How Do I Maintain Ketosis?
With the ketogenic diet’s rise in popularity, increasing amounts of people are wondering how they can follow the diet in a safe, healthy manner. Ketosis is the metabolic state that’s maintained if the keto diet is followed properly. From newbies to skilled experts, maintaining ketosis can be both confusing and difficult. Here’s your go-to guide:
What is Ketosis?
Unlike other diets, the ketogenic diet places your body into ketosis, which is a primal, metabolic state where the body is, ideally, supposed to be. The low carb, high fat diet focuses on getting 20-50 grams of net carbs to remain in this state. Although there are many low and no-carb diets around, maintaining ketosis improves health benefits tenfold.
When your body quits consuming carbohydrates, it breaks down fat for energy. During a healthy state of ketosis, these fats are reduced further into “ketones,” which supply the energy your body needs. This makes weight loss faster, easier, and more efficient, as hunger cravings are naturally reduced. In addition, you’ll experience improved cognitive performance and clearer focus, making the most complicated tasks simpler to take on.
For diabetics, blood sugar is easily regulated during ketosis, reducing the risk of diabetic shock and other associated health risks. For those without the disease, it lowers the chance of acquisition. Overall, maintaining healthy ketone levels is beneficial for dieters of all ages and health levels.
Now that you understand the basics of ketosis, you should learn how to maintain this state safely. Keep in mind that while this does take some tracking, the results are well worth the effort.
How to Check Ketone Levels Without Equipment
If you’re following your diet properly, ketone levels should maintain steady. The most accurate methods of checking involve simple, easy-to-use equipment, but if you don’t have any available, how you feel makes a difference. Once you adjust to ketosis, you’ll understand when you’re balanced. If you’re ever unsure, here are some key signs:
Increased Urination: For those just beginning the ketogenic diet, the body requires an adaptive process. As this process moves forward, you’ll notice increased urination coupled with increased thirst. Your hydration levels lower as you lose urine, so as you adjust to ketosis, you’ll need to consume more water than usual. This is only temporary (lasting a few weeks at most) until you adapt to the diet.
Reduced Hunger: As your body burns ketones instead of fat, it helps your system sustain a steady flow of energy. Rather than cravings going up and down, you’ll notice reduced, steady cravings. For many people, this is a telltale sign that they’ve properly achieved ketosis.
Lasting Energy: The same way that your hunger is reduced, your energy levels remain steady. Instead of feeling highs and lows throughout the day, you should feel a consistent flow. During ketosis, you’re always ready to get up and move, no “crash” involved.
Clearer Mental State: Your brain uses energy the same way your body does, so if it has a study supply of ketones, you’ll experience a clearer mental state and increased cognitive performance. Your mental state should stay strong and focused as your brain utilizes ketones for fuel.
Don’t Consume Too Much Protein: Keto dieters are aware that they should consume high levels of fats, which are often high in protein. This doesn’t mean loading up on protein alone, however, as many other foods also offer an adequate fat supply. Consuming too much protein can prevent your body from entering ketosis.
If protein levels are too high, your body will have difficulty breaking down that protein—after all, it’s supposed to be breaking down ketones, not focusing on anything extra. Avoid overdoing it, and follow the golden rule of a ketogenic diet: low carbs, moderate proteins, and high fats. This usually falls at around 60% fat and 35% protein, with the remaining 5% devoted to a miniscule intake of carbs.
Using online calculators like this one and trackers such as MyFitnessPal can monitor your intake on-the-go, which makes staying in ketosis easier. Even if you track your numbers by hand, maintaining ketosis is all about tracking.
The Types of Ketones
There are three forms of ketones in your body, all thriving in different areas. These are acetone, acetoacetate, and beta-hydroxyburyate. Each can be measured through the blood, the breath, or the urine, and all are easy to do at home. This guide shows how you can track each of the ketones to your advantage. As you move forward with your diet or your goals change, you might realize that you need some ketones more than others. When you know how to measure all three, you can adjust your diet and daily habits to adjust the ketone levels within your system, making ketosis easier to maintain over time.
How to Check Ketone Levels With Equipment
The most effective methods of testing your ketone levels involves easy-to-use equipment. While you can track your carbohydrate levels and your state of ketosis by feeling alone, these aren’t always accurate. Equipment gives you accurate results every time, letting new and experienced dieters alike learn how well they’re doing.
The Most Accurate & Precise Method of Measurement: Testing Ketone Levels with a Blood Meter (beta-hydroxybutyrate)
Beta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB, is the primary ketone that your body produces. BHB can transform into the other two ketones easily; it’s changed into acetoacetate as it’s carried to your cells, and then acetone after. As it moves through your cells, levels change throughout the blood, making it easy to measure with a blood meter. Since blood levels are highly regulated, using a blood meter is the most accurate and precise method of testing ketone levels.
Simply prick your finger, squeeze out a blood drop, and tap it on a stick; a handheld machine will display the levels of BHB present in your blood. The optimum level ranges between 1.5-3.0 mmol (millimolar concentration.) Your optimum level depends on your body’s unique needs, so ask your doctor which BHB level is most ideal. No matter what your goals, the blood meter remains the most accurate form of measuring ketone levels, ensuring that you stay in ketosis for lengthier periods of time.
Testing Ketone Levels With Other Methods
Urine Strips: Since not all dieters are fans of testing with blood, you can use other methods. Just keep in mind that other methods are not as accurate, especially for more experienced dieters.
Rather than being stored as fat, acetoacetate is removed through the urine, flushing out any excess carbohydrates and secreting insulin. This offers notable benefits, and can be measured with a simple urine strip. Use the strip to check for excess ketones; you’ll notice a change in color on the strip that notes the levels of each.
The downside of this test is that once your body adapts to a state of ketosis, it’s so highly efficient at washing out acetoacetate that your reading could easily appear lower than it actually is. If you’re first starting out, however, it’s a quick, easy, and rather effective measurement method.
Breath Meters: Acetate is produced as ketones change from one to another, so while it’s not directly related to ketone metabolism, it does play a role. A Ketonix device is a quality breath meter that reads breath acetone levels in parts per million. Blow into the device; green indicates less acetone, and red indicates more. Increased flashing indicates more acetone regardless of color; the balance of color and flashing indicates the levels of breath acetone present.