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Is the ketogenic diet the best? Do you have to be in ketosis all the time? These questions are relevant for dissecting the 3 stages of the ketogenic diet.
The more I learn about ketosis and the ketogenic diet, the more I am amazed by its effectiveness for general health, cognition and physical performance. It's really one of those optimal human diets because it not only keeps you healthy, but also puts you in that post-optimal state where your body can create its own fuel without calories.
Although I could happily eat the ketogenic diet for the rest of my life, because you always feel amazing – and the food is also delicious – I recommend you dive into ketosis from time to time.
I will share with you the 3 stages of the ketogenic diet to follow.
The reasons for this are multiple – not because it is unhealthy or to voluntarily return to the chore of keto seizure – but to increase metabolic flexibility and improve diversity in the microbiome.
People go on a ketogenic diet for a lot of reasons – to lose fat, fight diabetes, improve their health or eat bacon – but healthy people who just want to live a ketone life have to follow certain stages of their journey. ketosis.
The primary goal of the ketogenic diet is to maintain nutritional ketosis for most of the time – from being in that state of burning fat where you burn the body, ketones and ketones into your bloodstream. This energy can come either from the intake of dietary fat or directly from adipose tissue when you have a calorie deficit.
- If you are doing the keto because of diabetes, you should pay special attention because irregular highs and lows of insulin can make your condition worse. That's why therapeutic ketosis is so effective: it allows your body to heal faster. High blood sugar levels will increase insulin, which will make your cells more susceptible to insulin resistance and store the food you consume. In some cases, a long-term keto or prolonged fasting can reverse insulin resistance and heal diabetes much. It is even used to treat cancer patients, tumor growth and neurodegenerative diseases.
- If, however, you do not have a serious medical problem, you do not have to be as strict as ever because your metabolism is more robust. Of course, you can not eat a lot of carbohydrates and stay in ketosis, but you will not have serious consequences for your health if you eat like 20 grams of carbohydrates and more. If you're not good at keto, you may feel a bit tired or tired the next day, but it's only temporary.
Whatever the case may be, you want to first establish a nutritional ketosis and maintain it if you were to follow a ketogenic diet both in the long term and in the short term.
It is at this stage that you cleanse your liver of glycogen and teach your body to use ketones as fuel.
- When liver glycogen becomes low, the liver starts producing ketones as a new source of energy. Because your body realizes that there is no fuel available, it will become self-sufficient and begin to convert all the triglycerides stored in your adipose tissue into energy. There are 100 to 150 grams of glycogen in the liver, so it takes about 16 to 24 hours of fasting to act.
- Muscle glycogen stores are considerably larger because they can deposit 300 to 500 grams of glycogen. You do not need to use muscle glycogen to contract ketosis because you only use this type of fuel for a very intense and arduous physical activity that is harmful to the anaerobic respiratory system. Things like resistance training, HIIT cardio, sprinting or cardio in the state of balance for very long hours.
Falling into ketosis will be fatal at first because your muscles are not yet used to using fat to get energy.
At this point, you want to be very strict with the foods you eat, because any hiccups or hidden sugar will have a much bigger effect on you.
- Keep carbohydrates around 20-30 g NET – The less carbs you consume, the faster you can contract ketosis. This gives your liver more opportunities to convert ketones.
- Do not be in caloric deficit – It will make you more tired and may cause more muscle loss. You should simply eat for a few days during maintenance to allow your body to get used to it.
- Eat enough protein and fat – You need amino acids and essential fats to preserve lean tissue and promote fat burning. Ketones spare muscles, but only if you are able to use them. During the adaptation, you want to maintain a stable intake of nutrients, but you are not too affected by fasting or caloric restriction.
- To avoid the keto-flu, consume more sodium, drink bone broth, bouillon cubes and reduce your stress level. Getting enough potassium and magnesium is also crucial because you may be suffering from electrolyte imbalances. Once you stop eating carbohydrates, you risk excreting more water and thus losing those micronutrients. To avoid this, add more salt to your food, drink mineral water and eat nutrient-rich foods such as spinach, broccoli, eggs, salmon, pumpkin seeds and avocados.
- Do the fasting less intermittent – in the beginning, your body will be more stressed than necessary. Do not stay longer than 16 hours when you first fit, because your body is not used to long periods of abstinence.
This is the main problem of the burning metabolism of sugar. Once your glycogen stores are exhausted and you still need energy, your body will begin to look for more glucose. You can burn fat, but not at most, because you can also excrete ketones in the urine.
