5 Advanced Fat Burning Strategies

In today’s society, we have an epidemic of obesity. With this there is also a growing trend of people who are tired of living a suboptimal life and are looking for ways to be healthy. Considering excess body fat is a risk factor for many of America’s top chronic diseases, using these fat burning strategies to slim down is a great place to start turning your life around.

Addititionally, these strategies will help you build muscle and rev up your metabolism so that you can keep fat off for good.  In addition to eliminating sugar and grains from the diet, and in general following a low-carb high-fat diet, there are five strategies that come to mind to help burn fat faster than ever before (1).

What Is Causing Our Obesity Epidemic?

Today it seems like everybody with excess weight to lose has trouble actually getting it off.  Unfortunately, there is an explosion of companies trying to capitalize on this trend by selling get-skinny-quick schemes that often times straight up don’t work.

When it comes down to it, there could be an infinite number of factors that are contributing to the obesity epidemic we are seeing.  We consume way too much sugar, we have environmental toxins that throw off our hormones, we are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles, and many of us just don’t know what we’re doing to our bodies.

While it is important to learn about these factors in detail to make smarter choices for your health, there are foundational factors that help put you on the right track.

Where Is The Best Place To Start?

While the strategies in this article are 5 great ways to start burning fat quickly, there are some foundational principles that help make this fat loss more sustainable.

While exercise plays a large role in burning fat, I find that most people are just going about it the wrong way.  You may have heard this before but the majority of fat loss happens in the kitchen. This is why I recommend a low-carb, high-fat diet to almost every single one of my patients.

Eating this way helps balance blood sugar, lower inflammation, balance hormones, and as a side benefit, fat seems to melt off (2).  I also like to emphasize that meats on this diet come from pasture-raised or wild caught sources, produce comes from organic sources, and water you are drinking is properly filtered.

Following these principles help to ensure that you are limiting your exposure to environmental toxins while maximizing nutrition, both of which can contribute to a healthy weight. To dive deeper into these principles check out my article on steps to following a Healing Diet.

Advanced Fat Burning Strategies

Now that we understand the foundation for sustainable weight loss, your five strategies that I use every day to help increase fat burning potential in my own body.  These strategies are designed to rev up your metabolism and help keep you in a ketogenic state so that fat burning comes naturally.

Super Hydration 

Typically, I will fast throughout the morning, consuming my first meal around noon. During this time, I make it a priority to super hydrate my body by drinking close to a gallon of water before I take my first bite of food.

This helps to give my cells the water they need to produce energy, helps to move my bowels, and promotes the release of toxins out of my body.  This means that when I do consume my first meal I’m not stressing an already stressed system. Instead, I feel great, I’m full of energy, and I have likely begun to produce ketones.

Getting your body to produce ketones endogenously is one of the keys to burning excess body fat quickly (3).

Super Hydration Strategies

When I tell people how much water they should be drinking, they sometimes look at me like I’m crazy. Most people simply are not drinking enough water and wind up chronically dehydrated. I will agree that water isn’t really the greatest tasting beverage in the world and there are ways you can spice it up.

Some Of My Favorite Ways To Hydrate Are:

Diluted Organic Broths: These help provide sodium and minerals for nervous system health. If you drink bone broth, you will also get tons of extra benefits for your gut.

Organic Mold-Tested Coffee: Although it contains fat, I find that drinking a Tumeric Fat-Burning coffee can help keep me full and focused throughout the morning, especially on my demanding days. The medium chain triglycerides in this help me produce ketones and rev up my fat burning potential.  If you don’t like or cannot do coffee, you can try our Keto Matcha Green Tea or Coconut Dandelion Coffee.

Water With Lemon or Apple Cider Vinegar: Combining a Tbsp of either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar provides the body with beneficial acids and enzymes to promote gut health and fat-burning.

Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic: They make bottled varieties of these today but here is my favorite. Steep a spiced tea such as Chai, cinnamon, or ginger, add a splash of apple cider vinegar and a bit of stevia or monk fruit to make a delicious keto-friendly spiced apple cider. Try out a few of my favorite recipes below!

Intermittent Fasting

Fasting is simply an amount of time where you do not consume any calories. As I mentioned, I perform an intermittent fast every day and typically don’t consume my first meal until noon or later. During this time, I feel absolutely full of energy, clear minded, and have laser focus.

Fasting mimicks a state of starvation. Although this might sound unpleasant, most people experience a ton of benefits when they practice this on a regular basis. In addition to being a fat burning strategy, it is one of the most powerful strategies for overall health and longevity.

The Top Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting Include:

Improved State Of Ketosis (Increased Fat Burning)

Boosted Immunity (4)

Improved Gut Health

Recycling and Removal Of Old Damaged Cells

Increased Repair of DNA Damage

Lowered Inflammation (5)

Improved Insulin Sensitivity

Intermittent Fasting Tips

Fasting can be implemented in several ways. I usually recommend starting with a simple fast of 12 hours. For example, if you finish eating dinner at 6PM at night you should not consume any more calories until 6AM the next morning. Most people will have no problem with this unless they have severe blood sugar dysregulation.

Once you feel good following a simple fast for 1-2 weeks, you can bump it up to 14 hours, then 16, and so on. Most people, including myself, respond very well in the range of 16-18 hours. Men tend to be able to fast longer than women so listen your body and settle where you feel your best.

If you find that you are having trouble with hunger and poor energy, consuming a high-fat beverage with no carbs or protein during the morning can be very helpful. I often recommend our Turmeric Fat Burning Coffee or Keto Matcha Green Tea.

I must stress again that during this time it is important to drink plenty of water and other hydrating beverages such as broths and herbal teas to help clear out toxins and supply minerals to the body.

Fasted Workouts 

Working out while fasted will burn up your glucose stores and help shift your body into a deeper fat burning state. This is especially true if you have trained your body to burn fat for fuel with a ketogenic diet.  At the same time, once your body has adapted to burning fat as its primary fuel, your body becomes more efficient at building lean muscle.

Getting into a state of ketosis is key for making fasted workouts work for you. This is when you will start to see an improvement in both muscle building as well as fat burning.  Follow these tips to ensure you maximize the benefits of your fasted workouts.

Short Duration, High Intensity Workouts

Working out fasted can be great but can easily become harmful to the body if you do not follow this principle.

Workouts should be high intensity, strength oriented, and no longer than 10-30 minutes. This kind of exercise has been shown to optimize sex hormones, boost endogenous antioxidant systems in the body, and keep your body in an anabolic state (muscle building) (6).

Working out too strenuously for too long will cause a sharp increase in cortisol which will increase blood sugar and increase the likelihood of catabolism (break down of muscle).

High Intensity Workout Tips

I have found that I respond the best to high intensity strength workouts of 20-30 minutes, 4 times per week. What I do is the same as I recommend to most of my patients as it is scientifically proven to help burn fat and balance hormones.

My weekly workout routine is a simple split as follows:

Upper Body Push & Pull Exercises (2 times per week): On these days, I will perform exercises such as bench press, rows, pull-ups, dips, and overhead presses.

Lower Body (2 times per week): On these days, I will perform compound movements such as squats and deadlifts. Full body movements that implement the core, such as burpees or mountain climbers, are a great finishing exercise to get your metabolism fired up.

Essential & Branched Chain Amino Acids

Typically, when people are not in an optimal metabolic state, they respond in one of two ways. They either put on fat, or they lose muscle mass. When performing extended fasts in addition to high intensity strength exercise, some individuals can struggle with putting on muscle.

