Understanding ketosis & fat adaptation
You might have heard many people talk about the keto diet and that it is a high-fat diet. But what does all this really mean? Why is this important and how does our body react to a high-fat diet?
Let us drill into the world of ketones!
The car fuel tank comparison
A car needs fuel to work. And now you will ask. What type of fuel should we use? What fuel is the best?
But before we try to answer this, let’s discuss about our fuel tank first. Our body can store about 100 gram of glucose into the liver and 400gr into the muscles. Once this short term tanks are filled up the rest is stored as fat. This is an unlimited storage. And this fat is fuel. Our body is a very intelligent machine and everything is done with intention. Storing fat for later use as energy, makes total sense right? In times of shortage and throughout human evolution, our ancestors needed to be able to rough it out, until they cought the next pray. The problem in today’s society is the abundance of food and energy which is always around us which prevents us from ever using that reserved energy.
And if you never ride your bike, it probably needs to be taken for a repair first, hence it means for us that it can take some time to get used to it. Same stands for fat metabolism. If you eat all day or you get your energy mainly from carbs, you will not be able to use your fat tank very efficiently. And this takes a few weeks even for someone healthy and with well balanced hormones.
Once you start using your own fat for energy, then you are in ketosis and fat adapted!
Benefits of ketosis
Ketosis is state where you body creates ketones as a side-product of fatty-acid metabolism and has many benefits.
- Ketones are the bodies prefered energy source. Without getting too technical you should remember two numbers. Each molecule of glucose can create 38 energy molecules (ATP) whereas each molecule of a fatty-acid can produce 129 energy ATP molecules. Quick note here since it is not that simple! Our body also needs vitamins, minerals, electrolytes on a daily basis into making us an effective kick-ass machine.
- Ketosis will help regulate insulin and blood glucose. a low-carb diet will have a very small effect to your insulin level and will regulate the blood glucose spikes through-out the day.
- Ketosis will help with cravings. Getting into ketosis means you are using your own-fat for energy which will make fat-loss effortless since your body will be able to efficiently use that fuel tank we talked about. Cravings will complete go away after a few of weeks of adaptation. Fat is more nutrient-dense than carbs. Fats contain nine calories per gram, whereas carbs contain four calories per gram. Fat also contains fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. When your body gets the nutrients it needs from fat, you feel more satiated with less food. Another reason you feel full with less food? Ketones also boost cholecystokinin, a hormone that keeps you feeling full. Consequently, you need less food throughout the day to stay feeling energized.
- Faster weight loss. When you go from being a “sugar burner” to a ketone burner, one of the quick side effects is loss of water weight. But by the time you’re fat adapted, your liver is used to converting fat into blood ketones for fuel. Increased fat intake lowers insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that tells your body to store fat, so with less insulin, less fat gets stored. This means you continue to lose fat! Many people start keto because of the weight loss benefit.
- Increased congnitive function. Being in ketosis is well know to increase your concentration and focus levels. High-carb diets can make you tired. You burn through blood glucose quickly and consequent blood sugar spikes and plummets create feelings of fatigue. When you’re fat adapted, you are on a fat-burning diet and have stable energy levels throughout the day, which means you experience more energy, less fatigue, more focus.
- Increased endurance with physical activity. When you’re fat adapted and exercising, you leverage fat instead of glucose for energy. This is particularly important because every body has limited access to glucose at any given time, and a glucose-driven body has a hard time quickly switching from reaching for glucose stores to reaching for fat stores; this is why endurance athletes relying on high-carb energy need to refuel in the middle of their activity; otherwise they “bonk” or experience an energy crash. When you’re fat adapted, you have easy access to a much greater energy supply – fat – which allows you to maintain more energy and exercise longer.
In summary and quoting from a recent study
“Ketosis will increase and maintain circulating ketone bodies, especially β-hydroxybutyrate (β-HB), which is one of the most abundant ketone bodies in human circulation. Increased β-HB has been reported to prevent or improve the symptoms of various age-associated diseases. Indeed, numerous studies have reported that a ketogenic diet alleviates symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers.“
Understand the importance of ketosis and low insulin in a great podcast with Dr.Bikman
How to get into ketosis
There are two simple ways to get into ketosis which from our opinion should be combined
- Practise intermmitent fasting daily. A protocol like 16/8, where you restrict your eating window to 8 hours is an ideal way to get you in ketosis, with many more benefits which we have already discussed.
- Eat a low-carb diet. Restricting your carb intake by removing refined carbs such as wheat, pasta, cakes and consume some more foods with healty fats like olive oil, avocado, eggs andmeat will trigger your fat burning metabolism.
How often should you be in ketosis
This can be tricky question, but we don’t want to completely exclude carbs from our diet. Assuming we have regulated our hormones (insulin etc), reached our ideal body weight and dont have any other medical issues, eating some low glycemic carbs can be very benefical.
- Eating carbs on days where you are doing intense exercising can be ideal since your body will replenish its carb reserves and will use directly the energy instead of storing it.
- Eating some carbs will help your gut to keep the microbiome balanced and able to digest carbs.
- Being in a state of ketosis most of the time is a natural physiology from a human evolution perspective.
- Include low glycemic , unrefined carbs in your eating plan.
- Mitochondria and the Future of Medicine, Lee Know, ND
- β-hydroxybutyrate and its metabolic effects on age-associated pathology
- Featured image courtesy of https://selfhack.com