The low-carb lifestyle is helpful in achieving a wide range of goals, from losing weight to boosting your mood. If you've just started out, however, knowing the proper ketone levels to achieve those goals can be tricky. How many carbs should you eat to lose weight? What if you're a diabetic who wants to manage insulin levels? Each person requires different levels to maintain a healthy ketogenic state, and your goals are a major factor. Here's a guide to achieving optimal ketosis, no matter what your individual needs.
No matter what your goals, it's vital to measure your ketone levels regularly; this is the only way you'll learn what they are, and will easily help you monitor progress over time. You can do so using Ketostix (urine strips), which is the most affordable, popular option of measurement. Blood ketone meters and breath ketone meters are also available, and while blood delivers the most accurate results, these meters are also the most expensive. If you don't want to spend a lot of money or are terrified of needles, use Ketostix as your go-to choice, as they're easy to find and use regularly, delivering accurate results in a quick, simple result.
Measuring when you first start out is incredibly helpful in tweaking your diet, helping you achieve optimal results. While you can find your ideal macro levels of carbs, proteins, and fats using a Keto calculator, it's also important to understand how eating these specified amounts makes you feel, how they're changing as you get closer to your goals, and what state of ketosis you've reached. Monitoring ketones will keep you on the right track, and will help you determine which foods work best as you adjust to a low-carb lifestyle.
Achieving Optimal Ketosis
For anyone following the low-carb lifestyle, a great book to look into is Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney's The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. Many dieters see their advice as the base levels behind achieving optimal ketosis, regardless of goals. In the book, the two experts list readings of optimal ketosis between 1.0 mmol/L and 3.0 mmol/L, and this is the general consensus between other experts as well. Now, onto the readings for achieving optimal ketosis for your unique, individualized goals.
Exercise Performance & Weight Loss
Whether you simply want to shed a few pounds or lose significant weight, you generally require a lower optimal ketone reading. The same applies if you want to increase exercise performance, as both goals require sticking with a healthy, low-carb diet plan, optimizing energy, and finding and maximizing your workout potential. While you'll be eating less to lose weight, these goals require a similar ketone reading, which most experts recommend stays between 0.5mmol/L and 1.3mmol/L.
Improved Mental Performance
If you're struggling with stress, finding it hard to focus, or have been feeling down, low-carb living can improve your mood and your performance, helping you deal with everyday life more easily. You might receive a welcome mood boost exactly when you need it, or find yourself performing better at work, on difficult tasks, or during testing, which can significantly improve your quality of life. Mental health is just as vital as physical health, and both are closely intertwined. You'll achieve optimal ketosis at a higher range, somewhere between 1.5 and 3mmol/L. Use Ketostix to track your progress, tweak your diet, and find which reading works best for you.
Therapeutic Ketosis for Cancer, Diabetes, and Neurological Diseases
Achieving therapeutic ketosis is much different than wanting to drop a few pounds. This is the state of ketosis that eases chemo symptoms during cancer treatment, eases the symptoms of neurological diseases, and eases the maintenance of healthy insulin and blood sugar levels for diabetics. Here, it's all about staying healthy and improving your condition, so always talk with your doctor before going low-carb. He or she will recommend the best way to start out, so you don't interfere with any current treatments or medications. This is also important if you're a type 1 diabetic, as blood glucose and insulin levels are both affected when going low-carb.
While you want to reap the benefits of a healthy, natural, and optimal ketogenic state, you don't want to risk the life-threatening dangers of diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that sets in when ketone levels get too high. Always speak with a doctor first. Ketone levels should remain rather high, between 3 and 6 mmol/L, but this depends on your condition and current treatment or self-management plan. Higher levels help you achieve optimal ketosis during treatment and make your health easier to manage. Since you want to remain in the healthiest condition possible, never aim higher than the above numbers. If you're seeking therapeutic benefits, optimal ketosis peaks at 6mmol/L, so don't risk hurting your health.
Not everyone's goals are the same, and neither are your numbers for achieving optimal ketosis. Use this guide as a basis to help reach your goals while achieving a healthy, natural ketogenic state. As you adjust to low-carb living, you can find the ideal numbers that help you achieve individualized goals most effectively. Tweaking the numbers throughout your low-carb journey is perfectly fine. As long as you monitor your ketones and stay within a healthy range for your goals, you'll be well on your way to achieving them.