I usually fast until around noon, hit the gym for a strength workout, and continue fasting for another 1-3 hours. To ensure that I remain in a fat-burning state while also building muscle, I supplement with an essential amino acid complex that contains specific ratios of branched-chain amino acids.

These amino acids provided in specific, scientifically studied ratios, make me feel strong and help ensure that I remain in a deep fat-burning state without sacrificing muscle tissue in the process (7).

Using Amino Acids To Build Muscle 

Up until recently I wouldn’t use amino acids because everything that was available either contained chemical sweeteners or just tasted terrible. I set out to find a better product and ended up with my own formulation called Amino Strong.

It contains specific amounts of essential amino acids, including branch chain amino acids, shown to support the development of muscle mass in scientific studies. On top of that, it tastes like fruit punch and is sweetened with stevia.

I would recommend using this product, or something similar, before and after your workouts while in a fasted state to support muscle development without sacrificing fat-burning potential.

Sources For This Article Include:

1. Raygan, F., Bahmani, F., Kouchaki, E., Aghadavod, E., Sharifi, S., Akbari, E., . . . Asemi, Z. (2016). Comparative effects of carbohydrate versus fat restriction on metabolic profiles, biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in overweight patients with Type 2 diabetic and coronary heart disease: A randomized clinical trial. PMID: 28607566
2. Bosma-den Boer, M. M., van Wetten, M.-L., & Pruimboom, L. (2012). Chronic inflammatory diseases are stimulated by current lifestyle: how diet, stress levels and medication prevent our body from recovering. Nutrition & Metabolism, 9(1), 32. PMID: 22510431 
3. Partsalaki, I., Karvela, A., & Spiliotis, B. E. (2012). Metabolic impact of a ketogenic diet compared to a hypocaloric diet in obese children and adolescents. Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, 25(7–8), 697–704. PMID: 23155696
4. Faris MA, Kacimi S, Al-Kurd RA, Fararjeh MA, Bustanji YK, Mohammad MK, Sale ML. Intermittent fasting during Ramadan attenuates proinflammatory cytokines and immune cells in healthy subjects. Nutr Res. 2012 Dec;32(12):947-55. PMID: 23244540
5. Varady KA, Hellerstein MK. Alternate-day fasting and chronic disease prevention: a review of human and animal trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jul;86(1):7-13. PMID: 17616757
6. Godfrey RJ, Madgwick Z, Whyte GP. The exercise-induced growth hormone response in athletes. Sports Med. 2003;33(8):599-613. PMID: 12797841
7. Matsumoto K, Koba T, Hamada K, et al. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation attenuates muscle soreness, muscle damage and inflammation during an intensive training program. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2009 Dec;49(4):424-31. PMID: 20087302

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7 Ways To Reduce Food Sensitivities

If you feel like you have all of a sudden developed an allergy to certain types of foods, or even just feel a little less like yourself after your meals, you may have a food sensitivity. A food sensitivity is a low-grade reaction to certain types of foods that causes an inflammatory reaction within your body.

Over time these foods can damage your gut and dysregulate your immune system, opening the doors to many health problems. Food sensitivities are one of the first factors I address with my patients, so in this article I am going to break down 7 ways to reduce food sensitivities in your own body.

The Damaging Impact of Food Sensitivities

You may be familiar to the idea of a food allergy. This is when someone has an outright and obvious negative reaction to a certain food. We all know someone who has an allergy to peanuts or dairy for example.

A food sensitivity however is an inflammatory reaction that can occur on a systemic level over time without you knowing it. Left unaddressed, it can eventually develop into an outright allergy due to leaky gut and possibly even auto-immunity.

Common Symptoms Of Food Sensitivities

A food sensitivity is a low-grade inflammatory reaction to a food. Typically, the longer you have been consuming a food you are sensitive to, the more you begin to experience symptoms. Common symptoms of food sensitivities include:

Moodiness

Brain Fog

Food Cravings

Headaches

Fatigue

Heart Burn

Joint Pain

Gas/Bloating

Acne or Eczema

Autoimmunity

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, you will likely want to take steps to remove common reactive foods and strengthen your body’s resilience against sensitivities.

Allergy Vs Sensitivity

There are currently three main explanations for the negative reactions that occur in the body from specific foods. These reactions are classified as IgE, non-IgE, or IgG-mediated. The “Ig” in these abbreviations stand for “Immunoglobulin”. Immunoglobulins are important regulatory proteins in the immune system that regulate inflammatory reactions to strategically focus the immune system on specific targets such as viruses and foreign bacteria.

In a classic allergic reaction where consuming a certain food, such as peanuts, can lead to a life-threatening reaction, you are looking at an IgE-mediated process. Non-IgE-mediated reactions are typically isolated to the gut and result in damage to the GI tract, gas/bloating, and potentially diarrhea. Non-IgE mediated reactions are thought to be largely influenced by the makeup of your gut bacteria (1).

Finally, there are IgG-mediated reactions which are thought to be the primary culprit in food sensitivity development. Continued exposure to foods that elicit an IgG-mediated reaction can are now thought to cause systemic problems in the body over time and oftentimes develop into full-blown allergies if not addressed.

The steps in this article are meant to help prevent this progression and strengthen your body’s defenses against these unwanted reactions to foods.

Get Rid of Inflammatory Foods

The first step you want to take is to remove common inflammatory foods from the diet. How reactive you are to certain foods is heavily determined by the health of your gut. By removing common reactive foods for a period of time, you lessen the burden on your gut and allow it time to heal.

Some of the most common food sensitivities include:

  • Wheat (and most other grains)
  • Soy (and most other beans/legumes)
  • Eggs & Dairy
  • Fish (especially shellfish)
  • Peanuts
  • Conventionally Raised Meats
  • Corn

You will definitely want to make sure you at least remove the foods listed above from your diet. If you want to take it a step further, I recommend following an elimination diet program.

Follow An Elimination Diet

An elimination diet follows the initial principle outlined above by removing common reactive foods from the diet for a period of time. The next step, however, is to reintroduce these foods one at a time to identify which ones you are specifically reactive to.

If you have a sensitivity to a food, your body will produce a stress response to it when you consume it. This will activate your sympathetic nervous system and drive your heart rate up. By reintroducing foods back into your diet and performing a pulse test, you can identify your unique food sensitivities for free!

Check out my video below on how to perform a pulse test on yourself.

Strengthen Stomach Acid Production

If you want to strengthen your resilience against food sensitivities, you need to support your stomach acid. One of the big reasons you can get a reaction to a food is that you have a damaged, leaky gut. When you have leaky gut, undigested food particles get into your system. Once there, the immune system treats them as foreign invaders.

Those larger molecules become stored in your immune system’s memory and every time you eat that food in the future you have an inflammatory response and this is oftentimes how someone can develop new food allergies (2).

Unfortunately, the relationship between stomach acid and food sensitivities is actually a downward spiral. This is because inflammatory foods inhibit stomach acid production over time and low stomach acid inhibits your ability to fully break down those same foods. The result is continued damage, inhibited digestive processes, and continued release of undigested food particles into the blood stream.

In addition to following the steps already mentioned, you may find it advantageous to use a stomach acid support supplement. This will help you fully digest your food while relieving stress from the digestive tract, assisting it in rebuilding.

Meanwhile, you will want to support your own intrinsic formation of stomach acid by following the steps illustrated below.

Consider Digestive Enzymes

If you haven’t noticed so far, a lot of healing the gut has to do with removing as many stressors as possible. Removing reactive foods and taking steps to support proper digestion are critical here. On top of supporting stomach acid production, supplementing with a high quality digestive enzyme complex can be especially helpful in breaking down a variety of foods.

