There are many fad diets that come and go, but one that has become especially popular in recent years is ketosis. Unlike other types of diets, this particular one is endorsed by many health professionals because it's backed by science. However, the "keto" diet isn't for everyone, and there are risks involved if you aren't careful about managing your eating habits. Learn more about ketosis and how you can use it to improve your health and potentially lose weight.
What is Ketosis?
Ketosis is a metabolic process that the body naturally completes under certain conditions. For ketosis to take place, the body needs to be lacking carbohydrates from food. When there are no carbs present to burn for energy, the body will enter ketosis by burning fat instead. This process also produces ketones as a byproduct of the body burning fat for energy.
With a typical diet, the body does not make or use ketones. But when you consistently lack carbs and the body switches to ketosis to produce energy, your body will continue making ketones. These byproducts of ketosis can contribute to a number of health benefits. However, when ketone levels are too high, it can be very dangerous.
Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
In order to take advantage of the ketosis fat-burning process, many people try to get their body into this metabolic state by eating a low-carb diet. Eating plans designed to produce this result are called ketogenic diets or simply "keto." The following are some of the potential health benefits of following a ketogenic diet:
- Weight loss: The keto diet has been linked to noticeable weight loss and is especially popular for how quickly it can help individuals to shed pounds.
- Appetite suppression: Carbs often lead to feeling hungry again soon after eating, while eating more protein on a keto diet helps you feel fuller longer.
- Increased energy and improved focused: There's often a sugar "crash" associated with eating foods high in carbohydrates. By avoiding carbs, you can eliminate the usual midday slump and enjoy improved concentration.
- Relief for specific health conditions: The ketogenic diet has been found to produce positive results for people dealing with a number of serious health conditions. Following this type of eating plan may help with insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, epilepsy, migraines and other physical issues. If you're interested in pursuing this diet to treat a health condition, talk to your doctor first.
What to Eat on a Keto Diet
The key to a ketogenic diet is avoiding carbs. However, you also need to find healthy foods to replace the carbs you used to eat, especially if you want to experience the benefits listed above. Here are some foods recommended for a keto diet:
- Meat and poultry
- Fish and shellfish
- Low-carb vegetables
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Nuts and seeds
- Shirataki noodles
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
How to Induce Ketosis
All you need to do to induce ketosis is follow a ketogenic diet. However, that doesn't always produce immediate results.
So how long does it take to get into ketosis? Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer. For some people, it takes just a few days to get into ketosis. For others, it could take a couple of weeks or more. It really depends on your unique body and your lifestyle.
How Do I Know If I'm in Ketosis?
If you want to check whether your ketogenic diet is producing the results you want, there are several methods you can use to tell. One of the first signs is bad breath. Due to the increased ketone levels, your breath and possibly your sweat will smell a little off for a while. For many people, this is temporary and goes away after sticking with the diet for a week or two.
If you want more certainty about your ketosis, you can measure it using one of the following methods:
- Urine strips: You can purchase urine strips designed specifically to test ketone levels. This is the most inexpensive way to test for ketosis.
- Breath analyzers: There are also meters that test for ketones through your breath. The meter itself is somewhat expensive but it can be reused over and over again.
- Blood meters: You can measure ketones in your blood with a meter designed to prick your finger (similar to glucose meters used by people with diabetes). This is the most expensive way to test for ketosis.
Risks of Ketosis
The main risk of ketosis is the potential for too many ketones to build up in your body. This can cause your blood to become acidic, resulting in a condition called ketoacidosis. This is incredibly dangerous and can lead to a coma or death.
The people who are most at risk for ketoacidosis are diabetics who haven't taken enough insulin or who are dehydrated or sick. Unless you are starving yourself, you shouldn't be at risk for ketoacidosis when following a sensible low-carb diet. However, be sure to seek medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms of ketoacidosis:
- Excessive thirst
- Dry mouth
- Excessive urination
- Stomach pain
- Fruity-smelling breath
- Difficulty breathing
Think you could benefit from a ketogenic diet? Use these tips to reduce your carb intake and enjoy the benefits of ketosis.