Or the ketogenic diet for dummies…..
Ketogenic diets (around 50 grams of carbs per day) are extremely effective for getting lean because you reset the body’s enzymatic machinery to use fat as its primary fuel source in the absence of carbs. I see three problems with your diet that are certainly causing your fat-loss plateau—too much protein, not enough good fat, and residual carbohydrates.
To break your plateau, pump up the fat in your diet to about 50% of your total daily calories and reduce the protein to 30%–40%. The rest of your calories will come from vegetables.
Traditionally, bodybuilders opt to get their protein from tuna and lean meats such as chicken breast. However, on a diet like this, you should switch to darker meats and oily fish. Eating salmon, chicken thighs, lamb, and lean beef allows you to get your protein and fat in one source.
The last issue is your consumption of “residual” carbohydrates—the carbs you’re not even aware you’re eating, like those in nuts and meal-replacement shakes. It’s OK to have some nuts, but you should rely more on other fat sources that are carb-free like oils.
Ketosis is a state at which the body has an extremely high fat-burning rate. Even the brain runs on fat, via ketone bodies. These are energy molecules in the blood (like blood sugar) which become fuel for our brains after being converted from fat by the liver.
To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s basically proof that your insulin is very low – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.
Now, if you are just a little bit like me, and think all this theory sounds good but would like to know how it is/feels in practice, I am going to start a weekly experiment to make sure I really follow the ketogenic diet correctly. Because we often think we do everything perfectly, but when reading actual numbers, it will be impossible to “cheat”, so to speak, I’ll know exactly if I’m doing it right.
How does one mesure ketones? Well today, there are gadgets available for measuring ketone levels at home. One needle prick of the finger, and in just a few seconds you’ll know your blood ketone level. just like glucose levels for diabetics.
Blood ketones are best measured on a fasted stomach in the morning (before breakfast, that is). Here are a few pointers on how to interpret the result:
- Below 0.5 mmol/L is not considered “ketosis”. At this level, you’re far away from maximum fat-burning.
- Between 0.5-1.5 mmol/L is light nutritional ketosis. You’ll be getting a good effect on your weight, but not optimal.
- Around 1.5 – 3 mmol/L is what’s called optimal ketosis and is recommended for maximum weight loss.
- Values of over 3 mmol/L aren’t neccessary. That is, they will achieve neither better nor worse results than being at the 1.5-3 level. Higher values can also sometimes mean that you’re not getting enough food. For type 1 diabetics, it can be caused by a severe lack of insulin, see below.
So I got the gadget and will start measuring my ketones levels to make sure I do the real “low carb” diet.
So who needs one of these gadgets? Perhaps nobody. Obviously it’s easy to eat without it. This is for curious nerds (like me) and for those who want definite proof that they are eating so little carbs that insulin levels are low and fat burning is maximized.
What do you think? Ready to follow this experiment with me?