We will cover an overview of the keto diet. The keto diet is among the leading low-carb diets worldwide, boasting over a century of medicinal use. Initially, it was introduced as a nutrition plan to treat children with epilepsy before anti-epileptic agents existed. Sports scientists have figured out that it can help endurance sports and performance.
Nowadays, the diet promotes weight loss and helps regulate blood sugar levels by restricting carbohydrate intake, moderating protein consumption, and increasing daily calorie intake from fatty foods. This process accelerates your metabolism and stimulates the body’s shift from carbs to using ketones or fat as its primary energy source, a state known as nutritional ketosis.
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet, commonly called “keto,” is an effective low-carb, high-fat diet with various health benefits.
Numerous studies have revealed that this regimen is potent for reducing body weight and improving overall health. Perhaps most surprisingly, a keto diet is even considered helpful for fighting conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
Different Types of a Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet comes in a few versions:
– The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): A highly effective low-carb, middling protein, high-fat diet – with roughly 70% fat, 20% protein, and only 10% carbs.
– The Carnivore Diet: A completely meat-based diet that emphasizes animal protein and fat sources.
– The Modified Atkins Diet (MAD): Roughly 60% fat, 30% protein, and 10% carbs – similar to SKD, but with more protein and room for carbohydrates.
– The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): Involves a rotating schedule of keto and high-carb days, typically designed for athletes and those seeking more flexibility.
– The Fat-Adapted Keto Diet: An endurance athlete’s dream diet – training the body to use fat as its primary fuel source, with carefully-timed carbohydrate supplements for athletic energy needs.
– The Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): Similar to CKD, but with strategically placed carb “boosts” around workouts. This approach is used widely by b
– The High-Protein Ketogenic Diet: Fairly similar to the standard ketogenic diet – with about 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs – but with an extra emphasis on protein.
Suppose you are an endurance athlete and enjoy the athletic benefits of burning fat as your primary fuel source. In that case, the Fat-Adapted approach is a powerful and flexible ketogenic diet.
How Long Does It Take to Get Into Ketosis?
Entering ketosis usually takes 2-4 days by limiting carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams daily.
However, the duration may vary based on physical activity levels, age, metabolism, and intake of carbs, fat, and protein.
The Fastest Way to Get Into Ketosis
Significantly reducing the carbohydrate intakeKetosis occurs when a lack of carbohydrates forces the body to use fat, not glucose, as its primary energy source.
A person looking to reach ketosis should reduce their carb consumption to 50 grams or less per dayTrusted Source. However, the exact carb intake limit can vary from person to person.
- Increasing physical activity
The more energy a person uses during the day, the more fuel they need.
Exercise helps reduce the body’s stores of glucose called glycogen. UsuallyTrusted Source, eating carbs restores glycogen levels. But a person on a low-carb diet needs to sufficiently replenish their glycogen stores. This encourages the body to turn to fat as a fuel source instead of stored glucose.
The adjustment can take some time, and during this period of body transition, a person may experience fatigue.
- Fasting for short periods
In some controlled cases, a doctor may recommend intermittent fasting periods of 24–48 hoursTrusted Source. Still, most people do not need to do intermittent fasting for this long to reach ketosis.
I may also help Trusted Source manage obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and it may also protect against certain cancers and neurological disorders.
However, confirming these benefits and IF’s long-term safety and efficacy requires more research.
Anyone interested in trying IF should speak with a doctor first, as it is not advisable for everyone.
- Increasing healthful fat intake
Most people aiming for ketosis replace lost carbohydrates with increased healthy fats. Some sources include:
- olive oil
- avocados and avocado oil
- fatty fish, such as salmon
- Testing ketone levels
A test can check ketone levels in the:
Testing can help a person track their progress and make tactical adjustments to their diet. For example, they may further limit foods that cause a spike in glucose levels.
Simple ketone tests like strips and monitors can be purchased online.
- Checking protein intake
A person following the keto diet typically eats more dietary fat than protein.
While recommended amounts of protein vary, one standard recommendation is consuming about 1 gram (g) of Trusted Source of protein for every pound (lb) of body weight daily. People who exercise heavily need 1.5 g/lb.
Some believe a lower protein intake is necessary, although the evidence on this point is mixed.
- Consuming more MCT oil
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which a person with ketosis can purchase as oil, can aid in trusted Source ketosis.
Specifically, MCT oil may help a person reach ketosis even when they eat less fat and more protein and carbs than a keto diet typically contains.
