Everyone understands that your body requires food to create energy for it to operate properly. This stated, did you know that there are multiple ways that your body generates energy for itself? In addition, there is a multitude of ways to manipulate the body’s energy creation process. The effect of this manipulation can result in a changed metabolism and even change the main fuel your body uses. Ketosis is one such process that can change the way your body creates energy. By altering the foods you eat, you are able to switch your body’s main fuel source from glucose (carbohydrates) to fats and molecules call Ketones. This article is going to cover what Ketosis is, what to take into consideration when trying to achieve Ketosis and how to jump-start keto as a whole.
Table of Contents
- What is Ketosis?
- What Happens to the Body when the Keto State is Entered?
- Benefits of Keto
- Symptoms of Keto
- Ketogenic Diets to Jump Start Keto State
- How Does Fasting Play into your Keto Kickstart?
- How to Know if you are in Ketosis
What is Ketosis?
Ketosis is the process through which your body uses molecules called Ketones as fuel for the body instead of glucose that is derived from carbohydrates. This is an important aspect to jump-start keto. In other words, when the body does not have enough carbohydrates to fuel the body, fat cells will begin to empty. These fats travel through the bloodstream to the liver where they are then processed into Ketones. These Ketones are then used as fuel for bodily processes.
Getting into this Ketogenic state can take time. Your body requires the absence of carbohydrates in order to activate the Ketone creation process. Often it can be difficult to decrease your carbohydrates to the amount needed and, in most cases, it can take longer than expected to start producing Ketones. This is usually due to unintentionally eating more carbohydrates than recommended for a ketogenic diet.
Before looking at the goals, expected changes, and how to jump-start Ketosis, let’s take a deeper look at what Ketones are and at some of the sub-processes to take into consideration.
What are Ketones?
When you are on a low carbohydrate diet, are fasting for a prolonged period, or exercise heavily, your body will eventually start burning through all your glucose and glycogen stores (stored glucose). When out of glucose, the body looks for an alternative source of energy. During Ketosis your body will start to break down dietary fat and body fat for fuel — a process known as beta-oxidation. Your body can use fatty acids for fuel, plus other compounds called ketones, which are formed in your liver. People following a ketogenic diet specifically reduce their carbohydrate intake for this reason: to create ketones for energy. In summary, Ketones are by-products of fat breakdown by the liver that can also be used as a main form of energy.
Can Ketones be Dangerous for the Body?
While Ketones are not normally the primary source of energy, your body will occasionally use them for energy despite not intentionally trying to achieve Ketosis. For example, you may have worked out late and skipped breakfast the morning after, simply running solely off your morning black coffee. While this may not be the healthiest diet to follow, it’s likely that your body has started metabolizing fats for energy due to the lack of carbohydrate intake. In other words, short periods of fasting are normal and often lead to the use of Ketones for energy.
But what happens when you intentionally jump-start keto state? For most people, extend periods of using fats and Ketones for energy will have no long-term health ramifications. This is due to any excess ketones that your body can’t use being eliminated through your breath or urine.
This stated, Ketones can become an issue is if you have Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes. The lack of insulin causes a buildup of ketones and glucose in your blood. This condition is referred to as Ketoacidosis. More on Ketoacidosis can be found later in this article.
What is Gluconeogenesis?
Using glucose can be considered the primary form of generating energy for the human body – glucose is derived from carbohydrates. It is the most efficient way to fuel the body. Therefore your body wants to use glucose over other molecules for energy. The process of Gluconeogenesis aids in facilitating the creation of glucose for as long as possible.
Gluconeogenesis is defined as a metabolic pathway that results in the creation of glucose from non-carbohydrate carbon molecules. In other words, your body is able to process certain fats and proteins into glucose. This process, while still beneficial for losing weight, can make it difficult for you to kickstart keto.
Gluconeogenesis is important to consider when you jump-start keto diets because it can affect the type of ketogenic diet that you follow and the types of foods that you can eat while remaining in Ketosis. This will vary from person to person and is often best discovered by trial and error – particularly in the amount of protein consumed while trying to achieve Ketosis. More on ketogenic diets and how to know if you are in a ketogenic state is covered later in this article.
