Ketosis is a metabolic state in which fat is metabolised to produce ketone bodies, which provide energy rather than glucose. Our bodies’ preferred fuel source is glucose, which is largely consumed in the diet in the form of carbohydrates. Once we take carbs out of the diet, your body has to look elsewhere for fuel so it will break down fat to produce ketone bodies or ketones for fuel.
What happens to the body when you are in a ketogenic state?
The first few days of following a ketogenic diet are not much fun as your body is still looking for carbohydrates to burn. You may be hungry, low in energy, a bit irritable, more likely to get sick and you might not be able to train at your peak.
You will be less hungry
Once you’re in ketosis, your appetite is reduced. A high protein intake has a higher satiety effect; we see changes in levels of appetite control hormones and the ketone bodies themselves have a direct appetite suppressant action.
Your breath might smell
One of the by-products of the breakdown of ketones is acetone. Acetone is exhaled through the lungs, thus making your breath smell a little. Aside from the need to use breath mints, this is not harmful and is a sure-fire sign that your body is in ketosis.
You might have constipation
Many high-fibre foods are excluded on a ketogenic diet, so a common complaint from followers is they can get bound up. It is possible to consume enough fibre from non-starchy vegies or you may need to take a fibre supplement.
You’ll lose weight
Although it seems counter-intuitive to be eating more fat and losing weight, now that your body is burning body fat as its main fuel source, you can lose weight very quickly. In addition, your appetite is suppressed so you’re less likely to overeat or go back for seconds.
You’ll get control of your blood sugar levels and your insulin levels drop
On a ketogenic diet, you’ll limit the spikes in blood sugars that come with frequent carbohydrate and sugar intake. As a result, your body doesn’t need to produce as much insulin. Low insulin levels mean your body is better able to break down fat to be used as fuel.
Now that you are using fat as fuel, you are not short of an energy supply and no longer relying on your dietary intake as your main source of energy.
At Be Fit Food, our meals will induce a state of mild nutritional ketosis. This means you will get the fat burning benefits without the extreme keto side effects. We recommend 50-70g of carbs per day, which is in line with the CSIRO low carb diet philosophy. Contact our team of Dietitians at [email protected] for more information or phone 1300 263 257.
Kate Save is an accredited practising dietitian, exercise physiologist and co-director of Be Fit Food in Mornington. For more info go to befitfood.com.au or phone 1300 2 MEALS (63257)