A couple weeks ago, we discussed the ketogenic diet and how it's designed to mimic a key benefit of fasting by encouraging ketone production.
We talked about how it's not a superior diet to other diets (for the purpose of weight loss), and if you're planning to do a ketogenic diet, it should be done for the purpose of harnessing the health benefits of ketones.
With that said, I'll address some of the common questions that I've been getting about the ketogenic diet. If you have a question that I don't answer here, please ask in the comments below and I'll answer as soon as possible!
Q: What is the deal with ketone supplements, do they help burn fat?
A: This is a great question. There are a plethora of new keto supplement companies popping up, many of which follow an MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) model. I'm not here to critique MLM’s - the issue I have with these particular keto companies is that they market their supplements as “ putting you in a fat burning state of ketosis”. While it is true that in a ketogenic state (very little carbs and low to moderate protein), your body will turn fat into ketones to be burned for fuel, these supplements are putting exogenous (outside the body) ketones into your body.
What's the problem with this? Ketones have a caloric content, so you're drinking a high-calorie drink which is putting ketones (and calories) in your body, rather than your body making ketones from your fat stores. In a nut shell, if you want to lose weight, you don’t want to drink high calorie drinks. To lose weight while keto, you want your body to convert your own fat stores to ketones and burn them as caloric fuel.
That doesn’t mean there's no purpose for ketone supplements. If you have a medical condition, which you are trying to manage via a ketogenic diet, supplementing with exogenous ketones can be an effective way to raise blood ketone levels.
If you're following a keto diet as an athlete and want a quick source of energy that you can use without throwing you out of ketosis, then exogenous ketones can be used as well.
Q: How do I know if I'm in ketosis?
A: Many people report that they can feel when they go into a ketogenic state. They feel mental clarity, stable energy levels, and less hunger. This may be true for some people, but it's not a reliable way to determine if you're in a state of ketosis.
Keto urine strips are a popular way to monitor ketones in urine, the problem is that once you're in a deep state of ketosis, many people find that the strips no longer read high ketone levels. However, when they test with a ketone blood meter (similar to a diabetic blood sugar testing apparatus), they find that they are in a state of ketosis.
If you're doing a ketogenic diet specifically to harness the benefits of ketones, then the only way to know for certain that you are in a ketogenic state is through blood monitoring via a blood ketone monitor.
Q: I cut carbs out of my diet, am I keto?
A: Maybe. A ketogenic diet does require that you eat very low carbohydrates. The general guideline for this is less than 50g per day, however, for some people to maintain ketosis, it can be as low as 25 to 30g per day.
One often overlooked aspect of a properly formulated ketogenic diet is the amount of protein you consume. While protein is key for building and maintaining muscle mass, including too much protein in your diet can actually inhibit ketone production. This is due to a process called gluconeogensis where your liver converts amino acids from protein into glucose.
In order to ensure that you are burning ketones for fuel and not amino acids from over consumption of protein, you want to shoot for the following macronutrient content in your keto diet:
25 percent of calories from from protein
5 percent of calories from carbs
70 percent of calories from fats
Athletic individuals who carry a great deal of lean body mass can often increase the protein percentage to 30g and decrease fat percentage by 5g. Because each person is unique, the only way to know for certain what macros you can adjust while staying in ketosis requires monitoring with a blood ketone meter.
Q: Is it normal to feel exhausted on a keto diet?
A: Not for most people. Again, we are all different, so this will vary somewhat. However, the brain functions very well on ketones as a fuel source. Therefore, if you're in a state of nutritional ketosis, your energy levels should be steady and you should not feel exhausted.
When you first transition to a carb-dominant diet to a high-fat very low-carb keto diet, you may experience a few days of low energy while your body switches to generating adequate ketones. After this period of about three days, if you still feel exhausted, then there's a good chance you're not generating ketones adequately.
In addition, there is a subset of the population who generally just doesn’t feel well on a ketogenic diet. If you're following a well-formulated keto diet (25/5/70) and just don’t feel good on it, then it may not be the right diet for you. I suggest getting bloodwork done to see exactly how your body is responding as well.
Lastly, assuming that you're not overeating protein or carbs, there's a good chance that you will maintain nutritional ketosis. However, a common pitfall is that individuals do not eat enough fat, and this can lead to feeling exhausted. The reason for this is that your body needs fuel, and in the absence of carbohydrates, you must have adequate fatty acids to meet your energy demands.
Rememeber, keto is HFVLC (meaning high-fat very low-carb). If your diet isn’t high fat, it’s not a ketogenic diet.
Q: Can I enjoy poke bowls and sushi while on a keto diet?
A: No. Which is why I switched from keto to intermittent fasting (joking… but not really).
Q: I want to do a keto diet, but I'm worried I will lose muscle and look “flat” from no carbs, what supplements can I take to help?
A: Of course! A ketogenic diet results in your muscles holding less glycogen (stored carbs/glucose within the muscles) and less fluid, so you may end up looking flat.
Inspired has 2 supplements that are ideal for a ketogenic or any low-carb diet:
The first product is CR3. a specially formulated creatine blend that works as a powerful anabolic and cell volumizer. This means CR3 will work to prevent muscle breakdown, preserving your hard earned gains, while also keeping your muscles looking full instead of flat.
The second product that's ideal for a low carb meal plan is LGND. LGND features the world's most potent form of ashwagandha, known as KSM-66. KSM-66 is a compound that lowers cortisol, a stress hormone that can prevent fat loss and even contribute to loss of lean muscle.
Complimenting KSM-66 is epicatechin. Epicatechin has been shown in studies to increase strength, and is also a modulator of muscle growth.
Combined, KSM-66 and epicatechin in LGND work to:
Reduce the catabolic, muscle-wasting effects of stress hormones, so you don’t lose hard earned muscle while dieting or low carb.
Optimize the anabolic (muscle building) environment within your skeletal muscle tissue, so you can not only keep your hard earned gains while adding quality lean muscle to your physique.
With the combo of CR3 and LGND, you can attack a low carb or ketogenic diet with the confidence of knowing that you're losing fat, not lean muscle.