What Happens to the Body when the Keto State is Entered?
Ketosis and the diets that achieve it are renowned for their great health benefits. This stated, it is important to consider all of the potential symptoms of being in Ketosis. No two people bodies operate in exactly the same way. It is important to consider this when following a ketogenic diet and consult with your healthcare provider prior to making any drastic changes to your diet. Below is a list of both the potential beneficial and detrimental effects of following a ketogenic diet.
Benefits of Keto
Many of the benefits that can be had by following the keto diet can also be had by following other low-carb diets; however, there are a few benefits that can either only be had on a keto diet or are simply more efficient when in Ketosis. See below a list of benefits that can be had from a ketogenic diet:
- Weight Loss
- Increased Muscle Retention
- Lower Risk of Heart Disease
- Metabolic Syndrome Management (increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels)
- Type 2 Diabetes Management
- Epilepsy Management
Researchers are also studying the potential effects of the keto diet on conditions including:
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Nervous System Diseases
How CareClinic Tracks the Benefits of Keto
The multitude of benefits that arise from the keto diet can be difficult to track. CareClinic understands that monitoring changes in the body are important. That’s why our Measurement tracker was made to easily track all of the potential changes that you may experience while in ketosis. Simply select a metric that you would like to track from the drop-down menu, and add your measurement for safekeeping. You can even set reminders to take the measurement at specific times. From Waist size to taking keto success pictures, CareClinic is able to track whatever measurements you are looking to improve upon.
Symptoms of Keto
Ketosis is not without its potential negative symptoms. While multiple health benefits can be had by following a keto diet, it is important to understand the potential adverse effects of Ketosis. Below you can find a list of potential symptoms that could occur:
During the first week of following a keto diet, symptoms of the flu can start to arise. Some people call this “Keto Flu,”; however, this isn’t an official medical condition. Some doctors believe the symptoms are derived from carbohydrate withdrawal. Symptoms could also be caused by changes in your gut bacteria. Keto Flu can include the following symptoms:
- Brain fog
- Kidney Stones
- Affect Breast Milk Supply
- Trouble sleeping
- Sugar cravings
- Sore muscles
- Bad breath, also known as Ketosis Breath
Managing these symptoms may require a couple of interventions. It is best to speak with a health care professional or stop a ketogenic diet if you are experiencing these symptoms for a prolonged period of time. Most symptoms cease by themselves after the first week of Ketosis. Drinking plenty of water can ease or prevent some of these symptoms as well.
If you have diabetes that isn’t being managed adequately, Ketosis can become dangerous as ketones build up in the bloodstream. High levels of ketones can lead to dehydration and change the chemical balance of your blood. The blood becomes acidic and can cause a coma or even death.
People who have diabetes can get Ketoacidosis (Diabetic Ketoacidosis or DKA) when they don’t take enough insulin. Diabetics can also get DKA when they don’t get enough fluids and become dehydrated. Some people who don’t have diabetes can get ketoacidosis, too. It’s caused by alcoholism, starvation, or an overactive thyroid. A healthy low-carb diet shouldn’t cause any issues to your health. If you have these symptoms, call your doctor:
- Thirstiness or a dry mouth
- Peeing a lot
- Feeling tired
- Dry or flushed skin
- Upset stomach
- Throwing up
- Trouble breathing
- Fruity-smelling breath
- Pain in your belly
Any further symptoms or factors that further dehydration (such as vomiting) can exacerbate the above symptoms and should be taken seriously. Be sure to consult with your doctor prior to starting the keto diet – particularly if you have pre-existing health conditions like diabetes.
How CareClinic Tracks the Symptoms of Keto
How to jump-start KetoDuring any large lifestyle change – like dieting – it’s important to track any symptoms you may be experiencing to ensure that you are not doing damage to your body or mind in the process. CareClinic’s Symptom tracker allows you to track the symptoms you are experiencing, further allowing you to understand how your diet changes are connected to how you are feeling on any given day. The Symptom module is also a great way to keep track of symptoms for your doctor, allowing them to provide you with the most accurate care they can with timely information.
