Ketosis is a natural metabolic process that occurs when the body isn’t receiving enough carbohydrates from food for your cells to burn energy, and instead burns fat.
As your body begins to lower its insulin levels and burn fat during ketosis it begins to create ketones. The body usually doesn’t make or use ketones unless your calorie or carb intake goes way down. High levels of ketones can be dangerous, leading to dehydration and chemical fluctuations in the blood. The extreme outcome of too many ketones in the bloodstream is called ketoacidosis, and can lead to a coma or even death. So you'll want to measure your ketone levels to ensure you're doing things right. If you don't mind a little finger prick, you can measure your ketone levels with this effective and affordable device. If you're not into the idea of a finger prick, you can also test the levels of ketones in your blood by using urine test strips, which can be found at the pharmacy - although this method isn't as effective.
Ketosis is part of the process behind such diets as the Atkins Diet and Paleo Diet. Not only does a ketogenic diet burn fat, but it also decreases appetite and maintains muscle. Some studies have shown ketosis to have effects with even more important implications. These include fighting cancer, treating Alzheimer’s disease, lowering the risk of heart disease and preventing epileptic seizures.
An average person can kickstart ketosis after 3 or 4 days of consuming less than 50g of carbohydrates daily. That’s about two slices of whole wheat bread or one cup of brown rice. If you’re an extremely active person you can eat a higher amount of carbs and still remain in ketosis. Fasting can also lead to ketosis.
When you first start transitioning your body into a ketogenic state, it's common for your body to respond with symptoms of what's called the "keto-flu". This could include headaches, nausea, or extreme fatigue. These symptoms can sometimes be reduced with appropriate nutrition intake and supplementation, but more than likely you'll feel something. Just remember, if it tingles, it's working.
There are also a ton of great supplemental products to help put you in ketosis and help you maintain your ketogenic state. Here's a few items you might want to keep on hand:
Grass Fed Butter - A great way to introduce healthy fats into many recipes. Also, make your coffee or tea bulletproof style by blending butter and other healthy fats into it - Kerry Gold grass fed butter is our personal favorite.
MCT Oil (or Coconut Oil) - Medium Chain Triglycerides are extracted from coconut oil and serve as yet another way to introduce healthy fats into your keto diet, as well as jump starting your brain. Here's a more in depth read about MCT Oil vs. Coconut Oil.
Paleo Snack Bar - There are a ton of paleo friendly / keto friendly snack bars on the market. Everything from bison bars to chicken bars to cricket bars, there's something out there you'll find and love. But you'll need to experiment to find which suit your tastes best. It's great to keep a few of these on hand for travel or in-between meals. We've tried bars from both Caveman Foods and Exo Protein, both had some fantastic products.
Here’s what a daily meal plan for a ketogenic diet looks like:
Coffee with 2 tbsp of heavy cream
Turkey bacon and scrambled eggs with spinach and mushroom
Half an avocado with light salt and pepper
One chicken breast
3 cups of mixed greens
2 oz of ranch dressing
Handful of raw almonds (around 24)
4 oz salmon seasoned lightly
2 cups of spinach sautéed with onions and garlic
Maybe you're not ready for the full ketosis leap... that's okay, if you're in the least bit curious there's something you can try. Recently a few products have been released called exogenous ketones - supplements to help give your body some of the ketosis benefits without the strict dietary measures. Prüvit makes a product called Keto-OS which does just that.