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.
To see whether I was a good fit for the keto diet, Wali requested I have some lab work done, including a cholesterol panel and a fasting-insulin-level test. My results came back normal, meaning there was no medical necessity for me to go on the diet. If I were pre-diabetic or insulin-resistant, Wali would likely have made the keto diet part of my treatment.
2) Now you need to do a little learning before we move any further. Start by learning a bit more about ketosis itself, and the pitfalls you need to watch out for. I love Bodybuilding.com and think that this article on the Keto Diet is perfect for beginners, so go check it out. Unless you are planning to start bodybuilding part, 2 of the article will not apply to you. 😉
¢ Constipation: No one likes to feel backed up, and sadly if you're not careful about your diet choices when going keto, it could become a regular concern. One 10-year (albeit small) study looking at the effects of a keto diet on young children found that 65 percent experienced digestive woes. Thankfully, going keto is not a life sentence for problem bowels. Since you're cutting out whole grains and fruit (two of the most common sources of fiber), aim to up your fiber-rich veggies, and consider a supplement.
LCHF is a plan that is very similar to an Atkins approach, but the focus is placed on the higher ingestion of fats, and a perpetual restriction of carbohydrates to less than 20 grams per day, and in some cases nearly 0 grams a day are consumed. There is no specific restriction of artificial or manufactured foods, only that the fat is kept higher, around 70%-85% of the diet.

That said, I think the biggest changes are the result of me dropping the sugars and breads. Tracking my eating and being more conscious about my foods has made a difference. I definitely plan to keep on this track for a while and slowly work towards a fuller keto-adapted diet/body. I'm not going with the œall-in that some recommend, cutting out all artificial sweeteners and such, though I have limited them. I'm not really tempted to indulge in the sweets that have been tempting in the past.
Many people also experience cramping, notably in the feet and legs. Because of this, you'll want to consume extra electrolytes any time you are on a ketogenic plan. People who suffer with these symptoms refer to them as the Keto-Flu, and while it isn't like the real flu, the symptoms can knock you down until you get your electrolytes back in balance.
Experts are split on whether the keto diet is a good idea. On the one hand, Lori Chang, registered dietitian and a supervisor at the Center for Healthy Living at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles, says using a œcleaner source of energy”ketones rather than quick-burning carbohydrates”can improve mood and energy levels. When you eat refined carbohydrates or just too many carbs in general, the blood is flooded with excess insulin, Chang says. "This can lead to a blood sugar rollercoaster that stresses the body and negatively impacts energy levels and mood. When you're in a state of ketosis, however, ketone bodies don't require insulin to cross the blood-brain barrier, which wards off unfavorable blood sugar levels."

On a keto diet, weight loss can often be substantial and happen quickly (especially for those who start the diet very overweight or obese). The 2013 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that those following a keto diet œachieved better long-term body weight and cardiovascular risk factor management when compared with individuals assigned to a conventional low-fat diet (i.e. a restricted-energy diet with less than 30 percent of energy from fat). (4)
Spices are an easy way of adding more flavor, vitamins and antioxidants into your food. Furthermore, they are low in carbohydrates. Make sure that you're using fresh, organic spices for maximum flavor and nutrients. Some spices sold in packets found at the local grocery should not be used, as they often contain fillers that can increase your carbohydrate consumption, thus putting you out of ketosis.26
œOne of the best meal planning tips I've ever received is to structure breakfast and lunch so that you don't have to think too much about it, says Emily Bartlett, co-founder of Real Plans. œIf you're okay with repetition, it's ideal to have a simple selection of recipes for breakfast”including some that can be taken on the go. For lunch, go ahead and use your leftovers with a fresh green salad, and be sure to include a dressing that you really love.
Basically, fat within your blood travels as lipoproteins, along with cholesterol, proteins, and phospholipids. In order for an artery to be œclogged, there needs to be a small tear in its inner wall first. These tears can be due to stress, smoking, a highly-processed diet, etc. In order for the walls to be repaired and thus prevent œclogging, Vitamin E must be used. Vitamin E, being a fat-soluble vitamin, requires fat in order to be available for your body to use. Therefore, the consumption of fat can help your arteries self-heal and thus prevent œclogging.
And by pink salt I mean pink Himalayan mineral salt. I sprinkle this stuff on everything! On my food, in my water “ you name it, pink salt is in it. Not only does it make my food taste AMAZING, but the benefits of pink salt are insane, especially when it comes to Keto flu. Pink Himalayan salt contains up to 84 different minerals, a fantastic source of magnesium (almost 80% of people are deficient in!), promotes a healthy PH balance, helps regulate blood sugar levels (this is huge for Keto and staying in ketosis), and helps regulate the body's natural sleep cycle.

