The metabolic process called ketosis offers various health benefits. During ketosis, our body converts the fat from it into ketones, which are compounds that are later used as a main energy source.
Diets that can promote ketosis are highly beneficial because they help the body to reduce its appetite and thus lose more weight. Besides this, ketosis is also very helpful in treating numerous health conditions, such as neurological disorders and type 2 diabetes.
You cannot get ketosis by simply getting rid of carbs, but you also have to put a lot of effort and plan this well.
Here are seven steps to follow in order to achieve the state of ketosis:
1. Lower the consumption of carbs
In order to get the state of ketosis it is important to lower the consumption of carbs, because the cells take the glucose or sugar to produce energy. But on the other hand, these cells can also use the fatty acids and ketones – ketone bodies, to produce energy.
Our body stores the glucose in the muscles and the liver as glycogen, and when the level of carbs in the body is lower,the body uses these stores, and thus the fatty acids are reduced as well as the levels of insulin.
These fatty acids are used by the liver in order to produce brain fuels like beta-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate and acetone which are all ketone bodies.
It is different to achieve the state of ketosis and also individual for the level of restriction of carbs. For example someone has to lower the level of carbs intake to 20 grams a day and others can eat more carbs.
And because of this, the Atkins diet suggests to take just 20 grams of carbs or less for 14 days in order to be sure that you will get the state of ketosis. After this period, the limit for carbs intake can be increased slowly.
One study included people who had diabetes type 2 and are overweight, and they lowered their carbs consummation to 21 grams and less a day for one week. And it was showed that the levels of urinary ketone excretion a day were even 27 times higher compared to the levels of baseline.
Similar study included also people with diabetes type 2, and their daily intake of carbs was 20-50 grams, it varied on the grams that were sufficient to keep the levels of ketone between 0.5 -3.0 mmol/L.
These limits of daily intake of carbs and ketones are the suggested for people whose goal is to achieve the state of ketosis and to regulate the levels of blood sugar, decrease the risk of heart diseases and also to lose weight.
Also, in the diets that are therapeutic ketogenic used as experimental cancer therapy or for epilepsy, the range for carbs intake is lower than 15 grams a day or 5% of calories in order to increase the levels of ketone.
So lowering the carbs intake to 20-50 grams a day also lowers the insulin levels and the lowers the blood sugar, due to the letting out the stored fatty acids which the liver transforms in ketones.
2. Increase the Healthy Fats Intake
The levels of ketones are also increased with higher consumption of healthy fats and this is also helpful in getting the state of ketosis. In other words, the diet which is lo-carb ketogenic is high in fats and low in carbs.
These type of ketogenic diets for losing weight, exercise performance and for metabolic health take about 60-80 % of the calories from fat, and on the other hand the ketogenic diet for epilepsy gets about 85-90% of the calories from fat.
But not in all cases of excessive fat intake results with increased levels of ketone.
This was researched in one study which included 11 people with optimal health. These people were fasting for three weeks and their intake of fat was different. The results showed that participants who consumed 79-90% of calories from fat had similar levels of ketone.
And because the ketogenic diet contains a lot of fat, it is recommended to consume sources with better quality such as tallow, olive oil butter, lard, coconut oil and avocado oil.
But in order to lose weight, you should reduce the amount of calories intake.
The levels of ketone will increase with the intake of at least 60% of calories from fat. So it is important to use healthy fats from animal and plant sources.
3. Include Coconut Oil in your diet
Coconut oil is also very beneficial in achieving the state of ketosis, due to its content full of fat or also called the medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), and these fats get absorbed by the liver very fast, and after they are becoming a source of energy and are transformed into ketones.
This is the best way to get the state of ketosis in case of many nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Almost one half of the fat is from the lauric acid, even though coconut oil has 4 kinds of MCT’s.
Many experts have proved that a continuous level of ketosis can be produced by fat sources which are full with lauric acid, because these fats are metabolized slower that other kinds of MCT.
Many studies have also confirmed that similar effects are experienced from a classic ketogenic diet – which gets less than 5% calories from carbs and a diet rich in MCTs that has 20% of calories from carbs.
When you want to incorporate the coconut oil in your diet, you should do it gradually if you want to prevent any negative effects such as stomach cramping and diarrhea.
It is recommended to start with just one teaspoon a day and slowly increase the amount to 2-3 tablespoon a day in one week. You should remember that coconut oil offers MCT’s which can be absorbed very fast and then the liver converts them into ketone bodies.
4. A proper Protein Intake
The state of ketosis can also be achieved by proper protein intake. The ketone bodies are in a way maximized due to the limited amount of protein and carbs in the usual ketogenic diet for epilepsy and this diet is also very beneficial in reducing the growth of tumor and in treating cancer.
But it is not very healthy option to lower the protein intake for improving the production of ketones.
