Friday, October 6, 2017

Ketosis: What Is It?


Simply put: Ketosis is when your body uses fat as its primary fuel source.

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.

Breath Test

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.

Urine Test

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.

Blood Test

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.

References

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.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Top 4 Ways to Boost Your Testosterone Naturally


Did you know that once you hit the age of 30, your testosterone level peaks and starts a gradual decline? This rate of decline will vary from man to man based on lifestyle and genetics but one thing is for sure: testosterone starts to drop.

Low testosterone levels are a growing problem in the States and beyond. When a man has low testosterone levels, a number of symptoms may occur including depression, mood swings, fatigue, and gyno-based side effects such as excess fat.

If you want to support your natural testosterone levels without paying an arm and a leg for expensive medical treatments or an illegal supplement, keep reading. Let’s take a look at the top 4 ways you can boost your testosterone levels naturally.

4. T-Boosting Exercises

First, if you aren’t already exercising, then this is the first change you’ll want to make in your lifestyle to help increase your testosterone levels.

If you are exercising, did you know that there are some exercises that are better than others for promoting higher testosterone levels?

If you want to promote the greatest release of testosterone, then you need to activate several large muscle groups at once. These exercises are commonly called compound movements and they do more than boost your testosterone production. They also promote weight loss and muscle building.

Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran, make sure that you are using the following exercises:

  • Back Squat
  • Weighted Lunges
  • Hexbar Deadlift
  • Incline Press

Need expert advice on how to perform these exercises? Click on each video to see a breakdown of the correct form and technique.

3. Eat These Superfoods

Next up is diet. Depending on what you’re eating, you may be responsible for promoting the decrease of testosterone in your body. Diet plays a huge role in testosterone levels and while it’s recommended to eat a well-balanced diet of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats, if you aren’t quite there yet, it’s okay.

As you make the changes you need to get to a healthy diet, there are some foods that you can add in your diet in the meantime to promote healthy testosterone levels.

Try drinking more natural green tea with no sugar. You can also increase your consumption of natural citrus fruits in the form of homemade juice to get a spike in testosterone.

Do you like to spice up your food? Try using natural turmeric and raw garlic. Both have been suggested to promote healthy levels of testosterone.

Want to eat a testosterone boosting breakfast? Eat bacon and eggs. (2)

2. Step Outside

One of the easiest things you can do to support healthy testosterone levels is to get outside and step into the sunlight.

Sunlight is critical for our bodies to naturally produce Vitamin D. This fat-soluble vitamin plays an important role in several ways including boosting our immune systems and improving the absorption and utilization of other key nutrients.

One other fantastic benefit of Vitamin D is that it also supports healthy testosterone production in the body. As long as you aren’t taking anti-biotics, which make you sensitive to sunlight, try get outside for several minutes each day.

If it’s winter and the sun is on vacation, try supplementing with Vitamin D. (8)

1. Perfect Your Posture

The final way that you can boost your testosterone levels is even easier than stepping outside. Your posture says a lot about you but it can also dictate how much testosterone your body produces.

A study and subsequent TEDTalk demonstrated that people who use what are known as power postures throughout the day had higher levels of testosterone.

The basic changes you can make in your posture include not slouching and standing up straight but for a full list, click here to check out the study. (9)

Conclusion

No man wants to experience the side effects of low testosterone levels, which can range from loss of muscle mass to dramatic changes in mood.

Testosterone is essential for optimal health in men and although we cannot prevent the gradual decline, we can certainly halt it or, at the very least, slow it down. Trying following the tips and tricks above to ensure your testosterone levels stay within a healthy range.

References

1. Craig BW, Brown R, Everhart J. Effects of progressive resistance training on growth hormone and testosterone levels in young and elderly subjects. Mech Ageing Dev. 1989 Aug;49(2):159-69.

2. Oi Y, Imafuku M, Shishido C, Kominato Y, Nishimura S, Iwai K. Garlic supplementation increases testicular testosterone and decreases plasma corticosterone in rats fed a high protein diet. J Nutr. 2001 Aug;131(8):2150-6.

3. Shawn M Talbott, Julie A Talbott, Annie George, and Mike Pugh. Effect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013; 10: 28. Published online 2013 May 26. doi:  10.1186/1550-2783-10-28. PMCID: PMC3669033

4. Vijay R. Ambiye, Deepak Langade, Swati Dongre, Pradnya Aptikar, Madhura Kulkarni, Atul Dongre. Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 571420.

5. Netter A, Hartoma R, Nahoul K. Effect of zinc administration on plasma testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and sperm count. Arch Androl. 1981 Aug;7(1):69-73.

6. Cinar V, Polat Y, Baltaci AK, Mogulkoc R.Biol. Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion. Trace Elem Res. 2011 Apr;140(1):18-23. doi: 10.1007/s12011-010-8676-3. Epub 2010 Mar 30.

7. Symes EK, Bender DA, Bowden JF, Coulson WF. Increased target tissue uptake of, and sensitivity to, testosterone in the vitamin B6 deficient rat. J Steroid Biochem. 1984 May;20(5):1089-93.

8. Pilz S, Frisch S, Koertke H, Kuhn J, Dreier J, Obermayer-Pietsch B, Wehr E, Zittermann A. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res. 2011 Mar;43(3):223-5. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1269854. Epub 2010 Dec 10.


9. Carney DR, Cuddy AJ, Yap AJ. Power posing: brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance. Psychol Sci. 2010 Oct;21(10):1363-8. doi: 10.1177/0956797610383437. Epub 2010 Sep 20.