Now that we have covered the background of what Ketosis is and what your body does during a ketogenic state, let’s go over how to actually kickstart keto as a whole. This article will cover how to jump-start keto starting from the most important aspects to consider. See below:
Ketogenic Diets to Jump Start Keto State
As previously explained, to jump-start keto state you must have a limited amount of glucose in your body. Glucose derives itself from carbohydrates that are a part of the foods you ingest. To be clear, the only way to jump-start keto is to limit the number of carbohydrates you eat. The amount will be slightly different for everyone; however, there is a general consensus that a maximum of 5% – 10% of your daily calories can be used to achieve Ketosis. Depending on your body, you may need to intake less than this, but it is a good place to start your keto journey!
As for fats and proteins, the recommended breakdown would be 55% – 60% and 30% – 35% of your daily calories respectively (R). This percentage can vary fairly significantly. Working with a nutritionist and/or simply lower carbs and protein for additional fats over time will be beneficial to jump-start the keto state faster.
As you limit your carbohydrate intake, your body will gradually begin using fat stores and Ketones for energy. The amount of time needed to get into a ketogenic state will vary depending on the person. In general, it should take approx. 2–4 days to enter Ketosis; however, some people may find they need a week or longer. The time it takes depends on various factors, such as age, metabolism, exercise level, and carb, protein, and fat intake. The most important thing to consider is consistency. As you read further into this article, you will learn more about how to test if you are in ketosis or not.
Foods to Jump-Start Keto
There are a wide variety of foods that serve as foods to jump-start keto. While it may be beneficial to perform additional research to find out if your favourite foods are keto-friendly, below you can find a list of foods that are some of the best for getting to and sustaining Ketosis.
- Seafood: Great source of healthy fats, low carb count, rich in vitamins and minerals
- Non-starchy Vegetables: Great source of fibre while having lower carb counts, rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
- Cheese, Butter and Cream: High fat while low in carbs, Has healthy amounts of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
- Meat (particularly lean and grass-fed): Clean source of protein, grass-fed fats are higher in Omega-3 fats
- Eggs: Healthy fats, a good source of protein, helps promote satiety
- Coconut oil (and other MCT Oils): Easy uptake to the liver for Ketone creation, healthy fat
- Plain Greek Yogurt and Cottage Cheese: Great source of probiotics and protein
- Nuts and Seeds: High in healthy fats, Low carb snack
- Berries: Low carb, High fibre, High antioxidants
- Tea and Coffee without Added Sweetener: Contains caffeine for metabolism, physical performance and alertness
How Does Fasting Play into your Keto Kickstart?
While food plays a large role in ensuring that you stay in Ketosis for an extended period of time, fasting can easily jump-start the keto state. In fact, many people actually go into a state of Ketosis in between meals. By fasting for a duration of time, your body can get into a ketogenic state at an expedited rate.
This stated, prior to taking this approach, you should consult with your healthcare practitioner to understand if it is right for you. A more subtle, while still effective way to implement fasting in a ketogenic diet is to intermittently fast. This involves pushing the first meal of the day 4-6 hours after waking up. Implementing this strategy, while drinking water and/or black coffee can help blunt hunger and ensure you are satiated longer into the day.
CareClinic Makes the Keto Diet Easy
Tracking your diet plan can be extremely burdensome, yet it is one of the most important aspects to jump-start keto state. This is because eating a single food that is high in sugars/ carbohydrates can knock you of Ketosis. Don’t let this scare you away from trying the keto diet. CareClinic’s Nutrition tracker does all of the hard trackings for and reminding you! By simply searching for food in the Nutrition module, you can input the nutrition facts of the whole foods, recipes and snacks, making it easy to track your total macronutrient and calorie intake.
If you would like to learn more about tracking your macronutrients, and more specifically your carbohydrates, check out this CareClinic blog post about Using a Carbohydrate Counter!
