The ketogenic or keto diet is a fat-burning weight-loss strategy not unlike Atkins that can deliver safe yet rapid body-fat loss. The diet plan is engineered to put your body in a state of ketosis, and then the name of the game becomes: how to stay in ketosis? Check out these top seven tips for staying in ketosis before you get kicked out.
The ketogenic diet involves getting the majority of your calories from healthy fats (75%), a moderate amount from protein (20%), and minimal amount from carbs (5% or less). Once your body adapts to getting its energy from fat (in the form of ketone bodies) instead of carbs and sugar (glucose), you then enter into a state of ketosis. Now the bulk of your energy is supplied by fat, including the fat stored on your body and deep within your organs (dangerous visceral fat which is notoriously hard to lose).
Ketosis can be difficult to achieve at first because your body doesn’t want to give up its fat stores. Evolutionarily we are built to guard against possible hardship and famine by storing extra calories as fat. However, in the modern world it’s much more likely you’ll suffer from metabolic disorders than from starvation, and so the healthiest thing you can do is to reduce your total body fat. Getting into ketosis is a great way to do that, but how can you make sure you stay there? We have some suggestions.
Getting into ketosis isn’t exactly a walk in the park. When you cut down on your net carbs, you may experience symptoms of keto flu like brain fog, fatigue, and keto breath. However, if you stick to your diet and power through, those side effects are temporary while the health benefits of keto are enduring.
With keto you can lower your blood sugar levels, increase your insulin sensitivity, and shed dangerous body fat: these results could very well save you from developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Once you transition your body to running on ketones instead of sugar, it then becomes a matter of staying in that golden window. Here are our tips to help you hold on.
Ketone test strips test either your blood, breath, or urine for ketone bodies and can let you know if you’re close to getting kicked out of ketosis, even if you can’t feel it yet. At some point getting knocked out of ketosis might happen not because you’ve slipped in estimating how many grams of carbs per day you’ve eaten (which is a struggle for beginners), but because your body has simply adapted to the new state of affairs under keto.
Testing can not only warn you that you’re near the line on ketosis but can also clue you into how the foods you eat affect your levels, so you can adjust your meal plans accordingly.
A blood ketone meter is the most accurate way to test, but you can also buy urine test strips if you don’t want to spend too much. The blood ketone test strips can also be used to test blood sugar levels for diabetics and for ketoacidosis (which isn’t a result of going keto but a complication of type 1 diabetes mellitus that needs emergency care).
If you’re getting kicked out of ketosis because your body is adapting and getting wise to the keto diet, you may find it’s helpful to make your body adapt again with the support of intermittent fasting. By keeping your body on its toes (so to speak), you force it to keep doing the hard work of staying in a fat-burning metabolic state.
You may even find meal planning easier by utilizing the discipline of intermittent fasting. At the very least it can help shake your body out of its complacency and keep you in nutritional ketosis longer.
Altering your fitness program helps you get into ketosis in the first place and jump back in before you’re too far out of it. You’ve trained your body to burn fat for fuel, but if you’re not staying active enough to require that fuel, then maybe your body decides it doesn’t have to work so hard either.
This doesn’t mean you have to spend your whole weekend at the gym or anything; you can reengage your body just by choosing a new kind of fitness activity. If you run to stay fit, try doing some resistance training a couple times a week. You can even start right now by trying a high-intensity interval training or HIIT workout at home.
If you know two things about keto it’s that number one, keto is a low-carbohydrate diet, and number two, it’s a high-fat diet. But don’t forget about that moderate amount of protein you need to maintain too. Preserving your muscle mass while on keto can be tricky sometimes, especially if you’re working out regularly.
Sugar is a fast fuel source while fat takes a little bit longer to burn. If you’re not careful, you may run out of energy before, during and/or after your workout, and that could lead to muscle catabolism. Catabolism is a “destructive” metabolism that processes molecules to extract their energy. If you don’t have enough protein available to build new muscle cells when they’re needed, your body may turn around and start eating up the old muscle cells to supply the demand. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s true.
Athletes on keto have to keep an especially close eye on how much protein they’re getting each day to maintain their fitness levels. Try utilizing protein shakes to boost your workouts and make sure you’re getting all the nutrients and amino acids you need to protect your muscles.
When you first switch from the average American high-carb diet to a low-carb diet like keto, you may be wondering how you can eat any fewer carbs without canceling them from your diet entirely. However, if you find yourself getting kicked out of keto too often or stuck on a keto plateau, you may be a special case that needs to keep carbs to an even smaller minimum—under 5% of your daily calories—so your body doesn’t have enough sugar to start stocking up glycogen again (that’s the glucose stored in your liver and muscles for quick use).
If you’re eating fewer carbs, then you’ve got to make up those calories somewhere, and a great place to look is in the healthy fats category. Don’t settle for simply eating enough fats. Get creative when it comes to giving your body the fuel you want it to use. Why not try:
Ketone bodies are your new energy source, and they can come from two different places: inside your body or outside. The ketones your body gets from burning fat in-house are known as endogenous ketones, but the ketones that you can consume from outside are called exogenous ketones.
To up your ketone levels and boost your energy without having to wait for your body to get in gear, you can use medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs derived from coconut oil. You can purchase them in the form of high-quality MCT oil or MCT oil powder, and then rely on them to get you over any short-term keto hump you’re dealing with.
Now that you’re committed to keto, use these tips and perhaps an app to track your macros, and be sure to add some of our keto recipes for delicious low-carb foods to your meal plan (be your own nutritionist!). On keto you can get and stay fit, improve your blood glucose and insulin levels, and look and feel great indefinitely.