What is the second thing after carbs that can produce glucose? Yes – protein by gluconeogenesis.
So, In caloric restriction or exercise of the burning metabolism of sugar, you start to convert your muscles, organs and lean tissues into glucose while preserving most of your fat reserves. If this is done over a long period, it will lead to the syndrome of lean fat.
And when you look at the average person who is exercising at the gym or cardio training, she does not look fit, she still has fat or puffiness without that crisp and dense appearance. The reason is – they burn sugar and muscle not fat for fuel. That's why you want to get ketosis as quickly as possible.
To fall into ketosis, you can fast for about 3 days or eat less carbohydrates for about 2 weeks.
When you leave a diet that does not restrict your carbohydrate intake, you have slightly higher gluconeogenesis levels. And once you stop eating food, the energy they need will be drawn from your lean tissues and organs. This comes largely from fat, because fat can also be converted to glucose through the same process of gluconeogenesis, but a significant amount will still be the conversion of your protein into glucose.
- If you want your fast to become ketosis faster, you must start by exhausting your liver glycogen by consuming very little carbohydrate for a few days.. You do not need to consume more than 100 to 150 grams of carbohydrates a day, even if you follow a normal diet, because that's the amount that your liver can deposit. If you are not physically active, your muscle glycogen will remain stable. This will improve your body's ability to cope with the lack of glucose and help you better use ketones as fuel.
Whichever method of treatment is chosen, it usually takes about 2 weeks to see the first signs of a successful ketosis.
The state of ketosis begins at 0.5 mmol, which corresponds to less than 80 mg / dls of blood glucose. If you do not feel hypoglycemic after having eaten nothing for more than 20 hours, you probably burn these ketones as fuel.
This brings us to the second stage of the ketogenic diet.
When the first few weeks were spent looking for nutritional ketosis, the second stage of the ketogenic diet is to become keto-adapted.
You may have heard these words being launched, but what do they really mean? They are not mutually inclusive and they have certain distinctions. Some people may disagree with me on this, which is good because what matters is that these are different conditions. Here's how I define both.
- Being in ketosis is the actual metabolic state with the appropriate levels of blood sugar and ketone bodies of 0.5 mMol and more. You can have mild ketosis after fasting for 24 hours, but that does not mean that you are using fat and ketones as fuel.
- Keto Adaptation is the process by which your body adapts to the use of fat and ketones as the primary source of energy. This means that you do not need glucose to produce ATP and you can eat dietary fat or burn your body fat.
Keto adaptation results from nutritional ketosis, but is not necessary to maintain it.
You have to go through a period during which the enzymes and metabolic processes in your liver change to allow you to burn fat for fuel.
The goal of this step is to build your fat burning engine by continuing to eat ketogenic diet and incorporating more exercise.
During the first weeks of trying to develop a ketosis, your physical performance could suffer because of this small energy crisis.
- Intense exercise such as lifting weights, sprinting or enduring long hours will deplete your muscle glycogen.. You do not need carbs to replenish muscle glycogen stores, but you may not be able to do so for the first few weeks. Afterwards, you will be able to act as well at high intensity as when you eat carbohydrates
- Low intensity aerobic activities only burn fat as fuel. It is there that the ketogenic diet is superior to everything else. If you are keto-ready, you will still have access to your body fat and you will not need to eat carbohydrates or sports drinks.
Before you begin to adapt to the keto, you need to focus more on low-intensity activities while incorporating resistance training for other health benefits.
Once you feel good about keto, you need to incorporate these two training modalities – aerobic and anaerobic energy systems for increased mitochondrial density.
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What I recommend is resistance training 3-4 times a week and 2 sessions of steady state cardio with 1 day of rest and active recovery, where you will go for a walk, roll some foam or go to the sauna or ice bath.
Where people make a mistake is the intensity with which they do cardio. They think that the more they push themselves, the better they manage. This may work in some cases, but doing cardio anaerobically for too long is not ideal.
This is called Black hole formation.
It's a nightmarish exercise zone somewhere between a piece of cake and a Navy SEAL workout. The pace is vigorous but not painful, which is nice for your mind. You get an endorphin rush, which makes you think I will do a good workout but it's always stressful for the body.
Basically, the black hole is a heart rate zone that slightly exceeds your aerobic capacity.
Once you can not hold a conversation and you have to breathe through your mouth, you use more glycogen and less fat to refuel. For a few minutes, it's good, but most people never run to 10. They are stuck in running because of the adrenaline rush and can easily empty their glycogen reservoir. Once this happens, the body still needs glucose to function at such an intensity. As a result, he begins to break down the protein.
