If you are considering starting a low carbohydrate, high fat diet such as the Keto Diet then you have most likely heard about this word “Ketosis” which is quite commonly associated with this kind of diet or way of eating as it is called within most Keto communities. Keto is a very popular way of eating for many people these days as it claims to have great weight loss results simply by reducing the amount of carbohydrates you eat and increasing your fat intake. But what is behind it? What happens to your body whey you eat this way? This article will explain exactly what Ketosis is and also uncover 5 of the signs that you are in Ketosis. So let’s begin.
What exactly is Ketosis?
Ketosis is the state that the body is in when it no longer burns glucose as fuel. Instead, the body will burn fat as its primary source of fuel. The state of Ketosis is commonly associated with fasting or by following a very strict low carbohydrate diet. Ketosis is very beneficial for weight loss as once the body starts to burn fat as fuel any excess fat the body is storing will soon get depleted.
So how do you know that you have entered the state of ketosis? This is an interesting question and something that many people who follow a strict low carb diet are constantly struggling to understand. The reason for this is that there is such a fine balance and it is so easy to fluctuate based on your level of carbohydrate intake. Each person is different so the result will vary. There are devices such as a blood ketone meter, breath ketone analyser or urine strips than can be used to measure the ketone levels within your body but in addition to this you should also be able to tell by the way your body is acting and highlighted below are typically 5 signs that you have entered ketosis.
1) Raging thirst and a dry mouth
One of the first thing you will notice is that you will become much more thirsty and experience an almost constantly dry mouth. This is quite normal because in your previous state (ie: before ketosis) your cells were using glucose for energy which is stored in the muscles as glycogen. Glycogen also tends to retain a lot of water therefore remove the glucose from your body and you also remove a lot of the retained water. So you will of course need to drink much more water to stabilize this state. However, it is only a temporary state until your body stabilizes although you should continue to drink water regularly as part of your daily routine anyway.
2) Regular trips to the bathroom
As mentioned above the body will start to get rid of water once you start burning fat and the only place for that water to go is to your bladder so consequently you’ll find yourself heading to the bathroom on a much more regular basis. This coupled with the fact that you will also be consuming an increased level of water so it may be useful to stay within a reasonable distance to a bathroom during the first few weeks.
3) Foul smelling breath
Another thing you will notice is that your breath may start to smell differently or you feel an odd taste in your mouth This is also quite normal because as the body starts to burn fat it will convert it to ketones and the body will then start to release the ketones through either the breath or it could also be released through your sweat. The smell has been likened to nail polish remover or fruit but do not worry, this is a temporary phase until your body adjusts, it should go away after a couple of weeks. You can counter act this by ensuring you drink plenty of water, applying good oral hygiene, clean your teeth regularly, use a strong mouthwash . It is also recommended to eat fresh parsley which is known to eliminate bad breath. Alternatively you can use chewing gum or a mouth spray to help.
4) Less Appetite
Decreased hunger is another good sign that your body may have entered Ketosis. This may be caused by the body starting to use its own fat stores for fuel. Plus once you start to eat real food such as fatty meat and vegetables the body will start to feel fuller for longer and be more satiated.
5) Increased Energy
Initially once starting a low carbohydrate, high fat diet your body may enter into what is known as “keto flu” which is a period where your body is adjusting from burning sugar to fat as its main energy source. This period has been likened to flu like symptoms and can be quite unpleasant. Basically you will start to have very little energy, experience headaches, nausea, muscle cramps to name a few. But again this is temporary and it doesn’t happen to everyone, it didn’t happen to me for example (although it did happen many years ago when I tried the Atkins Diet). But eventually you will start to experience much better energy levels, in fact people have reported feelings of euphoria and this is a sure sign that you may have entered ketosis.
Need a second opinion?
If you are feeling all the signs listed above but want a second opinion then there are a three ways that you can test for ketone levels in your body.
Urine Strips The cheapest and easiest way to test ketone levels. Basically you pee onto one of the paper strips and match the resulting colour with a chart that is usually contained within the packet. The colour of your strip will determine the level of ketosis that you are in.
Breath Testing Meter – The breath testing meter measures the level of ketones present in your breath. It is more expensive than the Urine Strips but will provide a more accurate result.
Blood Ketone Meter – This is the most accurate method and will give you an exact reading of the amount of ketones currently in your blood at the time of testing. It is however quite an expensive device
The Bottom Line
I hope you found this article informative and that it has answered some of the questions you may have had regarding ketosis. Basically if you following a low carb or ketogenic diet you should automatically be in some form of ketosis and if you are feeling some if not all the signs mentioned in this article then you are on the right track.
However, it is recommended to monitor the ketone levels using any of the devices mentioned above on a regular basis to give you the additional piece of mind although if you are ultimately happy with the way things are going and you are losing weight or have reached your goal and are stable then it is not necessary to worry too much about your levels, personally I am not checking regularly, initially yes but these days I don’t check.
If would be great to hear your experiences with ketosis and what works for you so if you have the time please leave a comment below, similarly if you have any questions I would be more than happy to help you answer them.
All the best,