Episode 033: What is Ketosis & Is It Right For You?

Apr 9, 2015

In today’s episode we are talking about ketosis. We answer the common question “what is ketosis”, how it works, the major myths & misconceptions and common ways people mess it up. We go into detail on how you can find your sweet spot with the right amount of protein and carbs for your body to get in and stay in ketosis. We’ll cover the advantages and disadvantages as well as the types of people who probably shouldn’t try it.

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There’s no question that carbohydrates are one of the big rocks of fat loss but that does not mean you need to go no carb or even low carb to burn fat. It truly is about smart carb strategies. If you have questions about carbs & fat loss I think it would really help you out to read about the carbs & fat loss course. This course teaches effective and sustainable carb strategies for fat loss without extremes like ketosis.

The Myths:

Many people believe that a low carb diet is a ketogenic diet or that paleo and primal diets are ketogenic. That is not true. There are 4 things you need in order to get your body into ketosis:

  • Calorie deficit
  • Very low carb (20-70g/day) and that INCLUDES carbs coming from any vegetable (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc)
  • Moderate/low protein – a ketogenic diet is not a high protein diet
  • High fat (a ketogenic diet is not a low calorie diet. That would be starvation)

REPEAT: it is not a low calorie diet. In fact, its often the opposite. When people count calories here they tend to really throw themselves off. You can eat a much higher calorie diet and still be in a calorie deficit with ketosis because your body is efficiently burning high octane fuel.

Your body has a very, very different response when you crash diet and cut carbs AND calories versus when you cut carbs, keep calories high enough and create hormonal balance. Let me explain that a bit so none of you get the idea to cut carbs & protein without significantly increasing your fat intake.

If your body gets alarmed that fuel is too scarce, it will break down muscle tissue for glucose and resist burning fat because it wants to conserve that very high energy fuel reserve. If you create a mild calorie deficit and consume a moderate amount of protein that the body can use for gluconeogenesis without having to tap into your muscle for that protein, your body will generate ketones from fat you eat and stored fat without burning your precious, metabolically active muscle tissue.

Another major myth is that ketosis is dangerous. For most people that is not true. This myth comes from two major misconceptions:

  1. That ketosis is a low calorie starvation diet
  2. That ketosis is the same as, or leads to, ketoacidosis which is totally not true at all

Let’s talk for a second about what ketoacidosis is and why it is isn’t even a remote concern for most of us.

When diabetics don’t get enough insulin, their bodies think they are starving. The body thinks there is no glucose available (there is, it just can’t get to the cells because of the lack of insulin or lack of response to insulin) so they burn fat instead. Ketone production goes into overdrive . Here’s the problem: they aren’t low on glucose. They actually have an excess of glucose. It just can’t get out of the blood stream. But the body can’t stop making ketones. When the blood ketones reach about 20 millimolars, the patient can get very sick and go into a coma. Ketoacidosis. It is very dangerous but it is really only applicable to type 1 diabetics and insulin dependent type 2 diabetics and is very rare even in both of those.

Ketoacidosis is not possible in other people because as we produce insulin, the body can’t over produce ketones. Insulin turns off ketone production.

The Facts:

Some cells in your body require glucose to function but I want you to understand that does not mean you need to eat sugar for health. Our bodies, being incredibly efficient, can manufacture glucose from protein. Why do we have this ability? Because our paleo ancestors didn’t routinely have access to carbs (only seasonal fruits). The body manufactures glucose from protein with the help of fat. Fat helps to fuel a process in the liver called gluconeogenesis – or generating glucose by breaking down protein

Ketosis looks different for everyone. Your total amount of carbs to get you into ketosis will vary. The more insulin resistant or metabolically imbalanced you are, the fewer carbs you can eat and get into ketosis. The same is true of protein. If you are more insulin resistant, you’ll have to eat less protein to get into ketosis. Everyone will be different. Some will find they can only eat 20-30g carbs to get and stay in ketosis while others will be able to eat 60-100g. Protein is the same way. Some will find they can only eat 6-8 oz protein per day. Others will find they can eat 8-12 oz and be in ketosis. People who have struggled with their weight or struggled with carb sensitivity will be on the lower end of both spectrums. And just to give you an idea of what 20g of carbs per day looks like – that’s 2 cups of Brussels sprouts and 4 cherry tomatoes. Seriously.

Common reasons people can’t get in ketosis:

  • Too many carbs
  • Too much protein
  • Too many calories
  • Not enough fat
  • Too few calories

Practical Implementation:

  • Don’t adopt any strategy that (for you) is a short term strategy
  • Make sure you are eating foods you love
  • If you want to give ketosis a try, work to identify your carb tolerance by starting at 20g per day total. This includes carbs coming from non-starchy vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower. Use the same process to identify your protein tolerance. Make sure to eat ample fat! Do not go on a starvation diet!

Sources of Fat to Emphasize:

  • Grass fed butter
  • Avocado
  • Coconut
  • MCT oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fatty fish (ideally wild caught)
  • Fatty meat (ideally grass fed)
  • Macadamia nuts


Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore
Perfecting Paleo by Ashley Tudor
Carb Strategies for Fat Loss

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