And it is very important to get adequate amount of proteins for the liver to obtain the needed amino acids, which are essential for the productions of new glucose and gluconeogenesis, and also for many organs and new cells like the red blood cells, and some areas in the kidney and brain, where ketones cannot be used as fuel.
Also sufficient protein intake is important in order to maintain the mass of the muscles when the amount if carbs intake is lowered like in cases of losing weight. Losing weight can result in loss of the fat but also los of the muscles, but the muscle mass can be protected with sufficient protein intake in a low-carb ketogenic diet.
An intake of protein that is between 0.55 – 0.77 grams/pound (1.2 – 1.7 grams /kg) is enough to preserve the mass of the muscles and also the physical performance, as it was shown in many studies.
Many studies about weight loss have shown that a state of ketosis can be achieved with these recommended amounts of protein intake and a low-carbs diet.
One study has been conducted, which included 17 overweight men who were on a ketogenic diet for one month – which included 30% calories from protein. And the experts in this study observed the levels of blood ketone, and they were 1.52 mmol/L, and this is inside the normal limits if nutritional ketosis which are 0.5 – 3.0 mmol/L.
In order to find out the correct amount of the needed levels of protein that you need to intake on a ketogenic diet, just take your ideal body weight and multiply by 0.55 to 0.77 in pounds or 1.2 – 1.7 in kilograms.
But you should also be careful because the excessive protein intake can suppress the production of muscles, and low intake of protein will lead to muscle mass loss.
5. A short fats or a fat fast
The state of ketosis can also occur if you do not eat for a few hours. In fact, there are a lot of people that achieve a mild state of ketosis between two meals, for example between dinner and breakfast.
Actually, to lower the appearance of seizure in epileptic children, they are often fasted for about 24-48 hours and they get into the state of ketosis quicker, before they start ketogenic diet.
The state of ketosis can also occur in case of irregular fasting, meaning there are more short-term fasts.
The levels of ketone can also be increased by ‘fat fasting’ which has very similar effects as regular fasting. This type of fasting includes consuming approximately 1,000 calories every day, they are obtained about 85-90% from fat, also high intake of fat and low intake of calorie can result in ketosis.
One study from 1965 showed that overweight people can lose fat just with ‘fat fasting’.
The ‘fat fast’ has a very low protein and calories intake, so it is not recommended to be followed more than 3-5 day, or it will result in excessive loss in muscle mass. And to mention again, the state of ketosis can be achieved faster by ‘fat fasting’, irregular fasting and normal fasting.
6. Physical activity
Achieving the state of ketosis can be very beneficial in improving the athletic performance, for example an endurance exercise.
It is actually the same way round, as physical activity is also beneficial in helping the body to get in the state of ketosis, because the glycogen stores are being used during exercising. So if we lower the intake of carbs, then the store have lack of glycogen and due to this ketone is being produced in the liver.
When there are reduced level of ketone concentrations in the blood, exercising can actually promote the production of ketones, as it was shown in one study. On the other hand, when the levels of ketone are high, exercising will not promote further raise of these levels, but actually it can lower the ketone levels.
It is also important to know that the ketone levels are increased if we exercise during fasting.
One study has been conducted in order to see the effects of exercising. This study involved 9 older women who had the routine to exercise before or after eating. The results showed higher levels of blood ketone for 137% -314% when exercising before eating their meal.
But, you should remember that needs some time about 1-4 week to get used to the fatty acids and the ketones.
So we can say that the levels of ketones are increased by physical activity when the carbs intake is limited and there are increased effects when the body is fasting.
7. Test the levels of Ketone and Adjust your diet
It is of high importance to test the levels of ketone to make sure that your goals will be achieved, because reaching the state of ketosis is different for everyone.
You can test the three types of ketone – acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetone, in the breath, blood and urine.
There are three methods that you can perform in order to evaluate the ketones and check if there is any need of making some changes to get the body in the state of ketosis faster:
To check the acetoacetate, you need to test your urine by putting some ketone urine strips. The increased levels of ketone are showed with darker color on the strips, and the different levels of ketone can be shown with differed shades of purple and pink.
You can find these strips easy and they are simple to use, but we are not sure about their accuracy. For example, the ketone levels can vary throughout the day when we are on a ketogenic diet, and they are usually the highest after dinner and in the morning.
The second way to test the levels of ketones is with a blood ketone meter, and it functions just like the glucose meter. All you have to do is put one blood drop on the strip and then put it in the meter.
This way you can check the blood levels of beta-hydroxybutyrate and also the levels of ketone. But the bad thing here is that these strips are expensive.
Another way to test the state of ketosis is with checking the levels of acetone in the breath, and this is very helpful for those who are on a ketogenic diet.
The levels of acetone in the breath are measured by the ketonic meter. You just need to breath into it, and then there is a color that appear that tells you if you have reached the state of ketosis and also it shows the levels of ketone.