Guide to Ketosis

Note; Below text is from a combination of sources, rearranged in my own format to read it better:


You should restrict your carbs to 20-30 grams per day (more precise proportions can only be determined with blood ketone testing to verify your numbers)

At the same time, you have to completely cut all carbs, to the extent possible.  As you slip into ketosis, you will reintroduce some (20-40 grams per day, throughout the day), but at the initial stages your goal is just to deplete your liver glycogen as much as possible.

Your body will eventually start utilizing ketones as you decrease carbs – but under “normal” circumstances, full keto-adaptation may take up to a week, if not more.  To kick-start the process, you need to deplete your glycogen reserves faster – a high-intensity exercise (or a few) at the start of your keto-adaptation without subsequent carb refeed would help a lot.


Restrict your protein consumption to about 0.8 – 1.0 grams per kg of body weight (which, incidentally, is very close to guidelines we have discussed when we talked about building muscle) and add fat “to satiety”, which means – as much as you want to feel full.

Unfortunately, eating too much protein will take you out of ketosis as much as eating too much carbs.  The reason is that protein can relatively easily be converted into glucose by your liver through gluconeogenesis – and elevated blood glucose levels triggering insulin release shut off ketosis.  That’s why the proportion of protein on a strict ketogenic diet is so small.


Eat more fat

Eating more fat sounds extremely counter intuitive to most people who have been taught for decades that fats are bad for you because
they increase cholesterol and lead to cardiovascular disease (false claims, which we have addressed in the past).
In fact, this may sound completely sacrilegious for people who thought they have been following a healthy diet (which, unfortunately,
in many cases  is represented by “low-fat” stuff).
But we have, many times in the past, covered the benefits of healthy fats, such as coconut oil, butter, and fatty meat.

How much fat do you eat on a ketogenic diet?  Hold on to your chairs – because traditional strict ketogenic diets ask for about 80% of total consumed “calories”.  Of the remaining 20% – about 10%-15% would come from protein and about 5%-10% would come from carbs.

Interestingly, ingesting fat does not take you out of ketosis because it doesn’t directly raise blood glucose and, thus, doesn’t stimulate insulin production.



1. Use Saturated Fats for Cooking

Saturated fats have been cursed and deemed to be really bad for our health. We’ve been brainwashed for the last 50 years that saturated fat and cholesterol are the major causes for coronary heart disease and obesity. The entire lipid hypothesis was based on bad science – the flawed and fraudulent research of Ancel Keys.

If you still believe that saturated fat and cholesterol are bad, check out my post here: The Obesity Epidemic, the Truth about Cholesterol and Saturated Fat.

Saturated fats are found in red meat, cream, butter, ghee, lard, tallow, eggs, coconut oil or palm oil (use organic from sustainable agriculture).

They are the most stable, have long shelf life and high smoke points. Use these oils for most of your cooking. In fact, most of your fat intake should come from saturated and monounsaturated fats.

2. Include Heart-healthy Monounsaturated Fatty Acids

Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA, omega 9, oleic acid) are found in avocados, olives, beef and nuts (especially macadamias) and have been known to prevent heart disease. Studies show that consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids is associated with better serum lipid profiles.

Oils high in MUFA such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and macadamia nut oil are best for cold use (MUFA are less stable than SFA), for finishing meals or after cooking.

3. Use Unsaturated Fats But Don’t Heat Them

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are both essential and our body needs them. However, our diet is often loaded with PUFA and we eat too many of them.

They are called “poly”, because they contain many double bonds which tend to react with oxygen when heated and form harmful compounds such as free radicals. This oxidative damage is a process that creates free radicals in the body and increases inflammation in our body and the risk heart disease and cancer. Chris Kresser suggests that total intake of PUFA should be no more than 4% of daily calories.

In general, polyunsaturated fats are unstable and not suitable for high-heat cooking. Organic, extra virgin olive oil, nut oils, sesame oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil are best for cold use. While flaxseed oil should never be heated and should always be refrigerated, some oils (avocado, macadamia, olive) can be used for finishing your meals or light cooking.

