The only hard and fast rule of health is that health is personal and what works well for one person may not work for someone else.

Aside from that rule, there are “frameworks” that seem to benefit large groups of people.

One more level down from that are alternative strategies that benefit smaller groups.

Ketosis is likely one of those alternative strategies that works well for certain, smaller groups of people. So, right off the bat I want you to understand that Ketosis might not be for everyone.

I’m going to lay out the case for potential benefits of Ketosis. If it sounds interesting and beneficial to you, then consider trying it.

(see our free cheat sheetΒ to help you).

What is Ketosis

Ketosis occurs when liver glycogen gets depleted and the body burns fatty acids for fuel.

The primary driver of this state is a very low carbohydrate intake. Often, it also requires a low protein, higher fat intake. You can also achieve a state of ketosis by not eating altogether.

The creation of ketones is a byproduct of this metabolic state. Ketones are a source of fuel, just as glucose is a source of fuel. Ketones tend to have some added benefits, though.

What role does Ketosis play in human health?

Ketosis allows our bodies to function in the absence of carbohydrates, both physically and mentally. Instead of burning carbohydrates, or converting protein to glucose, the body burns ketones.

This is pretty much a survival mechanism. It allows your body to function in a state of caloric deprivation. This is why ketosis often gets bad press (as it’s linked to “starvation”).

Being a survival mechanism doesn’t make it invalid as a strategy, though. There can still be potential benefits to be had. Let’s cover a few of them…

Ketosis and Accelerated Fat Loss

Being in ketosis has a positive effect on hormone regulation. Namely, blood sugar regulation.

Think about someone who eats whole grains at every meal, throws down a Naked Juice, and caps dinner off with a Weight Watchers ice cream bar. What you’re seeing is a person who is on a blood sugar roller coaster.

These blood sugar spikes trigger both fat storage and future hunger. The fat storage is due to the hyper-caloric environment this type of eating tends to put people in. The insulin dysregulation causes constant hunger and cravings.

Now imagine a person who is avoiding carbohydrates, keeping protein to moderate levels, and getting adequate levels of fat. Assuming they’re eating quality foods, they’re getting all the micronutrients they need. Assuming they’re also eating enough calories, they’re not starving themselves. The diet is meeting their needs and their blood sugar is remaining very stable in the process.

Following this high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate model can induce ketosis. Your body’s main interest is to create the ketones it can use for fuel in the absence of glucose. In other words, your body’s main interest is to burn fat.

What’s interesting is that research shows that ketosis reduces body fat to a far better degree than restricting calories. In children, at least (but there are other studies that reflect the same findings in adults).

Ketosis, Disease Treatment, and Health

Besides turning on your fat burning furnace, dipping into ketosis may be beneficial for health and disease treatment. One of the most interesting areas of study has to do with ketosis and starving cancer cells.

Many cancersΒ feeds on glucose, which leads to the obvious question, “What happens when you take away the glucose?” For normal cells, they switch to using ketones for fuel as we discussed earlier. But there are studies that show cancer does not have the ability to use ketones for fuel, thus they starve:

“Your normal cells have the metabolic flexibility to adapt from using glucose to using ketone bodies. But cancer cells lack this metabolic flexibility. So we can exploit that,” Dr. D’Agostino explained.

Another area where ketogenic diets are being heavily tested is in the treatment of Diabetes. Both Type I and Type II diabetics seem to respond very well to being in ketosis. Keep in mind this is separate from the condition of ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition for Type 1 diabetics.

There are dozens of studies targeting the treatment of a range of health issues using ketogenic diets. I can’t cover them all here, but I’ll give you three more: ketogenic diets have shown to be beneficial for those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and Epilepsy. This appears to be due to the neuroprotective nature of ketosis, it’s ability to slow or halt cellular death, and it’s positive effects on inflammation.

Ketosis and Improved Focus and Brain Function

At this point I could hit you with a string of confusing science terms. But, Rebooted Body is not about making you feel like you’re back in Biology class preparing for your final exam. And this is a “beginner’s guide” to ketosis. So, I’m going to water this down a little bit.

One of the mechanisms that causes so many brain issues – seizures, migraines, bipolar, ALS, dementia – is neurotoxicity. One cause of neurotoxicity is too much glucose. So, by reducing the glucose supply and asking the brain to burn ketones for fuel, a leveling out of sorts occurs.

There’s another byproduct of all this. Brain function. How clearly you focus, think, and recall information. Ketogenic diets improve brain function through the mechanism of clean fuel production. It appears that ketones are a more efficient and cleaner form of fuel for the brain than glucose.

How so?

To explain, we need to talk about mitochondria, the workhorses of your cells. ATP powers these mitochondria. ATP can be made from glucose or ketones. When ATP is made from glucose, free radicals are a byproduct. Free radicals are those pesky things that cause cellular damage and eventual disease.

ATP production from ketones is much cleaner, producing less of these free radicals.

What if your car’s engine was running on a mixture of gasoline and sugar? You wouldn’t be getting optimal function.