Symptoms of Keto Flu
Adopting a ketogenic diet takes time and may trigger a few symptoms dubbed the “keto flu.” These symptoms may surface 2 to 7 days after starting a ketogenic diet, manifesting as headaches, brain fog, fatigue, irritability, nausea, insomnia, constipation, and more.
Though these symptoms aren’t medically recognized, they are an overall experience among people following a keto diet.
How to get rid of the keto flu
The keto flu has the power to make you feel downright awful. However, there are solutions to alleviate its flu-like symptoms and help your body ease through the transition period with more grace.
Sufficient water intake is vital for optimal health and can alleviate symptoms. However, implementing a keto diet could rapidly deplete water stores, heightening the risk of dehydration.
This is because carb stores known as glycogen have a water-binding effect. As dietary carbs fall, glycogen levels plummet, and water is expelled from the body. Adequate hydration can mitigate issues such as fatigue and muscle cramping.
This is particularly important when experiencing keto-flu-related diarrhea, which could cause further loss of fluids.
Take It Easy
Regular exercise is essential for maintaining good health, but sticking to a rigorous workout routine while transitioning to a ketogenic diet can be challenging. One may experience fatigue, muscle cramps, and stomach discomfort the first week after starting a keto diet.
Therefore, giving your body enough rest is essential before ramping up the intensity of your exercise routine. Activities such as intense biking, running, weight training, lifting, and other strenuous workouts may have to be temporarily put on hold. At the same time, your system adjusts to the new fuel sources. Instead, opt for light exercises such as walking, yoga, or leisurely biking, which can significantly improve your symptoms.
Remember, taking care of your well-being and listening to your body is essential. By being mindful of your exercise routine, you can overcome the challenges of the keto flu while still achieving your fitness goals. Replace electrolytes
Replacing dietary electrolytes may help reduce keto-flu symptoms.
When following a ketogenic diet, levels of insulin, an important hormone that helps the body absorb glucose from the bloodstream, decrease.
When insulin levels decrease, the kidneys release excess sodium (10Trusted Source).
Moreover, the keto diet restricts many foods high in potassium, including fruits, beans, and starchy vegetables.
Getting adequate amounts of these critical nutrients is an excellent way to power through the adaptation period of the diet.
Salting food to taste and including potassium-rich, keto-friendly foods like green leafy vegetables and avocados are excellent ways to ensure a healthy balance of electrolytes.
These foods are also high in magnesium, which may help reduce muscle cramps, sleep issues, and headaches.
Get adequate sleep
Fatigue and irritability are common complaints of people adapting to a ketogenic diet.
Lack of sleep causes the stress hormone cortisol to rise in the body, which can negatively impact mood and worsen keto-flu symptoms.
If you are having a difficult time falling or staying asleep, try one of the following tips:
- Reduce caffeine intake: Caffeine is a stimulant that may negatively impact sleep. If you drink caffeinated beverages, only do so in the morning so your sleep is not affected (14Trusted Source).
- Cut out ambient light: Shut off cell phones, computers, and televisions in the bedroom to create a dark environment and promote restful sleep (15Trusted Source).
- Take a bath: Adding Epsom salt or lavender essential oil to your bath is a relaxing way to wind down and get ready for sleep.
- Get up early: Waking at the same time every day and avoiding oversleeping may help normalize your sleep patterns and improve sleep quality over time.
Make sure you are eating enough fat (and carbs)
Transitioning to a very low-carb diet can cause you to crave foods restricted to the ketogenic diet, such as cookies, bread, pasta, and bagels.
However, eating enough fat, the ketogenic diet’s primary fuel source will help reduce carb cravings and satisfy you.
In fact, research shows that low-carb diets help reduce cravings for sweets and high-carb foods.
Those having difficulty adapting to the ketogenic diet may have to eliminate carbohydrates gradually rather than all at once.
Reducing carbs while increasing fat and protein in your diet helps make the transition smoother and decreases keto-flu symptoms.
What to Ge Back Into Ketosis After a Cheat Day
Have you ever cheated on your keto diet? Don’t worry; it happens to even the most disciplined of us. Sticking to a strict keto lifestyle year-round can be tricky, especially if you’re new to the keto-friendly game or just starting to maintain ketosis yourself. The good news is that you can quickly bounce back, get back into ketosis from that temporary setback, and get back into ketosis quickly!
When we indulge in carb-rich foods, a carb hangover is the lingering aftermath of high-carb foods and low energy intake, leaving you bloated, tired, and with weight gain of up to 5 lbs (mostly water weight).
