Two years ago I heard the word ketosis for the first time. Didn’t know exactly what it was, but learned it had something to do with fat burning. I think it was initially introduced to me by Matthias as he got more and more fascinated by Dave Asprey and his bullet proof coffee. Since then ketosis and/or ketones have crossed my path multiple times. And now I’m ready to start working with it. Since 4th of January I eat conform the Optimal Ketogenic Living (OKL). Well actually I started on January 1st, but due to poor preparation I only got the hang of it since January 4th. And I cheated already on day 3. My birthday is my excuse ?.
What is ketosis?
But first things first. I can imagine you are wondering what ketosis is. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body’s energy supply comes from ketones (metabolized from fat) in the blood, in contrast to a state of glycolysis in which blood sugar (glucose) provides energy. So ketosis is a result of metabolizing fat to provide energy instead of sugar. If your body could choose between glucose or ketones to supply energy; it would definitely go for glucose. Why? The metabolic process to create energy from glucose is much faster and takes less energy. Keep in mind your body can create energy directly from glucose. For ketosis your body first has to break fat into ketones, before it can turn ketones into energy. But if you want to loose weight, using ketones is better.
Next to weight loss, ketosis has many more benefits, according to diverse sources on the internet. Dr Josh Axe mentions fighting type 2 diabetes, protect against cancer and improve longevity. More general speaking: ketogenic diets may in fact help prevent chronic diseases that are caused by inflammation. Another benefit is the fact that your appetite is reduced on a ketogenic diet. Increased all-day-energy is mentioned, it diminishes brain fog and a state of overall well being is mentioned. Furthermore it will help control your blood sugar (no more cravings). All together it sounds truly interesting to me and you can say it does resonate at one point. I do believe in the physiology of the body and that food is medicine.
Our current level of food abundance hasn’t always been the case, actually it was more the other way around. And what is sold as food is most of the time stuffing and hardly contains any nutrients. So switching between glucose and ketones is completely natural for human bodies, but we hardly do it anymore.
On the other hand I still have some doubts. Again, our human body is able to create energy from glucose AND ketones. So I do not prefer one over another; we need both. But I am curious however what the metabolic flexibility of my body is. Metabolic flexibility meaning the body’s ability to burn either carbs or fat for fuel. How easily can my body shift between the different sources of fuel? I fear the withdrawal symptoms. Second, in almost all ketogenic diets that I read, it is mentioned to take additional supplements, like psyllium, magnesium, electrolytes etc. And personally I’m not fond of taking supplements. No science to back it up, it just feels like an unnecessary strain on my liver an/or gut and it can mess with the hormonal balance in my body.
And then there is the keto-flu. Not a real flu but experiencing the symptoms of the energy source-transition in your body. When you restrict carbohydrates, your body must learn how to burn fat, and in order to do so, changes happen from the cellular to hormonal level. For more information on keto-flu and the transition, read this blog.
Plant Paradox keto style diet
So with my doubts and keto-flu in mind and my firm believe in the natural physiology of my body, I decided to go for a ‘Plant Paradox Optimal Ketogenic Living’-style diet. This means eating healthy and fresh foods based on the Plant Paradox by dr Steven Gundry. AND keeping my macronutrients (proteins, fat and carbs) in line with the OKL-approach to prevent muscle breakdown and manage the natural balance of hormones. I’m part of a Dutch OKL-group on Facebook and there is an English speaking OKL-group as well, if you are interested.
I’m a bit stubborn in that sense that I will start without taking any additional supplements. If at one point my body signals it is deficient I will add some.
Why do I want to be in ketosis?
I can imagine you are wondering why on earth would I try this ketosis-thing? And the main reason is I’m curious. I’m very curious about the state of my metabolic flexibility. And who doesn’t want to experience increased energy, keto clarity, and a vibrant sense of well-being? I do!!! If I can loose some weight during the process I welcome that with all my heart and if you want to know how I’m holding up, read my weekly journal.
If you are not willing to change, don’t expect your life to either.
Do’s and don’ts
Found some intrinsic motivation as well? You might want to have a few pointers to get started. These are the ones that helped me:
- There are several ketogenic diets. Define your personal ambition and try to match one of the methods with your ambition. Feel free to adapt it a bit so it works out for you (I combined OKL with Plant Paradox)
- Know your macro’s! And find a tool that can support you in the beginning (I use the premium version of MyFitnessPal)
- Find a support group in real life or online. Use them for questions, in tough situations, for recipes etc.
- Prepare. Get already some insight in the nutritional value of food. Create some recipes that will work for you and stock up some basic food supplies.
- Buy or order keto strips in advance. With these strips you can measure in your urine if your body is creating ketones. Bare in mind that measuring ketone levels in urine only works for a few weeks. After 4 weeks it might be your body is fully adapted and ketone level in your urine drops, although your in ketosis. From that point you can start testing your blood, but I would recommend to rely on your body and yourself.
- Start! Just do it and you get the hang of it. My preparation was actually quiet poor, but because I had started I had to catch up.
- Plan your meals at least one day ahead. For me this really works. Knowing in advance that you have several delicious meals that day makes it so much easier. And yes, there are plenty of options to eat delicious meals.
- While planning your meal start with proteins first (try at least 30 gram a meal), than your carbs out of vegetables and greens and than fat.
- Use your common sense and feel what does and what doesn’t work for you; chicken is recommended, however chicken from Kentucky Fried Chicken isn’t the right choice…..
- Don’t obsess over your macro’s.
- Don’t obsess over your macro’s. Use them as a guideline.
- Don’t give in or up to fast. You can have some withdrawal symptoms or feel a lack of energy, but it will pass.
- Did I mention don’t obsess over your macro’s yet?