Before we discuss how to measure ketone levels, let’s set some guidelines for optimal ketone levels. Nutritional ketosis is detected when levels begin to read at 0.5 mmol/L of ketones in the blood, but your optimal ketone level will depend on your personal goals. For instance, if your goal is to lose weight, your target ketone level will be lower than someone who wants to improve mental performance. The following table provides some general guidelines based on your goal.
• Keto "Flu": Your body isn't accustomed to using ketones on the regular, so when you make the switch, you tend to feel unwell. The keto diet also influences electrolyte balance, resulting in brain fog, headaches, nausea and fatigue. Keto dieters also consistently complain about getting bad-smelling breath, sweat and pee as a result of the by-product of fat metabolism (acetone) seeping out. Thankfully, this effect is just temporary, so just know you won't have to spend your life smelling rank.
To be confident about being in ketosis, especially at the beginning when you're not quite sure how you should feel, it’s best to measure your ketone levels. By monitoring your ketone levels, you can assure that you’re doing the diet correctly and make dietary adjustments based on what you measure. People also respond to diet and exercise differently, so the best way to cater the keto diet to your own biology is to measure.
As of the moment, there is no industry standard as to how many calories should be consumed in a restricted ketogenic diet, but there are published studies that provide estimates. In one example, a 65-year-old woman who was suffering from glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), an aggressive type of brain cancer, was put into a restricted ketogenic diet that started with water fasting and then proceeded to consuming 600 calories a day only.
If you start at 20g of carbohydrates a day, you should slowly move to 50 as you reach your goal. Once you reach your goal, you can up your carbs as you see how they effect your weight. If you eat fruit for a week and gain weight, cut back. You have to figure out what works best for you. Ketosis is usually reached by only consuming 50g of carbs or less each day so that should be your starting range. I would not move past this until you have reached your goal weight and started to exercise daily (more about exercise is at the bottom of this post).
I decided to try going “keto-ish” after nearly a year of unsuccessful weight loss. Before trying Keto, I was hungry all the time and the number on the scale wasn’t budging despite meticulously sticking to my meal plan and exercising 3-5 days a week. It’s been about three weeks since I’ve started this new approach to eating and the pounds are flying off. It’s amazing. I’ve discovered riced cauliflower and zoodles, two things I never knew that I loved.
Quick update – been doing a keto-type diet for a couple of months now. My BP is down to the lowest it’s been in something like 10 years, though still on 1/2 dose for my meds. I’ve lost about 30 pounds in the last 4 months (give or take a bit as I’m not sure exactly where I started). I’ll admit I still use Truvia and will have a Coke Zero every now and then, but eliminating the wheat and corn breads and sugars to reduce my carb intake to < 50g/day on average has made a huge difference. (I'm sure some still sneaks in with some of the food I eat out, but for the most part it's pretty good.)
Y. Wady Aude, MD; Arthur S. Agatston, MD; Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, MD, MSc; Eric H. Lieberman, MD; Marie Almon, MS, RD; Melinda Hansen, ARNP; Gerardo Rojas, MD; Gervasio A. Lamas, MD; Charles H. Hennekens, MD, DrPH, “The National Cholesterol Education Program Diet vs a Diet Lower in Carbohydrates and Higher in Protein and Monounsaturated Fat,” Arch Intern Med. 2004;164(19):2141-2146. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=217514.
High-fat, low-carb diets can help diminish hunger and also boost weight loss through their hormonal effects. As described above, when we eat very little foods that supply us with carbohydrates, we release less insulin. With lower insulin levels, the body doesn’t store extra energy in the form of fat for later use, and instead is able to reach into existing fat stores for energy.
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In addition to helping with weight loss, the Keto Diet has been used to treat epilepsy, help with Type II diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome , acne , potential improvement in neurological diseases (Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis), certain types of cancer, and reduces the risk factors in both respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Emerging studies are digging into its effects on Alzheimer’s and other conditions as well.
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