To help you recover and lose weight fast again, I’ve put together my top tips for getting back into ketosis fast and pronto. These are the strategies I teach my athletes inside the Endurance Revolution Membership, and they’ve worked wonders to get back into ketosis quickly for many.
Navigating the Holidays on KETO
The best way to recover from the holidays is not to cheat. There are plenty of holiday keto recipes out there that are designed just for that. To get through the holidays without cheating.
Bring your favorite foods or keto-friendly foods to share if visiting someone. If you are hosting Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner, make only foods you can eat and allow others to bring their favorite dish.
If you slip and have a cheat meal, bad cheat day, or cheat week or two, get back on track to a strict keto diet. Don’t spend too much time working on the daily carb intake for one day.
If you slip and start keto even for just one day, you won’t likely suffer from keto flu symptoms. If you do, look at the step above to resume your low-carb diet and keto lifestyle.
A Note about Food Addictions
Suppose you continually justify a cheat day or meal trying to follow a keto diet. In that case, you may need to dig deeper into what is happening in your body. Do you use food as comfort?
My fellow Keto Coach Mary Roberts helps food addicts recover.
There are Three Ways to test Your Ketone Levels.
Each method of ketone testing measures something different:
- Blood tests measure β-hydroxybutyrate levels.
- Breath tests measure acetone levels.
- Urine tests measure acetoacetate levels.
β-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate, and acetone are all ketones produced during fat metabolism. If you burn more body fat, you make more carbs and ketones, so all three can be a gauge of ketosis.
When I run on ketones, all three are in my blood. Some acetoacetate molecules get excreted in the urine, so I can measure their concentration as a proxy for ketone levels in the blood. Acetone is small enough to pass from the blood into the lungs, so small quantities are present in exhaled breath.
Because each method is different and no linear relationship exists between the other ketone measurements, direct comparisons between the two methods are impossible. However, I ran through the same protocol at the same time, so I will have consistent data and user experience to consider across each method.
Blood ketone meter
To check your blood sugar for ketones at home, you may use a blood glucose meter that tests for ketones. You will use a device to prick your finger. You’ll collect a drop of blood on a ketone test strip inserted into the meter. The meter will show your ketone levels. Follow the instructions carefully. You can also test for ketones in urine using an at-home kit. Ask your provider how you should test for ketones when you should test, and what to do if your levels are high.
Urine Ketone Strips
Are ketosis strips accurate? According to Gilmore, the strips aren’t 100 percent reliable. Hydration can affect the concentration of ketones in your urine, which may give an incorrect reading. Although the urine strips aren’t precise, they can tell you whether you’re overeating fat intake too many carbs. Jun 23, 2019
Breath Ketone Meter
Several devices on the market test for breath ketone and acetone. They vary widely in design and price. I tested three: Ketonix, Keto Stat, and LEVL.
I was one of the first purchasers of a Ketonix. The old device took minutes to warm up, and it took a strong breath to work. The new meter is much improved. The Ketonix requires some setup before use. It must be charged for about 12 hours and requires you to download an app onto your smartphone and pair it with the device before you can take measurements.
Note that the Ketonix includes a rechargeable battery so that the device can be used when you are away from an electric outlet… convenient for camping, etc. I experimented with it, and although it is a little tricky to align the battery with the device so that you can carefully connect the two, it worked well once completed.
Once set up, a deep exhale — from the bottom of your lungs into the device — is all it takes to get a measurement. This is not the same as a deep breath! The instructions emphasize using your muscles to force all the air out of your lungs.
During testing, I occasionally needed to close the app and reopen it to get it to reset and work correctly. On one occasion, I needed to unplug the device and plug it back in to reset it.
Can you test any time with a Ketonix? Not really. The manufacturer suggests waiting until the alcohol is out of your system before testing. Even a glass of wine could skew the test toward much higher readings, meaning the sensor struggles to distinguish alcohol from acetone.
The LEVL device provides a unique prediction of the amount of fat your body burns every week. This information aids healthcare providers in designing a personalized weight and fat loss plan specific to you. Being an FDA-cleared device, LEVL works with all weight loss programs and is insurance-covered. Consult with your clinician to integrate LEVL into your wellness plan and achieve the desired results.
Keto: A Conclusion
For some individuals, following a ketogenic diet can provide a simpler and healthier way of eating. In the case of endurance athletes, it may serve as a performance enhancer.
We understand that starting on a ketogenic diet is the most daunting part and requires research and preparation. Join our Endurance Revolution Program to navigate the ins and outs of this dietary choice. We can help you through the complexity of keto, making the process smoother for you.