¢ Water Loss: There is some evidence that higher-protein diets like the keto diet do have some weight-loss benefits, partially because both fat and protein are satiating so you don't feel hungry, but also because of the loss in glycogen stores. Glycogen is the body's glucose storage that is bound up with water, so when we deplete the glycogen, you also deplete your water storage. Lose a ton of water, and you're going to drop weight fast.
As far as fruits are concerned, most berries are low in carbs and can be consumed from time to time, and in limited amounts. These include raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries. Blueberries are a bit higher in carbs and should be eaten sparingly. Most other fruits, however, have too many carbs in just one serving, so it is best to avoid them.
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.

Fats are great if you want to add flavor and texture to your meals, and will help you feel full. Some people believe swear by coconut oil, and whether or not the claimed health benefits are actually present, it's one of the fats that you might want to add to your diet. Butter is an excellent choice, as is ghee (Indian clarified butter). Duck fat is highly prized. Avocado oil is a great choice when making dressings or sauces, as it's liquid at room temperature and has a mild flavor. The fats and oils listed here are primarily saturated, and they are the least likely to go rancid and produce free radicals and inflammation in the body (5, 6).
Some people like to start a ketogenic diet, or restart one, with a more restrictive plan. These aren't for everyone, since most people adjust better to slow, gradual changes. If you're the kind of person who likes to change everything all at once, you can try one of these short term hacks to get you kick-started in keto, and maybe even help you lose those first couple of pounds, or the last couple that just won't seem to budge.
The ketogenic diet for weight loss is based on the idea that driving the body into ketosis will maximize fat loss. Ketosis is a normal metabolic process that occurs when the body does not have enough glucose stores for energy. When these stores are depleted, the body resorts to burning stored fat for energy instead of carbs. This process produces acids called ketones, which build up in the body and can be used for energy. (2)
On the other hand, the types of foods you'll avoid eating on the keto, low-carb diet are likely the same ones you are, or previously were, accustomed to getting lots of your daily calories from before starting this way of eating. This includes items like fruit, processed foods or drinks high in sugar, those made with any grains or white/wheat flour, conventional dairy products, desserts, and many other high-carb foods (especially those that are sources of œempty calories).

If you need to eat more or fewer calories per day, you can adjust accordingly by simply taking out or adding a bit more of the ingredients already included in a recipe. For example, adding/removing a tablespoon of olive oil or butter will add/remove about 100 calories. If you like or dislike certain recipes, feel free to shift things around. Make sure to keep an eye on the calories so you're still falling within an acceptable range of your daily goal.
LCHF is a plan that is very similar to an Atkins approach, but the focus is placed on the higher ingestion of fats, and a perpetual restriction of carbohydrates to less than 20 grams per day, and in some cases nearly 0 grams a day are consumed. There is no specific restriction of artificial or manufactured foods, only that the fat is kept higher, around 70%-85% of the diet.
Net carbs are what we track when following a ketogenic diet. This calculation is pretty straightforward. Net Carbs = Total Carbs “ Fiber. For example, one cup of broccoli has 6g of total carbs and 2.4g of fiber. That would mean one cup of broccoli has 3.6g of net carbs. We count Net Carbs because dietary fiber does not have a significant metabolic effect.

The book contains a two week menu for beginners. (Face it, there's a 90% chance you won't follow it to the letter, but it does help set your thinking in the right direction.) For each individual week there's a shopping list which, by itself, will help you adjust your kitchen quite a bit. There are tips on the best sweeteners (Swerve over Splenda), the oils you'll need, produce, canned and bottled items, pantry items, and meats. Something to consider as you go along is that some items, like almond and coconut flour are expensive items to stock up on, but you'll use considerably less than non-keto recipes will use for regular flour. Do what you can afford. Just know that there are some must-have staples like coconut oil and olive oil.


