In a standard diet, where carbohydrates make up 60% or more of the total daily intake, your body is using glucose for fuel. Carbohydrates can become problematic when your goal is weight loss or when you are trying to shed fat. This is due to the body continuing to use glucose via carbs as fuel and only sparingly using stored body fat.
In a ketonic state, on the other hand, your body is getting most of its energy from stored body fat. There are several benefits to being in a ketonic state, which I’ll expand on below. First, let’s explore the science of ketosis.
When your body is running low on glucose, it will begin to breakdown stored body fat. Through a process called Beta-Oxidation, your liver will covert body fat into ketones. Don’t worry! In this case, ketones are a great thing to have. Your body will utilize those ketones as an energy source. Your brain, in particular, prefers the use of ketones as fuel.
So now that you know what ketosis is, it’s time to highlight the benefits for the athletic population as well as the average, everyday population.
Benefits of Ketosis for Athletes
Achieve Your Competition Weight
- If you are in a competitive weight-based sport such as wrestling, martial arts, or boxing, then entering ketogenic state is going to put your weight loss into overdrive. Instead of putting your body through the ringer weeks before a weigh-in, following a consistent ketonic diet will promote a steady weight loss of fat, not lean tissue. Studies show that a ketogenic diet is safe and effective for long term fat burning. (1)
- If you’re an endurance athlete, you know all too well how carb-loading can put a lot of stress on your stomach resulting in what is known as gastric distress. This can quickly decrease performance and may even cost you a competition. With ketosis, there’s no need to carb-load and as a result, no worries of gastric distress intra-competition.
- By entering a state of ketosis, you are effectively protecting lean muscle tissue. Since your body is relying on body fat as a fuel source, it will not have a need to breakdown muscle protein. This means that when you get on a ketogenic diet, you don’t have to worry about losing that hard-earned muscle mass. (2)
- The most famous benefit of ketosis is the rate at which you lose body fat. A ketogenic diet has been shown time and time again to be an effective method for obese diabetic patients. Not only did the subjects in these studies lose weight and keep it off but their insulin sensitivity increased. (1, 3)
- Normally, after you consume a meal that is packed with carbohydrates, your body releases the hormone insulin to help muscle tissue and cells absorb the glucose via the carbohydrates. One of the major health problems in the United States is insulin resistance due to excessive carbohydrate intake. Entering a ketonic state will dramatically improve insulin sensitivity, helping to support healthy hormone levels as well as an ideal weight. (1)
- As it turns out, your brain prefers ketones as an energy source. Beta-Hydroxybutyrate, or BHB, is far more energy efficient when compared to glucose. What’s more, entering a ketogenic state may help your body to fight back against free radicals that are precursors for aging and disease. (4, 5)
Prevents Stomach Issues
Preserve Muscle Glycogen
How the Average Joe Can Benefit from Ketosis
Incredible Rate of Fat Burning
Combats Insulin Resistance
Boost Your Brain
What is the most accurate way to know if I'm in Ketosis?
This is one of the most asked questions for newcomers to the Ketogenic Diet; it’s also one of the most important.
To get the full benefits of a Ketogenic Diet, you MUST be in a ketogenic state. How do you know if you’re in a ketogenic state? There are a few ways to measure your progress and the current state of ketosis. Let’s review them from least reliable to most reliable.
Hands down, the easiest way to determine whether you’ve reached a state of ketosis would be how your breath smells. While in ketosis, many advocates claim that they have a sweeter, almost fruit-like, breath. Yes, this may be a sign that you’ve reached a ketogenic state but simply smelling your own breath isn’t accurate or reliable. You need an actual way to measure your progress. That brings us to our first way to truly measure your ketogenic progress: urine.
A simple way to determine whether you are in a state of ketosis, a urine test is straight forward. You simply pass the ketosis strip under your urine stream and wait for the colors to change. Typically, the darker the color on the strip, the more ketones are present; however, there is a big problem with the urine test method. The level of ketones in your urine doesn’t necessarily reflect the actual level in your blood, which is where it counts.
If you want the most accurate readout for your state of ketosis, there’s no getting around an at-home blood ketone monitor. Your ketone blood level is the ideal way to measure your ketogenic state. It involves taking a direct sample of the blood and placing it within a portable reader. Don’t worry! The device causes just a tiny prick of the finger, which is far less noticeable and less aggravating than a paper cut. If you’re serious about getting into ketosis, this is the best way to go.
Blood Ketone Monitor
Obviously, some blood ketone readers will be better than others. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the Keto Mojo device. It’s extremely easy to use, incredibly affordable, and most importantly, it’s dead-on accurate.
The set-up of Keto Mojo device takes a few seconds as you’ll see this live demonstration. Once you get past the worst part of the process, which is pricking the side of your finger, you simply apply the blood to the provided strips and you’ll get to see two things: ketones and glucose.
First, you’ll see your blood ketone level, which should be between 1.5 and 3.0 millimolar. Next, you’ll see your blood glucose level. Both of these readouts are critical as they provide you with the information you need to get back on track if you have fallen out of a ketogenic state. If you’re within this range, keep doing what you’re doing.
No Stress Learning Curve
One of the things that I really like with the Keto Mojo is how quickly you can learn about ketosis, an ideal ketogenic state, and how to use the device. If you’re going to go with any at-home keto reader, this is the one.
1. Hussein M Dashti, MD PhD FICS FACS, Thazhumpal C Mathew, MSc PhD FRCPath, Talib Hussein, MB ChB, Sami K Asfar, MB ChB MD FRCSEd FACS, Abdulla Behbahani, MB ChB FRCS FACSI PhD FICS FACS, Mousa A Khoursheed, MB ChB FRCS FICS, Hilal M Al-Sayer, MD PhD FICS FACS, Yousef Y Bo-Abbas, MD FRCPC, and Naji S Al-Zaid, BSc PhD. Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients. Exp Clin Cardiol. 2004 Fall; 9(3): 200–205. PMCID: PMC2716748.
2. Adams, J. H., Koeslag, J. H., (1989), Glycogen Metabolism And Post-Exercise Ketosis In Carbohydrate-Restricted Trained And Untrained Rats. Experimental Physiology, 74 doi: 10.1113/expphysiol.1989.sp003236.
3. Antonio Paoli. Ketogenic Diet for Obesity: Friend or Foe? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Feb; 11(2): 2092–2107. PMCID: PMC3945587
4. Noh HS, Lee HP, Kim DW, Kang SS, Cho GJ, Rho JM, Choi WS. A cDNA microarray analysis of gene expression profiles in rat hippocampus following a ketogenic diet. Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2004 Oct 22;129(1-2):80-7.
5. Lee J, Bruce-Keller AJ, Kruman Y, Chan SL, Mattson MP. 2-Deoxy-D-glucose protects hippocampal neurons against excitotoxic and oxidative injury: evidence for the involvement of stress proteins. J Neurosci Res. 1999 Jul 1;57(1):48-61.