What You Should Know About Keto-Adaptation – Verywell Health

Daily update

Laura Dolson is a health and food writer who develops low-carb and gluten-free recipes for home cooks.
Dr. Danielle Weiss is the founder of the Center for Hormonal Health and Well-Being, a personalized, proactive, patient-centered medical practice with a unique focus on integrative endocrinology. She enjoys giving lectures and writing articles for both the lay public and medical audiences.
Verywell / Zorica Lakonic
A ketogenic (or "keto") diet is an eating plan that's designed to seriously minimize carbohydrates, your body's favorite fuel source, and dramatically increase fats. The idea is that as carbohydrate levels drop, the body becomes forced to burn stored fat as its primary source of fuel, which can result in often dramatic weight loss. The diet represents a total turnaround from how most people eat: while the suggested American diet is about 50 percent carbohydrate, 15 percent protein, and 35 percent fat, the breakdown on most typical keto diets is 5 to 10 percent carbs, 70 to 75 percent fat, and the rest from protein.
Keto-adaptation (also sometimes called fat-adaptation) is the process your body goes through on the diet as it changes from using primarily glucose for energy to using primarily fat.
The “keto” part refers to ketones, which are water-soluble molecules that the liver makes when metabolizing fats, particularly when carbohydrate intake is low. Ketones can be used for energy by most tissues in your body, including the brain, which can’t use unrefined fats as fuel.
Your body is always using a mix of fat and glucose for energy, but in a non-keto-adapted state, it reaches for glucose first, since only low amounts of ketones are normally generated during fat metabolism, and some tissues of the body—for example, the heart—prefer using ketones when they’re available. The brain can’t use fat, so it depends upon glucose when you’re in a non-keto-adapted state.
If glucose is the body's normal go-to source of energy, you may be wondering what happens when it suddenly doesn't have enough to use as its main fuel.
Once stores of glycogen (the way the body warehouses glucose) become depleted, your brain and other organs begin the process of adapting to using fats and ketones instead of glucose as its main fuel. But reaching ketosis, the state in which fat provides most of the fuel for your body, isn't usually a pleasant experience.
Extreme carb restriction is often accompanied by adverse side effects. Commonly known as the "keto flu," the transition may cause a period of fatigue, weakness, lightheadedness, "brain fog," headaches, irritability, muscle cramps, and nausea.
While the length of time it takes to adapt to a keto diet varies, the process begins after the first few days. Then, after about a week to 10 days, many low-carbers suddenly start to feel the positive effects of keto-adaptation. They report improved mental concentration and focus and more physical energy as well.
Verywell / Nez Riaz
By the end of the second week (sometimes up to three weeks), the body has usually accomplished the majority of its work in adapting to using fat for energy. By this point, hunger and food cravings are diminished and stamina and vitality increase.
After this, the body continues to make more subtle changes. For example, it gradually becomes more conserving of protein, so people often crave less protein. Another change that athletes often notice is less lactic acid buildup in their muscles with long training sessions, which translates into less fatigue and soreness. It can take up to 12 weeks for these changes to occur and for you to fully reach ketosis.
There are a couple of ways you can get over the hurdle of the first week of carbohydrate withdrawal:
Research so far shows that ketogenic diets (and low-carb diets in general) can lessen the symptoms of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Keto diets are also successfully used to treat some seizure disorders. Studies indicate they may help other neurological disorders as well, such as Parkinson’s disease, though more research is needed.
The more scientists look at the keto diet, the more positive benefits they seem to find. For example, people on these diets have less of the saturated fat in their blood that's linked to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease. Emerging research also shows that using ketones for energy may decrease oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, and may even be involved in turning on some genes that may be beneficial to health.
Be sure to let your healthcare provider know if you start a keto diet, because your lipid panel may significantly change. Your healthcare provider should be notified so that he or she can take your diet and other possible changes, such as weight loss, into account when making clinical recommendations.
Some people find that their ketosis is pretty stable as long as they eat a low-carb diet under about 50 grams of carbs a day, while others find they need to eat fewer carbs to stay in ketosis. Athletes and heavy exercisers often can eat more than 50 grams of carbs and still stay in ketosis. Other influences, such as hormonal fluctuations and stress, have been known to throw people out of ketosis.
Some people find value in measuring their blood ketones, which can be done at home using a special meter and test strips. But most low-carb diet authors don't recommend bothering with it. If you're getting the benefits you hoped for on a keto diet, worrying about how high your ketones are may just add a level of complication you don't need.
Keep in mind that, when adhered to, the keto diet does its job—but the margin of error is extremely thin. People on the diet who eat foods with sugar or high carbs (even only once), cause insulin to be secreted; the body goes from ketosis to high fat storage mode (because is being fed high amounts of fat and carbs/sugar), which can lead to significant weight gain.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition.
Masood W, Uppaluri KR. Ketogenic Diet. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing.
Ma S, Suzuki K. Keto-Adaptation and Endurance Exercise Capacity, Fatigue Recovery, and Exercise-Induced Muscle and Organ Damage Prevention: A Narrative Review. Sports (Basel). 2019;7(2). doi:10.3390/sports7020040
Gupta L, Khandelwal D, Kalra S, Gupta P, Dutta D, Aggarwal S. Ketogenic diet in endocrine disorders: Current perspectives. J Postgrad Med. 2017;63(4):242-251. doi:10.4103/jpgm.JPGM_16_17
Volk BM, Kunces, LJ, et al. Effects of Step-Wise Increases in Dietary Carbohydrate on Circulating Saturated Fatty Acids and Palmitoleic Acid in Adults with Metabolic Syndrome. PLoS One. 2014 9(11). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113605
Shimazu T, Hirschey MD, Newman J, et al. Suppression of oxidative stress by β-hydroxybutyrate, an endogenous histone deacetylase inhibitor. Science. 2013;339(6116):211-4. doi:10.1126/science.1227166
Yancy WS Jr, Olsen MK, Guyton JR, Bakst RP, Westman EC. A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: A randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2004;140(10):769-777. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-140-10-200405180-00006
Norwitz NG, Loh V. A Standard Lipid Panel Is Insufficient for the Care of a Patient on a High-Fat, Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet. Front Med (Lausanne). 2020;7:97. doi:10.3389/fmed.2020.00097
By Laura Dolson
Laura Dolson is a health and food writer who develops low-carb and gluten-free recipes for home cooks.

Thank you, {{form.email}}, for signing up.
There was an error. Please try again.
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *