Welcome to Fully Adapted Keto
This stage takes 3 weeks - 1 month on average for people to reach; for some it can take 5 or 6 weeks. It takes work and dedication to get here. But being fully keto-adapted is when all the benefits begin to roll in full force, and staying on a low-carb diet begins to feel more like a lifestyle than a restrictive diet that requires constant attention.
Before we launch into fully adapted keto, be sure to check out the first two phases to see what the journey looks like from the start.
Low-Carb Living, Phase 1: The Honeymoon
Low-Carb Living, Phase 2: Fat-adapted
What does keto-adapted mean?
It means that for the last month you have been weaning your body off of sugar, burning off the excess stores in your system, and your metabolic processes that supply the energy to keep you moving have been adjusting to these new ketones the liver is making to replace the missing glucose that used to be your fuel source.
It’s taken a while for your body to adjust and get everything switched over, but now your metabolism is used to running on ketones instead of the sugar glucose that causes so many of the health problems plaguing us today (1).
Here’s a breakdown of what it means to be fully keto-adapted when it comes to your body’s new physiology.
The Liver – Your personal power plant. Everything you eat is broken down, and the usable parts are sent to this head honcho, the guy that turns it into usable energy. Now that you’ve halted the carbs and provided healthy fats, the liver is churning out ketone bodies (2). In the fully keto-adapted phase, the liver is now an efficient ketone machine pumping out as much new fuel as possible.
The Brain – Ketones, rather than sugar, are now supplying your thinker. This is where the mental clarity comes in. BHB (beta-Hydroxybutyrate) is the ketone largely thought to have the best effects on your brain for fuel purposes. BHB is far more efficient at carrying oxygen to the brain per unit than glucose. Ketogenic adaptation has also been shown in study to increase the amount of mitochondria in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for our memory and learning functions (3). Hence the reports of keto-adapted folks being able to focus better and remember things more clearly.
The Heart – With ketones, insulin levels are normalized and the insulin resistance that leads to cardiovascular issues and type 2 diabetes begin to reverse. The strain on the heart caused by a high glucose diet is stabilized, and the heart is put under a lighter load (4). But new evidence is showing that the crusted arteries of the heart that can cause heart attacks begin to actually reduce in size. Arterial plaque buildup actually begins to reverse when ketones are introduced (5). With less bad cholesterol available to push through the heart, the heart actual chips away at the plaque rather than letting it build up.
Suddenly, you are clearer headed, you can exercise harder with greater effect (6), and your liver is working smarter, not harder. And all of this translates into the long list of low-carb benefits that you can now enjoy to the fullest because your body has adapted to the lifestyle.
Patience Is Still Key
The benefits are numerous and well earned. It’s time to focus on the positives and make sure you consciously utilize them: they are your reward for the work of that first month or so.
It’s especially important to focus on the good effects, because once fully keto-adapted, a rocky downward trend in weight will most likely begin.
Stalls will happen with more frequency now that your body is used to its new metabolism, and as with every diet focused on losing weight, your scale will likely go up a pound or two from time to time.
Like the whoosh from the Honeymoon phase, this little issue has its own name: the panic. But like the whoosh, it’s important to know that the effects are temporary, and a longer-term fix will naturally follow. So again, be patient, the results will come.
It’s especially important for women to heed this advice as a woman’s metabolism and monthly cycle are unique and require their own set of demands from the body.
BE PATIENT! IT’S ALL PART OF THE PLAN!
Now that you are fully adapted, it will be much easier to workout without losing power or experiencing sudden onset exhaustion.
You can also begin to experiment with the different ways to run your keto lifestyle and play with the 20g to 50g of carbs per day buffer to see how far you can go. And if you drop out of the ketogenic state briefly, it will be that much easier to get back in now. So have fun with it, and make it your own.
Let us know how you’re doing as a fully keto-adapted, fat-burning machine by sharing your story with us on eatniketo.com.
(1) Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD. Hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar) Symptoms, Levels, Diet and Causes. https://www.medicinenet.com. https://www.medicinenet.com/hyperglycemia/article.htm. Medically Reviewed on 3/28/2018. Accessed: Sep. 26th, 2018
(2) Lori Laffel. Ketone bodies: a review of physiology, pathophysiology and application of monitoring to diabetes. First published: 14 January 2000https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1520-7560(199911/12)15:6<412::AID-DMRR72>3.0.CO;2-8.
(3) Hallböök T1, Ji S, Maudsley S, Martin B. The effects of the ketogenic diet on behavior and cognition. Epilepsy Res. 2012 Jul;100(3):304-9. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2011.04.017. Epub 2011 Aug 27.
(4) David G. Cotter,1,2 Rebecca C. Schugar,1 and Peter A. Crawford. Ketone body metabolism and cardiovascular disease. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2013 Apr 15; 304(8): H1060–H1076.Published online 2013 Feb 8.
(5) Christophe Kosinski1 and François R. Jornayvaz. Effects of Ketogenic Diets on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Evidence from Animal and Human Studies. Nutrients. 2017 May; 9(5): 517.Published online 2017 May 19.
(6) Adam Zajac,1 Stanisław Poprzecki,2 Adam Maszczyk,1,* Miłosz Czuba,1 Małgorzata Michalczyk,3 and Grzegorz Zydek. The Effects of a Ketogenic Diet on Exercise Metabolism and Physical Performance in Off-Road Cyclists. Nutrients. 2014 Jul; 6(7): 2493–2508.Published online 2014 Jun 27