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Biohacker’s Guide: Ketosis
The Ultimate One-Page Reference Guide to Optimizing Performance with Ketosis.
There have been dozens of books, hundreds of research studies, and literally thousands of podcast hours dedicated to how to do keto. The goal of creating an ‘Ultimate’ guide that is one page long is pretty ambitious. We wanted to put together a single page jumping-off point. There is a ton of good information on this page if you are keto-curious, just staring out with keto, or if you have been doing it a while. We also update and refresh this page regularly with new content as we keep up with the latest research.
What you will learn:
- What is Ketosis?
- What are Ketones?
- Why Would I want to be in Ketosis?
- How do I Get into Ketosis
- How do I Test for Ketones
- Potential Downsides and Side Effects of Ketosis
- Dirty vs Clean Keto
What is Ketosis?
If you follow a conventional western diet, your body depends on glucose for energy. You consume carbohydrates which are broken down by your body to glucose which is used as your body’s primary fuel source. There is however an alternative, in the absence of glucose your body can turn to Ketones for energy. When your body is primarily using Ketones for energy you are in Ketosis.
The natural question is, is the absence of glucose normal? In other words, is it normal to be in Ketosis? To answer that, lets engage in a thought experiment about our ancestors. Not one or two generations back, but way back. For our ancestors, dipping in and out of ketosis was part of survival. Starchy vegetables weren’t available year-round and were energetically costly to obtain. In order to survive, we relied primarily on animals which means a high-fat, moderate protein, and little-to-no carb diet. Sound familiar?
Keto's Popularity Continues To Increase
Keto is expected to continue to grow globally at annual rate of 5.65%.
What are Ketones?
Ketones are made by your liver by breaking down fat. The fat that is used to make ketones can come from the food you eat, stored fat, or a mix of both. The first step in using stored fat to make ketones is to convert it into free fatty acids through a process called Lipolysis. From there three different Ketones are produced in the liver: Acetoacetate, β-Hydroxybutyrate, and Acetone.
Acetoacetate is the initial ketone created by your liver. Some of it is used by your body and some is converted to β-Hydroxybutyrate (BhB) and Acetone. BhB is the most stable & abundant ketone, it makes up to 78% of total ketones in the blood and is the main ketone used for energy. Although a ketone, Acetone is considered a byproduct of ketone production and is not used for energy by the body. It typically makes up about 2% of ketones produced and is harmlessly expelled from the body through sweating and breath. In fact, if you know someone who has tried keto and noticed a fruity-almost-nail-polish like smell on their breath that was acetone.
Why would I want to be in Ketosis?
You have the option to use Ketones to fuel your body, but why should you pick them over glucose?
- Increased fat loss due to burning body fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates
- Studies have shown an appetite suppression effect
- Stabilized blood sugar from little to no carbohydrate intake
- Lower inflammation in the body
Check out some of blog posts about Ketosos:
Getting into Ketosis
As you adjust to the keto diet, you might experience both fatigue and dizziness. One of the reasons you might see an immediate drop in your weight is because your body begins to lose excess water as you consume fewer carbs. However, this can also lead to mineral loss. If this happens, you might feel occasionally zapped of energy and could experience temporary dizzy spells.
Thankfully, as your body adjusts to the ketosis, the brain fog should pass. You can also up your sodium intake and eat some potassium-rich foods to help you through the rough patch.
How to tell you are in Ketosis
The only true way to know if you are in ketosis or not is to test. There are three methods to test for ketones at home: urine strips, breath meters, and blood meters. Each method tests for a different ketone body; blood tests measure β-hydroxybutyrate levels, breath tests measure acetone levels, and urine tests measure acetoacetate levels.
Testing using a urine test strip is the easiest, most accessible, and most affordable method to test for ketones. Urine test strips can be found at your favorite big-box store or Amazon for less than $10 for a box of 100. At under 10 cents per test what’s not to love? As noted above, urine test strips test for acetoacetate. But above you read that acetoacetate circulates in the blood, is used for fuel, and is also converted to β-Hydroxybutyrate. And that is the main concern with urine testing, the acetoacetate in urine are ketones that are ‘wasted’ by the body and spill over into the urine. As a person becomes more keto adapted, typically lower levels of acetoacetate spill-over into the urine, even while blood levels of β-hydroxybutyrate remain constant. This can lead testers to falsely conclude they aren’t in ketosis when the urine strip fails to turn distinctively purple.
Breath tests offer several advantages over urine strips. While requiring an initial up-front investment of $50 – $200 depending on the unit, there are no ongoing costs for disposable strips. The other advantage is that acetone continues to be produced and excreted in the breath even after a person becomes keto-adapted. And if weight loss is among your goals, research has shown a strong correlation between breath acetone concentration and rate of fat loss. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4737348/) There are several ketone breath meters available on the market, the most popular being the Ketonix and the KetoStat.
The gold-standard in testing for Ketones is the blood ketone meter. Like breath meters, blood ketone meters will continue to give accurate results after a person is Keto adapted. The reason is because ketone blood meters are testing β-Hydroxybutyrate levels in the blood. Another advantage of using a blood ketone meter is most also have the ability to test glucose as well. Having both your blood glucose and ketone readings at the same time lets you calculate your Glucose Ketone Index (GKI). Tracking your GKI gives a better overall view of your metabolic status and state of ketosis. The upfront cost of a blood ketone meter will be between $50 and $75, but like urine strips you will need a new test strip each time you test and the cost of strips range from $1 to $2 each which if you test regularly is considerably higher than either of the above methods.
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