Consequently, one of the common symptoms of low enzyme production is an increase in food sensitivities. Additionally, your immune, detoxification, as well as many other systems in the body rely on enzymes to carry out normal functions. Getting a broad range of enzymes into your body on a daily basis will help aid in rebalancing these processes.

SuperDZyme is my personally developed enzymatic complex that I use for this purpose. For gut support, I would recommend consuming 2-4 capsules with each solid-food meal. Enzymes are also great for ongoing digestive support for everyday wellness and they are something I even use on a daily basis for the benefits outlined below.

Improve Immune Tolerance

The damage that occurs in the gut over time due to inflammatory foods eventually leads to leaky gut. As I mentioned earlier, this allows large food molecules into the bloodstream that distract the immune system from real pathogenic threats.

This means a lot of the inflammation caused by food sensitivities is actually due to unwarranted immune reactions. With this in mind, one of the best ways to increase your resilience against food sensitivities is to take steps to strengthen and coordinate your immune system.

The top nutrients I have found for this purpose include: Quercetin, Curcumin, Zinc Glycinate, L-Glutamine, Ginger, and Pea Protein.

Gut Healing Support Supplements

You can purchase these ingredients individually; however, I have formulated a gut healing protein blend containing all of these nutrients that is specifically designed for restoring gut health and improving detoxification systems in the body that also serves as a powerful source of nutrition.

As an additional strategy, colostrum is powerful immune support for the gut. Colostrum is a compound found in high concentrations in mother’s milk of most mammals. It contains important immunoglobulins that act to balance gut flora, reduce GI inflammation, and aid in healing the gut lining. For a concentrated source of gut healing immunoglobulins, I recommend Gut Defense.

Take Gentle Anti-Microbials

If you have unbalanced gut flora or have harmful pathogens in your gut, it is going to be difficult to reduce food sensitivities. When pathogens are present in the gut, you will have continued inflammation and distraction of the immune system.

My recommended strategy for this is to utilize gentle anti-microbial compounds on a daily basis to rebalance and maintain the microbiome of your GI tract. This includes things like: garlic, onions, fermented foods, Italian herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary), lemon & lime juices, and apple cider vinegar. Essential oils such as oregano can also be very powerful for this.

Alternatively, you could supplement with an anti-microbial supplement such as GI Regulator on a regular basis. This formula is a gentle and simple way to help rebalance your gut flora on a daily basis.

Take Specific Probiotics

There has been some interesting research showing that the microbiome of your gut can either potentiate or protect you from experiencing food sensitivities (3, 4). This makes sense as the microbes in your gut interact with every bite of food that you eat.

Things like antibiotic use, exposure to damaging chemicals, processed foods, spending too much time in a sterilized environment, and even being formula fed as a child can all alter the microbiome in a way that increases your likelihood of suffering from food allergies.

The presence of specific strains of bacteria in the gut such as: Lactobacilli, Saccharomyces boulardii, Bacillus coagulans, and L. acidophilus have all shown to play some role in reducing food sensitivities and restoring a healthy microbial environment in the gut (5, 6). At the same time, probiotics have been shown to help restore the integrity of the gut lining which is also an important step for reducing sensitivity (7).

Our SBO probiotic is a great source of these sensitivity-reducing probiotic strains. For those intolerant to probiotics or are having severe digestive issues, I would recommend beginning with our Prescript-Assist. Prescript-Assist is a great low-dose soil-based probiotic that does a great job of laying a foundation for a healthy gut microbiome. For many of my patients I will recommend beginning with Prescript-Assist for 1-3 months before introducing SBO and this gets great results.

Bonus Strategies

Reduce FODMAP Sensitivities

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo, Di- and Monosaccharides and Polyols. While this sounds complicated, these are just compounds that occur in specific types of foods. If you are someone with an imbalance in your gut bacteria, especially in the small intestine, you will likely react negatively to FODMAP foods.

If you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), I would recommend eliminating FODMAP foods for a short amount of time to help restore balance in the small intestine. Take a look at the chart below. If you notice that after consuming any of the following foods that you consistently get diarrhea and flatulence, it may be advantageous for you to remove FODMAPs from your diet.

During this time, it would be a good idea consume anti-microbials, probiotics such as Prescript-Assist, and nourishing foods like bone broth.

Reduce Histamine Sensitivities

Allergies can often be potentiated or caused by elevated histamine in the body. Histamine is an important inflammatory molecule that plays a role in regulating immunity. In some individuals however, elevated histamine or improper histamine metabolism can lead to exaggerated reactions to different environmental factors, such as food compounds.

These people will usually know whether or not they are histamine intolerant. They are often very reactive to things like fermented foods and some even report being allergic to the sun!

In this case, it is very important to reduce your exposure to histamine-raising foods while also taking steps to improve your metabolism of histamines. Many of the steps outlined in this article will help improve your histamine response. You can read more about histamine intolerance here.

Complete Digestive Health Analysis

While following an food elimination diet along with strategies in this article is a great way to reduce your food sensitivities. The most efficient and targeted strategy is to use functional lab testing to quickly identify your sensitivities and current health of your gut.

We use the Food Sensitivity IgG test to look at specific food sensitivities, an Organic Acid test to look for nutrient deficiencies and microbial biomarkers and a stool test to look at the makeup of the microbiome.  We combine all 3 of these labs in our Digestive Health Analysis, which is one of the best ways to quickly identify the health of your microbiome, signs of a damaged gut, and pinpoint your specific food sensitivities.

With this information, we can develop a personal plan specifically aimed at the results we see on your lab work. If you are feeling severely inhibited by your digestive health, this would be a great package to get in order to find the root cause of your problems and get a well-designed plan to get well.

You are likely hosting one or more parasites–which can enter your body through food, drink, contact with infected persons–and can live within you for years!

At The Parasite Summit, our experts will help you determine if parasites are silently impacting your health–they’re FAR MORE COMMON than you think!

WHY ATTEND?

Parasites aren’t just found in third-world countries, millions are already infected in industrialized countries–they’re far more common than you realize and could be silently hampering your health.

Fortunately, with awareness and appropriate care, parasites can be prevented and treated, once detected.

The Parasite Summit is online and free from September 11-18, 2017!

Do You Have Any of the Following?

Gastrointestinal: pain/cramps, excess gas, bloating, constipation/diarrhea

Infertility and hormone disorders

Skin issues: acne, itching, rashes

Mental health: depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc.

Challenges with autoimmune disease recovery

If you are dealing with any of these issues than you MUST ATTEND this free online event!

Sources For This Article Include:

1. Jyonouchi, H. (2012). Non-IgE mediated food allergy – update of recent progress in mucosal immunity. Inflammation & Allergy Drug Targets, 11(5), 382–396. PMID: 22680623
2. Fasano, A. (2012). Leaky gut and autoimmune diseases. Clinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology, 42(1), 71–78. PMID: 22109896
3. Stefka, A. T., Feehley, T., Tripathi, P., Qiu, J., McCoy, K., Mazmanian, S. K., … Nagler, C. R. (2014). Commensal bacteria protect against food allergen sensitization. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 111(36), 13145–50. PMID: 25157157
4. Cao, S., Feehley, T. J., & Nagler, C. R. (2014). The role of commensal bacteria in the regulation of sensitization to food allergens. FEBS Letters, 588(22), 4258–4266. PMID: 24791655
5. Fosca A, Polsinelli L, Aquilio E (2015) Effects of Probiotic Supplementation in Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity Patients. J Hum Nutr Food Sci 3(5): 1073. (Link)
6. Pandey, K. R., Naik, S. R., & Vakil, B. V. (2015). Probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics- a review. Journal of Food Science and Technology. PMID: 26604335
7. Rao, R. K., & Samak, G. (2013). Protection and Restitution of Gut Barrier by Probiotics: Nutritional and Clinical Implications. Current Nutrition and Food Science, 9(2), 99–107. PMID: 24353483

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How To Follow A Ketogenic Diet

How To Follow A Ketogenic Diet 

A ketogenic diet has been shown to help people lose stubborn weight, drastically reduce inflammation, boost energy, and improve brain health (1). With all of these benefits you might be wondering how do I follow a ketogenic diet? 

