The Science Behind Ketosis: How It Works and Benefits Your Body

Image of keto diet

Ketosis is a natural process that kicks in when carbohydrate levels are low. With no carbs to burn, your body burns fat instead. This creates ketones, the fuel that increases energy.

Keto dieters should understand the basics of ketosis to optimise food intake and balance energy levels to achieve their goals, whether it's weight loss, increased stamina, or a cognitive boost.

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis is often used for weight loss, but it also has significant cognitive benefits that can stave off some of the nastier effects of ageing.

For dieters, ketosis burns fat for fuel, but it also helps maintain muscle mass and even curbs your appetite. Additionally, ketosis can enhance mental clarity and focus, offering a holistic approach to well-being.

How does Ketosis Work?

Your body uses glucose made from carbohydrates to produce energy. Energy is stored in the liver and released when necessary. A low-carb diet - keto diet - forces your body to find an alternative source of fuel - fat. The liver must produce more ketones (see above) to burn more fat to provide energy.

The process mimics the body's reaction to starvation. However, starvation ketosis occurs when there are too few calories while dietary ketosis ensures a healthy caloric intake based on a high protein low carb intake.

How to Achieve Ketosis

The best way to get into ketosis is through a high-protein low-carb diet. This is a significant change in diet for many people, especially because carb intake is pretty high globally. Think potatoes, bread, pasta. Ketosis requires a fatty food intake that is between 60% and 80% of your daily calories. Carbs go all the way down to a maximum of 50g a day.

You need to be patient when you first start a keto diet because it can take up to four days to reach ketosis. That's still faster than most other diets out there.

Physical Benefits of Ketosis

Keto diets can have a profound effect on our physical health and well-being.

The primary benefit and the reason most people go on the keto diet is weight loss. One of the great things about the keto diet is that it's more effective than low-fat diets, so you don't go hungry. This is borne out by 13 studies that showed that people on the keto diet lost nearly 1kg (2 lbs) more than those on low-fat diets.

A good diet goes hand-in-hand with increased physical activity. It's a good thing that a keto diet also boosts energy levels. Because the supply of fat is consistent, energy levels are consistent. Improved stamina and endurance also make physical activities enjoyable, so you are more likely to keep doing them.

It also benefits those with Type 2 diabetes by managing blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity and has been used as an alternative epilepsy treatment since the 1920s.

Cognitive Benefits of Ketosis

It's still early days for research, but some data indicates that ketosis, and the keto diet, have cognitive benefits. For example, a pilot study led by Stanford Medicine suggests that a keto diet could help people with mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder.

It's thought that mental disorders are linked to metabolic deficits in the brain. Because keto diets improve the body's metabolic health, they can also improve the brain's metabolism. Part of the reasoning is that the brain needs an alternative fuel source and keto diets replace glucose with ketones.

Switching to a keto diet improves metabolic health and mental and physical functioning, but it's not always possible to find a diet that suits your lifestyle - or eating habits. Vegetarians, for example, must find plant-based sources of protein that match the levels in meat.

Here's where keto supplements step in, providing the balance needed to fully experience the benefits of a keto diet.

Final Thoughts

Understanding ketosis is essential for optimising health through a keto diet. By reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat consumption, your body shifts to burning fat for energy, producing ketones. This metabolic state aids in weight loss, maintains muscle mass, and offers consistent energy levels. It also benefits those with Type 2 diabetes and has potential cognitive benefits, such as improved brain metabolism.

Achieving ketosis can take a few days, but the benefits are substantial. A keto diet can boost physical and mental health, providing increased stamina and potential mental health improvements. For those finding it challenging to maintain a strict keto diet, supplements can help ensure the necessary nutrient balance. Embracing a keto lifestyle can lead to improved overall well-being and a healthier life.