Remove that excess glucose and you’re left with clean burning fuel. Things start to improve, even if there’s prior damage.

Ketosis and Satiety

I’ve said before that it’s possible to make the switch from being a “sugar burner” to a “fat burner.” That’s an oversimplified description, but I still don’t see anything wrong with it.

What we’re talking about here is how your metabolic state can shift to rely on glucose. This can happen through years or decades of ingesting far more glucose than your body needs.

So, what happens when you remove or reduce glucose intake from a person who is “sugar-adapted?” Well, they hate life for about three weeks because their cells are inefficient at using fat for fuel in the absence of glucose.

But, what happens after this period of time if you stick it out? You can become what’s called keto-adapted. This is where your body “switches” and becomes more efficient at using fat to run your body’s systems.

This doesn’t mean you should be in ketosis your entire life. What I’m saying is that your body should have the ability to use both ketones and glucose for fuel, seamlessly switching between the two.

As a sugar burner, you’ve got one source to choose from: glucose. When your metabolism is fully functional, you’ve got two sources to choose from.

Best of all, when your body doesn’t need glucose, you enjoy steadier energy levels. You’re not hunting for snacks and more food at all times. Your body isn’t threatening to pass out because you forgot to bring change for the vending machine.

Ketosis and Performance

The last aspect of ketosis is how it affects performance.

You might assume that ketosis sucks for performance because Gatorade has sent you an opposing message your entire life. They say that if you want to perform well, you need to ingest glucose-water.

And that may be true if you’re a helpless, sugar-adapted human. But what about those of us who have no trouble burning fat? Is it possible that I can be the all-star on my flag football or ultimate frisbee team if I start the day off with bacon and eggs? And if I hydrate with nothing more than good old-fashioned water?

This study on gymnasts says that you can perform pretty darn well in a ketogenic state. Another study shows that ketogenic diets have no negative effect on endurance performance or recovery.

Then there’s this video of Dr. Peter Attia doing demanding work in a state of ketosis and he looks like he’s handling it pretty well. There’s also this write up he did about low-carb and performance.

What’s Next?

There’s a lot of evidence that points to ketosis being a great thing to experiment with. However, I think balance and understanding context is really important as well. I am not at all a fan of the current ketogenic fad that suggests being in a permanent state of ketosis.

Not only does ketosis have some potential downsides, but it tends to require a lot of focus and obsession to achieve and maintain.

We’ve put together a “Practical Ketosis” cheat sheet for you to better understand how ketogenic eating can fit into a practical, healthy, and sustainable lifestyle.

Click here to grab the cheat sheet.

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Comments

  • Shannon says:

    Really interesting read…thank you. I wonder, at what point and to what degree do you think someone can adequately burn both forms of fuel before they resort back to being a “sugar burner” (that is, once they’ve successfully gone through keto-adaptation) . It seems like it’s a very fine line, that, I guess, one can only figure out by self experimentation but I’m curious about your take since you seem to be doing so.

    • I don’t know that there’s a definitive answer to this. In this regard, the “switch” analogy is likely misleading. These things tend to be a sliding scale. It’s not about your body reaching a tipping point and flipping some switch, it’s more about how your body gets more efficient or less efficient over time at these things.

  • Leslie says:

    Hey, thanks for the article. I’m kinda new here but have been looking into ketosis and watching Peter Attia on youtube. My question, that I never see addressed at all, has anyone looked into or even hypothesized on the safety/benefits/etc of ketosis in children? Do you or any of your readers have any info or recommendations?

    • Shannon says:

      Hi, Leslie. This is just my personal experience: when it comes to kids, change should be gradual. My son is 2 & 1/2 and is highly sensitive to sugar (and I’m not just talking processed-junk-food-sugar…he reacts to things that most would consider perfectly healthy food options like whole grain bread). He shows clear signs of low-blood-sugar within 1-2 hours of eating if the food was mainly carb-based. He has extreme hyper-activity issues, poor sleep and even skin reactions for 1-2 days after eating the “wrong foods”. He has not had any formal medical diagnosis of anything, and I don’t think he needs it. He just very clearly thrives much better on a diet of healthy fats, protein and more natural sugar (such as fruit and honey…though even these need to be moderated) and moderate grains like brown rice. It took a long time (about 6 months) to get him adjusted off of whole grains and the occasional sugary treat. I feel like having done it cold-turkey would have been disastrous. But it was doable over time. For him, it’s simply what works best.

      • Leslie says:

        Thanks for sharing Shannon! I’ve heard great things about children responding well to a paleo diet for issues like that. My problem is that my son, who is almost 12, has always been husky (as have I really) and we follow a mostly paleo approach but he isn’t super active and isn’t slimming down. I don’t want him to develop any worse weight issues and don’t want to put him on diets and things but I wonder if he would thrive on a keto diet. He also started middle school this year and really has a hard time concentrating and remembering things. I’ve never really had focus problems with him before but as he goes into puberty maybe he’s changing? I don’t want to cause any harm to his development though, of course.

