What is Nutritional Ketosis

What is Nutritional Ketosis

Quick Summary

Nutritional Ketosis refers to a metabolic state where your body burns fat for its primary energy source. The body typically uses glucose as its primary fuel source. Glucose is also known as sugar. Your liver can produce ketones when carb intake is low. These are fat-like compounds in your brain, and other organs can replace glucose.

Table of Contents

Nutritional Ketosis is the process that happens when we try and lose weight with the Keto Diet, or what I prefer to call it ‘Keto style of eating.’ Your liver stores glucose and releases it as energy. After one to two days without carbs, the glucose stores in your liver become depleted. Through gluconeogenesis, the liver can produce glucose from amino acids, glycol, and lactate. However, it is not enough to provide all your brain’s needs. Your brain requires constant fuel. Luckily, Nutritional Ketosis can give you, especially your brain, an alternative energy source.

Ketone Bodies or Ketones 

Your liver makes ketone bodies or ketones from the fat you eat. Plus, your existing body fat. Beta-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate, and acetone are the three ketone bodies. Although technically, acetone is considered a breakdown product from acetoacetate. In addition, the liver produces ketones to supply energy for your brain when insulin and glucose levels drop, as in the case of a diet that restricts carb intake. When the blood level of ketones reaches a threshold, you are in Nutritional Ketosis. Dr. Steve Phinney, a leading expert in ketogenic diets, and Dr. Jeff Volek, say that the minimum point for Nutritional Ketosis (the ketone body) is 0.5 mmol/L. We will talk a lot more about the levels of ketones soon. Ketone Bodies are non-storable in the body, so you can’t save them for later use. Both fasting and a ketogenic diet can help you achieve Nutritional Ketosis Or vice versa. However, the only way to sustain Nutritional Ketosis is with a Keto eating plan. It is a healthy way of eating indefinitely. While it is true that the brain requires a lot of energy, ketones can supply about 70% of its fuel needs. The liver delivers the remaining power through gluconeogenesis, which produces glucose. Nutritional Ketosis has no adverse effect on brain function. On the contrary, many people report feeling sharper mentally when in Ketosis.

The Benefits of Nutritional Ketosis

 Ketones, and specifically Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB), provide a source of energy and help reduce inflammation and oxidative stresses. Therefore, there are many benefits to being in nutritional Ketosis. People often notice that they don’t feel hungry when in Nutritional Ketosis. This is because research has shown that Nutritional Ketosis can suppress appetite. It can also decrease the ghrelin hormone. Often called the hunger hormone. People naturally eat less when they are restricted in carbs and allowed to eat as much fat or protein as they need. Restricting carbs means that they can lose weight. Ketogenic diets suppress appetite, reduce insulin levels, increase fat burning, often outperforming other weight-loss diets. There is also a potent for improved athletic performance: The use of Nutritional Ketosis could provide a very stable fuel supply for sustained exercise in high-level or recreational athletes.

What is Diabetic Ketoacidosis? 

There are two distinct types of conditions. Nutritional Ketosis and Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Nutritional Ketosis is safe and offers many benefits for health that we have already discussed. Diabetic Ketoacidosis, however, can be hugely problematic.  Diabetic Ketoacidosis is most common in type 1 diabetics who aren’t receiving enough insulin. Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) is characterized by dangerously high blood sugar levels and ketones. In addition, DKA causes blood to lose its delicate acid-base balance. People with diabetes Ketoacidosis have BHB levels that are higher than five mmol/L. Again, this is due to the inability to produce insulin. In nutritional Ketosis, BHB levels typically remain way below five mmol/L. This graph illustrates the considerable difference in blood ketones between Ketosis & Ketoacidosis. Diabetic Ketoacidosis Before starting any diet, please speak to your health care professional. 

How to get into Nutritional Ketosis

Here are some tips as you start your journey.   Limit your daily intake of net carbs to 20 grams or less: While it is possible to eat more than this, it almost guarantees you’ll reach nutritional Ketosis.  Do not fear fat, in fact, embrace them, here is a list of great fats for Keto. Although reducing carbs is the key, adding calories from fat or protein can help you transition to fat loss with less hunger, particularly if you’re starting.  You may find it helpful to reduce your fat intake as you go along with your low-carb diet. Reducing fat will help you burn more body fat, which means that you might not need to add fat to your diet if you don’t feel the need. Coconut oil can be your friend. Coconut oil is a natural fat that remains stable at high heat. In addition, coconut oil is full of fatty acids that can boost ketone production. It has many other benefits too. 

Optimal Nutritional Ketosis

A ketogenic diet can help you reach Nutritional Ketosis. Although “optimal ketosis” is often used, it is not well defined as a term. Also, for weight loss, the elevation level might not be significant.  This handy diagram is an excellent visualization of the ketone levels.  Nutritional Ketosis A value below 0.5 mmol/l does not qualify as “Nutritional Ketosis,” but 0.4, for example, indicates that you are getting close. However, this level may not allow you to reach your maximum fat-burning potential. Nutritional Ketosis is a state where 0.5 – 3.0 mmol/l. Therefore, it’s likely that you will experience a positive effect on your appetite and metabolic improvements. 1.0-3.0 mmol/l are considered “optimal” ketosis . It’s also not clear if it offers any significant benefits over the 0.5 to 1.5 level.  Ketone levels above 3 mmol/l are too high. You will likely get the same results as the 1.5-3 level. Sometimes, higher numbers could indicate that you aren’t getting enough food, “starvation Ketosis.” In patients with type 1 diabetes (or any other form of the disease), ketone levels exceeding 3.0 mmol/L may be due to a severe insulin deficiency that needs immediate medical attention. More than 8-10 mmol/l – It is usually impossible to reach this level by following a ketogenic diet. These high levels also mean that something is wrong. Get immediate medical attention. I try and always be at least 0.5 mmol/l as soon as I wake up. However, by the time 10.00 am comes around, typically at least two hours after breakfast, I always like to be above 1.0 mmol/l and try and stay at that level for the remaining day. So if you are looking for a great way to kick start your Nutritional Ketone levels, you might want to try this yummy recipe.

Measuring Nutritional Ketosis

There are several signs that you have reached Nutritional Ketosis. Many symptoms are documented, such as dry mouth, metallic taste, increased thirst, and fatigue. However, I have not found these unreliable to understand my actual levels.  You need a tangible way to measure your Nutritional Ketones. Today’s three options are urine strips, breath analyzers, or blood-ketone meters.  Blood-Ketone meters are the most accurate and show the specific levels of ketones in your blood at the time of each test. These ketone meters are my preferred method, and although more expensive than other ways, it only makes sense if you are going to try and commit to Nutritional Ketosis.

What happens if you can’t get into the Zone?

I struggled to get into the correct ketone level when I started my Keto journey. Initially, I wasn’t using a blood-ketone meter, but I could tell that I wasn’t achieving Nutritional Ketosis.  After getting my meter, I had a tool to understand my levels. The first thing that I started to do was track my food intake. I use MyFitnessPal, but there are many other great apps available.  MyFitnessPal made me realize that my carb intake was too high. It’s a real challenge to get your net carbs less than 20 grams a day. My second realization was that I wasn’t getting enough, mainly fat-based foods. Eggs and cheese, for example, have good fats, but they also have a decent amount of protein. Combine this with too many carbs; it all messed up my macros.  Once I had figured this out, I could maintain my Nutritional Ketosis levels for days at a time.