What Is Ketosis? The Thing Behind the Ketogenic Diet Explained

The Ketogenic Diet revolves around the idea that you can get your body into what is known as a state of ketosis. The important question is, what is ketosis?

You can do keto for a lot of reasons but for the majority of people the main reason is to lose weight and if you want to lose weight then your body needs to enter a state of ketosis.

Without ketosis, there is no keto and that’s why it’s important to understand what ketosis is and how you can achieve it.

What is Ketosis?

Being successful on the ketogenic diet is all about knowledge. Too many people treat it like any other simple diet where they can just wing it but that rarely leads to success.

If you understand the science behind keto then it becomes a lot easier to achieve ketosis.

Seriously, understanding the science part of keto will provide you with a better chance of success in the long run.

Ketosis

When you deprive your body of carbohydrates, which just happen to be the main fuel source for most people, you’re also depriving your body of its ability to maintain its glycogen stores.

This simply means that your body needs to find an alternative fuel source and because your body is awesome it knows exactly what it needs to do. When it realizes that it can’t depend on glycogen anymore it starts to transition over into a metabolic state known as ketosis.

When your body is in ketosis, it begins to convert fat into ketones which become your body’s new source of fuel.

This then begs the question what are ketones?

Ketones

Ketones are simply byproducts of the body breaking down fat for energy. That’s it.

There are 3 types of ketones. I’ll tell you about them but I won’t quiz you on them because, in all honesty, you don’t need to remember them.

  1. Acetoacetate: Created from the breakdown of fatty acids and is broken down into either BHB or acetone.
  2. Beta-Hydroxybutyric Acid (BHB): Not really a ketone but for the sake of understanding keto we like to consider it a ketone. This is why I said I won’t quiz you.
  3. Acetone: The cause of bad breath when starting keto. It’s expelled through your breath and waste (urine).

Why Does Your Body Need Ketones?

If you’re reading this article then odds are you have the luxury of having access to food any time that you want.

You are spoiled in a good way but unfortunately, a lot of people in the world don’t have that luxury and a lot didn’t have it in the past either.

Have you ever heard of the statement that you can survive without food for weeks? The reason why is because your body does a great job of being able to use the resources that it contains when it needs to survive.

When you don’t eat for a couple of days, your body doesn’t completely shut down because it doesn’t have a fuel source. Instead, it switches over to a different fuel source (fat) and begins to use that.

How to Test for Ketosis

If you want to test whether or not your body is in ketosis then that means you need to check your ketone levels. There are a number of ways to do this and they all vary in their degrees of accuracy.

Urine Strips

urine strips to test for ketone levels

Definitely, the most popular way to test for ketone levels simply because they are cheap. These urine strips work exactly as you would think.

You pee on them and they let you know the level of ketones in your urine.

However, they aren’t always an accurate reflection of whether or not you are in ketosis. The reason why is because once your body gets used to using ketones as a fuel source it has a better understanding of how much it should produce so it’s no longer trying to overproduce them.

If there are no extra ketones flowing through your urine then it’s easy to think you are no longer in ketosis.

However, if you’re just getting started with the ketogenic diet, then it’s always fun to see the strip change color.

Blood Glucose Meter

blood glucose meter

A more expensive alternative is a blood glucose meter. This helps you see how much glucose is in your blood. The lower the number, the closer you are to ketosis.

The device itself isn’t that expensive (around $35-$40) but the strips needed for testing can add up if you are running through them.

Blood Ketone and Glucose Testing Meter

blood ketone and glucose meter

If you don’t want to take any chances and you 100% need to know if you’re in ketosis, then you can go with the Keto-Mojo Blood Ketone and Glucose Testing Meter Kit. Is this necessary?

No.

But some people like to be as accurate as possible.

In all honesty, knowing if you’re in ketosis or not isn’t that important once you start to see results and feel better.

How Long Does It Take to Get Into Ketosis?

This is the million dollar question.

How long does it take to enter ketosis?

And the answer, as shitty as this sound, is that it depends on the person. Some people can enter ketosis in a couple of days while others may take weeks.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), everybody’s body is different and react differently to different things (did I say “different” enough there?).

Some people find that eating too much dairy is holding them back while others don’t realize that they aren’t drinking enough water.

In this 3-Day Weight Loss Manual you are provided with a technique that can help you enter ketosis as quickly as possible.

For most people, fasting and exercise is the fastest way to enter ketosis but if your body isn’t ready for such extreme measures then it’s okay to take your time.

Tips to Enter Ketosis

Again, everybody’s body is different so one technique might work well for one person while another technique doesn’t. However, I’ve found that if you follow most of these tips then your chances of entering ketosis are much better.

1. Lower Carb Intake

This one seems kind of obvious because if you’re doing keto then you’re lowering your carb intake anyways.

But some people prefer to just stick to the 20g daily carb limit and will make sure they get every carb they can while others will try to completely deplete their diet of any carbs.

If you can manage on 2g – 5g carbs daily you increase your chances of entering ketosis much quicker.

2. Add Coconut Oil to Your Diet

Coconut oil becomes your miracle supplement.

It contains the healthy fat that will help your body get into ketosis.

The miracle fat is known as MCT (medium-chain triglycerides). MCT is important for your body because it’s absorbed quickly and your body can use it for energy almost immediately.

It’s why you’ll see many keto resources talk about the awesome benefits of MCT Oil and how they add it to almost everything.

I prefer to go the coconut oil route because I like the creamy taste it adds to my meals.

