Just thought I would send some information along about ketones, what they are, how they are produced in the body, why we should care about them, how to increase ketone production in your body, how they are measured, and how we should deal with them mentally.
Let’s get started.
What are ketones? Where do they come from?
Ketones, or ketone bodies as they are known chemically are water-soluble molecules that are produced by the liver from fatty molecules when we are on a carbohydrate reduced diet, like the lifestyle suggested in the keto world.
This breakdown of fatty acids into ketones is a natural occurrence in everyone’s bodies. If you are not in a keto lifestyle, then your body will use insulin, glucagon, and other hormones to ensure that the ketone level doesn’t get too high.
But remember, the goal of ketosis is to get your body into the state of using ketones for energy. Since ketones are produced from the break down of fatty molecules, it is actually a healthy way to reduce body fat. By decreasing the intake of sugar (most carbohydrates will be turned into glucose in our bodies) by reducing the intake of carbohydrates, we can train the body to burn fat (ketones) for energy.
Why Should We Care About Ketones?
If we look back in history, we will find that eating three meals a day is a very current phenomenon. Our ancestors would hunt and eat. If there was no food, they wouldn’t eat. To maintain life, their bodies would go into ketosis, the burning of fat for energy. They could survive for extended periods of time with little or no food.
In modern times, we have an abundance of food. We can easily eat three meals a day. The problem is, that the food we eat is full of sugar and carbohydrates. We have become a society of sugar burners.
The majority of people get their energy from sugar. They eat sugary, carb laden foods, feel energized, have an insulin spike (to control the sugar’s effect on the body), and then feel lethargic, only to repeat the cycle again.
They never give their body the chance to burn anything for energy except sugar.
When there is extra sugar in the body that does not get used for energy, it is stored for use on another day. The problem is, the sugar gets stored as fat. Then, we load the body up with sugar again the next day for energy, and the newly introduced sugar is used for energy, not the stored sugar (now fat) from yesterday. The cycle continues, and the fat just keeps building up in our bodies.
We need to stop this cycle of storing fat by allowing our bodies to produce ketones for energy. These ketones will come from the stored fat. We will have the energy we need. We will burn fat every day.
How Can I Produce More Ketones?
The fastest way to get your body to produce ketones is to stop eating sugary, carb laden foods. This will allow your body to start to turn the fatty molecules in your body into energy. Therein lies the problem for most people. We love carbs! They are tasty and cheap.
It is difficult for most people to just give up carbs all at once. Might I suggest a simple beginning to the ketogenic lifestyle, one I used at the start of my venture into ketosis.
Intermittent Fasting (I’ll briefly describe it here, but go into more details in another post.)
When I first started on the journey into ketosis, I made a few dietary changes, and one big eating habit change. These two changes went hand in hand. I stopped eating after dinner, and didn’t eat again until after lunch the next day. Yes, I skipped breakfast. It turns out it is not the most important meal of the day, especially if it is full of carbs and sugar.
Then I ate a healthy lunch of greens and protein (chicken, fish, or red meat), and a regular dinner (avoiding mixing proteins and starches). By following this simple intermittent fasting regime, I was allowing my body to use the stored fat for energy. I quickly lost over 20 pounds of body fat.
I did make a few dietary changes, as I mentioned. I stopped eating grains. Period. No bagels, english muffins, cereal, chips, rice, pasta. I also stopped eating potatoes. Now I realize not everyone will be able to do that. I suggest you start cutting back on those foods, and don’t break your fast with carbs. Eliminate the “junk” foods right away, and slowly reduce the intake of the other carbs.
This will allow the ketogenic lifestyle to be more sustainable.
There are a couple of ways to know if your body is producing ketones for use as energy. The first way is to measure the ketones in your urine. Remember that ketone bodies are water-soluble, so whatever your body doesn’t use as energy will be eliminated through your urine. So ketones can be measured using what are called Ketone Sticks (about $10 for 100), a simple little stick that you pee on and it changes colour to measure the presence of ketones.
This is the simplest measure of ketone production, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind. One, when you start reducing carb intake, and your ketone production increases, your body will not know how to use the ketones and most of them will be excreted. As your body adapts, and starts using ketones more efficiently, there will be fewer ketones in your urine. Second, the excretion of ketones is fully dependent on your hydration level. The less hydrated you are, the more ketones it will seem you are producing.
Using this method will allow you to know that you are producing ketones, but not how well your body is using them.
Another method of measurement is through your breath. There are devices (Ketonix Breath Analyzer, for example) that you breathe into and it will measure the level of ketone production. It is more expensive to begin with, but is a one time expense, and it is quite reliable.
The third method of ketone measurement is through the blood. Using a test strip, you prick your finger, put the blood on the strip, insert it in the machine, and it will give you your ketone level. This can be quite expensive, as test strips are about $4 each.
Ketones and the Mind
Using ketones for energy is one of the best ways to lose weight and stay fit. That being said, we don’t need to obsess over ketones. If we give our bodies the correct, healthy foods, in the correct proportions, our bodies will go into ketosis and we will burn the fat in our bodies for energy. You will know this is happening as you will see the fat disappear. You don’t need to measure ketones to know you are losing weight.
So don’t make ketone measurement a mind game. Eat a keto balanced, high in healthy fat lifestyle, and your body will take care of the rest.
There you have it. Ketones and ketosis. If we give our bodies what they need, our bodies will do what is best for us and burn the excess fat for energy.
One last thought. When the fat level in our bodies gets lower, there are fewer ketones available for our body to use. There may come a time when you will need to add ketones into your lifestyle as a supplement. There are many tasty ways to do this that will assist your body to stay in ketosis.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please use the form below.
Thanks for listening. I’ll see you in the next post.
Have a great day!