The links between low-carb diet and ketosis
Let us guess: you're here because you've heard that lowering your carbohydrate intake is good for you. You may have also learned that ketones are better fuel than glucose. Now you might be wondering: Does cutting down on carbs involve ketosis?
This is what we'll answer in this guide.
A lot of people are confused about carbs and ketosis. They believe that just eating less carbohydrates can lead to a state of ketogenesis. Read on to find out more.
Low-Carb or low-carb diet
What Defines a Low Carbohydrate Diet?
There's no clear consensus on its definition, but here's what studies tell us: A low-carb diet typically involves reducing your daily carbs intake to less than 130 grams.
So how much protein and fat should you eat on a low carb diet? Ideally, you should compensate for the reduction in carbs, which means getting more calories from your other macronutrients. You can decide how to split your remaining macros between protein and fat depending on your preferences and Goals.
So why do many people choose to follow a low carb diet?
Scientific research shows that this type of diet can improve your blood sugar, especially if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Instead of experiencing a spike in blood sugar after eating, a low-carb diet can help your levels stay more consistent and within the "normal" range.
Because insulin is responsible for lowering your blood sugar, you will also need less insulin. Consistently high insulin can lead to many problems, such as storing fat in your body and increasing your risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
In addition, weight management is a common motivation to eat less carbohydrates.
When it comes to ketosis, a low-carb diet doesn't necessarily increase ketone levels. Ketosis may or may not occur, so you may not need to test your ketone level if you are on a low-carb diet.
The ketogenic diet or keto diet
QWhat makes the ketogenic diet different from a low-carb diet?
The ketogenic diet is a specific type of low-carb diet. It results in a metabolic state called ketosis. Ketosis is characterized by an increase in ketone levels in the blood.
A keto diet takes a low-carb approach, but not all low-carb diets are ketogenic in nature.
Unlike a low-carb diet, a ketogenic diet requires you to follow specific percentages of macronutrients. To enter and stay in ketosis, your daily macros should be of the following nature:
- 55% to 60% fat
- 30% to 35% protein
- 5% to 10% carbohydrates
As you can see, the majority of calories come from fat, while protein intake should be moderate. More importantly, your daily carb limit is between 20 and 50 grams. This works for most people who are on a 2000 calorie per day diet.
Remember this: On the keto diet, your body is fueled by ketones instead of glucose. Ketones are the result of the metabolism of fatty acids by your liver. Ketones cross the blood-brain barrier to fuel your brain. They also feed into other tissues outside of your liver, including the heart, kidneys, intestines.
The low carb diet can help you achieve ketosis
You already know that a low-carb diet isn't always keto. Plus, there aren't any standard rules for doing this, except that you should keep your carbohydrate intake below 130 grams per day.
How can lowering your carbohydrate intake lead to ketosis? Whether it's a low-carb approach or specific ketogenic macros, what is the process behind its ability to produce ketones?
Here's what's going on inside your body:
When you eat carbohydrates, the carbohydrates are ultimately metabolized into glucose, also known as "blood sugar". As your blood sugar rises, your pancreas produces more insulin. Insulin tells your liver to use this glucose to replenish your glycogen stores. Insulin therefore allows your body to store glucose.
But let's say you plan to cut your dietary carbs from 300 grams to 50 grams per day. You are doing everything you can to make it work for you. You're clearing your pantry of high-carb foods, avoiding sugary drinks, and even increasing your physical activity.
And then ?
Your body feels that your blood sugar is dropping. This causes your liver cells to clear by converting stored glycogen into glucose for energy burn. But eventually the glycogen runs out and ketone production begins.
Once your ketone level hits 0.5-3.0mM, you'll know you've reached nutritional ketosis.
How Much Carbs Can You Keep While Staying in Ketosis?
Many people enter ketosis by limiting their carbs to 50 grams or less per day. However, some people can tolerate more carbohydrates.
The amount of carbohydrate you can eat while maintaining ketosis will depend on a variety of factors. These factors include:
1. Activity level
Are you sedentary? Do you exercise more often? Physical activity depletes your glycogen stores. The higher the intensity of the exercise, the faster your muscle glycogen breaks down. Very active or athletic people will have a higher carbohydrate limit for ketosis than sedentary people.
2. How ketogenic-adapted you are
Being in a "keto-adapted" state means that your body has developed the ability to use fat for fuel efficiently. This adaptation occurs from weeks of keto diet.
3. Stress level
In general, the more stressed you are, the less carbs you need. Why ? Stress causes your body to release cortisol. Cortisol can raise your blood sugar through gluconeogenesis, and this high blood sugar hinders ketone production.
Popular low-carb diets
As it nThere is no one-size-fits-all diet, you have to find an approach that works for you. There are different ways to reduce your carbohydrate intake.
- Atkins diet
The Atkins Diet is a low carb diet similar to the Ketogenic Diet in terms of the introductory phase. During the induction phase of Atkins, you should eat less than 20 grams of net carbs per day for two weeks. During this time, your ketones increase. After two weeks, you will slowly increase your carbohydrates. You should be able to consume up to 100 grams per day.
- Low Carb Paleo Diet
Think of the caveman and the hunter-gatherers. Didn't they eat fresh foods and healthy fats? The low-carb paleo diet avoids anything fancy and processed. This includes grains, vegetable oils, and packaged foods. You can eat nuts, seeds, and oils (especially olive oil and coconut oil).
As for the daily limit on your carbohydrate intake, you can eat up to 100 grams per day.
- Low carb Mediterranean diet
This diet minimizes or avoids starchy and refined carbohydrates. Examples of carbohydrates are white rice, bread, pasta, cereals, and desserts. Like the ketogenic diet, the low-carb Mediterranean diet allows you to consume healthy fats and oils. You can also eat dairy products and nuts.