What is Ketosis & a Ketogenic Diet?
Ketosis is a metabolic state where some of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies present in the blood. It usually occurs when carbohydrate or food intake is limited enough that the body begins to metabolize fat for it’s energy needs.
When you restrict your carbohydrate intake (typically below 30g NET per day), ketone bodies begin being produced by the liver. The body’s metabolism moves away from using glucose and begins utilizing fat for energy. This is a perfectly normal metabolic alternative. Your protein and fat intake are based on your lean body mass and goals, respectively, and make up the remainder of your diet.
A ketogenic diet is any diet that induces and keeps you in a state of ketosis. It is the limiting of appreciable amount of carbohydrates that puts you into a ketogenic state, and keeps you there. Some people will tell you that to do keto, you need to eat copious amounts of fat, but this simply isn’t true. Protein and fat simply make up the rest of the diet – adequate protein intake to ensure you maintain/gain lean body mass, and fat intake as per your goals.
You may also hear that certain foods are or aren’t ‘keto approved’ – this is false. Anything can be keto if you slice it thin enough. Whilst we obviously recommend that people make choices that coincide with good health, it is entirely possible to be doing a ketogenic diet and be very unhealthy at the same time. There is no medical board putting rubber stamps on food items that say ‘keto approved’, nor does their need to be. In this group we will advocate for good health choices, but will inform you truthfully as to whether something will kick you out of ketosis – the choices you make are up to you.
Ketosis for Fat Loss
One of the frequent problems we see in some ketogenic weightloss groups, is the belief that one must ‘eat fat to lose fat’. This couldn’t be further from the truth – there is no metabolic pathway in humans where eating fat causes us to release stored body fat. Any diet for fat loss is dependent on a calorie deficit, ketogenic diets are not excluded from this. If you ingest more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight.
So how do you lose fat on a ketogenic diet? By restricting our calories! The reason this is often ‘easier’ while in ketosis, is that protein and fat is highly satiating compared to carbohydrates; that is – it keeps you feeling fuller, for longer. It is because of this that we are inclined to naturally eat less, and hence we reduce our calories. Now, this isn’t to say you’ll never be hungry, because that simply isn’t true, but you should generally be less hungry while in deficit on a ketogenic diet than you would be on a Standard American Diet.
Getting Started & Macros
Alright, you’ve come this far, so what now? Well, we need to work out your macros – but what the heck are they? Macros stands for macronutrients, being protein, carbohydrates, and fat. By limiting carbohydrates to get you into ketosis, consuming adequate protein to retain lean body mass and using fat as a lever, you’ll be able to use your macros to help you achieve your goals.
Almost everything you eat is made up of macronutrients.
The nutrients you need in large quantities are called macronutrients. There are three kinds of macronutrients (aka “macros”), and you’ve definitely heard of all of them already: carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
Each of the macronutrients supplies your body with a certain amount of energy, that’s usually measured in either kilojoules (which are more commonly seen on Australian food labels) or calories (which are more commonly used in day-to-day conversations).
Every gram of protein and carbohydrate contains 4 calories. Every gram of fat contains 9 calories.
What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are found in large quantities things like bread, pasta, potatoes, as well as in vegetables and nuts. Sugar is also a form of carbohydrate.
Some carbs give you slow-burning energy, while others only give you quick bursts that will soon leave you feeling flat. Generally, “natural” foods will provide the former kind of energy, while processed and high-sugar foods will provide the latter.
Fibre is a form of carbohydrate abundant in fruit, vegetables and nuts: it can’t be digested by your body for energy.
Most ketogenic diets recomment carbohydrates are restricted to 25g net.
What is protein?
Protein is for growth and repair. Most people know protein is vital for packing on muscle, and that’s because protein more or less provides the building
blocks of your body. Protein is found in large quantities in meat and animal products (like eggs and dairy).
When you eat protein it’s broken down into smaller compounds called amino acids. There are nine essential amino acids that your body can’t make them by itself — you have to get them from food.
We recommend a protein intake between 0.8-1.0g per pound of Lean Body Mass.
What are fats?
Fat is essential for general health and wellbeing. Its scary reputation is not deserved: you need to eat fat to keep your body functioning.
Fat is found in large quantities in foods such as meat and dairy. It’s also found in foods like olive oil, nuts, fish and avocados.
Your fat intake will vary depending on your goals.
If your goal is to lose bodyfat, you’ll eat less dietary fat – your body will supplement it’s energy needs with fat from your body.
If your goal is to maintain or gain bodyfat, then your dietary fat intake will be higher, as you aren’t using the fat on your body.
Putting it all together.
We are strong believers in ensuring an adequate protein intake to retain/gain lean body mass (muscle etc). As such, we highly recommend using this calculator from the folks over at Ketogains. It places an emphasis on protein intake – muscle is hard earned and easily lost, so lets make sure we keep as much of it as we can.
**VIDEO INSTRUCTIONS FOR CALCULATOR**: https://www.ketoforbeginners.com.au/video-using-ketogains-…/
NOTE: IF YOU ARE BREASTFEEDING, you should join our facebook group and get in touch with one of the admins, as your nutritional needs are different and macros will need to be customized for you.
