Fortunately a new way to test ketosis has been developed - and that is by measuring acetone levels in the breath. This is rather new technology but based on the reports I have seen it does look reasonably reliable. The testing process is simple, you use a device like that made by Ketonix, you breathe into it, wait a minute or so and it will give you a color indicating the state of ketosis you are in. However, there are numerous downsides:
You see, when someone says ketosis is a natural state, they mean that ketosis is the body’s backup plan for those times when there isn’t any food to eat. It’s an evolutionary adaptation that developed over hundreds of thousands of years and springs from a time when our distant ancestors often had to go many days between decent meals. Fortunately, these days actual starvation is pretty rare so most people will never be in ketosis. But the physiological mechanism is still there, lurking in the background, readily accessible to anyone who is willing to trick their body into thinking it’s starving.
In the second of these posts I discuss the Delta G implications of the body using ketones (specifically, beta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB, and acetoacetate, or AcAc) for ATP generation, instead of glucose and free fatty acid (FFA). At the time I wrote that post I was particularly (read: personally) interested in the Delta G arbitrage. Stated simply, per unit of carbon, utilization of BHB offers more ATP for the same amount of oxygen consumption (as corollary, generation of the same amount of ATP requires less oxygen consumption, when compared to glucose or FFA).
Consuming exogenous ketones isn't the same as following a ketogenic diet–the ketones in the blood haven't been naturally produced by the breakdown of fat stores. However, scientists believe many of the health benefits of the keto diet and fasting (aside from weight loss) are triggered by ketones. Therefore, raising ketone levels through either endogenous or exogenous ketosis could help to improve health and performance by:
If you read about ketosis in magazine or heard about it in a podcast and wanted to jump on the bandwagon, then I think you should avoid it. Remember, it is a strict diet, and the potential health downsides may not be worth the upsides, unless you are working with a medical professional and or you are tracking your labs to see what’s going on with your health (thyroid).
Personally, I think it is wise to include a regular carb meal in your diet if you are going to follow a ketogenic diet. Long term ketogenic diets do seem to downregulate your thyroid and metabolism, and a weekly carb meal (or carb day) can help avoid this. The Carb Nite diet by J. Kiefer is a good example of this. And BJJCaveman posted his labs showing how a weekly carb meal helped his thyroid HERE.
Ketosis supplements made in poor quality, have proven to lead to side-effects such as constipation and increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in men, and women may also experience amenorrhea or other disruptions to the menstrual cycle. This is why it is really important to know what combination of compounds you are consuming, particularly while you are on this very strict diet because the wrong balance can really mess with you in the long term and won't give you the high performance that you are looking for.
When your body is done using up a certain substrate to create energy (acetyl-CoA) after eating carbohydrates, it will start to find creative ways to get the job done. This is something that you want to happen. This is the switch to ketosis. If you didn’t do this, you’d be dead after fasting for a very short period of time. Under normal circumstances, the liver will start making beta-hydroxybutyrate from long chain and medium chain fatty acids that are liberated from your fat tissue. You are turning fat into fuel. Good work. This is why people can fast for months at a time and still function like normal humans.
Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is a ketone body produced by the liver, from fat, for energy when glucose isn’t available. It ultimately becomes the body and brain’s primary source of energy. Since the liver naturally produces BHB during ketosis, the process can take quite some time, often resulting in symptoms of fatigue, hunger (cravings for sugar, a faster energy source), and mental cloudiness. That’s why supplementing BHB on a keto diet can have a profound positive impact.
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