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Lately I’ve found myself very intrigued by Ketosis and it’s many benefits. Ketogenic diets may be all the rage now, but this dieting concept is nothing new – it was introduced nearly a century ago. Essentially, this is a diet that is very low in carbs. The purpose of using it is to induce ketosis, a physiological condition that has been linked to a long list of health benefits.
What Is Ketosis?
Ketosis is a chemical process in which the body breaks down fat into ketone bodies. For this process to kick in, the body has to have a shortage of carbohydrates, which are the preferred fuel source for the body cells. Without carbohydrates to supply the required energy, the body starts to break down fats so that its cells can get the energy they need.
What are Ketones?
When the body goes into ketosis, it releases molecules in the bloodstream known as ketones. The ketones are then used by the cells to generate the energy they need for their normal cell functions. Essentially, the ketones fill the role of glucose until it is reintroduced in sufficient amounts in the body.
How Do You Reach Ketosis?
The first step is to lower your carbohydrate intake. There is no hard figure on the number of carbohydrates you should consume per day in order to reach ketosis – each person is different. However, the general idea is to consume significantly less carbohydrates than your body requires and instead increase your fat intake since this will be your new source of energy.
How Long Does It Typically Take To Reach Ketosis?
Again, the time it takes to reach ketosis varies from one individual to another; as well as how restrictive your diet is when it comes to carbohydrate consumption. But generally speaking, consuming less than 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates a day should send your body into ketosis in just 2 to 4 days.
What Does A Ketosis Diet Consist Of?
A ketosis diet mainly consists of fats and proteins. The diet focuses on reducing carbohydrate intake so that the body is forced to rely on fats as an energy source. So, the meals that make up this diet are rich in meats, fish, nuts, oils, seeds, vegetables, eggs, and butter among other things.
How Does It Help You Lose Weight?
Ketosis is a process by which the body uses fat to generate energy instead of carbohydrates; and fats are what make people overweight. Therefore, by restricting carbs in order to induce ketosis, the body will find itself using up the stored fat in the body as a source of energy. For this reason, the fat that resulted in excess weight will be used up, resulting in weight loss.
How Does It Impact Your Energy Levels?
A ketogenic diet lowers the amount of glucose in your body, but it does not necessarily result in a decline in your energy levels. The body simply switches from using glucose to using fat to generate energy. However, ketosis requires more energy, and a reduction in the average energy levels in your body can be witnessed. Nevertheless, extremes in energy levels are less of a problem when using a ketogenic diet as opposed to a carbohydrate-rich diet. As a matter of fact, you should witness more consistent energy levels after starting to use this diet.
How Ketosis Interacts with Exercise, Alcohol, and Caffeine
– Ketosis & Working Out
Working out while in ketosis will force your body to burn more body fat, which is great if you need to shed some weight. You can still gain muscle while on a ketogenic diet, as long as you keep your protein intake high. In fact, this diet gives you a perfect chance to lose weight and gain muscle at the same time.
– Ketosis & Drinking Alcohol
First of all, you should avoid alcohol when in ketosis. Alcohol can increase your ketosis since its metabolism results in more ketones. This drink is also typically very low in carbs. Unfortunately, alcohol can reduce the weight loss benefits ketosis might have for you.
For one, the alcohol distracts the body from ketosis because the body considers it a toxin. That means the priority for the body will be eliminating this substance from your body once you consume it. This can interfere and even stop ketosis. Some alcoholic beverages are also rich in carbs, and these put the ketogenic process on hold. So, it is best to avoid alcohol when in ketosis.
– Ketosis & Caffeine
Drinking coffee is fine if you are on a ketogenic diet. You just need to watch out for the things you add to the coffee because the caffeine itself is not an issue. In fact, there is evidence suggesting that caffeine might actually improve ketosis, but there is no hard scientific proof of this claim.
Health Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
Among the many benefits ketogenic diets are linked to is the alleviation of type 2 diabetes. The diet does this by putting blood sugar levels in check. Type 2 diabetes is a problem characterized by blood sugar imbalance. A ketosis diet helps keep blood sugar levels in control, which is what makes it good for diabetics.
Additionally, the diet is very effective for weight control; with some people reporting significant improvements in their weight in about a week. Studies have linked diabetes to an unhealthy weight. And since a ketogenic diet helps maintain a healthy weight, it is a pretty good way of dealing with diabetes and even keeping prediabetes from turning into diabetes.
Fortunately, many people today use the ketogenic diet to shed some weight. But originally, the diet had a medical role in helping prevent epilepsy. Experts believe that ketones, the special molecules ketosis produces, cause a change in brain chemistry that helps control seizures as effectively as medications do. Still, when used in conjunction with a good exercise regimen, the diet can result in better body composition and significant weight loss.
A research reported in “Pediatrics” in 2017 proved that ketosis diets helped alleviate the symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases such as the Parkinson’s disease. The diet has neuroprotective effects that offer benefits with regard to conditions such as multiple sclerosis, autism, brain cancer, Alzheimer’s, and even Lou Gehrig’s disease.
There are also claims that the diet helps with insulin resistance issues, cancer, acne, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome among other serious health conditions. However, studies are being done to definitively prove if these allegations are actually true.
How Can Ketosis Be Dangerous?
Obviously, there are many benefits to following a ketogenic diet. But as with every other diet, improper use of this diet can bring about some dangers. Some of these negative effects, which have been proven through research, include impaired cognition, gastrointestinal issues like nausea and vomiting, and even mood changes.
General body weakness and hypoglycemia can also be observed in people who use the ketogenic diet incorrectly. Studies have also shown that ketogenic diets can cause kidney issues. In fact, applied wrongly, the diet can worsen the problems it is supposed to resolve, such as diabetes.
Some people think ketosis is all about eating high-fat foods. While this is true to some extent, you cannot completely eliminate proteins and carbs from your diet and expect not to run into potentially dangerous health problems – the body still needs these nutrients to work properly, even when in ketosis. Furthermore, having some pre-existing medical conditions can make ketosis dangerous. These include kidney disease.
How To Stay Safe?
Sure, there is quite a laundry list of dangerous health conditions that can come from following a ketogenic diet. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do keep yourself safe from these dangers and enjoy the many benefits the diet has in store for you.
First of all, you should avoid the temptation to go overboard in your adherence to a ketogenic diet. The best way to stay safe is to work closely with a healthcare professional while using this diet. These experts can help you fine-tune your ketogenic diet so that it is better suited to you. A doctor can also tell you when things are starting to get out of hand so that you can make corrections before such issues develop into full-blown health problems.
The truth is that people respond differently to a ketogenic diet, and you need to know what is safe for you and what is not as you follow it. So, the best way to stay safe is to monitor how your immunity, digestive system, mental health, and the cardiovascular system responds to the ketogenic diet and then make the appropriate adjustments.
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