      • I wouldn’t recommend Keto for kids. I don’t know that there’s anything wrong with it, but at the same time I believe they’d do better with safe carb intake (veggies, rice, potatoes, etc.). Keto can help you lose weight if you have a busted up metabolism, but healthy kids should have a healthy metabolism.

        What does mostly paleo look like? My take is that kids’ hunger is often higher to deal with growth and if kids aren’t active, that’s when you see them get husky. Then as they start to hit their full growth they slim out on the exact same diet as their appetite decreases. I haven’t researched at all in that area so it’s just my opinion.

        I wouldn’t actively decrease his intake but instead work on his activity level. Daily playing outside, getting away from lots of video games, family walks, etc.

      • Leslie says:

        Hi Kevin, thanks for your thoughts! “Mostly Paleo” means we drink raw milk and eat butter, sometimes other dairy products but not as often. It means I buy peanut butter because I can’t always afford almond or other butter. I make “paleo” treats but I really don’t think almond flour is very “caveman”. It also means we aren’t perfect and I am working very hard on being cool with that.

        I think I may have to play devil’s advocate a little and suggest that maybe, genetically, he started out with a little of a busted metabolism. He lost the genetic lottery. That being said, I know that there is a healthy way to “fix” it but it may not look like what it looks like for “normal” kids. Activity is something we work on but it is hard to come by since I work full time, he is a latchkey kid. He does martial arts 3 nights a week and boy scouts 1 night so it doesn’t leave a lot of room. It’s a work in progress so I try to make the changes I can and work around the rest.

        I really appreciate you answering! I love reading your posts. Thanks a lot and Happy Wednesday!

  • Jennifer says:

    This is good information, and timely. I want to start this experiment, but I keep getting hung up on the numbers: 60% fat, 30% protein, 10% carbs. What does a typical meal look like? I cannot seem to find anything or a real menu/diet plan.

    Also, my naturopath has recommended a 24- to 48-hour water fast prior to embarking on a ketogenic diet. What are your thoughts regarding the fast prior?

    • Bec says:

      i use Cronometer.com to track my eating. It will show me the percentage of fat; protein, and carbs that I’ve consumed, against the target ratios I’ve set up. It also adds up the nutrients I’ve consumed every day, which helps me watch out for deprivation of what I need.

      Thanks for the article, Kevin! I’ve been on this for more than 3 weeks now, and I’m definitely in ketosis, and I’ve lost 9 pounds. I’m having fun finding new foods to meet nutritional needs. I actually just learned about stinging nettle tea, made it from the stuff in my own backyard!

      I’m pumped!

    • I don’t think anything like water fasting is necessary. I go into Keto easily with bulletproof coffee for breakfast; bacon, eggs, and avocado for lunch; and then fish/steak for dinner with more avocado and maybe some asparagus in butter or broccoli in butter. The next day you can sub any of the meals for a big salad with only olive oil and protein. It actually takes a lot of the thought out of cooking. Sometimes limitations are a good thing.

      • Chris says:

        Kevin,
        I love this post! Thank you! I just started my ketosis experiement this week. I’m using a ketone blood test meter to measure my progress. I started at 0.4mmol/L on Tuesday, 0.3 mmol/L Wed morning, and on Saturday I was 0.2 mmol/L. Frustrating because I cut my carbs quite a bit! Im eating eggs in the morning with a little grassfed cheese, bulletproof coffee, some meat at lunch, sunflower seeds, meat at dinner with some kale or something similar, and 3 tbsp of almond butter at night mixed with a tbsp of grass-fed butter and some dark chocolate at night. I’d like to get my blood ketones to 1.5-2.0 mmol/L but it seems I’m going the wrong way despite cutting my carbs. I was thinking that, because I just started, my body is “shocked” by this and my numbers will be messed up. Is this normal?

        Also, what about red wine? Can one drink an occassional glass of red wine and still be ok as long as the diet is on track?

      • Kevin Geary says:

        Patience, grasshopper πŸ˜‰ Keep me updated.

      • Kevin Geary says:

        The urine strips aren’t very reliable. There are breath meters you can get. But I’m more of an intuitive person and tend not to rely on tracking things.

        Right now just keep doing what you’re doing. Are you supplementing with resistant starch — ketosis doesn’t tend to have a positive impact on gut flora.

        Also, I’d skip having a goal weight and just have a goal look and a goal feel. You can look how you want at many different weights.

      • Kevin,

        10 days into it and my blood reading is 2.1 mmol/L and my urine shows that I have a large amount of ketones in my urine. I’m feeling good and not hungry. Im 38, 195lbs, my waist is 35 and I CrossFit 4 times a week. Should I just keep doing what I’m doing to slim down or do I need to do some kind of fast? I’d like to get down to 180 and my waist to 32 or below.

    • Leslie says:

      Good questions Jennifer! Following πŸ™‚

  • Alicyn Hargroves says:

    Very interesting post. Thanks for the information. It’s hard to find good information out there. I appreciate your thoughts on this! I have been wanting to know more about Ketosis/Ketogenic Diet.