If you do decide to add more coconut oil/MCT oil to your diet then do it gradually. Your body isn’t trained to handle this much fat at once and if you add too much to begin with you might encounter digestive problems.

3. Do HIIT or Increase Your Physical Activity

I’m always wary of giving this piece of advice simply because when you start with the ketogenic diet, you’re putting your body through something completely different.

When you add exercise on top of that, it can be too much for a lot of people. I usually suggest doing keto for 30 days and allowing your body to get used to things before diving right in.

However, if you’re confident that you can handle things or you’ve already done the keto thing before then increasing your physical activity can improve your chances of entering ketosis quicker.

Why?

Exercise means your body needs fuel so it has to burn something? The faster you can burn through your glycogen reserves then the faster your body can move on to ketones.

This doesn’t mean you need to enter the gym for hours each day but doing some type of HIIT workout or Tabata workout first thing in the morning before you eat can not only help with weight loss but also help you enter ketosis faster.

4. Eat More Healthy Fats

avocado as a healthy fat

It’s amazing how many people don’t consume enough fats when trying to do keto. I understand because if you aren’t prepared it can be tough trying to find where you’re going to get your fats from.

When you consume healthy fats you increase your ketone levels. This is exactly what you want.

Great sources of fat are avocado, macadamia nuts, butter, and ghee. When doing keto it’s important to understand the foods that you can and can’t eat. This ketogenic diet food list will help you see what is okay to eat on keto.

5. Fasting

When you combine fasting with some type of HIIT workout it’s almost impossible not to enter ketosis but again, a lot of people aren’t ready for this. This isn’t a slight on them because it definitely puts your body through its paces.

Some people get confused when they hear about fasting and keto because what is the point of learning about what you should eat on keto if you aren’t eating at all?

The reality is when people talking about fasting and keto they are usually referring to intermittent fasting.

In simple terms, intermittent fasting is when you portion out a part of your day where you don’t eat. The most common cycle of intermittent fasting is 16-8.

This means that you only eat during an 8-hour window. For example, you might consume all of your meals between 10am and 6pm and then you fast the remaining 16 hours of the 24-hour cycle.

Fasting isn’t easy if you’ve never done it before. My advice is to make sure you plan out your meals so you know what you’re going to eat and when and to also consume a lot of water.

6. Eat Protein

There is a fine line between eating enough protein and eating too much protein.

It’s very easy to consume more protein than your body needs and when that happens the extra protein is converted into glucose. This is why understanding your daily macros is so important.

However, you want to make sure you’re eating enough protein so you don’t lose muscle mass. Why would this happen? While your body is transitioning over to ketosis, it begins to look for energy in your muscles. You don’t want that to happen so instead you eat your protein and allow your body to get what it needs from that.

Protein is going to help your body achieve ketosis because it helps to provide the necessary amino acids to your liver so it can convert them into glucose for the parts of your body that can’t handle ketones.

7. Drink Water

Water is the secret (or not so secret) ingredient that makes your body tick. Without enough water, the organs in your body can’t do what they are supposed to do like create ketones.

If they can’t create ketones then you can’t enter ketosis.

It’s that simple so make sure you’re drinking enough water daily. How much is enough?

The easiest way is to take your weight (in pounds) and divide it in half. That’s the minimum amount of water you should be drinking in ounces.

It’s the reason why I carry a fancy water bottle with me wherever I go.

8. Get Sleep

Seriously. Get sleep. Your body does different things when you are sleeping and if you aren’t sleeping it can’t do those things.

Nothing more you need to know.

What Are the Benefits of Ketosis?

So why should you consider putting your body into the metabolic state known as ketosis? What is the big deal?

I’ll admit that reading these benefits is pretty cool but actually experiencing them yourself is even cooler. However, let’s go over some of the awesome benefits of ketosis.

Better Mental Focus

This is a weird one to talk about because I can’t tell you to take a test before and after keto so you can see how your mental focus has improved. It just happens.

Because people tend to fall out of focus from a lack of consistent energy, keto is perfect for this because once your body is in ketosis, ketones become a consistent source of fuel for your brain.

If your brain never runs out of fuel it shouldn’t lack for mental focus.

Physical Endurance

This kind of works the same way as mental focus. If your body has a consistent fuel source that it can turn to you aren’t left trying to hunt down a Snickers to make you feel better.

Because you’re not relying on glycogen which your body can burn through rather quickly, you have a great chance at lasting longer with whatever you do.

You may encounter some people that are on the keto diet popping some type of carbs before a high-intensity workout. The reason for this is because they want to give their body a quick fuel source to help them power through their workout.

Epilepsy

Keto was first introduced to help people with epilepsy back in the 1920s.

A big reason why keto is used to help people with epilepsy is that it usually means they can take fewer medications.

Cancer Prevention

This one is still up in the air due to how many different studies of cancer are out there, but recently, studies have shown that cancer cells love to feed off of sugar.

With keto, there is no sugar so the cancer cells are left to find another fuel source and fortunately they don’t know how to use ketones.

Keto isn’t going to cure cancer but it can go a long way in helping the prevention of it.

Ketosis Is Your Body’s Natural State

If you think about it, ketosis is the natural state of your body. The world wasn’t always filled with processed foods loaded with sugar.

Instead, people relied on vegetables and the meat that they could hunt. Sometimes that meant going a while without any type of food or very little of it.

While it wasn’t great, it worked because of ketosis.

Yes, ketosis is great for losing weight but it’s also great for helping your body reset and work as it was meant to.

If you’re interested in learning more about the keto diet then check out our guide Keto Diet Beginner’s Guide: Understanding the Ketogenic Diet.

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