tion that LCHF is syn­ony­mous with ke­to­sis, which is not true: ke­to­sis is bant­ing on steroids, or ex­treme bant­ing!

SO HOW DO YOU TURBO-CHARGE YOUR LCHF?

Re­strict carbs 1

even more

The max­i­mum thresh­old for LCHF is 100–200g of carbs per day (de­pend­ing on life­style and level of ac­tiv­ity), while for ke­to­sis, that num­ber drops to 20–60 g per day. Re­strict­ing your carb in­take to 25–60g a day forces the body to be­gin burn­ing fat for en­ergy. Once your glu­cose stores are ex­hausted (which can take three days to two weeks, de­pend­ing on your ac­tiv­ity level), your body starts to pro­duce ke­tones.

2 Eat enough fat

Cut­ting carbs is cru­cial to trig­ger­ing ke­to­sis, but it’s also im­por­tant that your body has enough fat to pro­vide en­ergy to your cells. Fat is your friend. Fat comes from your diet, as well as from your body’s fat stores. Rec­om­mended sources for di­etary fat are those that oc­cur nat­u­rally with­out in­dus­trial pro­cess­ing, like lard, but­ter, fatty cuts of meat and or­gan meats (prefer­ably from or­ganic, pas­ture-reared an­i­mals), co­conut oil and olive oil. For cook­ing, use fats that are sta­ble at high tem­per­a­tures, such as lard and co­conut oil. Olive oil is best eaten raw. Eat­ing healthy fats will not lead to weight gain, pro­vided you keep con­sump­tion of carbs be­low the thresh­old needed to re­main in ke­to­sis.

3 Eat enough – but not too much – pro­tein

You need to eat ad­e­quate pro­tein to sus­tain your mus­cles. But be­ware: too much pro­tein will dis­rupt ke­to­sis!

4 Drink enough wa­ter!

IS THERE A DOWN­SIDE TO KE­TO­SIS?

Yes, but noth­ing too se­ri­ous and noth­ing that won’t pass in time. While your body tran­si­tions into a fat-burn­ing ma­chine, you may ex­pe­ri­ence ‘keto flu’. Headaches, fa­tigue, mus­cle cramps and twitch­ing are some of the more common symp­toms, and are usu­ally a sign that your body is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing with­drawal. It is at this point that many peo­ple give up on LCHF, be­liev­ing that it doesn’t suit them. But in­creas­ing your in­take of salt and mag­ne­sium, should re­solve th­ese symp­toms.

Other common symp­toms of ke­to­sis are ‘ace­tone breath’ or ‘keto breath’, re­sult­ing from ex­cre­tion of ace­tone, as well as a metal taste in the mouth. Th­ese go away with time. Ace­tone is a degra­da­tion of ace­toacetic acid and one of the ke­tone bod­ies not used, and ex­creted by the lungs.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M IN KE­TO­SIS?

The two most sig­nif­i­cant types of ke­tones are ace­toac­etate and beta-hy­drox­y­bu­tyrate. In the early stages, ace­toac­etate is more abun­dant, and its pres­ence in the urine can be mea­sured with Ke­tostix. It isn’t ac­cu­rate, as you can be in ke­to­sis even if the Ke­tostix don’t de­tect ke­tones. As your body be­comes more ef­fi­cient at fat burn­ing, it starts to pro­duce more beta-hy­drox­y­bu­tyrate, which can only be mea­sured in the blood us­ing a blood ke­tone me­ter, which is very sim­i­lar to a glu­cose me­ter. (The FreeStyle Op­tium brand is avail­able in South Africa.) For op­ti­mum nu­tri­tional ke­to­sis your read­ing must be be­tween 0.5 and 3 mmol/L. Ke­tones are usu­ally low­est in the morn­ing and in­crease over the course of the day. They will also in­crease after ex­er­cise. If you are test­ing reg­u­larly, stick to the same time of the day for the best com­par­i­son.

In the early stages of ke­to­sis, weight loss can be fast, es­pe­cially for men. This is partly be­cause glyco­gen is stored with wa­ter, and once all the glyco­gen has been used up, the wa­ter is ex­creted. It can take 3 to 4 weeks for your body to be fully keto-adapted, although your body will con­tinue to re­fine the ke­totic pro­cesses for sev­eral weeks, even months. For most peo­ple, the weight loss is reg­u­lar, with oc­ca­sional plateaus. It’s rare for weight loss to lead to an un­healthy low weight, as it usu­ally stops once a healthy weight has been achieved.

Ke­to­sis is eas­ily dis­rupted for up to a week through con­sum­ing carbs in ex­cess of the ke­totic thresh­old, and it’s much more likely to de­liver suc­cess­ful weight- loss if you al­low your body to fully adapt to fat burn­ing be­fore you re­sume eat­ing more carbs. Once you are keto-adapted, your body will cope more eas­ily with cy­cling in and out of ke­to­sis.

WHAT ARE KE­TOSTIX*?

Ke­tostix are small, thin plas­tic strips with a small reagent area on them. When Ke­tostix are dipped in urine (or passed through a stream of urine), the reagent area changes colour to in­di­cate the num­ber of ke­tones present. This is an im­por­tant in­di­ca­tor for those on ke­to­genic di­ets – es­pe­cially be­gin­ners – be­cause it lets you know that you have in­deed limited car­bo­hy­drate con­sump­tion suf­fi­ciently to force the body into ke­to­sis.

More ex­pe­ri­enced keto di­eters use the strips to help fig­ure out ex­actly how many car­bo­hy­drates they can eat be­fore they are out of ke­to­sis. It can also help de­ter­mine how dif­fer­ent foods af­fect your abil­ity to stay in ke­to­sis.

DO I NEED TO EX­ER­CISE TO LOSE WEIGHT WHILE IN KE­TO­SIS?

Ex­er­cise is not es­sen­tial for los­ing weight on a ke­to­genic diet, but the ben­e­fits of fol­low­ing a var­ied ex­er­cise pro­gramme are well-doc­u­mented and ex­er­cise helps to sen­si­tise in­sulin. This should in­clude one or two bouts of high in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing (HIIT) per week, which shouldn’t take longer than 20 min­utes per ses­sion, plus some lifting of heavy weights. HIIT in par­tic­u­lar has been proven to in­crease in­sulin sen­si­tiv­ity and fat loss much more quickly than other forms of ex­er­cise.

WHAT ABOUT SUP­PLE­MENTS?

Apart from elec­trolytes to as­sist with keto-adap­ta­tion if nec­es­sary, you don’t need to take sup­ple­ments. If you eat cor­rectly for ke­to­sis, you’ll be eat­ing plenty of whole foods – healthy fats, meat and leafy green vegetables – which will pro­vide more vi­ta­mins and min­er­als than a diet heavy in pro­cessed, re­fined car­bo­hy­drates. What’s more, LCHF doesn’t in­clude grains and legumes, most of which are high in anti-nu­tri­ents (phytic acids and lectins) that pre­vent your body from ab­sorb­ing min­er­als like cal­cium and mag­ne­sium from your food.

WHERE CAN I READ MORE ABOUT KE­TO­SIS?

I found th­ese three web­sites par­tic­u­larly help­ful: www.ke­to­genic-diet-re­source.com www.di­etdoc­tor.com/ lose-weight-by-achiev­ing-op­ti­mal-ke­to­sis www.red­dit.com/r/keto/wiki/faq *Ke­tostix are avail­able at most phar­ma­cies.

In the early stages of ke­to­sis, weight loss can be fast,

es­pe­cially for men.

fat! enough Eat

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