The first time I heard about the ketogenic diet is through a friend’s Instagram story. She posted a photo of her food with a caption saying that “Ketogenic diet is the best.” As I looked at the photo, I thought to myself, “There is no way that’s healthy or the right food to burn fat.” In the photo were some kind of pot roast with vegetables on the side, chicken salad, and pie (I found out later, after asking my friend that the pie is actually cauliflower shepherd's pie).
Back then, I was still beginning my fitness journey and I was struggling big time with my eating habits. It was so hard to eat in moderation and fast food’s hold on me was still very strong. So, when I saw my friend’s Instagram story, I was so intrigued. I mean, the food looks to-die-for! I asked my friend a few questions, but I did my own research as well. Now, it has been three months and I have never felt better. Before we proceed, I’m going to ask you to forget everything you know about fat and to keep an open mind. Today, I am going to give you a brief background on the ketogenic diet - what it is and what it does to the body as well as the tell-tale signs that you are in ketosis.
What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
Previously, I have written about the ketogenic diet here. If you have read my post about it, thank you; if not, let me help you understand how the ketogenic diet works.
Our bodies run on two sources of energy: sugar and fat. If a person is on the ketogenic or keto diet, his goal is to use only fat as his energy source. Meaning, he will be on a strict low-carb diet and no sugar. The goal is to completely get rid of the sugar in the body and tap fat that will come from what he eats or his body. The fats used will then enter the liver and be converted into ketones. From this point on, ketones will be the body’s fuel, hence the ketogenic diet. Once ketones become the body’s fuel, we reach ketosis and the body is basically a fat-burning machine.
What Is Ketosis?
Our body’s primary source of energy is glucose or sugar. It comes from sugar itself or starchy foods like rice, bread, and pasta. Our body is designed to break down these complex sugars into simple sugars to be used as energy or to be stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. Now, ketogenic is all about high fat, low-carb diet, so when there is not enough sugar to provide the body’s energy needs, the body will rely on fat for energy which will produce ketones. Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body converts the fat stored in the body or the fats keto dieters eat into energy.
Signs that You Are in Ketosis
- Your Breath Stinks
This is the easiest sign to notice if you ask me. Don’t worry, though, because this is a common side effect. Why, you ask? This is because of the elevated ketone levels, specifically acetone. Acetone is a ketone that exits from the body through urine and breath.
I know, I know, it’s not exactly something that will help boost your confidence, but trust me when I say that it is a good thing for your diet.to make up for this, I make sure I drink lots of water, brush my teeth several times a day, and I always make sure I have sugar-free mints or gum. Just make sure that your mint or gum is really sugar-free; check the label.
- You’re Losing Weight
Yay! This is an obvious sign that can occur as early as the first week. Don’t rejoice just yet, though, because this is not yet fat loss. This is just your stored carbs and water weight you are getting rid of.
The good news is, you can expect more weight loss when you start burning fat. Just make sure that you are sticking to the ketogenic diet for your body to remain in a calorie deficit.
- You Lose Your Appetite
I actually find this very strange. When I started going on the ketogenic diet, my cravings were significantly reduced. Moreover, I do not get hungry as much. I am not sure if this is because what I eat is yummy and satisfying.
Don’t get me wrong, I still get hungry, but not hangry, if you know what I mean. It turns out when you go on the ketogenic diet, the body does a better job of controlling the hunger hormones. How cool is that?
- You Experience Short-Term Fatigue
Before you enjoy the good stuff of the ketogenic diet, you will have to go through some tiny humps. At the beginning of your ketogenic diet, you might feel sick. This is called the “keto flu”. Fret not because this is only in the beginning because your body is still adapting to relying on fat for energy instead of sugar. This adjustment can take a few days or weeks.
Make sure that you are also drinking lotsa water because the body is releasing a lot of electrolytes through urine. Thirst is also another sign that you're in ketosis. This causes the keto flu as well.
- You’re More Focused and Energetic
Once your body is fully-adjusted, you will feel more focused because your brain uses ketones as fuel too. Ketones are an extremely potent source of fuel for our brains. You will also have more energy, so there is no excuse for you to skip the gym.
- You Find It Easy or Hard to “Go”
Going on the ketogenic diet means you will change the way you eat in a major way.
Therefore, you can expect diarrhea and constipation as common side effects when you reach full ketosis. If you’re lucky, you might not experience any of these.
- You Find It Hard to Sleep
Look at it this way, you are in withdrawal from carbs. Insomnia and sleep restlessness are common side effects when adapting to the ketogenic diet.
Remember that your body is getting rid of the carbs in your body and carbs make you feel sleepy. Yeah, that yawn that comes after you eat a huge plate of pasta is caused by the very same plate. This sign usually goes away after a few weeks. In fact, a lot of keto dieters ( myself included) have noticed how they need less sleep than before.
As easy as the ketogenic diet seems when it comes to the food we eat, before reaching full ketosis, we are still to face tiny hurdles. Once we overcome these hurdles, the reward is bigger than what we have had to conquer.