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Ketosis – What is it?

There are a number of dieting methods available to us today, so many infact, that many people will likely end up being confused about which diet to try, some will be so confused they won’t even bother starting. One of the more well known methods of dieting is named Ketosis, or the Ketogenic Diet.
So what exactly is Ketosis? Essentially, Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood, ketone bodies are water soluble molecules that are produced by the liver from fatty acids during periods of low food intake. I’m guessing just the words ‘low food intake’ is already putting you off…but anything such as fasting, low carb diets, starvation(not good) and a prolonged period of intense exercise will produce ketone bodies. When the body switches over into a state of ketosis, fat reserves are readily released and consumed and fatty acids are very high energy fuels. The ketogenic diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates, but because there is very little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies, replacing glucose as an energy source. In simple terms, the body will start breaking down your own body fat to to fuel the body’s normal, everyday functions.
As a result, the ketogenic diet is high in fat and very low in carbs, you would also need to consume a good amount of protein, so as a general ball park figure I would suggest 0.5-1g of protein per lb of body weight as it entirely depends upon your goals and how active you are. Since I am guessing most people reading this are thinking about going on a diet, popular advice is consume the amount of protein of your target weight, so if you weigh 200lbs and want to lose enough to weigh 170lbs, I would try and shoot for 170g of protein per day, so this goes on top of lowering your carb intake. I would also suggest, if possible, getting all of your protein requirements from food, simply because there is a better thermic effect than taking a drink(your body burns more calories to digest the food than it does when having a drink) and strive to have a protein source present in every meal.

The advantages of Ketosis is that the body becomes very efficient at utilizing and mobilizing fats for fuel, which is great news for those looking to lose weight(and especially fat because we don’t want to be losing lots of our hard earned muscle) and just as good is that ketosis has a protein sparing effect(providing you are eating enough protein of course, see above for my recommendation on how much protein to eat) as the body has plenty of fat which means there isn’t a need to oxidize protein to generate glucose(say goodbye to those love handles). Another important factor with ketosis is that it can suppress the appetite when combined with a high protein intake as compared to a high carb diet. This is due to an increase in fat intake, holding 9 calories per gram so you are not getting as much food volume so hopefully that means you won’t be starving all day once you are used to a ketogenic diet.

My own experience with ketosis is mixed, whereas it does work, it is a very challenging diet to stick to. I kept my carbs to under 50g per day and the inevitable ‘brain fog’ was difficult to endure. This occurs when your body is transitioning into a state of ketosis and should happen in the 1st week of moving to the ketosis diet and will only last a couple of days. I started off trying the diet for 6 days a week with Sunday’s being my day off, after about 3 weeks I took weekends off and I would find myself waking up early Saturday morning just because I was craving some junk food(jaffa cakes was my early morning snack, lots of them).
However, this did not stop me from losing weight, 5 days ketosis followed by a weekend of eating pretty much whatever I wanted and results were still very impressive. What I did like about Ketosis was being able to eat cheese omelettes(with tuna,spring onion, mushrooms and tomatoes too) after every workout and having sugar free jelly with nestle’s tip top straight after :) and of course not having to diet on the weekends(I was still working out though), Mentally though the diet is a hard slog, harder than other dieting methods I have tried because you are severely restricting your carbs, not even a slice of toast or a bit of rice! It’s just a matter of finding a diet which suits your lifestyle and if you are playing a lot of sport then I am skeptical ketosis is the best diet for you to try but this is basing it on my own experience. Although ketosis has proved beneficial for sufferers of diabetes and epilepsy, due to the nature of the diet being high in fat, if you have any concerns over cholesterol, avoid ketosis.
All in all, if you are looking for a diet which provides results, ketosis will work and do the job, but be prepared for some very tough times in trying to stick to the diet, ensure you have your meals planned so there is no risk of over consuming in carbs. In my opinion it is one of the best, but also the hardest diet to stick to.

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