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Old 04-24-2012, 07:16 AM   #1
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Default Confused about ketosis

Hi - I just wanted some help on ketosis?.

How exactly does one go into a state of ketosis? I've been staying under 50g carbs (in the range of 40-50g a day) for a couple of weeks now and exercising a bit and I've lost only 1.5 pounds.

Do I need to lower my carb intake? (I eat a lot of vegetables, one portion of fruit every morning, some tofu every other day, a bit of almond milk, a bowl of brown rice flakes and some lentils for protein).

Does the carb intake to go into ketosis vary from person to person? How long does one 'stay in ketosis' for??
As you can see, I'm pretty confused. Thanks for reading this, I'd appreciate any responses
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:05 AM   #2
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Ketosis is generally best achieved with <50g of carbohydrates over the course of 2-3 weeks. You can buy some urine strips at Walgreens for around $10 to check your ketone levels in your urine. As you shrink your carbohydrate intake, your liver will become to synthesize more ketones for the brain. The brain is the first to utilize the ketonic fuel as the brain switches from glucose as a fuel source to ketones.

As a female, weight loss should be put into perspective. You will not likely melt the weight away. Most of the weight loss achieved in the first month is usually associated with a greater water loss as water and salt is pushed out of the kidneys when one goes through Ketosis. This may lead to light headedness or feeling of weakness. You can drink some vegetable broth to compensate.

I also read you're a Vegan which inhibits the benefits of low carbohydrate lifestyles because Veganism is a carbohydrate centric lifestyle. As a former vegetarian, I would recommend considering including some organic, fatty meats to stabilize hormone levels. You're also probably not ingesting enough protein and the protein you are ingesting has carbs to go with it.

You should ingest 0.6-1g of protein per pound of lean body mass. Example. I weight 150 lbs. I have 25% body fat. I have 37.5 lbs of fat. I am therefore, 112.5 lbs of lean mass. So I should in the ball park of 75-112g or protein per day. Then the other key is to start swapping out fats for carbs. Most of your best fat sources come from animals, but some can be obtained from plants (coconut and olive). However, the NEEDS Omege 3 fatty acids in the form of DHA and EPA that mostly come from cold water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna. Not a terrible amount. 3 six oz servings a week covers the requirement.

The idea is that a good combination of fat and protein (not too much) crunches appetite and forces you to eat less. The problem is that plant based proteins are often insufficient in their effort to provide satiety.

You can stay in ketosis indefinitely. There are no long term negative impacts on health in ketosis.

So test yourself. Eat more protein. Eat more fat. Your carbs should be limited to non starchy vegetables and nuts while your body adjusts to a keto-adapted metabolism. And those carbs should not exceed 50g a day.
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:35 AM   #3
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Actually, I did some research on ketosis and many of the sources that I found stated that ketosis does harm your health.

Also, as a former vegetarian, you should probably remember that animal fats are usually the bad fats, except for fish. I'm not even going get started on the other stuff.

To the OP, I also used to be a vegetarian/vegan but am now a pescatarian. Part of the reason I went back to eating fish (after 5-6 years of vegetarianism/veganism) is the protein/omega 3 issue. Vegans can of course get plenty of protein and meet omega 3 needs, and it's super easy for vegetarians. I had trouble because of a health issue, though I hope that when I get my weight down that I can go back to being a vegetarian with careful planning. Not to be a downer, but I really don't think that you'll be able to get your carbs down this low, though it is not impossible with super careful planning. You may need to change the way you look at your meals. For example, you could try purchasing individual packs of edamame for your lunches and eat it with a salad of greens with some sliced almonds and a low carb dressing. Also, light soy milk has more protein than almond milk and fewer carbs than skim milk, so switching would really help you out. Good luck!
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Old 04-24-2012, 03:31 PM   #4
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Actually, I did some research on ketosis and many of the sources that I found stated that ketosis does harm your health.

Also, as a former vegetarian, you should probably remember that animal fats are usually the bad fats, except for fish. I'm not even going get started on the other stuff.

To the OP, I also used to be a vegetarian/vegan but am now a pescatarian. Part of the reason I went back to eating fish (after 5-6 years of vegetarianism/veganism) is the protein/omega 3 issue. Vegans can of course get plenty of protein and meet omega 3 needs, and it's super easy for vegetarians. I had trouble because of a health issue, though I hope that when I get my weight down that I can go back to being a vegetarian with careful planning. Not to be a downer, but I really don't think that you'll be able to get your carbs down this low, though it is not impossible with super careful planning. You may need to change the way you look at your meals. For example, you could try purchasing individual packs of edamame for your lunches and eat it with a salad of greens with some sliced almonds and a low carb dressing. Also, light soy milk has more protein than almond milk and fewer carbs than skim milk, so switching would really help you out. Good luck!
There is no such research that reports problems with ketosis. In fact, many human civilizations have survived and thrived on diets that have little to no carbohydrates in them while eating tons of animal meat. So how is that possible?

