Keto dish of zuchini pasta

What is the Keto Diet also known as the Ketogenic Diet?

The keto diet is a low carbohydrate high fat concentrated diet. Their are many benefits of the keto diet, one being the ability to shed fat.

The body enters a ketogenic state when there is a shortage of carbohydrates causing the liver to switch from glucose production to ketones for energy use, hence burning FAT for energy. Ketones are a secondary fuel for the body and in ample supply, but not used when the body has not transitioned into the ketosis phase. 

Getting into the Ketosis Phase

During the ketosis phase the body uses the ketones for energy in place of glucose or sugars derived previously from digested carbohydrates (sugars and starches).

Ketones are the byproduct of using fat for energy. That is the sweet spot or target of a keto diet.

Blood sugar and insulin have to be low in the blood stream.  When there is a shortage of carbohydrates in the body there is not enough insulin to help your body metabolize sugar for energy. The insulin normally shuttles the glucose into the cells. With low insulin levels, a buildup of glucose will develop in the blood stream.

Since the body is unable to use the glucose for energy it switches to burning fat. The process is called hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) where the body transitions to the new energy source, stored fat (in the form of triglyceride).

Without getting overly scientific the fat gets converted into glucose in a process called gluconeogensis which means “make new sugar.” The body then begins to use this new sugar as its energy source. 

Ketones are a cleaner fuel for the body and offer some unique properties. Burning fat for fuel reduces oxidative damage (reduces free radicals) allowing more energy from the cell than if it were glucose. 

The keto diet is an excellent approach to reverse type 2 diabetes since it impacts insulin levels in a positive way. Since the 1920’s the ketogenic diet has been used to treat epilepsy and research supports the practice. 

A keto approach for other health matters has shown good response for decreasing inflammation. This has captured the interests of researchers for arthritis, acne, psoriasis, eczema, IBS, and other diseased involving inflammation and pain.

Ketones are produced in the liver from fat. The objective of the getting into ketosis is getting your body transitioned from burning glucose for energy to using ketones for energy. 

One of the main benefits of ketosis is it helps you shed fat AND without fasting. Sure, you going to sacrifice carbs but you would sacrifice carbs anyway on any other diet plan.

The keto diet when executed correctly will keep insulin levels low which in turn burns fat dramatically. That’s why a low glycemic diet has merit.

The other benefits are your body will learn to be less hungry and you will have more energy.

It will take some time to get into a ketosis state.

What is Nutritional Ketosis?

Ketosis is a state in which the body’s metabolism transitions from burning glucose under normal feeding conditions to burning fat as a result of prolonged depletion of carbohydrates and the right balance of the remaining macronutrients (protein, fat).  Nutritional ketosis is the safe and proper way of getting into a ketogenic state.

When undergoing a ketogenic diet the body adapts and consumes the next available source of energy, fat. To get into a ketogenic state there has to be 3 changes within the diet. 

  1. A severe reduction of carbohydrates, fifty grams and under per day, recommended.
  2. An increase in fat consumption. Good fats from natural sources.
  3. An adequate amount of protein to meet your body’s needs.

You may wonder why would there be a need to consume more fat.

Nutritional ketosis was coined by Dr. Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek, two researchers in the field of low carbohydrate dieting. Dr. Phinney discusses nutritional ketosis in the video below.

What Happens When your Body is in Ketosis?

Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the liver produces small organic molecules called ketone bodies. Most cells can use ketones as a source of energy and do so when there is a limited supply of other sources namely glucose from carbohydrates. This occurs when there is prolonged fasting or carbohydrate restriction.

Ketone bodies can be an energy source to most of the bodies organs. Ketosis is an adaptive physiological response that is essential for life, enabling survival in times of famine.

How Long Does it Take to Get into a State of Ketosis?

Everyone is different, but when executed flawlessly in 2-3 days. Your carbohydrate intake has to be low like between 20 – 40 gm per day. It’s not as simple as reducing carbs. Eating too much protein will throw it off. There is a precise ratio of macro nutrients that get the body into ketosis and keep it there. That is the challenge of this diet. It has to be measured to get into the ketosis state and be maintained. 

It can take a few weeks for the body to be fully adapted to the ketosis state. However if you are disciplined in your approach you may start noticing changes within 4-5 days. You may experience a pick up in energy and a drop in food cravings. Sleep improvements have also been reported and believed to occur because of the brains use of ketones as the energy source.

With practice and determination and consistency it can be achieved. It has to be learned and you must have the patience and practice to get there.

Ketosis Diet Foods

The ketosis diet works in relation to fats being used for fuel rather than carbs. So the diet consists of high fat consumption and low carbs. Protein is essential to maintain muscle and should be .8 gm per lb of weight (suggested). Achieving ketosis is a balanced and measured approach of macro-nutrients.

Listed below are high amounts of healthy fats. Fats provide energy while preventing hunger, weakness and fatigue. High protein food low carbohydrate food list

  • olive oil
  • coconut oil
  • grass-fed butter
  • palm oil
  • nuts and seeds
  • butter
  • ghee
  • peanut butter

All non starch vegetables are on the table in the ketois diet. A few of the main ones are listed below.

  • broccoli
  • leafy greens
  • asparagus
  • cucumber
  • zucchini

Foods high in protein and low in carbs are listed below.

  • grass-fed meat
  • pasture-raised poultry
  • cage-free eggs
  • bone broth
  • pork
  • quail 
  • rabbit
  • goat
  • lamb
  • wild-caught fish
  • organ meats
  • full-fat (ideally raw) dairy products


Photo Credit: psmfdiet Flickr via Compfight cc

How do you measure ketosis?

Using a blood ketone meter is the most accurate way to measure ketone bodies.

There are three types of ketone bodies: Acetone, Acetoacetate and Beta-Hydroxybutryate (BHB). There are several methods to measure the presence of these ketone bodies.

The amount of carbs to enter ketosis can be estimated using blood testing kits, stips or meters that can be found on Amazon.  This is highly recommended if your serious about staying disciplined in your ketois diet approach.

Keep in mind that generally keytone concentrations are lower in the morning and higher in the evening. When you measure be sure to be consistent about the time of day you take the measurement. 

Another consideration is the last meal you ate before you take the measurement based on the amount of fat in the meal. The more fat digested the higher the concentration of keytones.

Try the keto diet made easy using this step by step guide to everything you need to know about approaching the keto diet including meal planning.  Click Here!

Keto diet method