What is Keto?
So, what is Keto (or ketosis)? Ketosis is a normal metabolic process where the body converts fat into usable energy in the absence of glucose. That energy is known as ketone bodies. The three ketone bodies produced are acetoacetate, which then breaks down into beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetone. This process, called lipolysis, occurs in the liver and begins by using stored body fat and then dietary fats. Lypolysis also produces glycerol in addition to ketones, which is then used by the liver and kidneys for gluconeogenesis. This is the process where the body uses non-carbohydrates to produce the glucose your body needs.
Yes, glucose is needed by the body. Your body needs it for the process of glycolysis to create the ATP needed by cells for energy. While your body does need glucose, you absolutely do not need to consume carbohydrates to get it. In addition to using glycerol for gluconeogenisis, your body will also use excess protein in the process as well. You will never need carbohydrates. Ever.
Now that you have your primer on the science behind ketosis, let's look at the popular take on Keto.
Treating diabetes using a low carbohydrate diet dates back to the middle of the 19th century. Not long after that discovery, it was used as a weight loss mechanism with the work of William Banting. But keto didn't become a thing until the 1920's. It was then that doctors at the Mayo Clinic began using it as a treatment for epilepsy.
That diet, now referred to as the therapeutic keto diet, isn't what we mean by Keto. The TKD is made up of a ratio of 4:1:1, 4 parts fat, 1 part protein and 1 part carbohydrate. The Keto we refer to is considered the nutritional keto diet and allows for more carbohydrates and protein. Each person is different, therefore the ratio that puts one into ketosis might be different for another. A general rule of thumb is 75/25/5 daily caloric intake from fat, protein, and carbohydrates respectively.
But how will you know if you're there?
Eating within those macro nutrient ratios is a near guarantee to get you into ketosis. The best way to find out if you're there though is to test.
Ketone urine strips are the least expensive route, and can be a good indicator of ketone production at first. However after a short period of time urine ketones (acetoacetate) will show up less. But this isn't an indicator of a failed attempt at ketosis. In fact, this is usually a sign that your body is becoming more efficient. You are actually using more and excreting less as waste.
Breath ketones (acetone) have been recently shown to correlate well with other measurements. However readily available tools to measure for them are either not entirely accurate or on the pricey side. With the increased popularity of the ketogenic diet, don't be surprised if we see advances with breath meters sooner rather than later.
The most accurate and efficient way to test for a ketogenic state is by checking for blood ketones (beta-hydroxybutyrate). Tests can be performed with blood meters similar to those used by diabetics for testing blood sugar. The drawback is the price of the special ketone test strips needed, which can get expensive.
Once you're Keto-adapted, which can take 6-8 weeks, you will know when you're in ketosis. The symptoms are unmistakable. Increased mental clarity. Decreased instances of brain fog. Increased energy levels. No more midday drowsiness. Decreased hunger. Increased thirst. These are among the most prevalent indicators.
That's basically Keto in a nutshell. While it's referred to as a "diet", it's more than that. Keto is a lifestyle, a journey. And we'd love to be a part of yours.