We also only believe that you should track your macros in grams, and not percentages. The issue being that percentages are not absolute, so while you may be following so-called ‘ketogenic ratios’, you may be consuming in excess of your carbohydrate limit kicking you out of ketosis (or simply having too many calories, keeping you from your goals).
One of the most important things of all of this way of eating is tracking your foods. Actually measuring what you eat, and using something like MyFitnessPal or Chronometer to track the nutrients in it. Alternatively, you can read the nutritional panels and do it manually, but I find it far easier to use a tracking app. If you don’t do this, you are just guessing. To truly succeed at anything, you need to plan for it, set goals, and track your way to those goals – this is no different.
**VIDEO ON SETTING GOALS IN MFP**: https://www.ketoforbeginners.com.au/video-setting-goals-my…/
**VIDEO ON HOW TO TRACK IN MFP**: https://www.ketoforbeginners.com.au/video-track-foods-myfi…/
We also recommend spending around a week at maintenance macros every 6-8weeks. This helps with overall health, and can help with hormone function and adaptive thermogenesis. It may seem counter intuitive, but for long term health it’s an important aspect of a well thought out fat loss protocol.
Protein and Gluconeogenesis
It’s been a long standing myth in the keto community that eating moderate or high amounts of protein would lead to gluconeogenesis, and kick you out of ketosis. Unfortunately this myth has snowballed beyond belief, and now proponents of healthy ketogenic diets are doing their best to reel it back in. The fact of the matter is, protein will not kick you out of ketosis. Gluconeogenesis is a demand driven process, the rate at which is relatively fixed and not largely influenced by supply. It would take an inordinate amount of protein to kick you out of ketosis – you’d likely throw up before it became an issue.
One of the most overlooked parts about this way of eating is electrolyte intake. Ketosis has a diuretic effect, which means it flushes water and sodium from the kidneys. We need to manually supplement our electrolyte intake to avoid things like keto flu, headaches, nausea, tiredness, etc.
Here are the recommended electrolyte intakes whilst on a ketogenic diet:
Sodium: 5000-7000mg spread throughout the day. This is usually best taken as broth, sole water, or simply putting some salt on the tongue and swigging down with water.
Potassium: 1000-3500mg per day. Spinach, Broccoli, Avocado, Pork, and ‘Lite-Salt’ are great sources of Potassium.
Magnesium: 300-500mg per day. Avocado, Spinach are great sources of this, but it can still be difficult to get enough. Magnesium Citrate tablets are also a great option, but if you suffer from loose stool as a result, you may benefit from trying magnesium glycinate, malate or taurate.
We’ve got a great infographic on electrolytes here.
BPC/Bulletproof Coffee & Fat Bombs
We do not advocate the use of BPC/Fat bombs if your goal is fat loss. We are NOT a high fat keto group. We believe in adequate protein intake per lean body mass, limited carbohydrate intake to induce and sustain ketosis, and a fat intake that reflects your goals. We advocate the consumption of nutrient dense wholefoods. BPC and Fat Bombs are neither – they are just a waste of calories with little to no nutritional value and should only be used for those looking to maintain/gain and struggling to get their calories through more nutrient dense sources.
The exception to this is medical ketosis for the treatment of neurological conditions like Epilepsy – if you are doing this for fat loss, you are not the exception.
What is a fat bomb?
A fat bomb is high fat snack, dessert of meal, in which fat comprises the main macro. It is largely devoid of any protein or other macronutrients and gives you nothing beneficial, it is just a large, non-nutritive expenditure of your calories.
Examples of this include: Bullet proof coffee, cheesecakes, snacks in which the main ingredient is butter, coconut oil, cream cheese or cream.
Be wary of blogs, the diet dr website, and all baking recipes. You need to learn to be responsible about your fat intake for long term sustainable weight loss, occasional treats are ok, but fat bombs are not an every day food.
Nope. Nope. Nope. Unless you are a high level athlete, or have been prescribed these for medical reasons, you do not need Exogenous Ketones. They do not induce nutritional ketosis, and won’t help you get into ketosis faster. Save your money and spend it on meat and lean vegetables.
Do you need them? Nope. Stay under 25g net carbs per day, and you’ll be in ketosis.
The strip’s are inaccurate for this purpose. Some people never register at all, whilst many will register on them initially, but after a few weeks will find they stop. Then they worry they aren’t actually in ketosis.
Reason is – the strip’s measure EXCESS ketones being spilled into the urine. If you are using your ketones, you won’t be spilling excess into urine, and won’t get a result on the sticks.
Unless you are looking for medical ketosis to treat neurological conditions, there’s no reason to chase ketones. Higher ketone readings won’t lead to greater losses.
Want to know more?
There is a myriad of ketogenic literature but we highly recommend The Art & Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Dr Phinney and Dr Volek. They’ve also written The Art & Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance, which as the name implied focuses more then the performance aspects of Ketogenic Dieting. Both Doctors have been at the forefront of ketogenic research and are very highly regarded in the field. The Ketogenic Bible by Jacob Wilson and Ryan Lowery is also a great read.