The research and consistent testimony behind a ketogenic style of eating is compelling. By teaching your body to burn fat for fuel instead of sugar, you improve the function of almost every cell in the human body. This is likely due to the anti-inflammatory effect of being in ketosis as well as the efficient energy production that takes place from ketones.

This article breaks down what exactly a ketogenic diet is and how you can develop a ketogenic plan that is ideal for your needs!

Why Would One Follow A Ketogenic Diet? 

The goal of a ketogenic diet is simple, to convert the body’s primary fuel supply from sugar to fat. Fat is converted into ketones which are very efficient for energy production while also limiting metabolic waste that contributes to inflammation.

To get into this state, you must follow a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein nutrition plan. By making this simple dietary change, blood sugar drops to a level where the body must learn to utilize fat to survive.

At this point, the body begins to convert fatty acids into ketones which are then used by the cells in the brain and body to produce energy. This state is sometimes referred to as being keto-adapted.

Because ketones result in more energy and lowered inflammation, you can expect to enjoy a heightened sense of wellbeing, a sharper mind, and a natural increase in fat loss.

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Why Most People Are Not Keto-Adapted 

The body naturally favors sugar over fat as an energy source. At the same time, most Americans have a crazy high reliance on carbs and sugars as the primary source of calories in their diets.

This is why a ketogenic diet is needed to essentially re-teach the body to use fat for energy. Most people spend the majority of their life in a sugar-burning state and their cells lose the metabolic flexibility necessary to burn fat.

This is why It usually takes about 2-3 weeks for someone to become fully keto-adapted after beginning a ketogenic diet. Even though the body will begin to produce ketones within a few days, it takes longer for the cells to begin converting them into energy.

Ketogenic Macronutrient Proportions 

While macronutrient needs can change based on individual needs and activity levels, the general breakdown looks like this:

Low Carbohydrate:  5-10% of calories from net carbs (total carbs – fiber)

Moderate Protein:  20-30% of calories from protein

High Fat:  60-80% of calories from fat.

This is a great blueprint to start with. Some individuals need to stick to 5% carb range while others can get away with 15%. If you are more active you will likely need more protein and more overall calories in general.

This is where measuring your ketones can be very helpful! I would recommend tracking your ketone levels using a Ketonix breath monitor or a blood ketone monitor like this one to determine where you feel best.

Fundamental Diet Swaps 

As I mentioned already, Americans love their carbs. Take a look at any given meal in the Standard American Diet and you will see lots of grains and starches like bread, pasta, potatoes, cereals, and corn.

Following a ketogenic diet requires ditching these foods and replacing them predominantly with high-fat foods. It is not enough to just eat tons of fat however, these need to be healthy sources of fat. Your body also uses fats to make new brain tissues and insulation for your nerves so healthy fats mean healthy brain!

Ketogenic friendly fats that I recommend are things like grass-fed butter, coconut oil, MCT oil, pastured eggs, olive oil, olives, and avocados. High-fat nuts like macadamias can also be great as a snack.

Meals

For me, the primary reason to be on a ketogenic diet is for health and performance. While some advocate for high consumption of bacon and other processed animal products, I like to focus on maximum nutrition while minimizing toxins.

As far as meal structure goes, you can either intermittent fast or consume regular meals. If you are someone who handles fasting really well, then I would recommend fasting through breakfast and consuming two meals later in the day.

If you do not do well with fasting then consume 3-4 meals evenly spaced throughout the day. Anything more than 4 meals may increase your blood sugar even if they are ketogenic.

Some of the typical meals I recommend are:

Breakfast: 2-3 Pasture-Raised eggs cooked in coconut oil with low-carb veggies (spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, etc.) OR One of our ketogenic coffee recipes.

Lunch: Chocolate Avocado Pudding or Gut Healing Protein Pudding (Or something similar)

Dinner: 4oz of Pasture-Raised Meat cooked in coconut or MCT oil (Pour on the meat after cooking) covered in lemon/lime juice, sea salt, and plenty of herbs. Along with a nice healthy portion of broccoli or other veggies covered in grass-fed butter, salt, and herbs.

Dessert: There are now tons of great keto dessert recipes that use stevia or monk fruit as a non-caloric sweetener. I make these Keto Cookies and this Coconut Milk ice cream when I’m looking for something sweet after dinner. The healthy fats help keep you full and blood sugar balanced so you can sleep soundly through the night.

These are just some ideas to get you going, but hopefully you get the general idea. These meals are high in fat and full of nutrition!

Salt and Other Trace Minerals 

One important aspect of following a ketogenic diet that is often overlooked is making sure you get enough sodium and minerals. When you are running on carbohydrates your body will retain sodium due to elevated insulin levels (2). Once you are running on ketones however, your body excretes sodium at a much higher level until you are fully keto-adapted.

This means while eating ketogenic it is important to use salt generously on your foods. I recommend either a pink Himalayan or Celtic sea salt as these contain naturally occurring minerals in addition to sodium.

So, salt your foods well but also eat plenty of mineral-rich foods like celery, cucumbers, and seaweeds. As an additional source of minerals, you can also sip on organic broth throughout the day.

Standard or Cyclical? 

There are two main types of ketogenic diet: standard and cyclical and one additional strategy for high intensity athletes called the targeted ketogenic diet.

Standard Ketogenic Diet: This is where you are trying to adapt your body to be in ketosis permanently. Here your carbs are limited to about 20-50 grams per day with moderate protein (0.8-1.2 grams/kg of bodyweight). The remainder of calories come from healthy fats.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet: This where you periodically consume higher amounts of carbs in order to temporarily come out of ketosis. How often you cycle out really depends on your preference. I often recommend starting out with one day every week while some people like to do once a month.

Targeted Ketogenic Diet:  This is for high intensity athletes.  On this diet, you go low-carb for all meals other than right before the high intensity activities.  About 30 mins-1 hour prior to the activity you take in 25-50 grams of net carbs.

Note About Carbs: When we are talking about carbs, we are talking net carbs. When you are looking at the nutritional information on a food, net carbs = total carbs – fiber. This is because fiber is technically a carbohydrate but it is not metabolized into energy like other carbs and will not have any effect on blood sugar.

Deciding What Works For You 

Deciding whether or not you want to follow a standard or cyclical ketogenic diet is highly dependent on your current needs.

For people who are just starting out on a ketogenic diet, I would recommend following the standard ketogenic diet for the first 2-4 weeks until your body is keto-adapted (read this article to understand when you are keto-adapted). Once you begin to feel good on a ketogenic diet, then you can try a higher carb day to cycle out and see how you feel.

In general, I find that most people feel much better when they periodically cycle out of ketosis. How often you cycle out can vary by person so you have to do some experimentation here.

Try the following cycles: 2x/week, 1x/week, 1x/2 weeks, and up to once every month. I find that most people do well with the once per week cycle.

