WHAT IS KETOSIS?
Ketosis is the name for a state achieved in a low-carbohydrate diet. When you are in ketosis, it means your body is burning fat for energy. When you eat a low-carbohydrate diet, you minimize the amount of blood glucose present after you eat. In the absence of blood glucose, the body does not release insulin to return to normal blood sugar levels. With no insulin (which is a fat storage hormone) present, your body burns stored fat as its primary fuel. When that happens, your body releases ketones into your bloodstream, and you are in ketosis. This state may cause a host of temporary symptoms. It will also show up in your urine as ketones.
Understanding Ketosis Symptoms
Many dieters develop ketosis symptoms that let them know ketones are present. For many people beginning a low-carb diet, ketosis kicks in after a few days with minimal carbohydrate intake. In fact, most low-carbohydrate plans have an initial phase in which dieters take in extremely low amounts of carbohydrates (usually less than 25 grams per day) in order to kick start ketosis. You can test for the presence of ketones in the urine using ketosis strips. Many symptoms may also indicate that your body is in ketosis.
Ketosis symptoms change depending how long you've been in the state. In the early stages of ketosis, the symptoms may be a bit unpleasant. However, as your body adapts to the presence of ketones in the bloodstream, symptoms lessen and change. Early ketosis symptoms usually last for several days or up to a week in some people. This typically continues until the body is used to burning fat instead of glucose. After the several days, the levels of ketones in the body will lessen, but that does not mean you are no longer using fat. It simply means your body has found a balance and is no longer producing excess ketones. After about 40 days on low carb your brain uses most of the ketones produced in the liver for brain fuel.
Early stage symptoms include the following:
- Tiredness or fatigue.
- Feeling thirsty all the time.
- Dry mouth.
- Ketosis breath, which smells vaguely fruity and not terribly pleasant.
- Metallic taste in the mouth, particularly on the back of the tongue near the molars.
- Nausea or stomach ache.
- Sleep problems.
- Cold hands and feet.
- Frequent urination.
As your body adapts to ketones, your symptoms may change or abate altogether. If you are using ketosis strips, your urine may still show ketones present, although probably in far lower concentrations. This is nothing to worry about. The amount of ketones in your urine does not correlate to the rate of weight loss.
As your body adapts to ketones, you may notice the following:
- A "buzzed" feeling.
- Increased energy.
- Normalized urination frequency.
- Better sleep.
- Clear thinking.
Sometimes low-carb dieters never seem to reach ketosis, or at least never have the urine test strips indicate excess ketones. This could be because exercising has used up the excess ketones or the urine is diluted from drinking a lot of water. This doesn't mean these people aren't burning fat, just that they aren't registering as technically being in ketosis.
Dealing with Ketosis Symptoms
Ketosis is a common part of low-carb dieting, but it isn't always a pleasant one. If you find yourself having trouble getting through this period, there are some things you can try that might ease symptoms:
- Snack regularly. Having a protein-rich snack like a piece of chicken/ avo may ease the headache and other symptoms.
- Take vitamins and minerals. Especially with the lack of fruits and vegetables on a low-carb diet, it's vital to take a good vitamin and mineral supplement to keep your body in a healthy balance.
- Try Moringa. Moringa is filled with nutrients that can also be helpful for reducing symptoms of ketosis and easing this transition.
Drink plenty of water when thirsty, which will freshen breath and keep you hydrated. Ketosis Is a Signal.
The most important thing to remember is that the unpleasant ketosis symptoms are temporary and will pass within a week or so. Try to focus on the fact that this less-than-perfect feeling is just a sign that you are burning fat and well on your way to losing weight.