- Increases cortisol, a stress hormone that, if raised too long, can cause adrenal fatigue and prevents you from getting ketosis
- Causes systemic inflammation by gluconeogenesis (sugar protein).
- Induces oxidative stress and damage because the burning of carbohydrates causes the accumulation of advanced glycolytic end products (AGEs).
- Tears your joints and causes aches and pains caused by repetitive movements for long periods of time, especially if you hit the road. Most people have a horrible race form and they simply hit the ground because of perceived fatigue.
Doing cardio for more than 30 minutes means you should stay aerobic most of the time. This is when your heart rate is below 60-70% of your VO2 max. At this intensity, you use fat and not glucose as fuel.
Becoming completely keto-adapted takes more than several months. You must really burn these fat burning pathways in your metabolism to get the maximum benefit.
In general, the longer the ketogenic diet, the easier it becomes.
However, the strategic use of carbohydrates will not only improve your performance, but your overall health.
There are a few reasons why you should sometimes get out of the ketosis.
- Some people suffer from hormonal imbalances, such as a drop in thyroid or testosterone
- Your energy level may also suffer from time to time due to overtraining or excessive stress
- The low mucosal production of the ketogenic diet will prevent your body from creating enough mucus that surrounds and hydrates your gut and your eyes.
- Some carbohydrate foods can promote bowel health by increasing the diversity of your microbiome.
- Carbohydrates can be used to improve your performance during training, but they can also be used to sleep better
- Eating carbohydrates according to the seasons will be better suited to circadian rhythms and your own genetic model
- And of course, it's good to sometimes eat foods that are not bacon and eggs or vegetables
But do not worry, getting fired from ketosis does not mean you will lose your keto-adaptation. You can still burn fat efficiently for fuel. It's just that you will gain some of the other benefits of metabolic flexibility.
As I said, it is not necessary to maintain nutritional ketosis 24 hours a day to be adapted to the keto. You do not risk falling into ketosis by eating keto for a day, or losing your fat burning metabolism by getting rid of ketosis from time to time. The body tries to maintain homeostasis and not undergo random changes all the time.
This is the stage that you want to achieve with your ketogenic diet.
Metabolic flexibility is the successful use of different fuel sources and a functioning microbiome.
Most of the time, you may want to live with ketosis because it will maintain your keto-adaptation, but it can make you vulnerable to some foods that are not keto-proof.
For example, if you've had ketosis for months and you accidentally eat gluten or even potatoes, you'll feel like shit the next day. Of course, the best solution would be not to eat these foods in the first place and stay in the keto, but it will still weaken you in the face of these random changes.
A better option would be to use these carbs to improve performance while maintaining your keto adaptation.
This is what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls "ANTIFRAGILITY" – it's about getting better in the face of stressors and chaotic events.
- A fragile metabolism would make you vulnerable to fatigue, muscle loss and brain fog – this is basically the description of a medium sugar burner in a high carbohydrate diet, but would therefore be a strict keto.
- A robust metabolism would not be affected by drastic fluctuations in macronutrient intake, but they would not benefit either. Think of a semi-high carbohydrate diet with maybe 200 grams of carbs a day. You are not ketotic or fit for keto, but you will not feel any significant difference between eating a ton of carbohydrates or fat.
- An antifragile metabolism would greatly benefit from the fuel source to which it would have access – fatty acids and ketones, carbohydrates and glucose – and would thrive in a state of zero caloric absorption. That's where you want to go.
The increase in metabolic flexibility should begin with the first keto adaptation.
- The ketogenic diet forms the basis of an anti-fragile nutrition strategy. because you must be able to burn fat as fuel.
- With a high carbohydrate diet without keto adaptation, you can not burn glucose without using ketones. But you want to have both for optimal performance
- Incorporate both aerobic and anaerobic training is also necessary. The goal of your exercise should be to increase mitochondrial density – the ability of your cells to generate energy, whether from ketones or carbohydrates.
To improve your body's ability to burn carbohydrates and ketones as fuel, you can do the following:
- Eat a small dose of carbohydrates during your intense workouts. It is the targeted ketogenic diet (TKD), in which you have maybe 5 to 10 grams of very glycemic carbs with MCT oil and protein. It's better for exercises like powerlifting, gymnastics, bodybuilding or some sports.