Why Cycling May Be Advantageous

Cycling is a relatively new concept. It is thought that because the ketogenic diet mimics a starvation state, our bodies have a stress response when in a prolonged state of ketosis.

When the body constantly perceives that it is in a starvation state, you will have a higher tendency to go into fight-or-flight mode. This chronic stress state can have negative effects on thyroid function, sex hormone balance, and other aspects of vitality.

By periodically cycling out of ketosis, it is thought to replenish glycogen stores and signal the body that there is not actually a shortage of food and thereby negating many of the side effects associated with the stress response of starvation.

The goal is to eat just enough carbs to replenish glycogen stores without contributing to weight gain.

Ketogenic Vs. High Protein

Many people make this mistake when they begin a ketogenic diet: eating too much protein. A ketogenic diet is actually a high-fat diet with only a moderate amount of protein.

This is absolutely critical because consuming too much protein can negate the benefits of being ketogenic. One of the biggest problems is that excess protein can actually elevate blood sugar and pull you out of ketosis. This is due to a biological process called gluconeogenesis where protein is inefficiently converted into glucose (3).

While a high-protein diet can be beneficial for building muscle and potentially losing some weight, becoming keto-adapted is simply not possible. Appropriate protein levels are about 0.8-1.2 grams per KG of bodyweight, where reaching the higher level of this range should be on days when you are active or performing intense exercise.

For high-level athletes that incur higher amounts of muscle damage, a range of 1.5-1.8 grams of protein per KG of bodyweight can sometimes be followed while maintaining a ketogenic state. Again, the best way to determine the right balance for you is to measure your ketone levels.

Ketogenic Vs. Low Carb 

The difference between ketogenic and low-carb diets is kind of like the rule you learn in math class about squares and rectangles. All ketogenic diets are low-carb but not all low-carb diets are ketogenic.

The goal of a ketogenic diet is to drop blood sugar low enough to where the body preferentially uses fat for energy over glucose. For most people, this requires an intake of about 20-50 net carbs in a day. Many low-carb diets allow for the consumption of up to 100 grams of carbs per day. 

While some people may go into ketosis on a low-carb diet, many people just end up chronically hypoglycemic and feeling awful.

Keto-Adaptation 

Keto-adaptation is the process your body goes through during the first 2-4 weeks of following a ketogenic diet. This is the period where your body actually has to recalibrate to burning fat for energy over glucose.

During this period, you can expect to feel minor side effects that will typically dissipate rather quickly. For more information on these side effects and how to avoid them, read this post.

A great strategy to track your body’s adaptation to a ketogenic diet is to monitor your ketone levels. For my top strategies on this check out this post where I break down each method and what my favorite is.

Mental health struggles are slow, silent killers sapping us of energy and happiness.

Whether challenged by depression, anxiety, stress, addiction or another manifestation, every single person is impacted and affected–you, your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers–either directly or indirectly every single day.

This Mental Wellness Summit Will Empower You Too: 

Overcome the silence, isolation and fear of your struggle

Transcend outdated, prescription-based healthcare systems

Find holistic practitioners and natural solutions for your pain

Implement expert practices, tools and tips into your daily routine

And so much more!

You can register for this event for free here

You will want to listen to my presentation on Friday, September 29th as I go through how to apply a ketogenic diet to reduce inflammation in your brain and improve your mood, memory and mindset!!

Sources For This Article Include:

1. Branco, A. F., Ferreira, A., Sim??es, R. F., Magalh??es-Novais, S., Zehowski, C., Cope, E., … Cunha-Oliveira, T. (2016). Ketogenic diets: From cancer to mitochondrial diseases and beyond. European Journal of Clinical Investigation. PMID: 26782788
2. Brands, M. W., & Manhiani, M. M. (2012). Sodium-retaining effect of insulin in diabetes. AJP: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 303(11), R1101–R1109. PMID: 23034715
3. Veldhorst, M. A. B., Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S., & Westerterp, K. R. (2009). Gluconeogenesis and energy expenditure after a high-protein, carbohydrate-free diet. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90(3), 519–526. PMID: 19640952

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What Are Ketones and Are They Healthy?

What Are Ketones and Are They Healthy? 

If you are up on your health news or follow anyone in the health field, you have likely heard the term ketogenic diet. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to adapt the body to utilize fat as its primary fuel source instead of sugar. The body does this by first converting fat into what are called ketones that the cells can then burn as fuel. It is at this point that I typically get asked, “what are ketones”?

In this article, I am going to clear up any gaps, explain exactly how ketogenisis works, and why it can be so beneficial for the human body.

Biological Role of Ketones 

For our ancestors, eating three meals a day just wasn’t a thing. Instead they would hunt and forage for the foods they could find. When there wasn’t food, they wouldn’t eat.

What this means is that sometimes they would go for days at a time with no food. To sustain life during times of scarcity, the body is thought to have developed the ability to utilize fat as an alternative fuel source.

In a traditional nutrition course you would learn that sugar is the body’s primary fuel source while fat is a secondary fuel source. When sugar stores are burned up, the cells then convert to burning fat as an energy source.  What we are finding out now is that fat can actually be a healthier and more sustainable source of energy.

Our Society Is Full of Sugar Burners 

Modern day, we have an abundance of food that is available to us at all times. Most of us regularly eat three meals a day with intermittent snacking in between.

This kind of frequent eating, along with an overemphasis on carb-rich and sugary foods, causes a reduced ability to burn fat. As these foods damage our bodies on a metabolic level, we actually lose the ability to produce ketones.

This type of reliance on sugar creates massive blood sugar spikes, inflammation, hormone imbalance, and ultimately many of the chronic diseases that plague our society today.  Luckily, by adopting a more ketogenic style of eating, we can reverse this damage and revert back to the efficient fat-burning machines we were meant to be!

The Advantage of Ketones 

The energy currency of the body, comes in the form of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). The mitochondria within every cell in the body either metabolize glucose or ketones to form this important energy molecule.

Based on what we understand of cellular energy metabolism, ketones are able to create much greater amounts of energy per molecule than glucose.   This means when the body begins to convert fat into ketones, you actually have a much more stable and sustainable energy source. 

At the same time, burning fat does not create the same insulin and blood sugar response that burning sugar does. This is part of the profound benefits of being in ketosis including, improved hormone balance, lowered inflammation and improved brain health.

Likewise, many people report feeling much more stable when they go into ketosis. Feeling less hungry, gaining control over cravings, and often experiencing a much more stable emotional state.

How The Body Gets Into Ketosis 

As I mentioned already, the body will either burn sugar or fat for energy. Sugar is converted into glucose while fats are converted into ketones by the liver.  When blood sugar drops and glycogen stores are burned up, the body begins to convert fat into ketones for energy.

As we find out more about the benefits of ketones, people are intentionally putting themselves into this state for therapeutic benefits as well as a heightened state of mental performance.

There are several ways to promote an increase in ketone bodies, outlined below. The general strategy is to supply the body with ample fats while depleting blood glucose to signal the metabolic shift towards fat-burning.

Types Of Ketones

Unlike the simple conversion of sugar into glucose, fatty acid metabolism actually results in 3 different types of ketones:

  1. Acetate (Acetone)
  2. Acetoacetate (AcAc)
  3. Beta Hydroxybutyrate (BHB)

BHB, based on its molecular structure, is not really a ketone. Yet its presence is part of the beneficial effects of being in ketosis. Among its benefits is the ability to modulate BDNF in the brain and stimulate the growth of new neural tissue (1).

