Getting Into Ketosis and Staying There
Ketogenic eating (or Low Carb High Fat/LCHF) helps you lose weight by making your body use your own body fat as a source of energy. This depends on your body entering into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a condition characterized by raised levels of ketone bodies in the body, associated with fat metabolism. Sounds awesome right? (Here is a link to a more scientific explanation of ketogenic diets from reddit/r/ketoscience.) But it’s impossible to get your body to do this as long as it has excess carbohydrates.
To get into ketosis you have to understand the role fats, proteins and carbohydrates (also known as MACRO nutrients) play in metabolism. I could go all sciency and break it down molecule by molecule but for now…let’s not.
While eating a high carbohydrate diet your brain primarily relies on glucose to function. So does your heart, liver, spleen, muscles etc. Glucose is normally obtained from carbohydrates. Back when we were hunter gatherers glucose wasn’t as easy to get as going down to the local market and buying it. Our bodies had to have the ability to make an alternative to glucose from FAT that our brains and bodies can use for energy when no carbs were available. The alternative is called Ketone Bodies! Ketone bodies are an alternative fuel source for when food was scarce but we still required energy to survive. No food for a day? Boom. Let’s turn this stored fat into fuel.
How do you make your body do this amazing thing? Well, you need to restrict yourself to less than or equal to 20 GRAMS of net carbs per day. After 8-12 weeks of being in a ketotic state your body will be adapted to using ketones for fuel. Then your carbohydrates can be increased with 35 grams being the higher limit for most people. When you take dietary carbohydrates away the body goes through a change. As your body uses up it’s stored amount of sugars your metabolism shifts to making and using Ketones for energy from fat. Make sure you don’t give in to those carbohydrate cravings at this point! Net carbs are figured out by subtracting the total fiber content in grams from the carbohydrate content in grams.
You should also eat a set amount protein measured in grams. Protein is essential in a ketogenic style of eating because it helps you feel full thereby increasing satisfaction after meals and increasing the likelihood you’ll stick to your plan. Taking in adequate amounts of protein also prevents your body from breaking down muscle which is very important in very active individuals. Muscle mass burns calories even in a resting state so the more the better! (Visit Reddit /r/ketogains to learn more about strength training on keto.) It is suggested that you consume 0.6 g/lb of protein if you’re sedentary and up to 1.o g/lb of protein for the very active individual. After limiting carbohydrates, consuming enough protein is one of your most important goals!
Fat calories will be your largest source of calories in keto. Carbohydrates and protein only contain 4 calories/gram nutritionally. Fat contains a whopping 9 calories/gram! Man cannot live on protein alone. So an equal amount of grams of protein and fat do not contain the same amount of calories. Use fat as the “filler” in your day to make sure you reach your calorie needs. A calorie restriction forces your body at this point to pull from fat reserves to meet your energy needs for the whole day.
The best way to figure out how all of these numbers is to use the Keto Calculator here. When using the keto calculator it’s also helpful to know your body fat percentage. Click here for a body fat percentage calculator from Active.com. That’s keto in a nutshell. Please visit the Getting Started page to get yourself set up for keto.