Am I In Ketosis?
When you start the keto diet, there is a period of transition as your ketone levels increase and your body needs to adapt. You are altering your energy source and burning fat instead of carbohydrates and activating nutritional ketosis. As you get started and during the temporary adaptation process, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms associated with ketosis to allay your concerns so that you can adjust with confidence.
We produce two hormones that control our appetites. Grehlin is the hormone that makes us feel hungry and cholecystokinin makes us feel satiated or full. In a ketotic state, your body produces less of both of these hormones. That means you will be able to go for longer periods of time without eating or feeling hungry. Furthermore, you’ll notice you will feel satiated after your meals with less desire to snack.
Fatigue is a typical short-term symptom while transitioning to ketosis. A quick loss of water weight causes dehydration which makes you feel fatigued. Remember, the human body is approximately 60 percent water.
When you reduce your carbohydrate intake significantly, your body produces less insulin and depletes its glycogen reserves.
You will rapidly lose fluid weight at the start of keto since your glycogen reserves are used up and the water in your body is eliminated with them.
To combat feeling tired on the ketogenic diet, you may need to slightly increase your sodium intake to regulate electrolytes since your kidneys will be excreting more sodium. Keep physical activity to a minimum during the transition.
More Stable Energy
In the standard North American diet (SAD), carbohydrates are the macronutrient that represents the main source of energy. The issue is that a significant intake of this macronutrient can deplete your energy levels.
When you eat carbohydrates, the starches contained in them are changed to simple sugar molecules, also known as glucose. The glucose is absorbed by your body and used as energy.
Your pancreas produces the hormone, insulin, to help move that glucose from your blood into your cells. Insulin production normalizes your blood sugar levels and stores the extra energy as fat.
However, if you have insulin sensitivity your body resists energy absorption and you will need more insulin.
And, of course, to produce more insulin on the standard North American Diet, you will need more carbs for energy and be prone to cravings for sugars. It becomes a vicious cycle of insulin and energy spikes and troughs that add more stored fat due to inefficient energy processing.
A recent study shows that 44.8 percent of Americans between the ages of 18-44 are insulin resistant.
On the ketogenic diet, healthy fats are the primary macronutrient that replaces carbs. Your body also taps its stored fat resources for fuel.
This reverses the spike/trough cycle and delivers consistent energy throughout the day. Not only will you escape the sluggish feeling in the afternoon, but you will also be burning fat and losing weight.
If losing weight is your goal, the keto diet offers a roadmap to success as long as you stay on the road and consistently adhere to the keto lifestyle. When you begin keto, you may lose a lot of weight quickly.
The number on your scale will be encouraging, inspiring, and motivating. However, a word of caution: that quick initial weight loss will not be sustained.
Ketosis has a diuretic effect on your body, causing you to lose water weight rapidly. Therefore, the weight loss you’ll see in roughly the first week is mainly water weight. That’s why it is extremely important to drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. Keto isn’t a shortcut to fat loss. Progress should be measured over a period of time. As your body becomes accustomed to ketosis, fat will become the fuel source, instead of glucose, and that’s how you will steadily lose weight.
Did you know that your brain consumes 20 percent of your energy? If If you’ve been relying on the SAD for brain power, your thinking cap has been energized by glucose from carbs. When you switch to keto eating, you are asking the brain to fire up using ketones instead of glucose. Using ketones as the primary energy source has been proven to improve cognitive function and treat a wide number of diseases.
Once again, the transition to keto has an associated temporary symptom of brain ‘fog’ since your brain needs to adapt to the new fuel. In addition, headaches are common since your kidneys are releasing excess sodium potentially causing dehydration. This can be mitigated with increased water consumption and sodium intake.
Rest assured that after a couple of weeks, these symptoms will subside and you will feel an improvement in mental acuity, better focus, less anxiety, and improved mood.
When you adopt the keto diet it is common to experience some digestive discomfort. You may experience constipation since your body is unaccustomed to a lower fiber intake. That’s why it is important to ease into the diet and ensure that you still get quality fiber in your meals.
Alternatively, you may experience the other end of the spectrum: diarrhea. This can occur when your body hasn’t adjusted to producing sufficient enzymes for higher-fat breakdown. In both cases, these conditions are temporary and they will dissipate as you adapt to higher fat consumption.
Sustained Fat Loss
In the first week of keto dieting, people often see a weight loss of 10 pounds. While encouraging, do not expect the same arc of reduction every week. The initial weight loss can be attributed to losing water weight. After that, the loss will be more gradual. That’s why you need to think of keto as a lifestyle, not a quick fix. If losing significant weight is your goal, then prepare for the long haul and gradual weight loss is healthy.
The good news is that you’re going to lose fat, not muscle. Remember that we’re all different so don’t compare your progress with internet testimonials that make you feel that your pace is inadequate.
Reduced Energy For Exercise
Hopefully, you are engaged in regular exercise which is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Until you began the keto diet, your physical regimen would have been reliant on carbs for energy. On keto, higher fats become your workout fuel but temporary fatigue in the early stages means that you need to take it easy in the beginning.
Until you have adjusted to ketosis after a few weeks, it is advisable to reduce your exercise regime until your body adjusts to using ketones for fuel. When your body has learned to adapt to fat for energy, you can resume your physical routine and workout sessions.
What About Ketone Levels?
Beyond the symptomatic signs of ketosis, measuring the levels of ketone bodies in your blood is the most objective and scientific method to confirm ketosis. Blood ketone levels of 0.5 to 3 mg/dL define nutritional ketosis. Aside from a visit with your physician, there are many ketone measuring devices on the market so that you can perform your own analysis at home. Monitoring your own levels ensures that you are staying on track and gives you confidence.
By cutting down on glucose consumption you produce less insulin. Less insulin means your kidneys eliminate more sodium which can cause an electrolyte imbalance leading to muscle cramps. Ketosis muscle cramping means that you may need to increase your sodium intake, and drink sufficient water to normalize your electrolytes and stay hydrated.
When you’re transitioning to keto, you produce three kinds of ketone bodies: Acetone, Acetoacetate, and Beta-hydroxybutyrate. At the beginning, your body will create more ketones than required. When you have an excess of ketones, they are eliminated from the body through urination and exhalation.
Therefore, when you breathe out, your breath may have an odor of nail polish remover since its main ingredient is acetone. In addition, your breath may have a tinge of ammonia since the body converts protein to ammonia. Finally, it’s important to drink enough water to stave off dehydration which can exacerbate bad breath. All of these symptoms are temporary while your body adjusts to carbs for energy instead of sugar from carbs.
Sleep Pattern Changes
Carbohydrates increase the amount of the amino acid tryptophan in the brain, which helps to promote sleep when it is converted to serotonin. Serotonin is required for the body to manufacture melatonin, the sleep hormone. Protein, however, increases levels of the amino acid, tyrosine, which activates the production of brain-alerting chemicals.
While you adapt to keto, temporary difficulties with sleep may be induced by the increase of tyrosine in combination with reduced serotonin. Once again, altered sleep is temporary and a sign you’re in ketosis.
Success Requires Patience
As you become “fat-adapted”, expect a period of transition to your new keto lifestyle. While adapting to ketosis may be difficult in the beginning, take satisfaction in your journey to replace glucose with fat as your energy source. You should experience long-term weight reduction with more energy and mental focus, along with less hunger and crankiness between meals. Be happy that you’re on the right path toward ketosis and successful weight loss.
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