For a very long time now we have been told that glucose is the body’s favoured source of metabolic energy.
This widespread misconception has skewed a vast majority of the fitness community’s views on the consumption of carbohydrates and the mechanisms behind energy expenditure.
The reality is slightly different, and when we take a closer look at the biological process that makes up our metabolism, we quickly see that it is Fat, rather than Glucose, that is the key to energy conversion and energy expenditure.
Glucose as the body’s preferred energy source is a dangerous myth that can lead to terrible hormonal imbalances and unintentional weight gain.
Think of your body as a powerful combustion engine; while true that there are various forms of fuel to keep the fire going, the quality of the combustion will depend entirely on the material that it is fed.
The dietary intake that prioritises high consumption of carbohydrates ultimately damages mitochondrial function and contributes to the eventual development of chronic conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and even degenerative cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
What can we do then, to counteract the fact that dietary guidelines and public perception are so far off the mark?
This entire time we have been talking about Glycolysis.
Glycolysis is the metabolic process through which the body converts glucose molecules into energy, mainly through the synthesis of Adenosine Triphosphate, or ATP for short.
Most of the enzyme reactions that constitute the process of glycolysis, although metabolically efficient, will end up adversely affecting your health.
Thankfully, Ketosis presents us with a powerfully beneficial alternative.
Ketosis is the term used to describe a particular metabolic state wherein the body relies on various catabolic processes to break down fats to obtain energy.
A state of Ketosis is typically achieved when the body begins processing lipids in the liver and converting fatty acids into ketone bodies; which are, in turn, metabolised to fuel the body’s various systems.
Whereas during Glycolysis, elevated levels of insulin promote the storage of fat, during a state of ketosis stored fat is consumed first and is, therefore, the preferred metabolic state for those looking to lose weight or improve their fitness levels.
While a state of ketosis may arise as a result of fasting, it is far more likely to develop from a sustained diet that is composed of ingesting high-fat food items and limited carbohydrate intake.
A deliberate state of ketosis may serve some individuals as a form of medical treatment in cases of epilepsy and diabetes, and an effective method of rapid weight loss.
It is important to note that while we can survive 1 or 2 days with the glycogen stored in our body, we can live for months with the calories stored in our fat, so the ability to induce ketosis can allow us access to vast reserves of metabolic energy must be given priority.
How to Induce Ketosis
To induce a state of ketosis in your body, you must follow the following tips:
The most critical factor in achieving a state of ketosis is to limit your carbohydrate consumption.
- You must exercise regularly. Regular exercise will help you to deplete your body’s glycogen stores. Remember that the faster you rid your bloodstream of glycogen, the faster your metabolic processes will start to rely on fatty acids for energy. It is important to point out that exercise must be consistent as ketone levels will take approximately 3 to 4 weeks to rise to significant levels.
- As you lower your carbohydrate intake, you must gradually increase your consumption of fats. In fact, must diets designed to induce a state of ketosis consists of anywhere from 60% to 90% fats. However, not all fats are healthy, so you must make sure to consume healthy fats such as those found in olive oil, avocados, fatty fish, and nuts.
- Intermittent fasting is also recommended as it allows the body enough time to finish using glycogen stores for energy. The fasting period between dinner and breakfast that most people experience is enough to induce a state of mild ketosis.
How to Increase Ketosis
With so many potential health benefits provided by Ketosis, it is easy to forget that achieving dietary ketosis relies on a restrictive approach to nutrition and as such we must consider nutritional supplements to enhance the effects of ketosis while alleviating any adverse side effects that might arise.
Here are the three top supplements to increase Ketosis:
MCT Oil: Medium Chain Triglycerides are one of the most exciting nutritional supplements in the market right now.
Medium Chain Triglycerides, or MCT for short, are fatty acids with a particular molecular structure (they contain short chains of carbon atoms) that provides them with some fantastic metabolic properties.
Mainly, Medium Chain Triglycerides diffuse directly from the gastrointestinal tract and into the bloodstream without requiring dramatic chemical transformations as occurs with fatty acids that contain longer carbon chains.
In other words, the energy cost of metabolising these fatty acids into fuel for your cells.