The body uses glucose to fuel itself when available. Increases in physical activity can increase the rate of glucose usage in the body. If glucose is available, it will be used first. If you stay consistent with a ketogenic diet and eat mainly fats and protein, your liver will be forced to begin burning fat and creating Ketones earlier. In other words, a state of Ketosis can be achieved faster by increasing the speed at which your body requires fuel and then refuelling with fats and protein instead of carbohydrates. This stated a keto diet is a large change for the majority of people that follow it. Be sure to exercise with caution so as not to over-exude yourself during the transition to Ketosis.
Ketosis and Performance-Based Training
Athletic performance and the human physique have always been closely tied to diet and nutritional needs. A diet can make or break the potential performance your body is capable of! With this in mind, it is important to consider the effect of any low-carb diet on both your physical and mental performance. General consensus has not been met across the board for all activities as to whether the Ketogenic diet will improve or inhibit performance. This is mainly due to dietary needs being determined by performance goals. This can be further broken down into the types of macronutrients that are most beneficial for your body during aerobic and anaerobic activities. For example, someone running a marathon has a different dietary requirement in relation to a powerlifter.
It is important to evaluate what types of exercises you are looking to perform and perform your own research while consulting professionals to ensure you are fueling your body with the right foods. To get you started, the study found here may get you started in your own research.
Tracking Athletic Performance Changes with CareClinic
Tracking your workouts is one of the easiest ways to understand how your diet may be affecting your athletic performance. CareClinic enables you to track each one of your workouts by providing an easy-to-use Activity tracker. The Activity tracker results in your own personal training data repository. With this information, you can correlate what you ate that day with the level of performance you had in any given activity. Using the CareClinic app in this way makes it easy to understand if your diet is working for you instead of against you in your pursuit of greater performance!
How to Know if you are in Ketosis
You now understand the steps you need to take in order to achieve Ketosis, but how do you know when you have actually achieved it? There are multiple tests that can be done to evaluate whether or not you are in a ketogenic state. Your ketone levels can be anywhere from none to 3 or higher and are measured in millimoles per litre (mmol/L). Below are the ranges, but keep in mind that test results can vary, depending on your diet, activity level, and how long you’ve been in ketosis.
- Negative ketone level: less than 0.6 mmol
- Low to moderate ketone level: between 0.6 to 1.5 mmol
- High ketone level: 1.6 to 3.0 mmol
- Very high ketone level: greater than 3.0 mmol
Now that the ranges of Ketone production are defined, let’s identify the different methods for testing and the pros and cons of each:
See below the most common ways:
Urine testing is only helpful in the beginning stages of keto-adaptation when your body is still learning how to use the ketones you’re creating. During this time, a good portion of the ketones you produce will get filtered out through your urine. This can give you insight into whether or not your body is producing ketones. However, over time, your body will become more adapted, and the number of ketones lost in your urine will decrease. This can be done through test strips that you dip into the urine. These strips are typically low-cost and a great option for those who are new to the keto diet.
Breath testing is a valid way to test and is much less invasive than blood testing, but it may be less accurate. There are multiple new products that have been released to track ketone production, some with greater accuracy than others. Ketonix is a widely known purveyor of Ketone breath analyzers.
With a blood Ketone meter, you use a lancet pen to press onto your fingertip and draw a small blood sample. The blood is then applied to a test strip that monitors blood ketone levels through the meter. While being the most accurate and is considered the gold standard of ketone testing, this testing method can get very expensive over time.
Hopefully, this article has given you a comprehensive understanding of what Ketosis is, how to achieve it, factors to consider and how to evaluate whether or not you are in a ketogenic state. With this, you have a greater understanding of the benefits of Keto, the symptoms and its effects on the body, and what best practices can be put in place. Furthermore, we hope that you now understand how CareClinic and its multiple modules can help you track your keto journey. CareClinic is a great way to ensure that you are staying on track with your diet and activity goals. Through us, we hope to make your health journey as easy and sustainable as possible.