While the vast majority of people are burning glucose for fuel, the ketogenic diet relies on fat as your main source of energy. Ketogenic researcher Dr Phinney states that a sugar burner has about 2000 calories of energy stored in their body while a fat burner has about 40000. That’s more than 20 times as much!!
The term ‘ketogenic’ comes from the word ‘ketones’, which is the actual fuel your body uses when it is in ketosis. When you burn fat, your body produces ketones and your cells use these for energy. There are three different types of ketones: beta-hydroxybutyrate, which is found in the blood; acetoacetate, which is found in the urine; and acetone which is found in the breath.
To get into nutritional ketosis you need to focus on your macronutrient breakdown. Ideally, your macronutrient ratio should be roughly 60-85% of your calories from fat, 15-20% from protein and 5-20% from net carbs (carbs minus fibre).
Anywhere from 20-50g of net carbs per day is usually appropriate for most people to reach nutritional ketosis.
Are you in ketosis?
The ketogenic diet should not be confused with a low carb diet. To reach ketosis your diet needs to be high fat with a moderate amount of protein. The only way to know if you are in ketosis (i.e. burning fat, not sugar) is to test for ketones. You can do this in a few ways. Testing your blood is the most accurate method, and requires the prick of your finger and a blood ketone monitor which is easily purchased online.
You can measure ketones in your urine with ketostix. This works in the beginning stages of fat adaptation but is not very reliable once fully adapted as your body may use all your available ketones for energy. Therefore, you will not be excreting them and may get a false negative. There is also a device called Ketonix which can measure acetone in the breath. Nutritional ketosis is defined by serum ketones ranging from 0.5 to 3.0mmol/L
The benefits of being in ketosis
There are numerous benefits that come with being in nutritional ketosis such as; weight loss (the keto diet uses your body fat as an energy source); stable blood sugar- ketosis lowers blood sugar levels due to the types of food consumed, which has been shown to help people with diabetes; mental focus- ketones are a great source of fuel for the brain. When you lower your carb intake you avoid the blood sugar spikes and these two things combined help with improved focus and concentration; increased energy; epilepsy- the keto diet has been used since the 1900’s to treat epilepsy especially in children; insulin resistance and acne can also be managed with a ketogenic diet.
It is important to follow the ketogenic diet the right way, using real whole food as the basis and not buying into the gimmicks of low carb bars and snack foods or “sugar free” artificially sweetened foods. If you would like to learn more about the ketogenic diet or have started but feel unsure of your macronutrient ratios, then contact our accredited Nutritionist to book a consultation.
Bronwen@nbip.com.au or (02) 8406 0679. Nutrition consultations are available Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.