AcAc is the primary ketone body and is either converted into energy or BHB.  Acetone exhibits the least metabolic effect and is mostly broken down and excreted through the breath and urine.  The acetone excreted through the breath is actually responsible for the “keto breath” that some people experience in the beginning stages of keto adaptation.

Measuring Your Ketone Levels 

When the body produces ketones, some are used for energy while the rest are circulated or excreted. Because of this, ketones are measurable in the blood, the saliva, and the breath.

Different ketones are measurable as follows:

BHB: In the blood

Acetone: In the breath

AcAc: In the urine

Although ketones can be measured in different ways, not all of them are quite an accurate representation of the body’s true ketogenic state. This is why most experts rely on the measurement of BHB through the blood as the ideal method.

Although this sounds invasive, new technology has actually made performing ketone measurements at home fairly simple and cheap.

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BHB: Blood Measurement 

As I said already, blood measurement for BHB is considered the most accurate depiction of the ketogenic state. This is performed in a similar fashion to blood sugar testing.

Many of the blood glucose monitors on the market also have the ability to read blood ketones. Using a different type of testing strip, all you have to do is prick your finger, collect a small sample of blood, and place it into the monitor for a quick ketone measurement.

The monitor I usually recommend is this Precision Xtra monitor.

The ranges you are looking for here are as follows:

Very Low Ketone Levels:  Less than 0.5 mmol/L

Mild Ketosis:  0.6-1.5 mmol/L

Optimal Ketosis:  1.6-3.0 mmol/L

Very High Ketone Levels:  Greater than 3.0 mmol/L

Although mild ketosis can be achieved rather quickly, it can take up to 2-3 weeks to enter an optimized ketogenic state (2).

The only downside with blood ketone measurement is that the testing strips generally run for about $4 per strip. To perform daily ketone measurements using this method you would be looking at around $120 per month on just testing strips!

Acetone: Breath Measurement 

For a ketone measurement that doesn’t require a blood draw or the recurring expense of test strips, breath ketones are also a reliable measurement (3).

Using a device such as this Ketonix breath analyzer, you can perform a simple ketone measurement anytime you need.  Although this device will run you for about $190, over time it will likely be a more economical option compared to blood testing since it is only a one-time fee.

It is important to note that while breath ketone measurement is mostly reliable, factors such as alcohol and water consumption may influence your measurements. Luckily you can take multiple measurements throughout the day to get a better idea of your average ketone levels.

Using the Ketonix breath ketones measurement, the device will light up different colors depending on your state of ketosis. Based on the chart below you would want to be in the yellow or red zone for optimal nutritional ketosis.

AcAc: Urine Measurement 

The body releases unused acetoacetate through the urine upon which it can then be measured using special testing strips. This is a simple option that is also very cost effective at about $10 per 100 strips.

Although simple and cheap, urine measurement of ketones can be somewhat unreliable. This measurement will allow you to see if your body is producing ketones, it doesn’t necessarily provide any insight into how well your body is utilizing ketones for energy.

Additionally, urine ketone measurements can vary significantly depending on the individual’s hydration levels. For example, dehydration will make ketone levels appear higher, while over hydration will make them appear lower.

During the beginning phases of keto adaptation, the body has a poor ability to utilize ketones as energy. Even if the body is producing ketones, most of them will be excreted. Once the body becomes keto-adapted, higher amounts of ketones are used as energy and less are excreted naturally.

So if you were to choose urine measurement for ketone analysis, I would recommend measuring daily from the very beginning of your eating plan. You should notice an initial increase in ketones into the high range followed by a gradual decrease as you become keto adapted.

Although your ketones will be high, you will actually be hypoglycemic until your body learns to utilize ketones effectively. As you become keto-adapted you should look for a drop in urine ketone levels between 2-3 weeks of eating a ketogenic style diet.

This drop in urine ketone levels lets you know that your body is becoming more efficient at actually using them for energy.

Concern: Ketoacidosis 

The state of nutritional ketosis is sometimes confused with a state referred to as ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is an extreme ketotic state that occurs mostly in diabetic populations. When an individual is unable to produce insulin, sugar cannot get into the cells. As a response, the body drastically upregulates ketone production.

In this state, there is both an extremely elevated blood sugar and blood ketone level simultaneously (4). This will cause the overall pH of the body to drop to a dangerously acidic level which can be fatal.  While this condition can be harmful for the individual, it is important to note that entering this state is actually very rare.

To put this into perspective, this condition mainly occurs in unmanaged diabetics. In this state, ketone levels will reach 20 mmol/L and beyond. An otherwise healthy individual could water fast for 20 days and still maintain a ketone concentration below 20 mmol/L.

In other words, unless you are diabetic, reaching a state of ketoacidosis through diet alone is virtually impossible.

Summary 

Ketones are the body’s alternative fuel source to sugar. Derived from fatty acids, they provide a much more long-lasting and stable production of energy. In addition to providing stable energy, ketones also do not promote the inflammatory rise and fall of insulin as does sugar.

Modern dietary habits have altered our metabolism and made sugar our primary fuel source. By following a ketogenic style of eating, it is possible to reverse these metabolic defects and take advantage of the benefits that ketones have to offer for our brains and bodies!

Mental health struggles are slow, silent killers sapping us of energy and happiness.

Whether challenged by depression, anxiety, stress, addiction or another manifestation, every single person is impacted and affected–you, your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers–either directly or indirectly every single day.

This Mental Wellness Summit Will Empower You Too: 

Overcome the silence, isolation and fear of your struggle

Transcend outdated, prescription-based healthcare systems

Find holistic practitioners and natural solutions for your pain

Implement expert practices, tools and tips into your daily routine

And so much more!

You can register for this event for free here

You will want to listen to my presentation on Friday, September 29th as I go through how to apply a ketogenic diet to reduce inflammation in your brain and improve your mood, memory and mindset!!

Sources For This Article Include:

1. Sleiman, S. F., Henry, J., Al-Haddad, R., El Hayek, L., Haidar, E. A., Stringer, T., … Chao, M. V. (2016). Exercise promotes the expression of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) through the action of the ketone body ??- hydroxybutyrate. eLife, 5(JUN2016), 1–21. PMID: 27253067
2. GF Cahill Jr, T. A. (1971). Starvation and body nitrogen. Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, 82, 42–51. PMID: 4934018
3. Musa-Veloso, K., Likhodii, S. S., & Cunnane, S. C. (2002). Breath acetone is a reliable indicator of ketosis in adults consuming ketogenic meals. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 76(1), 65–70. PMID: 12081817
4. Westerberg, D. P. (2013). Diabetic ketoacidosis: Evaluation and treatment. American Family Physician, 87(5), 337–346. PMID: 23547550

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The 11 Most Common Keto Side Effects

The ketogenic diet is a powerful new tool to hit the mainstream recently. This style of eating has substantial data behind it showing that it can boost fat-burning, reduce inflammation, boost cognitive performance, and more. What has not been covered quite enough are common keto side effects and how you can avoid them to make the best of this powerful eating style.

Although there can be many different side effects that manifest while becoming keto-adapted, many of them stem from similar underlying issues. In this article, I outline what those underlying issues are, their related side effects, and simple strategies to overcome them so you can become keto-adapted as smoothly as possible.

Three Primary Causes

Although there are a variety of symptoms that can arise during keto adaptation, they mostly manifest from the same three underlying causes. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis dysfunction, and electrolyte/mineral deficiencies.

While these three causes are seemingly different, they are actually all related. When becoming keto-adapted initially, your body has been running on sugar for years. When you suddenly switch to fats, your body has to essentially build the cellular machinery necessary to generate and utilize ketone bodies as a fuel source.