  • Tony Scarbrough says:

    Great article Kev…your absolutley right about the switching back and forth. When i cut off my sugar intake i go right into fat burning mode with no loss of anything except fat. Only problem is staying away from the sugar. Guess i have to get the 8 unhelathy eating triggers to solve that problem.

  • Cathyate K says:

    I am not a dieter but I have decided to make a lifestyle change with the onset of menopause. I have been doing #NSNG for 4 days now. I am in moderate ketosis already and the scale is trying to win my heart by showing me a significant achievement already. After serious withdrawals, I am happy, energetic, and optimistic.

  • Emma says:

    I am currently following a ketogenic diet – I’ve been doing really well and have lost a reasonable amount of weight in the 10 days I’ve been doing it. At the weekend though, I’m aware I took myself out of ketosis (I had a ball, and wasn’t going to sit there and watch everybody else eat!) I definitely didn’t binge, just some chicken and veg – but I felt like I was back in ketosis maybe only a day later – is this possible? Does this demonstrate the ability (as you mentioned in your article) to ‘switch’? I’m just curious, I find this all very interesting πŸ™‚

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hi Emma,

      Have you actually been tracking with a ketone meter of some sort or are you just guessing?

      • Emma says:

        I know I was in ketosis before because of ketostix and I knew I was back in because of ketostix. But I only guessed that I’d taken myself out of ketosis because of how rubbish I felt – the same sort of rubbish I’ve experienced when I know I’ve not been in ketosis before.

      • Emma from my experience getting into ketosis takes time. Perhaps I had a fatty liver that was not at first able to burn fat very well. Leaving off carbs was not easy but I finally have about 20 accidental carbs a day from almonds, cottage cheese, etc. It was 2.5 months after cutting the carbs, watching the protein and mainly living on coconut oil for 80% of my calories did I lose the first pound. I use the $13.97 breath analyzer off of eBay to determine if I am getting into ketosis and at what relative level. If you eat out be aware to keep people coming back some ‘healthy’ food in restaurants has a ton of sugar in it. I am doing keto for pain relief for my arthritis but for any other seasons as will. After the first week or two I Goggled “Dying from using coconut oil” because I was so sick. The kill off I guess it was what was the problem. That passed after 2-3 weeks. Remember everyone can be different. If one is not willing to give it 90 days to trying to get into and stay in a state of ketosis that person may want to skip trying ketosis.

  • Arnie says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Just wondering what your thoughts are on the Carb Nite diet ? (10 days of no carbs and then a back loaded carb day every 7 days)

    Arnie

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hey Arnie,

      There’s definitely merit to the concept. The problem I have with it is that many people who follow it don’t care about the quality of the carbs they’re eating. This is the same with carb-backloading. So, on that load day (or night) they’re eating pizzas, cookies, etc. instead of low-toxin, low-inflammation, high nutrient carb sources. If you follow the protocol using safe starches and even some properly prepared legumes then it’s fine.

      Does that make sense?

      • Arnie says:

        Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

        I don’t know if you have had a chance to read Kiefer’s book on his Carb Nite Diet? He does say that there isn’t any problem with eating these type of carbs and it’s impossible to be stored as fat? I’m trying to find as many views on his claim, if you make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need elsewhere, do you still disagree that you can eat what you like on these carb backloaded nights?

        Arnie

      • Kevin Geary says:

        Yes, I still disagree because these foods destroy the gut and cause other issues. I haven’t read his book so I don’t know what the context of his claim is. If he means it “doesn’t matter” as far as fat storage goes, then fine. If he means it “doesn’t matter” in terms of health, then I’d whole-heartedly disagree with that.

      • Kevin Geary says:

        Again, there’s more to health than the long-term implications of eating a pizza once a week. For most people, that’s enough to maintain a chronic, low-grade inflammation and immune response that eventually leads to disease.

        The gut is EVERYTHING. Wheat destroys the gut.

        You can get the same insulin response from white rice in a harmless package. Hell, even if you did well-sourced ice cream. But I’d never tell people to use wheat-based carbs for anything, ever.

      • Arnie says:

        That’s fair. I think his theory is that to get a high enough insulin response you have to go for high glycemic carbs, that also gives you the boost to your metabolism. I suppose if you do it long term then with it come the health implications, but then eating a pizza once a week with a dessert or two that an average person might eat over a week can’t be all that bad? And doubly so for someone that regularly exercises?

  • Arnie says:

    Great, thanks for your responses! I will bare this in mind.

  • Aimee says:

    Kevin,

    I’m in my fourth week on low-carb (9-22 net carbs daily; averaging 14 net carbs per day), and I’m having trouble reaching optimal ketosis. I have ranged from 0.2-0.8 mmol/L using my blood ketone meter. Are there any medical conditions that may prevent one from reaching optimal ketosis? I’m a long way off, and weight loss is very, very slow and minimal this time around (8 lbs. in 3.5 weeks). I have tried eliminating all pre-packaged foods and artificial sweeteners. Thanks for any guidance you may be able to provide.

