The ketogenic lifestyle has been growing in popularity over the years as one of the most effective diets that help to shed stubborn body fat in a quick & healthy way. It has your body adapt to burning fat as a source of fuel instead of carbohydrates, which lowers insulin levels and to stop burning glucose (sugar) as a source.
One of the most frequently asked questions for people who are on the keto diet is simply, ‘how do I know if I’m in Ketosis’? Well, as your body undergoes these metabolic adaptations, you’ll experience periods where specific “Keto-toms” occur that can help determine whether you’re in ketosis or not.
Here’s a few of the most common ketosis signs and a bit about what they exactly are.
Although some people don’t experience this one personally, it does happen, but it isn’t a sign of poor hygiene, so don’t freak out just yet.
This is where your body has an increase in ketones in your blood and a reduction in blood sugar levels. As a result of these increased & decreased levels, you’re body will release acetone, a type of ketone that exits your body as a byproduct through urine and breath.
It’s not a sign of something being wrong with your body or anything harmful. It’s just means that you’re starting to break into ketosis!
It’s common for people who experience this to brush their teeth multiple times throughout the day or chew a piece of sugar-free chewing gum, so if you’re experiencing keto breath then simple brushing or chewing may help to control it.
Measuring Your Ketone Levels
This is obviously the most accurate way to tell if you’ve reached a state of ketosis, but there’s several ways to go about this. The basis of each of these methods is simply measuring the level of ketones in your blood through (a super tiny) blood sample, urine analysis, or breathalyzer.
How it works is you measure the ketone levels by calculating the beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) levels in the blood. A great average to be around is roughly 0.5-0.3 mmol/l (millimoles per litre), so these methods listed below are great starting points to accurately find your levels.
(Super Tiny) Blood Sample
Using our preferred method, the Precision Xtra glucose & ketone monitoring device is by far the most accurate way to measure whether you’re in ketosis or not.
Similarly to the standard diabetes testing kits, the device pricks your finger slightly and then you apply a small droplet of blood on a test strip. As the droplet is applied, it’ll begin the countdown and measure the glucose & ketone levels.
It’s the simplest, most accurate, and virtually pain-free method to get immediate numbers of your glucose & ketone levels.
This is another ketone monitoring testing kit that uses strips to determine the amount of ketones your body has produced. Although it’s not as precise as the blood sample testing, it does provide an accurate measurement since ketones are released from your body through urine.
You basically use a sample of urine with testing strips to measure the levels, just like the blood sample process.
How it works is you collect a small sample of urine and use the strips to test the sample. After the allotted time has passed, using the bottle or a provided scale, you match the color indicated on the strip to the correlating colors on the measuring scale and from there you should be able to gauge your ketone levels and determine if you’re in ketosis or not.
Breathalyzer / Analyzer
No, you’re not going to be doing a routine traffic stop or getting points off your license, don’t worry. It’s a completely different type of breathalyzer than you’ve probably seen on TV.
Remember earlier when we talked about how acetone, the ketone byproduct that causes keto breath? Well, what the breathalyzer does is actually measure the acetone levels in your breath to determine the level of ketones in your body. Pretty cool when you think about it, right?
It’s a fairly accurate way to measure the levels, but similarly to other breathalyzer devices, it’s not as accurate as a direct method, like the blood sample.
It can also be a less favored option for most since you have to hold your breath for a small duration of time before blowing, then hold a continuous blowing-release motion until the device registers and completes the testing. It can be annoying and uncomfortable for most, but for those who don’t enjoy having a finger pricked or are a little freaked out about the urine testing, then this is probably the best bet to get an accurate ketone level test.
Enhanced ‘Superhero’ Alertness
It’s not uncommon for those new to the ketogenic diet to experience fatigue, grogginess and feeling slightly ill. Basically, this is what we call the ‘Keto Flu’ and it’s not anything life-threatening or terminally serious. It’s just your body adapting to the new, low-carb lifestyle and adjusting it’s metabolic state. After you’ve been on the keto diet for a seasoned time, you’ll start experiencing an increase in mental alertness, clarity, and heightened focus. We’ll explain why this happens.
When you’re on a carb-based diet, your body uses glucose (sugar) as its main source of fuel, which isn’t an ideal fuel for your brain. Think of it like when a child has a ton of sugar; they get an immediate boost of energy but almost right after, they become tired, peaked, and pretty much ‘crash.’ The same thing happens to adults who have a heavy carb diet.
When you switch to a low-carb diet, like Keto, you not only change how you eat, but the entire metabolic state of your body. You transition from burning glucose as fuel to burning fat instead, which is much more beneficial for your brain than most people realize.
Your brain can’t use fat as a fuel source, however, it CAN use ketones. While your body burns fat and increases its ketone level, your brain will start receiving a supply of healthy, clean fuel. More specifically, the keto diet will increase the number of mitochondria, which is reflected in the enzymes and metabolism inside the hippocampus; the part of your brain that’s responsible for learning and memory.
Suppression of Appetite
Since there’s no definitive “one reason” for why this happens, there has been multiple studies conducted that have helped us to better understand the relationship between Keto and appetite suppression. The two largely studied reasonings for this occurrence has been linked to the variations in blood sugar levels while on keto and the amount of protein/vegetable intake of the body. We’ll briefly cover both points, to help us better understand.
Blood Sugar Levels
We know that more fat, less carbs is the keto way, and that’s exactly the idea behind this. When you consume carbs, whether its from breads, fruits, or sweets, you experience a spike in insulin levels. Although glucose is used more rapidly as an energy source, it’s definitely not nearly as effective nor healthy as using fat as your main fuel source.
What this does is put your blood sugar levels through a series of “spikes” that can leave you feeling hungry, tired, and groggy after the energy wears off and have a “need” for insulin.
So switching to a low-carb diet will help your body control its blood sugar levels and eliminate the “need” for insulin, which ultimately leads to suppression of appetite since your body isn’t craving more energy.
This one is a little more straight forward, so we’ll dive right in.
We know fat gives our body and brain the right type of fuel for clean & efficient energy, but it doesn’t give us all the other vitamins & minerals we need. That’s why it’s important to follow the right measurements for protein and vegetable intake so we can get these essential nutrients.
Protein provides us with vitamins like B & E and a source of iron and magnesium, which are all fundamentals of building healthy muscles, bones, cartlidge, and blood. Vegetables, like leafy greens, helps us get necessary micronutrients like vitamins A, C, and K. They’re also a great source of calcium and antioxidants, which has been studied to help prevent early stages of diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
So how does this help appetite suppression, though? Easy.
When your body doesn’t receive it’s needed amount of micro/macro nutrients, you begin to lose energy and become hungry (cravings), which is your body’s way of saying it needs more food to make up for what’s not there. Having a balanced diet of healthy fats, protein and vegetables, your body isn’t searching for these nutrients, therefore doesn’t have cravings and eventually leads to you suppressing unwanted appetites.
Of course there are several ways to tell whether you’re in ketosis or not, so don’t let these be the only methods you follow on your journey. It’s important to take time to research and keep yourself updated with new information, especially about Keto.
If you want to be updated about how to improve your ketogenic journey, tips ‘n’ tricks to keto, or just want to read more about the ketogenic lifestyle, then follow along on our weekly blog at Complete Wellness! We share recent and relevant information every week about the keto diet, meal plans and recipes, and knowledge that we believe can help you during your journey, so make sure to stay in the loop and we’ll see you next week!