Make sure you are not confusing ketosis with ketoacidosis which are two separate conditions. Also, do not confuse ketosis with the over ingestion of protein. In fact, low carbohydrate diets specifically state NOT to overeat protein and to eat a lot more FAT.

Also, there is nothing inherently bad about animal fats. In fact, many animal fats have a good amount of fats in them especially if their diets consisted of good nutrition that lacked hormones, drugs, antibiotics, AND natural foods.

Humans don't eat grass for a reason because the cows do. Cows have rumens that help them digest grass while for humans, we vomit. The nutrition in grass is stored then in BOTH the fat tissue and muscle tissue of those animals. We can get at those nutrients very easily because animal products are very, very bioavailable because of human dietary evolution consisting of a diet that was dominated by animals.

If you want to argue that most meat consumed in today's diet is unnatural, then this is a separate issue. Most of the research conducted supporting notions that animal fat is bad is based on three relatively debunked principles.

1: Saturated Fat is bad for you which it is not.
2: Cholesterol in food will kill you. A lot of people have been eating 3-7 eggs a day for years and yet do not drop dead? What gives? Myth.
3: Animal products can be carcinogenic: This is not true and also based on the OVERINGESTION of specific meat products. Also, the research NEVER delineates the TYPE of meat being ingestion (whether grass fed, organic, etc).

When you factor these elements, then you realize that there is not much to them.

Also, its important to note that almost most, if not all metabolic diseases are directly correlated carbohydrate intake because of the necessity of using insulin to facilitate the metabolism of carbohydrates. Carbohydrate is not an essential nutrient in human diets.

In fact, those on ketogenic diets have less needs to eat high quantities of vegetables and other micronutrients. In fact, almost anyone can get all their nutrition from meats by eating organ meats. Also worth considering is the reason why ketogenic diets do not need such a high antioxidant profile and it comes down to cellular metabolism.

See, you use food for fuel for your body. You breakdown the food into its essential components and then your body figures out what to use and what not to use. But first, let's investigate how non ketogenic metabolism works (glucose fueled metabolism) in cellular membranes.

The mitochondria in your cells will process glucose for power. Think of the process of using glucose by mitochondria similar to the process of your car using gasoline for combustion. When the body uses glucose as a power source the mitochondrial combustion leads an after product (like carbon monoxide from your car). Glucose metabolism leaves garbage such as reactive oxidative species that can cause free radical damage in your body (like atherosclerosis and inflammation). So, in order to compensate for the damage you need a HIGHER antioxidant profile to make up the difference. You have more garbage so you need more garbage men. If you fail to have enough garbage men for the garbage, then the garbage piles up.

This is the problem with non ketogenic diets that rely on glucose for power because ketogenic diets that rely on FAT for power have a much, much different impact on the mitochondria.

In ketogenic diets you use fat and ketones for fuel.

(I will not go into brain-ketone metabolism here, so I'll link an article for reading).

Edit: I would have posted a link, but my lack of post count prevents it. Google "Evolutionary Psychiatry: Your Brain on Ketones"

Think of fat more like renewable energy for your cells. It leaves essentially no byproducts during mitochondrial combustion. So there is less garbage requiring LESS garbage men or a lower antioxidant profile.

In fact, the extra fat helps protect cellular membranes from degradation. It also enhances their repair by creating higher levels of high density lipoproteins to transport cholesterol to the liver (LDL transports away from liver, HDL back to the liver). Also note that you cannot create any cell in the body without cholesterol.

So fats do the following:

1: Protect Cells
2: Produce more energy for cell (9 kcal/g vs 4 kcal/g glucose)
3: Lead to quicker cell regeneration (repair)
4: Leave less metabolic byproduct

Also, it leads to faster recovery during exercise by facilitating lactic acid reuptake preventing fatigue.

If you're not familiar, that DEEP burn feeling you get from exercise is the result of too much lactic acid build up in the muscle tissue. Ketogenic diets delay the impact of lactic acid build up through more reuptake (clean up).