This means that instead of generating tons of ketones from the very beginning, most people experience hypoglycemia for a period of time. With hypoglycemia comes a disruption in cortisol signaling which is what accounts for the HPA axis dysfunction. Finally, HPA axis dysfunction leads to an increase in secretion of minerals from the body in the urine.

Together these three causes can create all kinds of side effects. Once you understand them, though, a little bit of extra planning can help mitigate them from ever happening.

Hypoglycemia 

As I briefly mentioned already, hypoglycemia is the first underlying cause to contribute to side effects during keto-adaptation. This is because the body simply doesn’t know how to burn fat for energy yet.

During the adaptation phase, people commonly feel brain fog, fatigue, dizziness, intense hunger, irritability, and depression.

Although hypoglycemia and its side effects should subside within weeks of beginning a ketogenic diet, look out for these signs and take steps to support your body during this time.

Keto Flu 

This is perhaps one of the most well-known ketogenic diet side effects. Keto flu is exactly what it sounds like, the onset of flu-like symptoms that arises shortly after beginning a ketogenic diet. This includes symptoms like fatigue, runny nose, nausea, and headache.

Keto flu is a classic manifestation of hypoglycemia that can be corrected with simple strategies that I will outline shortly.

Sugar Cravings 

Many people find that during the beginning stages of a ketogenic diet they experience intense food cravings. These food cravings are typically for high-sugar foods and tend to really challenge your willpower.

This is a classic hypoglycemia response as well. The brain in particular requires lots of energy for normal function. When it receives a signal that you are hypoglycemic, a panic response occurs because of an underlying perception that you are starving to death (even if consciously you know you’re not).

At this point your brain begins to tell you that, “YOU NEED IMMEDIATE ENERGY NOW OR YOU’RE GOING TO DIE”! This is when you have intense sugar cravings. Luckily, once you begin to produce ketones for energy this panic response calms down.

Dizziness & Drowsiness 

When you are hypoglycemic while also not being fully keto-adapted, you essentially have an energy deficiency within the body.

During this time, you will likely feel dizzy and drowsy due to a general lack of energy. You may feel especially dizzy upon standing due to blood pressure dysregulation and inappropriate cortisol response (HPA axis dysregulation which we’ll talk about shortly).

Reduced Strength & Physical Performance 

During keto-adaptation, your body is learning to utilize a completely new fuel source that it has not had to use before. The muscles (along with the brain) contain tons of mitochondria for energy production that must now learn to utilize ketones as an energy source.

During this time, you will likely feel a significant drop in strength and ability to exert physical energy. Luckily, once you become adapted you should see drastic improvements in these areas that are even greater than when you were sugar-adapted!

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Hypoglycemia Mitigation Strategies 

As you can see, a significant proportion of keto side-effects are attributed to hypoglycemia. These are my top strategies for addressing these issues.

  1. Eat Every 3-4 Hrs:  Eat every 3-4 hours when in the beginning stages of a ketogenic diet. This will help keep you satiated and blood sugar balanced.
  2. Drink Mineral Rich Drinks:  Instead of plain water, drink mineral rich beverages between meals. This includes organic broths or a high-quality electrolyte drink (like this one)
  3. Hydrating and Mineral Rich Foods:  Consume plenty of hydrating, mineral-rich foods and use salt generously. I like to snack on celery, cucumbers, and especially seaweed in the form of these Sea Snax. These are like seaweed chips that taste great and contains a lot of beneficial minerals.
  4. Use Magnesium Supplementation:  If you follow these strategies and continue to feel many of these symptoms, consider adding a magnesium supplement to your regimen. I would recommend taking the L-threonate form (such as our Brain Calm Magnesium) in a 1 gram dose – 3x per day between meals.

HPA Axis Dysfunction 

The HPA Axis is a series of three glands (Hypothalamus, Pituitary, and Adrenals) that are primarily responsible for regulating our stress response in the body.

When we experience hypoglycemia, as I mentioned before, the brain goes into an emergency response to starvation. In addition to sugar cravings, the adrenals will release cortisol. Cortisol signals the release of stored glucose in the body (glycogen stores) to provide immediate energy.

Because of this response, glycogen stores are quickly burned up, hypoglycemia reoccurs, and the cycle continues. This is where HPA axis dysregulation promotes the onset of related symptoms while also exacerbating hypoglycemia-related issues.

Sleep Problems 

With HPA axis dysfunction you are likely to experience a disruption in sleep. This is because cortisol is antagonistic to melatonin (meaning it opposes its function). When the HPA axis is thrown off, cortisol levels begin to fluctuate and interfere with the release of melatonin that occurs at night-time.

To review briefly, hypoglycemia stimulates the release of cortisol. Cortisol signals the release of stored glucose in the body, called glycogen, from the liver and muscle tissue. Cortisol is a stimulating hormone that can disrupt sleep if this response happens at night. This results in either insomnia or very poor quality sleep.

Although this cortisol response is helpful in emergencies, you want to try and minimize it as much as possible during keto-adaptation and especially at night.

Heart Palpitations 

Many people will notice heart palpitations during the early phases of keto adaptation. This can be attributed to Hypoglycemia, HPA axis dysfunction, and mineral imbalances.

During HPA axis dysregulation, cortisol can become abnormally high. If it remains high, the body will develop cortisol resistance. To compensate the body begins to secrete higher amounts of adrenaline which can then cause irregular heart rhythms.

Additionally, the loss of minerals that we are about to discuss, can lead to a reduction in blood volume and pressure that can cause the heart to pump faster or even irregularly.

Supporting The HPA Axis 

Like I said already, during the initial adaptation phase of a ketogenic diet, there is potential for the HPA axis to become dysregulated. During this time, it would be advantageous to take precautions to support the HPA axis as best as you can.

These are my top strategies for HPA axis support during keto-adaptation:

  1. Blood Sugar Balancing Strategies:  Follow the blood sugar regulation strategies outlined above. Hypoglycemia is one of the primary triggers of cortisol dysregulation so address this first!
  2. Magnesium Supplementation:  This is outlined above but I want to touch on it again here. Magnesium is powerful support for the HPA axis. Magnesium L-threonate in particular is the only form proven to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier which means it can exert its effect on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands.
  3. Use Adaptogenic Herbs:  Although this strategy is not absolutely necessary, using adaptogenic herbs can tremendously benefit the HPA axis and help build your resiliency to stress. By supporting the HPA axis and helping to regulate cortisol levels, adaptogens may prove very helpful in mitigating HPA axis related side effects.

Electrolyte/Mineral Deficiencies 

Electrolytes and minerals serve the vital function of regulating hydration while supporting proper nerve conductivity. During keto-adaptation, an excess of minerals are excreted through the urine due to HPA axis dysregulation.

This is because in addition to cortisol, the HPA axis is also responsible for regulating hydration levels through the retention and excretion of minerals. In a sense, HPA axis dysregulation can also lead to hydration dysregulation. Likewise, there are common keto side effects that occur that manifest from these imbalances.

Frequent Urination 

The most obvious sign that your electrolyte/mineral balance is being affected is an increase in urination. On a low-carb diet, insulin levels drop which promotes the secretion of sodium in the urine. Sodium pulls more water into the urinary system which then is excreted as well.

Additionally, as your body burns through glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, excess water is released into the urinary system.

While getting rid of this extra water is helpful in releasing toxins from the body, you want to make sure you are taking in additional fluids, electrolytes, and minerals to avoid other related side effects.

