Nutritional Ketosis. What Is it?
Nutritional Ketosis is a normal and natural metabolic state that takes place when your body burns fat for fuel. This occurs when your blood glucose (blood sugar) and muscle glycogen (the concentrated form of sugar that is stored in your muscle cells) are exhausted, and your body needs fuel. Your body will turn to its reserve fuel in your fat cells and turn them into ketones, which is super fuel.
How we make this happen is by reducing our carbohydrates to between 20 net grams to 25 net grams of carbohydrates per day. At the same time, eating a moderate amount of protein (20-25% of your diet), and a whole lot of healthy fats (70-75% of your diet).
HOW IT WORKS
When your body burns sugars/carbohydrates for fuel, it is burning like a quick hot fire. Yeah, it’s going to give you an instant burst of energy, but it’s short lived. When you eliminate that quick burning fuel source, your body goes to its back up: your fat cells. What’s stored in your fat cells is a more concentrated form of fuel. So, imagine running your car on gasoline (which is like running your body on a carb/sugar diet); yeah, it gets you from point a to point b and it does ok, but it needs constant refueling especially when you are taking a longer trip. Now imagine if you could run your car on an unlimited supply of jet fuel with a nitro booster (that’s what keto does). Not only will your car have more power, be able to go further distances, and have every system run more efficiently, but it also clears out the gunk that’s clogging the engine.
The healthy fats keep you full and satisfied. The moderate amount of protein (which we will calculate below) keeps your muscle mass stable, and the low amount of net carbohydrates allow you to eat enough of the vegetables and some fruits that will provide you with the vitamins and minerals your body needs to run all its functions.
MACROS? DO THOSE COME WITH CHEESE?
Macro is short for Macro Nutrients. And yes, they do come with cheese. Those nutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the foods we eat and are measured in grams.
On the Keto way of eating, your primary energy source is fat. In addition to the healthy fat you are eating, you will be using your own body fat for energy.
ALL ABOUT CARBOHYDRATES
Carbohydrates are sugar-based nutrients found in things like starches, rice, pasta, grains, sugar, fruits and vegetables. There are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are super-fast burning nutrients found in fruits and sugar. These are the ones that spike your blood sugar quickly. Complex carbohydrates, like rice, bread and pasta, are typically slower burning nutrients and take longer to digest, but still spike your blood sugar. Eating any type of carbohydrates causes a spike in your blood sugar, and a spike in insulin. On a ketogenic diet, net carbohydrates will comprise 5% of your food.
Net carbs are total carb grams minus fiber grams and sugar alcohol grams.
We don’t count the fiber and we don’t count the sugar alcohols. There are many great apps out there that will do this work for you. See the Calculating Your Macros section.
A TALE OF TWO HORMONES: INSULIN & GLUCAGON
Insulin and glucagon are both hormones that are secreted by the pancreas. They perform opposite tasks.
On a Standard American Diet (SAD), we are encouraged to eat frequently and consume a lot of carbohydrates. This results in high and frequent insulin spikes to get that sugar out of the blood stream and into the cells where the glucose (sugar) will either be used for energy or stored as fat. But the main goal is to get it out of the blood stream one way or another.
Our bodies are smart and need to keep a balance. Too much sugar in the blood is an unstable state. Our bodies don’t like it. The body does whatever it can to bring the blood sugar back down to its normal level.
When we frequently eat foods with high carbs, we are causing insulin to spike multiple times a day. Sadly, insulin spikes also cause inflammation. By eating the way the SAD recommends, we are subjecting our bodies to continual bouts of inflammation. This, repeated over time, will lead to chronic inflammation and it becomes the precursor of type two diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and many more diseases.
One of the goals, on a ketogenic diet is to keep your blood sugar stabilized.
Keeping the insulin spikes low and your blood sugar stable will reduce inflammation throughout the body.
Now let’s introduce glucagon. Glucagon is secreted when blood sugar levels are too low. It unlocks the fat cells to release their stores and shuttles fat (triglycerides) into the bloodstream so that it can get to the liver where the fat can be converted into ketones and be used for energy.
Glucagon and Insulin are opposites and cannot be released at the same time. If you are consuming enough carbs for your pancreas to release insulin then your fat cells will only have their intake door open and keep storing fat. When you drop carbs to 20g per day, you will only secrete a tiny amount of insulin that will be quickly be depleted, and because your body needs energy to function, your pancreas will then release glucagon which draws the fat from storage. And that’s the simple version on how these two hormones can make or break your weight loss.
Insulin opens the fat storage doors: you store fat in the presence of insulin.
Glucagon unlocks the fat releasing doors: you release fat in the presence of glucagon.
Proteins are amino acids that are used in the body as building blocks. They are used to build and maintain muscle, collagen and keratin in your skin, hair and nails, and create hormones and enzymes. Proteins are found in meats, cheese, fish, eggs, and some vegetables.
When you calculate your macros, your daily minimum amount of protein is non-negotiable. This is the minimum amount of protein your body will need to function.
Protein will make up 20 – 25% of your daily food intake.
WHY ORGANIC AND GRASS FED
It is best to get your protein from organic, pasture raised and grass-fed animals. Why? Well, think of the old principle of garbage in, garbage out. Commercially raised animals are fed antibiotics, hormones, and gmo grains. The meat, eggs, and cheese produced from these animals will carry those toxins and chemicals in them. You will be eating that toxic chemical stew indirectly and it will wreak havoc on your body and hormones causing inflammation. Grass-fed and pasture raised animals are not exposed to that toxic mix and therefore you are not consuming them either.
Essentially, you are eating what the animal did.
Sadly, fat has been given an unjustly bad name in the nutrition industry. The truth is that you absolutely need fat to survive. It is not only important for cell structure and growth, but also to maintain your body temperature, your skin, healing, your immune system, the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals, and the production of your body’s hormones.
There have been hundreds of studies, with almost 1,000,000 subjects that show similar conclusions: eating saturated and monounsaturated fats has no effects on heart disease risks. Here is a great example from the Cleveland Clinic -> View Report
Fat is essential! It is the most energy efficient nutrient that you can put into your body. It provides you with 9 calories of energy per gram, where carbs and proteins only provide you with 4 calories of energy per gram. That said, there are good fats and bad fats.
The good fats heal and fuel your body. These fat sources come from
Make a Graphic
Net carbs are total carb grams minus fiber grams and sugar alcohol grams.
I will stress this again, because we have been so misled: Eating Fat Is Good for Your Body and Essential to Your Health! And there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate!