Ketosis - Is it good or bad for you?
I've been asked many times my thoughts on Ketosis, whether I think it's good for fat loss, whether I have tried it myself, what it actually is... the list is endless! I had a recent question on Instagram about it and it spurred me on to create this blog post to actually let people know what it is, why people do it and to help people understand it's pro's and con's!
So what is Ketosis?
Firstly it should be worth pointing out that the primary source of energy for our body is Glucose - which is found in carbohydrate. This is then stored as glycogen, to be used as glucose later on when you need it. When you have not had enough Glucose, or you have used up all your glycogen stores, your body starts to burn fat instead as its alternative energy source. It takes the fat stores and the liver breaks them down to make glucose, in which elements known as ketones are created. Once these ketones are formed, your body can use these as alternative fuel. So essentially it is a normal metabolic process!
You can however put your body in this state, which is the state of ketosis that I am referring to in the blog. The ketogenic diet is a way of eating to ensure that your body goes into this state and burns your fat away!
How do I do this?
To get into the state of ketosis, you have to cut out your carbs... to around 20g! By carbs I don't just mean the commonly known bread, pasta, rice and potato. I mean everything... fruit, yoghurt, sweets, chocolate; even vegetables are carbs! So you really need to be looking at your food labels and calculating everything you eat by weighing your food and using a tracker like Myfitnesspal.
It really is not easy to ensure that you get that little carbs, but if you want to do it, follow it correctly. If you do not follow the exact amount of carbs and truly cut them out, you will not fall into ketosis!
Make sure when you are following ketosis, you have a high fat and high protein diet, to ensure you are getting enough calories. You don't want to enter starvation mode!
You can measure how far into ketosis you are with urine strips. These will change to the correct colour that states you are in ketosis. There are also other methods such as blood tests and breath tests, but essentially - If you are following the diet accurately, it should be working!
So is it good or bad for you?
There are pro's and con's to every diet and this is no exception! Lets talk about the pro's first!
- It works. If you do it correctly, it will successfully burn your fat stores!
- As the diet is high in protein, you will feel less hungry!
- Your blood sugar will become stabilised!
- Studies suggest it can improve cholesterol and blood pressure!
- It has been linked with less migraines and stomach pains for some.
However - the con's:
- It can be unhealthy when used for long periods of time!
- According to some studies, you can lose muscle over a long period of time on the diet!
- You can become extremely fatigued, feel as though you can't concentrate well and be a bit grumpy!
- If you don't consume enough calories your body may start storing fat to survive (starvation mode)!
- If ketones build up, high levels can cause dehydration and chemical changes to the blood.
Have I tried it?
Yes I have.
Did I like it, no!
I always try things in order to recommend, share knowledge and answer questions honestly. I feel how can I advise someone if I have not been in that state! I tried it despite not having much fat on me, just to see what the effect on my brain functioning was as I find that this is not commonly talked about.
Honest opinion - whilst I was less bloated than usual, and although I got to eat all the yummy fats that I love... it turned me into a dragon. I was grumpy, not myself, I couldn't think straight, I couldn't concentrate, I was unbelievably tired, and couldn't carry on!
Now I must note; I may have had these serious effects due to my low body fat % as the body was trying to burn fat however I barely had any (about 13% body fat at the time). This may be why I felt so rubbish and had I have had more fat to burn I may have seen better effects!
So should you try it? Well I am a massive advocate for trying things out and to see what I like and don't like. So my advice is, if you are curious then yes give it a go. If you follow it properly it will be safe and effective and you should see fat loss results. Just be ready to commit to no carbs and the occasional grumpy moment!