  • Michelle says:

    Hi Kevin,

    My psychiatrist put me on a ketogenic diet to help balance my moods as I have bipolar disorder. My father did the Atkins diet years ago and is concerned about hypoglycemia. I am prone to this and was wondering what your thoughts are?

    • Kevin Geary says:

      It’s complicated. A lot of people experience hypoglycemia in the “gap.” The gap is found in the transition period from a high carb lifestyle to a ketogenic state. At some point, there aren’t enough carbohydrates, but the metabolic systems are unable to properly access fat for fuel because that system has been “turned off” in a sense due to the high carb lifestyle. Also, the body is still producing an abnormally high amount of insulin which makes matters worse. Once the body adjusts, this all normalizes. Then there is also something called reactive hypoglycemia. You’ll definitely want to keep in touch with your doctor during all this, but it’s great that you’re testing it because pharmaceuticals are something I would avoid at all costs.

  • paul says:

    Hey I started a keto diet because im doing a bodybuilding comp in 3mths. I’ve gone past that keto flu that was crazy. I recently tested my ketones I got 0.7mmol then its dropped to 0.3mmol. My carbs are 20g a day fats 200g protein 180g-200g a day. I just want to achieve optimal range. Could me being 12% body fat be a factor why I cant achieve this

  • Annette says:

    Iv been trying to cut some of my body fat % and I have been seeing a nutritionist who has told me that I have built up some insulin resistance. He has advised me to go on a Keto diet for 4 weeks to see how I go. It has been quite a struggle for me as I am not use to eating so much meat. I wanted to see if anyone knew how Keto works. This time around i found it quite easy to get into Ketosis but i have read around and for some people they may even need to cut out vegetables to reach this same state. Is anyone able to advise whether a persons body can be immune to being in a ketosis state and what would happen if I suddenly ate heaps of carbohydrates? would it take longer to get back into Ketosis? Hope to hear all your thoughts! Thanks

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hi Annette, I’m not sure I follow. You said you got into ketosis but then said you’re struggling to do so? The meat eating isn’t really a part of ketosis. In fact, if you eat too much protein, you can kick yourself out of ketosis. Do you have a specific question that I can answer?

  • Rachael says:

    Hi Kevin

    I am about to start my ketosis experiment tomorrow. I have always shied away from ketosis diets because I get very dizzy when I miss a meal- basically I burn sugar and my addicted metabolism pushes me to seek more. I had my 3rd baby two years ago and at 32 I am a loose chubby woman. I did the low fat low calorie diet called Slimming World ( I am from Northern Ireland), I lost a stone in 6 weeks and then got fed up of being hungry and just ate like normal.

    My sister made me think of ketosis, so I have been avidly researching it and I have to say your article is definitely the most coherent and seemingly sane argument I have read so far, and I have read a LOT!

    I read some of your other articles about exercise, and chronic exercise- this notion appeals to me. Efficient short period of time vs marathon runs. I am essentially a product of my ancestors and I naturally seek the easiest/efficient route! Some say laziness, I say it’s intelligence.

    I shall check in again in a fortnight, I am hoping I shall see some fat burning results by then.

    I will also stick to my normal 1km swim, and one session of leg toning per week, for the time being. I did have notions of stepping up my exercise to every other day. I think this may be too many variables however, so I will stick with low carbs, good fats and moderate protein for the next 14 days.

    Here goes nothing!

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Thank you for the comment and kind words. Just a heads up: you’re probably not going to feel very good about your performance in exercise during this transition. It takes a LONG time for the body to completely transition to a point where any sort of athletic performance can be realized during ketosis. Some people never seem to get there. So, just a heads up.

  • Pamela says:

    Hi,

    I was wondering about calories and optimum numbers to stay at to lose weight. I’m a bit confused. Some people say don’t count them and other say you need to. I’m afraid I’ll gain weight if I don’t track and eat that much fat in my diet.

    Thanks

  • Aaron says:

    I am 74″ tall & 242lbs today. I started ketosis last week and have lost 9 lbs. Day one was fine, day two ketosis flu, day three I was in the ketosis zone. I could feel it working. For 2013 I swam (161 miles), biked (471miles), strength trained for 45 minutes three times per week and for half that year I kick boxed twice per week (2hrs) as well. I rarely left the 250lb zone +/- 5 lbs for the entire year. Frustrating. My HDL was low, LDL normal Triglycerides high, Cholesterol normal. I believe I have recently overcome a 20 year fatty liver issue with the described workouts above and an alkiline diet plan. Also in 2013 I had a problem with post workout energy drops, like I had been shot with a tranquilizer dart and would sleep for up to three hours post workouts. Enter the nutritionist. In July 2014 my nutritionist read my food diary, noticed my roughly 2500 calorie intake and told me my system was in a state of starvation and soon had me on 4000 calories/day, lots of carbs, medium protien, low fats and I gained weight. She also monitored my body fat with an electronic handheld device and it was 24.8%. My 2014 workouts have changed some because of tendonitis but it sure is nice to lose weight this easily with less workouts. I use turmeric, glucosamine & chondroitin and eat my garden kale, swiss chard and string beans either raw or slightly cooked along with bacon, eggs, cheese, various meats, olive and coconut oils, and pork rinds. Lastly, with the discovery of a growing pollup in my gall bladder and the threat of cancer in 2012, I am happy to report the pollup has stopped growing through a strict 80% alkiline diet for two years where I even drank ionized water everyday. I drink no alcohol, no drugs, use no tobacco products and very few sweets or soda. Green tea with lemon or just water mostly. Recently I found a ketosis web page where I entered in my body info an I am suceeding in weight loss with (9lbs lost!) 233g fat, 187g protein, 25g carbs each day. Even lost weight during a long and fun county fair this past week. Amazing. In the future when I reach my goal weight and my tendons feel better, will I always need ketosis?