4. Balance Your Omega 6 and Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Both omega-3 and omega-6 fats are essential, polyunsaturated fatty acids. However, studies show that Western diets are deficient in omega 3 fatty acids. In fact, the omega 3 to omega 6 ratio is very unfavourable (15:1 – 17:1). Ideally, this ratio should be balanced at 1:1. The closer you get to this ratio, the better it will be for your health. Studies show that while elevated intake of omega 6 and deficient intake of omega 3 fatty acids are associated with cardiovascular disease, stroke, autoimmune disorders and other inflammatory diseases, reduced intake of omega 6 may protect against these diseases.

Because it’s likely you are already getting enough omega-6, focus on increasing your intake of omega-3 foods, such as wild salmon, fermented cod liver oil, grass-fed meat, walnuts and macadamia nuts.

5. Use Animal Sources for Most of Your Omega 3 Intake

Omega 3 fatty acids are either short-chain (alpha-linolenic acid, ALA) mostly found in seeds and nuts or long-chain (eicosapentanaenoic acid , EPA and docosahexaenoic acid, DHA) found in fish and seafood. While EPA and DHA favourably affect omega 6 to 3 ratio, ALA first needs to be converted to EPA or DHA. Unfortunately, our body is extremely inefficient in converting ALA to EPA and DHA. That’s why it’s so important to get omega 3 fatty acids primarily from animal sources.

When using animal sources, always opt for grass-fed meat for maximum omega 3 fatty acids. In fact, grain-fed meat is low in omega 3 but loaded with omega 6 fatty acids.

6. Focus on Smoke Point, Oxidation Rate and Shelf Life

The higher the smoke point is, the better. In general, oils with high smoke points can be cooked at higher temperatures. Heating oil above its smoke point damages the oil and loads it with free radicals.

The slower the oxidation rate is, the better. Heating oil up to its smoke point will increase its oxidation rate. However, oils and fats can oxidize even on the shelf when exposed to oxygen, light, moisture and even temperatures below their smoke point. Also, metals like iron and copper can act as pro-oxidants.

All oils can go rancid on a shelf which often loads them with free radicals. In general, oils high in saturated fat last longer (12-24 months) than oils high in monounsaturated (6-12 months) or polyunsaturated fats (2-6 months).

7. Avoid All Unhealthy Oils

Processed vegetable oils, margarine, hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated oils and other trans fats, interestified fatssunflower, safflower, cotonseed, canola, soybean, grapeseed and corn oil are all damaging to your health. Trans fatty acids and processed oils:

  • are oxidized during high-heat processing which creates free radicals
  • they are often made from genetically modified seeds
  • are pro-inflammatory and bad for your gut health
  • consumption of trans fats increases risk of coronary heart disease
  • consumption of trans fats negatively affects cholesterol levels – reduces concentrations of HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) and increases concentrations of low-density LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol)
  • associated with increased risk of cancer

Trans fats do exist in nature but also occur during the processing of polyunsaturated fatty acids in food production. Naturally occurring trans fats have been found to be beneficial compared to artificial trans fats. Natural trans fats are found in dairy products and meat from grass-fed animals.

Artificial trans fats are referred to as “metabolic poison”. Eliminate these from your diet by avoiding foods that contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. These types of trans fats are typically found in margarines, cookies, crackers or even French fries.

8. Be aware which oil to use when

All you need to know about fat on a low-carb ketogenic diet

All you need to know about fat on a low-carb ketogenic diet

All you need to know about fat on a low-carb ketogenic diet

Interesting articles of choosing the right oils to cook is:


A byproduct of fatty acid metabolism, ketone bodies, can be directly utilized by your brain and muscles for energy, eliminating the need for carbs.  Unless you are diabetic – in which case your body lacks the ability to control the accumulation of ketone bodies, which, in large amounts lead to ketoacidosis – this is a very desirable state to be in, due to improved fat-burning, less glycation from a reduction in carbs required and even mental benefits (research shows that ketosis has very beneficial effects on helping patients with Alzheimer’s disease and is a recognized protocol in treatments of epilepsy, for example).