Because medium chain triglycerides are extremely easy to metabolise, they are considered a great source of energy for the human body.
In addition to conferring powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties that boost the immune apparatus, MCT’s also improve brain function and cognition, as well as kickstart ketosis.
There are various types of MCT’s, all of which can be found in multiple natural food sources, with the most common being:
- Caproic Acid
- Caprylic Acid
- Capric Acid
- Lauric Acid
MCT Oil is a synthetic substance that is made by mixing precise amounts of naturally derived fatty acids into a powerfully concentrated formula.
By consuming an MCT Oil supplement, you will be providing your body with easily digestible, high-quality, fatty acids that will be used as the building blocks of endogenous ketones in your body and the more ketones you have in your bloodstream, the higher the level of ketosis you will be able to achieve.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are a form of polyunsaturated fat that the body essentially requires but cannot produce endogenously, so it must be ingested through dietary consumption.
Omega 3 fatty acids provide the body with a plethora of health benefits, especially regarding the proper function of the cardiovascular and circulatory systems.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be commonly found in:
- Oily fish such as tuna, salmon or mackerel.
- Seafood such as prawns, oysters or mussels.
- Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, or collard greens.
- Vegetable oils such as linseed, olive, sesame, or soy.
- Various nuts such as walnuts or almonds.
Three main types of omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Alpha-linoleic acid is found primarily in vegetable oils and is considered essential for proper metabolic function.
- Eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, is found primarily in fatty fish and milk. EPA provides compelling benefits to the circulatory system and decreases the body’s inflammatory response.
- Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, can be found in some fatty fish, eggs, and algae. DHA is intricately involved in the various functions of the central nervous system and can help with neurological conditions such as depression, headaches, migraines, schizophrenia, dementia, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
The heart is the most benefit of a contribution of omega 3 since this fatty acid has anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant properties.
It also helps reduce the level of cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure, by fluidising the blood.
In addition to benefitting the immune system, the formation of cells, the synthesis of various hormones, and cognitive function, Omega-3 fatty acids make a fantastic supplement to a ketosis-inducing diet because they can optimise triglyceride levels and reduce body fat percentages and rates of ketone conversion.
Exogenous Ketones: A successful state of ketosis will depend entirely on the total number of ketones floating around in your bloodstream.
Although the human body can produce a sufficient quantity of endogenous ketones, there is a lot to be gained from supplementing your ketogenic diet with some exogenous ketones.
Humans produce three types of ketone molecules in the liver; these, which are commonly referred to as ketone bodies are:
- Acetoacetic Acid
- Beta-Hydroxybutyric Acid also known as Beta Hydroxybutyrate or BHB
Exogenous ketones are available primarily in the form of Ketone salts.
Ketone salt supplements are composed of natural ketone bodies that have been mixed with sodium and potassium and calcium to improve absorption.
Most commercially available exogenous ketone supplements fall into this category.
One of the primary benefits of supplementing with exogenous ketones is the dramatic increase to the athletic performance they can provide.
Activities that are of low to moderate intensity and are performed over a period of time, so most forms of resistance training, will benefit the most.
- Cox, Pete J., et al. “Nutritional ketosis alters fuel preference and thereby endurance performance in athletes.” Cell metabolism 24.2 (2016): 256-268.
- JOHNSON, ROBERT E., REGINALD PASSMORE, and FREDERICK SARGENT. “Multiple factors in experimental human ketosis.” Archives of internal medicine 107.1 (1961): 43-50.
- Zupec‐Kania, Beth, and Mary L. Zupanc. “Long‐term management of the ketogenic diet: Seizure monitoring, nutrition, and supplementation.” Epilepsia 49 (2008): 23-26.
- Liu, Yeou‐mei Christiana. “Medium‐chain triglyceride (MCT) ketogenic therapy.” Epilepsia 49 (2008): 33-36.
We have, in preparing this information, used our best endeavours to ensure that the information contained herein is true and accurate, but accept no responsibility and disclaim all liability in respect of any errors, inaccuracies or misstatements contained herein. Information guide only and any other further information should be considered by a professional.