If you’ve been on the diet roller coaster for some time, then you’ve probably heard of a trend that’s growing in popularity. The keto diet refers to a nutritional practice in which the goal is to increase the amount of ketones in the body. A term for the fuel molecules in the body, ketones are produced when we consume more fats and proteins than we do carbohydrates. When glucose is limited, the body starts burning fat rather than sugar. Under these circumstances, the body is said to be in ketosis. Studies show that reaching optimal ketosis aids in weight loss and appetite suppression, while offering a host of additional health benefits like cardiovascular protection and a reduced risk of diabetes.
Ketosis offers numerous health advantages, but first you have to ensure you’ve reached an ideal level for your body. Here are some tips for reaching optimal ketosis.
Optimal ketosis refers to a state in which you have a large enough amount of ketones in your blood, indicating that your insulin levels are low and you’re burning fat rather than sugar. While optimal ketosis varies from one person to the next, most people enter ketosis when their blood ketones are around .5 mM/dL of blood. They reach optimal ketosis when ketone levels are between 1.5 and 3.
If your goal is to reach optimal ketosis, the first step is assessing your current ketone levels. There are several ways to assess your levels and determine whether or not you need to make dietary changes to achieve your goals.
The most reliable way of assessing ketosis is measuring your urine or blood. You can buy urine test strips at your local pharmacy or online through Amazon. Additionally, you can opt to purchase blood-ketone meters to check your levels. However, the downside of both these tests is that they can be expensive.
Fortunately, ketosis also results in a handful of symptoms that make it easy to figure out if you’re in optimal ketosis. These include:
If you’ve been following the keto diet for a few weeks, then you might assume you’ve reached optimal ketosis. Unfortunately, the scale doesn’t always show the effects of your hard work. The truth is, following a low-carb, high-fat diet doesn’t necessarily mean your blood ketones are where they should be. If the pounds aren’t coming off and you aren’t experiencing the ketosis side effects above, it might be time to take a closer look at your eating habits.
One of the biggest mistakes that stops dieters from reaching optimal ketosis is not cutting out all carbs from their diet. While you probably know to avoid desserts like cookies and cake, you might not realize that potatoes and rice are also full of carbohydrates. Additionally, eating too much protein can have a negative effect on your ketones. When you load up on eggs and lean meats, the body will eventually convert this extra protein into glucose, thereby boosting your insulin levels and taking you out of ketosis. While it seems counterintuitive to eat more fat when your goal is weight loss, doing so can help you avoid overindulging in protein and ensure you feel fuller and more satisfied after meals.
Keto practitioners should realize that they might not achieve their goals overnight. For best results, embark on your keto journey gradually. Start by limiting your carbs to under 20 grams per day. It’s normal to feel a little lightheaded when first beginning a keto diet. You should also begin cutting out alcohol and other sugary drinks, as they will negatively impact your insulin levels. Be sure to drink plenty of water to fight dehydration and fill yourself up between meals.
It’s important to realize that the amounts of fats, proteins, and carbs needed to reach optimal ketosis differs from one person to the next. However, in general, most keto practitioners strive to consume at minimum 60% of their diet from fat, 35% from protein, and just 5% from carbs.
Numerous online keto calculators exist to help you track your macros and determine the optimal calorie count and nutritional habits for your body. Simply enter information like gender, age, height, weight, activity level, and calorie reduction goals to find out the ideal protein and carb intake for your body and desires.
Reaching optimal ketosis takes time and effort, but the results speak for themselves.