  • Susan says:

    Going on week 3 of low carbohydrate diet; not thinking I am yet in ketosis but my liver may be depleted of glycogen as I have been suffering with unreal insomnia. Bed at 9, up at 2, yawning, etc. I know my breath is kicked up, which I hope will improve. My blood ketones have only hovered between 0.3 and 0.5……looking for hope here somewhere. I feel as though I eat very carefully, though I am not a calorie counter. I eat 2 eggs in the a.m. when I can (some days I get no breakfast) and a small amount of meat for lunch and supper. I wait at least 5 hours between meals to avoid confounding the leptin and macadamia and pecans have been my only “indulgence”. Words of hope? Anyone?

  • Bri says:

    Hello,

    My boyfriend and I have both been on the keto diet for about 3 weeks so far. He has lost around 6lbs and I have lost 2. I am not on this for weight loss (I have 19.5% body fat), but rather for athletic pursuits. We are both competitive athletes with 2 or more high intensity practices per week (2 hours long each), in addition to weekend tournaments (7-8 games lasting ~1.5 hours each, on the field running for about 20-30 minutes of each 1.5 hour game).

    My question is: is there a way to integrate more carbs in our diet and still remain in ketosis? We are both noticing extremely low energy levels at practices and tournament, and it is having a negative affect on out performance. Any help would be amazing. Thank you!

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hi Bri — Keto isn’t what I would call an “athlete’s protocol.” There are some athletes who are keto who do very well but most people struggle with it. It also tends to work much better for low intensity, long-duration activities rather than activities that need quick burst, power, speed, etc. The physical demands placed on your body do usually mean you can eat more carbs and stay in ketosis vs someone with low activity levels but there’s a lot of calculating to figure out what the threshold is. For all these reasons, keto remains something I recommend for people who are treating medical conditions and not for every day people. Most of my clients want to stop obsessing about food, not **start** obsessing πŸ˜‰

  • Janet says:

    Hi i have been wanting to try keto for a long time i went from 135lbs to 127lbs and cannot breakthrough to my previous weight of 115lbs. I am 25 year old female i weight train 3-6 days a week so I know I can’t just be very broad but I need to get my macros very precise to lose the last few lbs, after reading your blog just now I noticed it said it can take weeks even months to even get keto adapted, I guess my question is how do I know how low to keep my carbs to be in ketosis? Right now I am keeping them around 40 net carbs but it is only my third day and I would hate to go three weeks even 8 weeks assuming 40 net carbs is low enough only to find out months later I’m still not in ketosis because I should have been lower …. what do you suggest about how I figure out when I’m in ketosis so that I don’t get discouraged and give up? Also I’ve read some post saying that if you weight train you should pick a day to “carb up” every week or it can hirt your weightloss efforts, I don’t understand how this is true?

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hi Janet,

      You don’t need to be keto to reach your goals. Based on the situation you describe, it doesn’t sound right for you. By all means, experiment with it. But, based on what I’ve heard thus far it’s not something I would recommend you spend a lot of time on.

  • Lee Kelly says:

    I went from about 232 to a low of 187 on medifast. I stabilized at around 193. By this, I mean that I really didn’t have to pay much attention to what I was eating. I had changed my eating habits and had become accustomed to eating much healthier. That was about 3 years ago. During that time I had ordered medifast for two months. I am currently at around 205 and would like to go back down to where I was and even further. I would really like to be 180. I am married now and drifted a little in my eating habits. Perhaps that is what caused the weight gain. According to ketostix I have been in ketosis numerous times, sometimes for a couple weeks before I screw it up and drop out. After a few days I’m back in the game. It was easy to lose while on a ‘plan’ like medifast. However, I really don’t want to do that again. It is expensive and i’m not so sure it really teaches good eating habits. I would like to achieve these goals by eating what I readily available here. What I am doing now is 4 strips of side pork (un-curred bacon) and about 110 g of mushrooms for breakfast. For lunch I eat a hard boiled egg and an oz of nuts. For Dinner I either do around 8oz of talipia or a can of Tuna and another hard boiled egg. I know some would get tired of this but I really don’t mind doing this for a period of time to get to where I need to be. The problem is, I’m not really losing. I have been aiming for about 5% carbs, 20% Protein and 75% Fat. I am not hungry at all, but i’m also not losing. My calorie intake is around 1200 daily. Also, forgot to mention, for breakfast I cook the pork with 2 tbsp of coconut oil and I also have 4 tbsp of heavy cream daily in tea or coffee. Has anyone else hit a wall in trying to lose fat via ketogenic diet? Any suggestions?

