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Fitness: Do Keto Right

By Oscar Saucedo

More people in Laredo are either asking about or doing the “keto” diet.  Because of that, I think it’s a great time to explain what it is, how it benefits you, and how to do it correctly.

“Keto” is short for ketogenic, which basically means “to generate ketones”.  The foods and strategies used in the keto diet are designed to generate ketones.  Ketones are produced as a byproduct of fat oxidation (burning).  They can be used by the brain and muscles as an alternate fuel source when glucose (blood sugar) is low.  

The human brain has no way to store energy to use later, so it needs a constant supply of fuel.  The feeling of hunger is your brain warning you that its glucose supply is running low.  We all know that “hangry” feeling.  When we have low blood sugar, we get irritable, hungry, lose focus, forget things, and make silly mental mistakes.  This is exactly what makes the transition from a typical high-carb diet to the ketogenic diet difficult for most people.  It can take 1-4 weeks for your brain to make the switch from using glucose for fuel to using ketones instead—making you “keto-adapted”.

Personally, I am completely sold on the benefits of the ketogenic diet.  Instead of giving you research, I’ll tell you about my experience.  I always know when I am in nutritional ketosis because I feel great, I feel energetic, I don’t get hungry, I lose fat, I DO NOT lose muscle, my focus is on 100%, my thinking is clear, and my physical endurance is at its best.  On the other hand, just before sitting down to write this, I had a high-carb lunch on the San Antonio Riverwalk. Afterwards, I bought an ice cream cone (but only because I needed change to tip the valet).  So, I know I have kicked myself out of ketosis.  Over the next couple of days, I will probably be sluggish, get cravings for more crap, and need naps.  I’ll look forward to being back home and getting back in my routine.

Those are some of the immediate physical benefits of the ketogenic diet, but the long-term possible benefits seem much more significant.  I won’t get into the science, but studies have shown that the keto diet causes significant cognitive improvements in Alzheimer’s patients.  It also reduces symptoms in Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and some cancer patients.  If you would like to do more research on this and more, I suggest visiting ketonutrition.org. 

Kickstarting nutritional ketosisis the most difficult part of this diet, in my opinion. Blood ketone levels on a traditional diet will normally be under 0.2mMol/l. You are said to be in nutritional ketosis when your blood ketone levels are between 0.5 mMol/land 4 mMol/l.  These ketone levels are generally safe and beneficial.  I give you these ranges as a point of reference, but also because I want to distinguish between nutritional ketosis and diabetic ketoacidosis.  The latter is a dangerous medical condition where blood ketone levels above 12 mMol/l have made the blood dangerously acidic.  In general, healthy people will not get to dangerously high ketone levels following a ketogenic diet.

The fastest way to get to nutritional ketosis is to lower your daily carb intake as low as possible—but definitely under 50g/ day. Sugar should be close to zero grams per day.  Protein should be moderate.  Having too much protein can have the same effect as having too many carbs.  Both can be converted to glucose and can kick you out of ketosis.  Most of your fuel should come from healthy fats.  I suggest getting 60% of your calories from fat, 30% from protein, and 10% from carbs.  This differs slightly from hardcore keto, but this works well for active fitness enthusiasts. 

Fasting or intermittent fasting can also get you into ketosis more quickly.  I help my clients reduce their transition time as much as possible, and I suggest you do the same.  During the switch, you should drink plenty of water, use BCAA supplements, get plenty of electrolytes, and try using exogenous ketone supplements to provide you with blood ketones while you build up your own.  These strategies can help you avoid the dreaded “keto flu”.  For me, they help me feel great during the transition back into ketosis.

Learn how to start ketosis as quickly as possible. Learn how to stay in ketosis as long as possible.  I’m pretty confident you will love the results.  For more, you can follow me on social media. FB: Oscar R. Saucedo; IG: @oscar.rene_ ; and on Vital Nutrition Supplement StoreFacebook page.

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