- Eat more carbohydrates on days when you train harder. That's what's called the "backloading" carbohydrate, where you eat little carbohydrate all day long, then go to the gym to do a glycogen depletion workout muscle, then have dinner with some extra carbohydrates such as a sweet potato or a little rice. The number of carbohydrates you consume on your back depends on your muscle mass, the hardness of your training and whether or not you try to gain weight or burn fat.
- The cyclic ketogenic diet involves eating keto for the week and the weekend having a day where you eat a lot of carbs. It works best for athletes preparing for an event. For most people, it can cause gloom the next day because you can eat more than 500 grams of carbohydrates.
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But there are other ways to improve metabolic flexibility. Not for the purpose of improving performance, but for intestinal diversity.
Your gut is populated with billions of bacteria that all affect your mood, how your body metabolizes certain nutrients and how you feel.
That's why some people do better than others on the keto: some genes make you metabolize fat better than APOE4. If your heritage is equatorial, you will do better with more carbohydrates because you carry the DNA of your ancestors in your microbiome. Northerners tend to have better performance with more fat and protein.
However, the ketogenic diet may be suitable for everyone because when you are in ketosis, you change the expression of your genes. Epigenetics means that some genes are expressed only when you trigger them. But for optimal intestinal health, you still want to promote intestinal diversity. What does it mean?
- When on keto, make sure you consume enough fiber – about 30 grams a day. Do not inspire healthy vegetables and leafy vegetables to stay in ketosis. Your salads must be massive with a variety of colors and greens. I eat like a big bowl every day and if you add sea salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil, the taste will be amazing – so good and super healthy.
- Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi and small amounts of raw kefir. There are different types of fermentation that you can do, like your own tomato-onion sauce with carrots, or even fermented garlic with peppers or whatever else you might find.
- I also like to include apple cider vinegar every day. It has no direct probiotic properties, but it can fight against other bad bacteria and viruses that can inhabit your gut, such as candida, etc. Just drink a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar mixed with warm lemon water and your intestines will be greatly appreciated.
- Take a probiotic supplement and eat prebiotic foodslike garlic, onions and asparagus. Everyone should take a probiotic, I think, because that will ensure you get the full spectrum of microbes. However, to be sure, you can also get an intestinal panel and see which ones you need most.
- Include resistant starch – Resistant starch is a type of starch that is not completely decomposed or absorbed, but is converted to short chain fatty acids (SCFA) by bacteria. SCFAs improve blood circulation in the colon, help you lose weight, increase the circulation of nutrients in the body, inhibit the growth of pathogens and help you sleep better. Foods rich in resistant starch include green bananas, beans, legumes and potato starch. Cooking and cooling white potatoes or rice will also increase the amount of resistant starch that they contain. You cook them the day before and leave them in the fridge to be eaten the next night. Of course, you do not want to eat them on days when you are trying to suffer from deep ketosis, but the more difficult exercise days there is nothing detrimental to eating a little more of these foods. You have to test and experiment a lot to see how your body reacts.
- Consuming butyric acid will also improve your digestion and intestinal health. Butyric acid is a short-chain saturated fatty acid found in butter, ghee, raw milk and animal fats. Fermentation of carbohydrates and fiber in the intestine also creates butyric acid. It is a great way to heal cells in the intestines and is the preferred fuel source for cells lining the inside of the large intestine or colon.
- Eat gluten, peanuts, soy, legumes or dairy products. If you are a healthy person who does not show any particular intolerance to these allergens, but simply chooses to avoid them, you should still eat them from time to time. You do not want to develop allergies just because your gut is not able to handle them. Strict vegans, strictly paleo or keto people can have severe allergic reactions even to low gluten exposure. Again – you can avoid it in your food for as long as you want, but you can not completely protect yourself from the gluten that floats in the air particles, in the conditioners, hand creams and birthday parties. However, if you have a serious autoimmune condition, you certainly will not want to, because even a simple craze for bread or cake can make your disease worse for months to come. So, again – do tests in advance, do the experiment and try new things.
There is the danger of adopting extreme ideologies, be it the low carbohydrate ketogenic diet or the high carbohydrate vegan diet.
I am not a doctor and I can not tell you what you should eat because science is constantly learning new things about nutrition. I discover new things every day, and then I try it.
The ketogenic diet has several purposes, but you must always remember why you do it. You probably do not do it just to lose weight or eat bacon – you do it to be healthy and feel amazing. Keto is ideal for this, but you should always follow these steps in order to create optimal health and metabolic flexibility.
If you disagree with me, go ahead, but I'm not going to be dogmatic about any diet or program – I'm constantly trying to learn new things and try them out. And all I do here is share my results and give you advice.
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