Yes, you can drink alcohol on keto, but there are a couple of catches. The first thing to watch out for is, obviously, the carbohydrates in your drink of choice. If you're choosing clear liquor, it tends to have a low amount of carbs, but it still has some. Your mixers also may have carbs in them, so choosing something like tonic water over a soda will keep you within your limits. Beer, cider, wine, and other bottled alcoholic drinks tend to be high in sugars, so you might just want to avoid them.
œA lot of folks find that batch cooking once or twice a week saves a tremendous amount of time and keeps you from spending every evening in the kitchen, Weaver says. œWhen keto meal planning, you want to follow general good meal planning practices, like shopping for the week's food all at once, which helps to save money, and prepping your vegetables when you get home. These 10 keto recipes are so good you'll forget you're on a diet.
According to the USDA, a 100-gram serving of red tomatoes has 3.89 grams of carbohydrates.43 You may add this fruit to your ketogenic diet safely and gain its beneficial nutrients, particularly lycopene. Researchers from Ohio State University suggest that this antioxidant may help protect your skin from sun damage, which may result in a lowered risk of skin cancer tumors.44
It's important to remember that the goal of any dietary change is to promote a healthy lifestyle, so make sure to select a meal plan you can envision yourself following long term. If you know you will not be able to comply with such stringent carbohydrate restrictions for years to come, the ketogenic diet is most likely not the right choice for you.
The biggest shifts in your daily habits will be how you food shop and how you cook, and recipes that are ketogenic need to be followed rather than just low-carb. You will require the healthy fats in order to get into ketosis and have enough energy without the carbs. And you will be considerably more energetic and healthier when cooking your own keto-friendly food rather than buying supposedly keto foods off the shelf. So visit my page on keto recipes as well as keto snacks (including fat bombs!), and get started on a ketogenic meal plan!

Here are a few of the most common side effects that I come across when people first start keto. Frequently the issues relate to dehydration or lack of micronutrients (vitamins) in the body. Make sure that you're drinking enough water (close to a gallon a day) and eating foods with good sources of micronutrients. To read more on micronutrients, click here >
Bulk buy and cook. If you're someone who doesn't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, this is the best of both worlds. Buying your food at bulk (specifically from wholesalers) can reduce the cost per pound tremendously. Plus, you can make ahead food (bulk cook chicken thighs for pre-made meat, or cook entire meals) that are used as leftovers, so you spend less time cooking.
In my book "Fat for Fuel," I sought to educate readers about the benefits of using healthy fats as a catalyst to bring about improved mitochondrial function, thus allowing you to achieve better health. In essence, the book answers WHY it is important for you to consume healthy fats. However, you still need to know HOW to prepare the right ketogenic foods in an appetizing way.
Beverages: It's common to become dehydrated on the keto diet. Your insulin levels drop when you restrict carbs, and low insulin makes it harder for your body to retain sodium and water.[9] Drink plenty of plain water, and sip on bone broth to replenish electrolytes, especially during the first couple of weeks when your body is adjusting to the new diet.
The first tip to get back to losing weight is to boost the amount of calories you are consuming. Say you're eating 1200 calories per day. Overtime, your body down-regulates so it just needs about 1000 calories per day to maintain basal function. Therefore, the amount of calories that used to help you lose weight is now only helping you maintain your current weight. So, by boosting your calories, you are actually boosting your metabolism and you may even notice some weight loss in the days after your caloric increase.

A related clinical diet for drug-resistant epilepsy is called the medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diet, in which MCT oil is extensively used because it's more ketogenic than long-chain triglycerides. (13a) Another dietary therapy for epilepsy called Low Glycemic Index Treatment (LGIT) was developed in 2002 as an alternative to the ketogenic diet. LGIT monitors the total amount of carbohydrates consumed daily, and focuses on carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index.) (13b)

I've always heard that the brain functions well on ketones. Gluconeogenisis typically reduces ketosis, though as well? This is the first time I've heard anyone say the brain can't use anything but glucose. I know there's *preferred* sources of fuel over others, but I was also fairly certain other sources were fine.. or humans might be in a bit of trouble.

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