  • Sunshine says:

    I am a vegetarian and I want to do the keto diet for mental clarity reasons. I have been eating lots of carbs most of my life and recently I have hit some serious lows. I have been trying out the keto diet for a few days now and I am beginning to feel a little more stable. I was wondering about how long it takes before I can start feeling completely stable again. Will that happen when I achieve optimal ketosis? Any advice for vegetarian keto folks?

    • Marque says:

      I’m a ova-vegetarian We were was having too many nights of eat, drink and by merry ! I gained 10 pounds It was diet time. I did kick start- zero carbs diet for one week then it goes to a low carb diet after that. I feel great after four or five days my body adjusted. I eat a lot of eggs fried in coconut oil with zero carb cheese with 1tsp cream cheese mixed tastes rich. I I went to the vitamin store and asked the guy at the desk who is a body builder, about a good tasting zero carb high protein drink He said, “people really like the taste of Isopure it is a high protein/zero carb” Simply mix water, ice Isopure, and almond milk in blender what I like about this method works for me . Now I watch I keep my carb intake low, if I we go out eat italian, Indian Thai or garden burger fries… I eat , drink and by merry and not flip out about it , Then next day I get right back to my low carb . I stay away from most sweetners, except I do you Xylitol that is the one my holistic doctor likes and considers it the safest. And I drink tons of Market Spice Decaf, Cinnamon Orange sweet tea it is naturally sweet and has zero carbs, It is $20.00 a bag for 50 tea bags , One bag brews in small tea kettle and makes 3-4 four cups of sweet tea

  • Rachel says:

    I’ve recently started john keifers carb nite solution although I’ve been finding I have no energy at all. I want to cut body fat but build muscle and need energy for the gym to do so.

    Previous I just stuck to moderate low carb diet eating ‘clean’ food but that includes eating lots of fruit and veg? Will that hold back my fat loss?

    I can’t help but think that a diet lacking I’m lots of veggies and fruit is healthy.

  • Keto Lover says:

    Great article on ketosis =)

    Especially the piece on performance!

  • Anna says:

    Hi. Thank you for posting all this information. Just wondering how to do ketosis being a vegan, since eggs, bacon and other meats seems to be a big part of this diet. Maybe harder to get enough fat on a vegan diet as well? Would love to hear some ideas from you who is more experienced with keto.

  • Bruno says:

    Hello Kevin,
    First of all, I like your article, full of useful information and not too much crap that nobody cares about, keep up the good work.
    Now, if you have a moment I’d like you to give me your opinion on my problem. My new year’s decision was to try out the keto diet. I’ve read a lot about how it could take up to 3 months to get keto-adapted, so I didn’t expect much in the begining. Still, I bought a ketone meter maybe 5 days after I started eating lchf. On roughly the 7th day after I started, my ketones were 1.1 mmol/l. I was astounded and happy, as I started feeling great, didn’t have to eat as much or as often, had more energy etc., and so after some time I came to a level of 2,1 mmol/l, which was my peak. After about two weeks I fell sick, and I don’t know if it has anything to do with what happened, but essentially my ketone levels dropped down to a level of 0,2 mmol/l. I tried to get back for the next two weeks, but I failed. Then I went to a bbq party with my friends and ate lots of sugar (bread, cookies, soda and stuff). That was 3 weeks ago. After that day up until now my diet was essentially the same as it was when I got into ketosis in January. Today I measured my ketones again, and got 0,2 again. I measured because I started feeling less hungry again, thought I felt acetone in my breath the other day, so I decided to give it another go. I guess you can imagine I was quite disappointed.
    So my question would be : does it make sense for me to be able to get into ketosis after 8 days for the first time, and then not being able to get back a second time after 3 weeks? I know some people do take a lot longer than that, but I’m starting to think I’m doing something wrong and it’s frustrating not eating all the delicious cakes and cookies that my mother makes, always having to walk past the bakeries that sell all those mouth-watering carbs… If I’m not getting results for whatever reason, I no longer have the motivation to continue with keto, so I’d like to know what you think of this.
    Sorry, it’s quite a long read, thanks for your time and thoughts!
    Bruno

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hi Bruno,

      As I said in the conclusion, I don’t think keto is right for most people. As you can see, there’s a lot of struggles and challenges. Why mess with it when you can get the results you’re after with an authentic real-food, functional fitness, psychology approach like Reboot or even just following the six pillars on your own?