When you become keto-adapted (i.e. your body learns to properly burn fat for energy without relying on carbs) you experience reduction in body fat which then becomes primary source of fuel.  Adaptation period takes a few days of very low carb intake.  Then you stop craving carbs because your brain is happy with what it gets from ketones.  Both outcomes are very desirable for people attempting to change their body composition (lose extra fat).  Have you ever had a feeling that if you don’t eat this muffin this second you were going to die because you were so hungry and your hands were literally shaking?  When you become keto-adapted, this will not happen.

Consuming exogenous ketones or medium-chain triglycerides (such as in MCT oil) Supplementation with exogenous ketones or compounds that very quickly get converted into ketones (such as medium-chain triglycerides, or MCT) is highly recommended – this will make carbohydrate restriction much easier.

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are saturated fats our body can digest very easily. MCTs, which are mostly found in coconut oil, behave differently when ingested and are passed directly to the liver to be used as an immediate form of energy. They are also present in butter and palm oil in smaller quantities.

MCTs are used by athletes to improve and enhance performance and are great for fat loss. If you can tolerate pure MCT oil with no stomach discomfort, you can get it in a supplement form. Keep in mind that overdoing it with MCT oil can lead to diarrhea – so ease into it, too.  A table spoon a few times a day should be enough.

An article on the benifits of coconut oil:


to evaluate your progress.  A blood ketone monitors that measures beta-hydroxybutyrate is, pretty much, the only accurate tool and this is what you should rely on. Blood ketone monitors work similar to blood glucose monitors – they require pricking your fingers for blood drops.  But here is a challenge – blood ketone testing strips are expensive.  Unless you are able to find some good deal on eBay (research the brand for measurement accuracy before committing to purchase), expect to pay around $5 per strip, on the average.  There are two things you can do to drive down the cost.  First, you can “approximate” that you are in ketosis by relying only on blood glucose testing (glucose testing strips are way less expensive and many monitors work with both glucose and ketone strips) and assuming that with dropping glucose levels your ketone levels increase.

The second, far more precise method still involves testing with blood ketone strips, but only doing it in your “experimental stage” without the need for constant re-measurement, unless you introduce some significant new variable into the process.  Once you establish how long your body typically takes to go into ketosis (I would suggest measuring at the start of your experiment, about 30-60 minutes after the first strenuous exercise and, preferably, after every subsequent exercise in the first week, around day 3 and then around day 7), you can predict your degree of ketosis with reasonable accuracy for all subsequent experiments.  The goal is to measure the impact of each variable impacting the level of ketone bodies in your body specifically – the effect of abstaining from carbs, exercising, time factor and whether (and how) the carbs that you do eat throughout the day impact your ketone levels, so that you could adjust where necessary.  In total, you may need 7-10 strips (which often come packaged with the device anyway) to establish recognizable patterns.

Initial keto-adaptation is a hard process – it is very restrictive and psychologically difficult.  Most (but not all) people initially experience a noticeable decline in energy and even exhibit symptoms referred to as “keto flu”, or “induction flu” – fatigue, irritability, nausea, headaches, low blood pressure, muscle soreness and even runny nose (although I would say that would be a bit extreme) – make no mistake, your body initially perceives the lack of the usual fuel as an emergency and a definite stress.  Remember this is only temporary – and measuring your personal results definitely helps make sure you are not wasting your time and doing everything right.

Your personal success in keto-adaptation and whether you are going to become a lean, mean fat-burning machine depends on your training status, sex, mode of exercise, the goals you set for yourself and a myriad of other factors.  It’s doable and many people do it – but, in the end, if all of this is just too much and you just can’t meet the demands of your sport while in ketosis – do a minor carb refeed a few hours before your peak activity.  These moderate carb refeeds, when you go to about 150 grams of carbs per day are probably a good idea to do every now and then (every 10-15 days anyway), to make sure your muscles do not become temporarily insulin insensitive.



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