So, I respectfully disagree.
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Old 04-24-2012, 05:23 PM   #5
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I'm not concerned with what you believe/do. My issue is that you told the poster that there are no long term negative effects of ketosis so she could stay in the state indefinitely. I'm not going to waste my time finding all of the sources I have seen on this topic, but if you simply google "dangers of ketosis" you'll get plenty of results that are as reliable/more reliable than the blog you cited. This website (3FC) is supposed to be free of dangerous advice, and according to pretty much everyone in the medical community, your advice was dangerous.
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Old 04-24-2012, 06:16 PM   #6
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It is not dangerous advice. In fact, there are many books being written on the topic at hand as well as clinical research to now back it up. If you need more information regarding such, I would suggest reading some of those books as well as look up the brilliant work done by Dr. Eades, Dr. Richard Veech. Here's a quote from Veech (a researcher of ketogenic diets at the National Institute of Health).

''Doctors are scared of ketosis,'' says Richard Veech, an N.I.H. researcher who studied medicine at Harvard and then got his doctorate at Oxford University with the Nobel Laureate Hans Krebs. ''They're always worried about diabetic ketoacidosis. But ketosis is a normal physiologic state. I would argue it is the normal state of man. It's not normal to have McDonald's and a delicatessen around every corner. It's normal to starve.''

Veech is pioneering the research regarding ketosis and prevention of Alzheimer's. The paradigm is changing. Look at the success of blogs of Mark Sisson (Mark's Daily Apple) or look at the recent trend towards Paleo-esque diets (all of which are low carbohydrate, meat eating).

Some further reading would include...

*Why We Get Fat/Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
*A New Atkins for a New You by Eric Westman (Dr. Westman runs and operates Duke University's Center for Integrated Medicine)
*The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Dr. Stephen Pinney and Dr. Jeff Volek

This is not deadly advice. In fact, it's perfectly safe and reasonable. The problem is that most health practitioners are fairly clueless about macronutrient metabolism and its implications on chronic disease. To go against conventional wisdom is often seen as heresy.

The reason I posted that blog is because the Doctor (psychiatrist who's blog it is) wanted to communicate to her readers in as much lamen as possible what the positive implications of mental well being that is being seen in ketogenic diets. It was simply easy to read.

But how about a study?

A study done by Stanford researched various diets that influenced markers of heart disease (BP, Cholesterol Profile, Triglyceride Levels, Fat Loss). They compared Ornish, Traditional (LEARN), Zone, and Atkins. If you want to read it yourself, it's called the Stanford A-Z Weight Loss Study.

The results after a year of the study?

Atkins doubled the fat loss. It also increased HDL cholesterol the most while barely changing LDL (avg. 0.8 increase) while simultaneously dropping blood pressure by 4.4 points on avg (double of any other diet) and it reduced triglyceride levels by an average of 30 points (again, double of any diet).

But let's look at the Dangers of Ketosis from Livestrong.

In all of the books I mentioned, they one by one debunk each of those concerns with supported medical research.

1: Saturated Fat and Cholesterol do not cause heart disease. This has been proven in numerous papers and research.

2: Overeating protein will cause problems in all diets. On ketogenic diets, protein does not and should not change. What changes is the fat content.

3: (This one made me laugh) Carbohydrates maintain mood balance? You know what increases Serotonin? Moving. Exercise helps produce more mood boosting serotonin and than any carbohydrate.

For those interested, the way your body produces serotonin from carbohydrate is quite an interesting story.

Your body can take the amino acid tryptophan and turn it into serotonin, but unfortunately, it needs INSULIN to do it. When insulin is activates, your body STOPS burning fat and stores fat by activing Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL) on fat cells and shuts down hormone sensitive lipase (HSL; converts triglycerides into energy). So how does the body spike insulin? Ingesting a lot of them carbohydrates. This is why when your mood drops, you crave sweets.

(For more on this behavioral eating, I recommend 3FC readers to read Dr. Michael Murray and Dr. Michael Lyon's book the Hunger Free Forever Program).

I would recommend to readers to google not the Dangers of Ketosis, but rather the DANGERS OF INSULIN.

4: Muscle weakness and weight gain. You cannot get fat on ketogenic diets. By nature, you're constantly burning fat for fuel. The muscle weakness associated with ketogenic diets is a temporary problem because its called Keto-Adaptation. The problem is that the body has been a glucose junky for awhile and like a drug, it suffers from withdrawal. So the body begins to learn to adapt to the new fuel source. This process takes 2-3 weeks.

