The Ketogenic Diet and Exogenous Ketones

I have been following more of a moderate macronutrient split lately but have received numerous questions about dropping that 15 pounds with a ketogenic diet.  I wanted to break down for everyone what a ketogenic diet entails, the difference between carbs and net carbs, and when I use exogenous ketones. I also am going to keep this simple and easy to digest.  If you are looking for a splitting atom/ under the microscope scientific description this is not it but will most definitely give you the gist of what keto is and how exogenous ketones can be used.

What is ketosis?

Ketosis is when your body has a consistently low amount of carbs, depletes liver glycogen and instead breaks down fat stores to use ketones as a fuel source. I know, I know, but Karey you train and you need carbs to train.  Yes to a point this is true.  This is also where prioritizing your goals would come into play.  My priority was to shed body fat.  While I wish I could simultaneously gain massive strength, have endless amounts of energy, and get shredded AF that isn’t likely going to happen in a caloric deficit while shedding body fat.  So I had to sacrifice some of the strength gains although I saw that even in ketosis I felt great in the gym- much better than when I have dieted in the past.

Keep in mind that your body’s preferred source of fuel is glucose but that it can use ketones as fuel. I did not change my caloric amounts during this time and did not notice a metabolic advantage to being in ketosis.  My rate of fat loss was typical and controlled which I enjoyed.  I worked too hard the past year and 1/2 to lose muscle by dieting recklessly.  What I did notice is that I felt full longer.  I didn’t have the rebound hunger that comes with having carbohydrates and the subsequent blood sugar spike and drop that can leave us craving more carbs.  My blood sugar was stable through the day and the extra dietary fat kept me full.

How do you know when you are in ketosis?

I used Ketostix.  After 48 hours, I used a Ketostix (found at your local pharmacy) to test my urine.  I saw that I was releasing ketones and then knew I was in ketosis. Testing for ketones in the blood is more accurate and you can purchase a testing device online (go Amazon) if you are interested in the utmost accurate way to check for ketones.  The Stix worked well for me.

Where should you set your protein and carbs for a ketogenic diet?

Here comes the confusion with net carbs, regular carbs, low carb etc.  You won’t go into ketosis just by going “low carb”.  True ketogenic diets are very low carb and less than 25 grams net carbs each day with lower protein.  High protein diets can kick your body out of ketosis. You can experiment with higher net carb and use the ketostix to see what ranges work best for you. I found I was in ketosis with lower protein than usual (90 grams) and at 50 grams carbs (30 grams net).  You could try for a higher carb amount 25- 50 grams net carbs and test with the Ketostix to determine.  After that, I noticed a difference in how I felt and would be able to tell if I was in ketosis.

Health Benefits of Ketogenic Diets

Energy production from ketones verse glucose produces less free radicals in your body.  These little guys are missing an electron in their outer shell making them unstable and causing them to steal electrons away from other cells causing a domino effect.  This can cause cell death and if the number of free radicals in your body increases to overwhelming amounts it can lead to significant tissue damage and a myriad of diseases as well as early aging. One of those diseases being cancer.

Ketogenic diets are an excellent way to starve cancer

Cancer feeds on sugar.  When your body is in ketosis, normal cells can use fatty acids for food but cancer cells cannot.  Therefore you can starve your cancer cells.

“Your normal cells have the metabolic flexibility to adapt from using glucose to using ketone bodies. But cancer cells lack this metabolic flexibility. So we can exploit that,” Dr. D’Agostino explained.

There are also benefits for Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson by adopting a ketogenic diet.

My Take on “Going Keto”

In my opinion, the vast majority of people can get amazing results without using a ketogenic diet.  Some may try it and love the clarity, the brain function, and the satiety and prefer to continue.  Some may be avoiding their favorite foods and feel unable to sustain this long term.  In my opinion, since I am frequently hungry even when I have great macros this was a wonderful solution for me to feel less deprived and have longer periods between meals which kept my overall calories down.

Exogenous Ketones

These sweet little fellas can kick your body into ketosis in a very short period verse the time it takes to become keto adapted which can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.  Often you’ll feel a slew of symptoms that have been dubbed the “keto flu” until your body adapts to using ketones as fuel. Symptoms can range from nothing at all to feeling like you have the full blown flu. There is a correlation between your previous diet (if it was more in line with the keto diet there are fewer symptoms) to the degree of symptoms you feel during induction.

For my specific purposes as a competitor and athlete, it gave me mental relief to have carbohydrates on the weekends plus it helped to carb up to hit up my training session on Monday for legs.  When I would return into ketosis, I used the exogenous ketones to get me there faster.  There is also some reason to believe that using exogenous ketones before cardio helps your body burn more fatty acids during the session, so a suggested use of them is also before cardiovascular activity to maximize fat burn. I have done this and personally have not noticed a metabolic advantage or a performance advantage, but it may be too soon to tell.  I want to experiment with this over a longer period.

The conclusion of a four-week trial of exogenous ketones in rats showed that they were effective at reducing weight gain as it caused the rats to consume less food overall, therefore, having an appetite suppressing effect.  I have noticed a decrease in appetite after using exogenous ketones and that helped me greatly as one of my biggest obstacles is hunger while dieting.

If you need help selecting exogenous ketones, feel free to reach out to me, and I can give you ideas and suggestions! You can email me personally at [email protected].

I loved the benefits of keto but since it is not my preferred way of eating, will likely only use it strategically during dieting as well as from time to time for the health benefits but not long-term.  I do recommend trying ketosis even though you may be thinking “I couldn’t live without carbs!” this Italian is here to tell you it is very possible.

Don’t hesitate to check out this article on Man vs Weight for more information. Click HERE.

Health is wealth! 


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