      • Bruno says:

        Thank you for a fast reply Kevin, and I am always open to new things to try, but the reason I want to get back into ketosis is the way I felt when I was there, I felt pumped up with energy, I was always sated (compared to being hungry most of the time before getting into ketosis). On the other hand, Reboot is again something new that I may consider after a while, when and if I conclude that ketosis may not be my solution after all.
        Best regards

  • Juliet says:

    Hi Kevin,
    Great article, thanks. I have explored keto style a few times, the first time going strictly Atkins for several weeks, and losing weight very quickly. I managed to keep most of that off, even though I reverted to a very high carb diet after a while. Went on and off a few times but couldn’t stick to it because I hit a carb craving intensity that drove me insane. Was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the end of November last year, and knew that keto style is what I need to do, not only to lose weight, but to drop my bsl quickly. This time I have been a lot more relaxed (in some ways) following keto style rather than the strict atkins induction, and have concentrated on making sure I get enough fat, something my lifetime of low fat dieting had instilled a great fear in me of. I’ve found that while I’m not losing weight quite as fast, as long as I have enough fat, I’m not insanely searching the house for carbs in the middle of the night, and I’ve been able to stick to my plan for over 3 months, including the Christmas period, with only 3 deliberate times I’ve chosen to eat something high carb/processed etc. I’ve lot a total of 17 kilos (approx 38lb) in that time, with several plateaus along the way. I’ve also gone from a completely sedentary lifestyle to swimming an hour a day and have just added an extra 30 -45 mins riding a pushbike in also. For me, being able to not only do this amount of exercise, but actually look forward to it, is massive. I still have a long way to go weight wise, but I’m now 67kg down from my highest weight, and still doing well. Over 40 kg of that has been from following keto style, so it obviously works for me. My blood sugar levels have gone from between 16 and 22mmol down to between 4.5 and 6. And that’s in 3 months.
    I really think the key, is re-educating your mind to stop seeing quality fat as evil. I eat whole foods. Low carb, low starch vegies. Olive oil, coconut oil or butter, avocado. Good quality protein (I buy the best I can afford, it’s not always grass fed or organic, but it’s the best I can do). Eggs.
    I’m quite amazed at the level of fitness I have managed to achieve just since Christmas. And the best part is, that I do not crave carbs. I do not need them like I used to. And I highly recommend anyone anyone who is struggling with their weight gives it a try. It takes more than a week or two. Give yourself a good month. The energy I feel is phenomenal compared to how I felt before. I’m no athlete – but for me it has been the best way to change my life for the good quickly. I’ve tried low cal, low fat etc. got fatter and fatter. And on those diets I found I had to exercise 3 or 4 hours a day to keep losing weight. I’m sold πŸ™‚

  • Sue says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I have been trying 2 get into Ketosis for 2 month. I also bought a glucose tear. My gym work outs strength & cardio are worse since going on the keto diet and my blood glucose levels range between 5 – 6 mml. I’m frustrated as I don’t think I will ever get into ketosis. I also fasted 24 hours and ate 60/20/10% fat/protein/carb meal consisting of egg, salad with MCT oil dressing & 1/4 avo. I think I’m doing all the right things and still can’t get into Ketosis my readings on a fast & 7klm run was 4.8. I’m just about to give up cause I feel like crap & can’t work out like I use to. Can you offer some advice before I ditch this & call it a gimmick diet.

  • Molly says:

    Are you saying that while I’m in ketosis after a couple of days if I’m doing eveything correctly, I’m not going to experience reduced/disappearance of hunger until I’m in in for a couple of weeks or more? Is it ever less? I feel less hunger, but no great change.

  • Molly says:

    But if I’m in ketosis after two days and not experiencing a decrease in hunger, this doesn’t mean that it won’t change in a few more days? I just don’t understand how I’m in day 4 of ketosis and still quite hungry. I get energy bursts, clear headedness, but my hunger remains.

    • Kevin Geary says:

      If you’re hungry, then you should eat more food. Ignoring your body’s signals isn’t a good idea.

  • steve godber says:

    There’s one thing that’s not entirely clear to me. You say the “body burns fatty acids for fuel, which create ketones as a byproduct. Ketones are a source of fuel, just as glucose is a source of a fuel.”
    can you please explain, a little more, the relationship between fatty acids and ketones. We burn one to get to the other which we also then burn ?

    • Denise says:

      Hi. I’m trying a ketogenic diet under the direction of my functional medicine physician. I’m using the Wahl’s protocol, and I’m finding it hard tho get into ketosis. Lowered my carbs dramatically, but I’m still not there. Suggestions?

  • Nana says:

    I can only say that for many years I was not able to lose weight no matter how I tried and as soon as I said the word “diet” I was always hungry. I’ve been participating in the keto diet since the beginning of August anc can honestly say I rarely feel hungry and this way of eating has been very easy to adapt to. I did experience some sugar withdrawal initially (flu like symptoms), but was able to work through it and now I’m so excited to have lost 15 pounds!

  • terrim says:

    Do you know what could be missing if your body does not go into ketosis? I have the MTHFR double mutation and take Methyl B12, folate, and pyridoxyl-5-phosphate. Even on the HCG diet my body does not go into ketosis. Any suggestions on what else might be missing?

  • JoshaKru says:

    Great article. Thanks for the in-depth explanation. It’s 3 yrs later, but I’m recently getting more and more questions about it from clients.

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