Ketosis. Ketones. Fatty Acids. Glucose. So many scientific-sounding terms. You may not know what those terms mean, but you have heard a lot about the successes of your friends on the ketogenic diet. What you’ve probably heard is that you get to eat a lot of really good-tasting fatty foods and still lose weight, but that you can’t eat carbs–basically anything with bread or that’s sweet. And you’ve probably heard that your body needs to achieve a state of ketosis in order to lose weight.
What is ketosis? And how do you get your body into that state?
The ketogenic diet is centered on ketosis as a way to lose weight, balance hormones, improve brain function, and treat conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy. Ketosis occurs when the body runs out of glucose and uses ketones to fuel itself instead. Ketones are the byproducts of the breakdown of fatty acids; they are formed in the liver after ingesting fats. That’s why you can eat all of those good-tasting, high fat foods, but not glucose-containing foods or carbohydrates from breads and sweets. At first, it may be difficult to give up those carbs, but it’s imperative if you’re wanting to get into ketosis and be successful with your diet.
Here are 4 fast ways to get your body into ketosis:
- Cut out carbs.
Because of how the body uses its macronutrients or fuel sources: fats, carbohydrates and proteins, it is essential to cut out carbs to achieve ketosis. Glucose, found in carbohydrates, are the body’s easiest fuel source to access. If glucose is available, your body will burn that first; if there is no glucose available, the body looks for fats and proteins.
- Eat healthy fats.
Fatty acids are the building blocks for ketones. Once the carbohydrates are eliminated, the body looks for fat to burn within the liver. The process of fat burning produces the ketones which, in turn, are sent throughout the bloodstream to fuel the body.
So for ketosis to occur, you must eat fats–healthy fats. No trans fats. Choose healthy saturated fats such as coconut oil, MCT oil and high fat meats, and high-fat meats and dairy products. MCT oil is especially good at getting a body into ketosis quickly. Unsaturated fats from avocados, chia seeds, flaxseed, and fatty fishes such as salmon, etc. should also be plentiful in your keto diet; these will easily be converted into ketones within the liver.
- Eat enough protein.
If you don’t have glucose from carbs or ketones from fat to fuel your body, your body will start to burn proteins, resulting in loss of muscle mass instead of weight loss. And even if you do have plenty of ketones coursing through your blood, while changing from a sugar-burner to fat-burner, your body will want to try and get its energy from your muscles. To prevent this, eating enough protein is necessary.
Another plus to eating enough protein is that proteins break down into amino acids within your liver, producing glucose to send to the parts of your body that ketones don’t reach.
- Start exercising.
As with any diet, if weight loss is desired, activity should be increased. With the keto diet, once glucose is used up, when the body has energy needs, it searches for fats to burn in the form of ketones. The more energy that is expended, the more the body needs fat to burn, keeping the body in ketosis.
- Practice intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is fasting over short periods of time. For keto purposes, intermittent fasting could mean not eating from 6 pm to 10 am. During this period of fasting, the body looks for fuel sources from within. Since nothing is being eaten, the body uses its fat stores for energy, putting the body into ketosis. Intermittent fasting is proving to be a powerful weight-loss tool even for individuals not following the ketogenic diet.
“Ketosis” may sound scientific—and it does involve intricate chemical processes within the body—but achieving ketosis is not that complicated if you cut out carbs, eat healthy fats, eat enough proteins, start exercising, and practice intermittent fasting. Within a couple of days your body should be in ketosis, and if you follow these four practices, you’ll be able to stay in ketosis and become another successful keto dieter.