5: GI issues. Some do experience GI issues during Keto-Adaptation, but KA does include fibrous non starchy vegetable intake of 50g/day. To put this in context, that's 12.5 cups of Broccoli that includes 25g of fiber. Plus if more fiber is needed, users can include PGX or Psyllium into their diets to supplement extra fiber during KA.

Again, this is not dangerous information. It's only dangerous if your thinking is inflexible and stuck in the past of old research that has only proven to make matters worse.
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Old 04-24-2012, 06:29 PM   #7
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There's a woman over in the Atkins forum that lost 100 lbs and has kept it off by staying on Atkins the last 8 years.

SensualSiren, If being in ketosis was considered dangerous they would shut down the Atkins forum. Think about that.

Being in ketosis I feel better than I have ever felt, I have energy and I eat well.
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Old 04-24-2012, 06:44 PM   #8
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There's a woman over in the Atkins forum that lost 100 lbs and has kept it off by staying on Atkins the last 8 years.

SensualSiren, If being in ketosis was considered dangerous they would shut down the Atkins forum. Think about that.

Being in ketosis I feel better than I have ever felt, I have energy and I eat well.
I agree!

I've probably been in ketosis 80-90% of the time, the last two years.

I've never been healthier. I went from autoimmune nightmare, to a person with no symptoms of any health problems whatsoever. My doctors are amazed, frankly.

If there is a negative health impact from being in long term ketosis, my body hasn't found it.
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Old 05-04-2012, 11:13 AM   #9
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Wow thanks a ton for all these responses!!!!

@WookieOnRitalin thanks for all the information - was really useful, and I looked into some of the things you talked about and realized I need to add some supplements to my diet!!

@SensualSiren - I agree, I tend to find it harder to lose weight when I'm eating chicken/meats!


I've been trying to stay under 50, but as many of you said, its been hard to do so on a vegan diet! Going to keep trying - just have to plan ahead more.
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Old 05-12-2012, 04:23 AM   #10
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Biologist weighing in here on the ketosis debate. I've not done extensive research, but I have read a number of scientific articles around it because I never jump in blind and this is what I've learned:

1. At present there actually isn't enough data to support or reject that ketosis is dangerous if you stay in it (0-6mos seems fine though)
2. Ketosis got a bad rep because it was linked to a low fat low cal diet back in the 70s that ended in heart failures. FDA stepped in and said it was dangerous and the medical community agreed but this was not the same as the current low carb movement
3. Throughout history cultures have followed these kinds of diets and been fine
4. Saturated fats aren't the evil we have thought. Meta analysis paper on the topichere if anyone enjoys reading papers

I was really anti low carb for a long time because as a biologist it goes against the norm, I understand metabolic processes and the importance of carbs. But once I started investigating it more I realised that it can work and so I'm giving it a go.
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Old 05-24-2012, 01:45 PM   #11
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Thanks for posting all the info ladies! I'm not new to LC but I am new to a lot of the science that backs it up. I know in the medical field (which I work in) there is a lot of ignorance about LC diets and ketosis. I had a nurse yell at me once for having large ketones in my urine and told me I was killing myself. HOOOEY! She mistook ketosis for ketoacidosis. Most MD's have less then a few hours of nutrition training and all of that training is usually coming from the USDA...bought and paid for nutrition advice from the agro-conglomorates and the wheat lobby.

To the OP, you definitely need to pick up some books and educate yourself if you are going the LC route. You cannot expect the forums to provide you all the education you need on metabolic functions. I think Gary Taubes books, particulary Why We Get Fat (which is geared towards people who don't want to get into the nitty gritty of the science of Good Calories/Bad Calories) is a great place to start...and bonus, it can be downloaded as a audio book which to me, took some of the tedium out of absorbing the information.
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:31 PM   #12
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Zazaa
As ghost has just mentioned, if you haven't read Taub'es Good Calories Bad Calories, which is fantastic btw, you may find this talk by the author quite interesting.. and in turn find answers to some of your questions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6vpFV6Wkl4&feature=plcp

While he doesn't explicitly speak to ketosis he does touch on the very important subject of insulin, which was also mentioned in this thread.

If you're looking for results, in conjunction to eliminating the obvious bad carbs, my advice to you is to cut out all fruit, all juice and rooted vegetables until you've reach your goal. While these types of produce won't make you gain weight, they will certainly inhibit your weight loss due to the insulin spike they create.

Remember that insulin does 2 things:
1. regulates blood sugar
2. stores sugar into fat

That said, you will need more fiber than what's found in roughage such as lettuce and spinach etc.. complimenting this 'temporary' diet with fiber supplements might be a good idea.

Good luck!
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