What is keto? The ketogenic diet is well known for being a low-carb, high-fat diet, where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy.
While on a ketogenic diet, your whole body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat. When insulin levels become very low, fat burning can highly increase. It becomes easier to access your stored fats to burn them off. This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also some other less obvious benefits, such as lowered hungry and a steady supply of energy, keeping you alert and focused.
Glucose is the simplest of the carbohydrates, making it a monosaccharide. This means it has one sugar. It is one of the body’s preferred sources of fuel in the form of carbohydrates.
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use. It helps keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high or too low.
When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin. Since the glucose is being used as a primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored. Typically on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy. By lowering the intake of carbs, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis.
Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver.
The end goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories but starvation of carbohydrates.
Is the keto diet bad for my health?
Our bodies are incredibly adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn ketones as the primary energy source. Optimal ketone levels offer many health, weight loss, physical and mental performance benefits.
How do I know I’m in ketosis?
If you’re new to the keto diet, it may be hard to know if you’re actually in ketosis. It is possible to measure it by testing urine, blood or breath samples, but there are also some telltale symptoms, that require no testing.
- Keto breath: This happens because of a ketone in our body called acetone escaping through our breath. It can make a person’s breath smell fruity, or have a similar smell to nail polish remover. This smell can also come from sweat when working out. Keto breath is typically temporary.
- Dry mouth and increased thirst: Unless you’re drinking enough and getting enough electrolytes, such as salt, your mouth may feel dry. If you’re having this symptom, try drinking a cup of bouillon or two daily, along with as much water as you need. It is also possible to feel a metallic taste in your mouth.
- Increased urination: A ketone body, called acetoacetate, may end up in the urine making it possible to test for ketosis using urine strips. Additionally, when starting out, it can result in having to go to the bathroom more often than normal. This may also be the main cause of increased thirst.
- Reduced hunger: Many people experience a marked reduction in hunger while on the keto diet. This could be caused by an increased ability of the body to be fueled by its stored fats. Many people feel great when they eat just once or twice a day, and may automatically end up doing a form of intermittent fasting. This saves time and money, while also speeding up the weight loss process.
- Increased energy: After a few days of feeling tired (the keto flu), many people experience a large increase in energy levels.