Constipation 

Constipation is a key sign that you are not maintaining electrolyte/mineral balance during keto adaptation. The consistency of someone’s stool, and therefore the ability to pass that stool, is heavily influenced by its water content. The water content of your stool is likewise influenced by your overall hydration levels.

Additionally, constipation may also be a side effect of a change in your microbiome. Your gut bacteria makeup is largely determined by the kinds of foods you eat. When making such a drastic change in your diet, your microbiome will change which can also temporarily change your stools.

Also Consider: Certain foods can tend to be more conducive to constipation. Foods like eggs, cheese, and nuts may be contributing to constipation. Reduce intake of these at least during the initial phases of keto adaptation and see if that makes a difference. You want your stool to pass easily and resemble type 3 or 4 on the chart below.

Diarrhea 

Sometimes people will experience diarrhea during the initial phases of a ketogenic diet. Although constipation is typically more common, diarrhea may also manifest due to the changes in the microbiome that occur when changing your diet.

These individuals would benefit from taking a bulking and binding agent such as psyllium husk, citrus pectin, or my favorite, activated charcoal.  I have people do 2-3 grams of activated charcoal every 3 hours until the diarrhea subsides.

Also Consider: For some individuals, diarrhea may be brought on by low stomach acid and/or a sluggish gallbladder. Another possibility is that you have a low-grade food sensitivity to something you are eating such as eggs, nuts, and cheese.

Also, if you are supplementing with magnesium, it is recommended to back off of this until diarrhea has subsided as it draws additional water into the colon.

Muscle Cramps 

If you experience frequent muscle cramps while becoming keto-adapted this is likely due to mineral imbalances. As I mentioned before, minerals are crucial for proper nerve impulse conductivity. A muscle cramp is essentially a misconducted impulse brought on by poor hydration and mineral balance.

Maintaining Proper Hydration & Mineral Balance 

Now you are aware of the physiological changes that contribute to frequent urination, constipation, diarrhea, muscle cramps, and heart palpitations. Fortunately, the strategies to mitigate these side effects are quite simple. With a little proactivity and planning, these keto side effects will likely be less of an issue.

My top strategies for proper hydration and mineral balance are:

  1. Super Hydration: Drink plenty of water, mineral-rich broths, and hydrating beverages. You want to ensure any toxins being released are flushed out effectively.
  2. Use High Quality Salt:  Use a high-quality salt in generous amounts in all of your meals, This will add back in sodium and other trace minerals that are excreted more rapidly during keto-adaptation. I like either Himalayan pink or a Celtic (gray) sea salt as they are the highest in trace minerals.
  3. Consume Mineral Rich Foods:  Increase your intake of mineral-rich foods like leafy greens, celery, cucumber, and seaweeds. As I mentioned before, I love to snack on Sea Snax as they provide plenty of minerals and are ketogenic friendly.
  4. Use a Magnesium Supplement: Unless you are experiencing diarrhea, a magnesium supplement can work great for helping balance electrolytes and hydration levels. As you can see, magnesium can help keto-adaptation in many ways. Using 1 gram of the L-threonate form 3x daily is my general recommendation. If diarrhea occurs, lower to once or twice a day until it subsides.

Keto Breath 

Although not quite related to the three major causes we’ve discussed so far, keto breath is an unpleasant side effect that many people experience in the early stages of keto adaptation. When you begin producing ketones, you produce them in several different forms. The ketone that is released through the breath is acetone and is responsible for the keto breath that some people experience.

Luckily, acetone is only released in higher amounts during the initial adaptation phase and tends to wear off rather quickly (within 1-2 weeks).

Keto Breath Solutions

If this is an issue for you, you may consider brushing your teeth more frequently and using natural breath fresheners throughout the day. It is also important to maintain proper hydration during this time as a dry mouth can drastically exacerbate this side effect.

Some solid strategies include oil pulling with coconut oil and using a natural mouthwash when needed. I prefer this oral essentials mouthwash because it is natural and not as harsh as traditional brands.

You can also chew on fennels seeds, rosemary, mint, or parsley when needed as a natural breath freshener.

Precautions For Certain Conditions 

While the ketogenic diet can be therapeutic for individuals with certain conditions, precautions need to be taken to prevent any severe side effects. If you are medications to control your condition, this is especially important.

High Blood Pressure: When drastically decreasing carbohydrate consumption, blood pressure may drop naturally. You may want to discuss this with your prescribing physician before implementing a ketogenic diet and take steps to monitor your body’s response to the change in diet.

If you start to feel light-headed or experience heart palpitations, this may be due to a drop in blood pressure. It may be helpful to monitor your blood pressure during this time to quantify your body’s response to the initial adaptation phase.

Diabetics: When you are eating less carbs and sugar, you will likely need less insulin or blood-sugar lowering medications to maintain blood sugar balance. Again, speak with your physician about this potential change and work with him to coordinate proper medication dosage.

If you experience symptoms like fatigue, intense hunger and cravings, light-headedness, or heart palpitations, this may be a sign your blood sugar has dropped too low. Use a blood glucose monitor to track your body’s response to the diet change and make sure your body is adapting properly. If necessary consult your physician for necessary medication changes.

Summary 

The common keto side effects that people experience come down to three primary culprits: Hypoglycemia, HPA axis dysfunction, and poor hydration/mineral balance. The following strategies will help prevent these underlying issues and their respective side effects:

Stay Hydrated: Try to shoot for 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight (Example: 160 lbs. = 160 Oz). This may seem like a lot at first but try your best to hit this target.

Eat More Salt: Shoot for at least 2 tsps. of salt per day, if not more. My favorite sources are Himalayan Sea Salt, Redmond’s Real Salt and Celtic Sea Salt.

Increase Meal Frequency: Eating every 3-4 hours will ease the hypoglycemic stress on the body. This will equate to 4-5 small meals throughout the day. As you become adapted, fasting for longer periods of time will become much easier.

Use Organic Broths: Sipping on broths throughout the day is a great way to stay hydrated while also getting additional minerals and amino acids into your system. Try a good organic, free-range or pasture-raised chicken or beef broth. This can be a traditional broth or even bone broth.

Mineral-Rich Foods: Consuming mineral-rich foods will help maintain proper hydration and support the HPA axis. My favorites are celery, cucumber, and seaweeds. I like Sea Snax which are really tasty, totally keto, and provide a ton of healthy minerals.

Fat With Every Meal: Every meal should have at least one source of healthy fats. Ideally, you want to shoot for 70-80% of calories from fats for any given meal. My top sources are coconut (oil/butter/flakes/milk), grass-fed butter or ghee, olives/olive oil, and avocados.

Consider Adding Supplemental Magnesium: During changes in blood sugar, magnesium is used up quickly. Magnesium is like oil to a car and keeps the body running smoothly on the cellular level.

I have found that using this Brain Calm Magnesium throughout the day to be of tremendous help during keto-adaptation. I would recommend using 1 scoop in water 1-3 times per day depending on how your body is responding.

Mental health struggles are slow, silent killers sapping us of energy and happiness.

Whether challenged by depression, anxiety, stress, addiction or another manifestation, every single person is impacted and affected–you, your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers–either directly or indirectly every single day.

This Mental Wellness Summit Will Empower You Too: 

Overcome the silence, isolation and fear of your struggle

Transcend outdated, prescription-based healthcare systems

Find holistic practitioners and natural solutions for your pain

Implement expert practices, tools and tips into your daily routine

And so much more!

You can register for this event for free here

You will want to listen to my presentation on Friday, September 29th as I go through how to apply a ketogenic diet to reduce inflammation in your brain and improve your mood, memory and mindset!!

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