Ketosis is something that many people learn about when beginning a low carb high fat or ketogenic diet. As I’ve been eating LCHF for over a year now, it is something that I have questioned and always wondered…am I in ketosis? So I bought myself a glucometer and discovered…no I am not. So, although I am doing right by my body in eating healthy fats and good quality meats and veggies, I wanted to go further. So, I enlisted the help of the wonderful Stephanie Person, whom I have been following for the last year as I’ve been learning about what a ketogenic lifestyle is.
But what exactly is ketosis?
Put simply, ketosis is when your body uses fat as its fuel rather than glucose. In today’s age with today’s diet where people have been encouraged to eat a diet full of starches and sugars (including fruit, grains and some veggies), our bodies automatically use this energy and convert it all to glucose. The body burns it rapidly and any excess is stored as fat. Not good. However, in a time when processed foods didn’t exist, humans existed on a diet fuelled by fat, minimal carbs and moderate protein. As a result, their bodies used the fat in food (including their body fat storage) for energy. The Palaeolithic man was most likely in ketosis.
Getting into ketosis is not easy (as I have discovered this week) and will take several weeks to achieve.
This is because your brain and body have to change the way they think and operate. Think of carbs or glucose (as this is what they are converted into) like kindling. When you put kindling on the fire, it burns quickly. This is why we use it to start the fire because it lights straight away. However, it doesn’t last very long. So, to make the fire burn stronger and longer, we put big pieces of wood underneath the kindling. Think of this wood as the fat you eat. It burns slowly and over hours and hours. The energy is ongoing and consistent. There is no quick spark and fizzle out. This is what ketosis or a low carb high fat diet does to a person. It gives them long lasting, ongoing energy that you can burn throughout the day. You don’t get the highs and lows associated with eating carbs, the sudden need for food, the drop in blood sugar or the spikes that follow when you eat something sugar or carb filled. It really changes the way you think about food and makes a person happier for it.
So how do you do it exactly?
To get into ketosis, you must lower your carbs so that the body does not have the glucose available and it is forced to switch to burning fat for energy. Your body actually produces what are called ketones and these are used for energy. Your body/brain doesn’t actually need many carbs to survive as once it is keto adapted, it can create enough glucose for the brain via a process called gluconeogenesis . So, you have to be mindful of what you eat, particularly in order to adapt. Once you have adapted, it is easier to maintain and your body will then reap the rewards that come with ketosis.
So, after following the crazy wonderful Stephanie Person online, I set up an appointment with her to talk more about ketosis. She really is the Queen of Keto both looking and acting the part – she talks about how she is hyped up on ketones…and she is!!
I really enjoyed talking to her as she totally embodies a ketogenic lifestyle and like me, is pretty much self-taught. As we all know though, different people have so much to offer the world and I was chatting with Steph to learn more about what she classes as LCHF and how she makes it work for her.
When I first started all of this in early 2014, the ratios of macro nutrients (fat, protein and carbs) according to Tim Noakes Real Meal Revolution weren’t clear. There is a green, orange and red list and you eat according to this list. The reality is though, that overeating certain foods will not enable the production of ketones and becoming fat adapted. Whilst ketosis is not the aim of the lchf diet, it is an added bonus. But to enable ketosis, you must monitor your blood glucose and blood ketones using a glucometer.
Steph Person’s recommendations for macros is 80/15/5… That’s 80% fat, 15% protein, 5% carbs.
The diet to keto adapt that she has given me is as follows:
|MID MORNING SNACK:||900-1000(only if hungry)||
|MID AFTERNOON SNACK :||1500||
So how did I go after two weeks? Here are my results so far:
|Day 1||4.7 (84.5)||0.9||Poor sleep|
|Day 2||4.3 (77.4)||0.5||Brunch with friends (didn’t follow diet)|
|Day 3||5.2 (93.6)||0.3||Increase due to day 2 diet. Hunger levels high|
|Day 4||4.8 (86.4)||0.4||Hunger high and energy low|
|Day 5||4.6 (82.8)||0.5||Stressful day|
|Day 6||5.1 (91.8)||0.6||Sleep good, energy improved|
|Day 7||4.6 (82.8)||0.4||Sleep poor, energy low|
|Day 8||4.4 (79.2)||0.4||Sleep excellent, energy good|
|Day 9||4.9 (88.2)||0.4||Sleep poor, energy ok|
|Day 10||4.6 (83)||0.4||Sleep good, energy good|
|Day 11||4.6 (83)||0.4||Sleep good, energy good|
|Day 12||4.2 (75.6)||0.3||Sleep good, energy ok|
|Day 13||4.2 (75.6)||0.3||Sleep good but energy low (had migraine)|
|Day 14||4.6 (83)||0.4||Sleep good, energy good|
|Day 15||4.9 (88.2)||0.4||Sleep good, tired upon waking|
|Day 16||4.3 (77.4)||0.3||Sleep good, energy good|
So, how to interpret these numbers??
My glucose numbers are up and down but 11 of the 16 days, the numbers are in the recommended range of under 85, which is good. However my ketone numbers are too low. There are only 4 readings at 0.5 or above and those are in the first week. According to Steph, this is normal and people typically get excited thinking they are in ketosis and it is easy and then the numbers fall. That said, my glucose numbers are quite low considering that my ketones are low, which can be problematic as well and may explain why I am so lethargic at times, particularly on waking. Another reason that I may not be getting my ketone numbers up is all the stress I’ve been under. Unfortunately, I had two stressful situations occur: my house was robbed and then I had to rehome my beautiful cat Max who had been with me for 14 years. Both of these have really impacted on my ability to be calm and cope with everyday life so the minor stuff is piling up.
What do I do now?
I’m going to carry on for the next week, continuing to record my results and see if my numbers increase. I’m also going to work on my stress levels as they need to reduce in order for my ketones to increase. I need to be stricter with my diet but I may have to resume this in a couple of weeks due to personal interruptions. Either way, I will continue living the LCHF/Keto lifestyle as it’s tasty and awesome 🙂
Have you tried keto before? How long did it take you to get into ketosis? What are your hot tips for others?
Love (and healthy fats) Bee x