The 7 Best Keto Supplements For The Ketogenic Diet
Ketogenic Diets (more specifically, Cyclic Ketogenic Diets) are the most effective diets for achieving rapid, ultra low bodyfat levels with maximum muscle retention.
Now, as with all such general statements there are circumstantial exceptions. But done right – which they rarely are – the fat loss achievable on a ketogenic diet is nothing short of staggering.
And despite what people might tell you, you will also enjoy incredible high energy and overall sense of well being.
Despite these promises, more bodybuilders/shapers have had negative experiences than have seen positive results. The main criticisms are:
- Chronic lethargy
- Unbearable hunger
- Massive decrease in gym performance
- Severe muscle loss
All of these criticisms result from a failure to heed the caveat above: Ketogenic Diets must be done right.
It must be realised that they are an entirely unique metabolic modality that adheres to none of the previously accepted ‘rules’ of dieting.
And there is no going half-way; 50 grams of carbs per day plus high protein intake is NOT ketogenic.
So how are ketogenic diets ‘done right’? Let’s take a quick look at how they work.
Overview of Ketosis
Simply put our body, organs, muscles and brain can use either glucose or ketones for fuel. It is the function of the liver and pancreas (primarily) to regulate that fuel supply and they show a strong bias toward sticking with glucose.
Glucose is the ‘preferred’ fuel because it is derived in abundance from the diet and readily available readily from liver and muscle stores.
Ketones have to be deliberately synthesised by the liver; but the liver can easily synthesise glucose (a process known as ‘gluconeogenesis’ that uses amino acids (protein) or other metabolic intermediaries) too.
We don’t get beta hydroxybutyrate, acetone, or acetoacetate (ketones) from the diet. The liver synthesises them only under duress; as a last measure in conditions of severe glucose deprivation like starvation.
For the liver to be convinced that ketones are the order of the day, several conditions must be met:
- Blood glucose must fall below 50mg/dl
- Low blood glucose must result in low Insulin and elevated Glucagon
- Liver glycogen must be low or ’empty’
A plentiful supply of gluconeogenic substrates (carbs and their breakdown products) must NOT be available.
At this point it is important to mention that it is not actually a question of being ‘in’ or ‘out’ of ketosis; we don’t either totally run on ketones, or not.
It is a gradual and careful transition so that the brain is constantly and evenly fuelled… ideally.
Ketones SHOULD be produced in small amounts from blood glucose levels of about 60mg/dl. We consider ourselves in ketosis when there are greater concentrations of ketones than glucose in the blood.
The reality is that most people – especially weight trainers – have had a regular intake of glucose for a good couple of decades, at least.
The liver is perfectly capable of producing ketones but the highly efficient gluconeogenic pathways are able to maintain low-normal blood glucose above the ketogenic threshold.
Couple this with the fact that many people are at least partially insulin resistant and have elevated fasting insulin (upper end of the normal range, anyway).
The small amount of blood glucose from gluconeogenesis induces sufficient insulin release to blunt glucagon output and the production of ketones.
Sudden glucose deprivation will have the consequence, initially, of lethargy, hunger, weakness etc in most people – until ketosis is achieved. And Ketosis will not be reached until the liver is forced to quit with gluconeogenesis and start producing ketones.
As long as dietary protein is sufficient then the liver will continue to produce glucose and not ketones.
That’s why no carb, high protein diets are not ketogenic.
What’s so great about ketosis anyway?
When the body switches over to running primarily on ketones a number of very cool things happen:
- Lipolysis (body fat breakdown) is substantially increased
- Muscle catabolism (muscle loss) is substantially reduced
- Energy levels are maintained in a high and stable state
- Subcutaneous fluid (aka ‘water retention’) is eliminated
Basically, when we’re in ketosis, our body uses fat (ketones) to fuel everything. As such, we aren’t breaking down muscle to provide glucose.
That is, muscle is being spared because it has nothing to offer; fat is all the body needs (well, to a large extent). For the dieter this means substantially less muscle loss than what is achievable on any other diet.
As a bonus, ketones yield only 7 calories per gram. This is higher than the equal mass of glucose but substantially less (22%, in fact) than the 9 calorie gram of fat from whence it came.
We like metabolic inefficiencies like this. They mean we can eat more but the body doesn’t get the calories.
What’s even cooler is that ketones cannot be turned back into fatty acids — the body excretes any excess in your urine! Speaking of which, there will be quite a bit of urine; the drop in muscle glycogen, low Insulin and low aldosterone all equate to massive excretion of intra and extracellular fluid.
For us that means hard, defined muscularity and quick, visible results.
Case in point: my sister, who got serious about her nutrition last year. She was 38 pounds overweight before turning to keto. After 24 weeks of ketogenic diet (and lots of exercise), she started to see abs for the first time in her life.
But the benefits of keto go far beyond physique. We get tons of mental benefits, as well.