Ketones are produced from our liver on a ketogenic (low carb, high fat) diet, but they are also available in supplement form. Exogenous means the ketones are delivered from outside your body, rather than produced internally. Once in your body, ketones will shift your body into a state of ‘ketosis’. As a result, your metabolism will turn to fat for its energy source, rather than carbohydrates. This can increase your endurance for up to 15 hours.
During ketosis, your body produces ketones in the liver, shifting your metabolism away from glucose and towards fat utilisation.
To simplify, your body changes from being a sugar burner to a fat burner. The amount of ketone bodies produced by your liver comes down to the amount of liver glycogen present.
When carbs are removed from the diet, it takes approximately 12-16 hours for your liver glycogen stores to run out. When this happens, the amount of ketone bodies being produced increases and stored fats in your body are then broken down for energy.
Ketones are a source of energy for many tissues in your body including your muscles, brain and heart. They are also the preferred fuel for the heart, making it operate at around 28 percent greater efficiency.
Ketone bodies also act as a stand in for sugar in the brain. While they can’t completely replace all the sugar required, they come pretty close. By reducing the body’s need for sugar, less protein is required, allowing your muscle mass to last longer.
The main benefits of ketosis include fat loss, muscle preservation and increased and sustained energy. Less cravings, increased cognitive function and reduced inflammation are also key benefits. Studies have shown protein and fat to be the most sating nutrients, while carbohydrates the least.
Before the introduction of exogenous ketone supplements, a strict ketogenic diet was the best way to reach ketosis. Now, thanks to these supplements, you can reach ketosis in 60 minutes.
Generally, carbohydrates are considered anti-ketogenic. As they are digested, they enter the blood stream as glucose. This raises insulin and lowers glycogen, inhibiting the production of ketone bodies.
The brain is the only tissue which requires glucose. If sufficient carbohydrate is consumed to provide this, then the brain has no need to turn to ketones.
Fitness experts suggest keeping your diet to less than 100 grams to stay in ketosis, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule.
The amount of carbs required to reach an optimum level of ketosis varies with each person. It’s about finding the best balance for you.
Choosing the right carbohydrates is also important. We suggest avoiding sugary or starchy foods. Carbohydrates from vegetables; ie leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, zucchini etc and nuts, are best.
Eating foods with MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) is also a good idea as they are easily digestible and can be used for immediate energy rather than being stored in your body.
If you’re still not sure, here’s a good general rule that might help:
The daily intake of net carbs required to enter ketosis can vary from 20 to 100 per day. Most people who have experienced ketosis claim to have reached the state at about 20-50 grams. Fitness experts say to start with 20-30 grams and you can adjust it accordingly.
There are two ways to find your optimum balance with carbs while staying in ketosis:
– Low to high method: Start from a low level of net carbs to ensure you quickly enter ketosis (around 20 grams). When you detect ketosis after 2-3 days, start adding carbs (5 grams a week) until you detect a very low-level or no ketones.
– High to low method: Start from a relatively high level of net carbs (around 50) and keep reducing until you detect presence of ketones.
Each brand has their own recommendation when it comes to dosage. Generally speaking, however, you can mix one serve in water approximately 30-45 minutes before exercise for optimum results.
The best way to tell if you’re in ketosis is to measure your blood ketone levels using a specialised meter. Ketones are also present in your breath and urine. So, another way to check if you’re in ketosis is through a breath analyser or a specialised urine strip. These can be purchased at most pharmacies.
Understanding the difference between these two terms is very important. Nutritional Ketosis could be considered a very mild form of Ketoacidosis, however it’s not harmful. It is prompted by a low-carb diet or fasting. Ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition where your body doesn’t make enough insulin. This can cause you to have dangerously high levels of ketones, which can make your blood too acidic. This then affects how internal organs like your liver or kidneys function.
We want to make sure your transition to becoming keto-adapted is as seamless as possible, so we’ve provided some low-carb recipes that we hope you will like. However, if you want more options, there are plenty of great recipe ideas on the web! It’s just a matter of trawling to find one you like!