Experiment: Optimal Ketosis for Weight Loss and Improved Performance


Can measuring ketones help you lose weight and improve performance? Let’s try to find out.

Today my ketone experiment reached goal #1: achieving stable optimal ketosis*.

After getting my blood ketone meter I’ve eaten a stricter LCHF diet than I usually do. More fat, less carbs. No bread, no potatoes, pasta, rice or fruit. Instead I’ve eaten meat, fish, vegetables, egg and extra large amounts of high-fat sauces and butter. In the mornings coffee with plenty of butter/coconut fat in it. I’ve occasionally cheated with some nuts, root vegetables, berries, cream and a little wine.

After just a few days I entered light nutritional ketosis (over 0.5 mmol/L on the meter). But it took a full three weeks to achieve stable optimal ketosis (1.5 – 3 mmol/L) in the mornings. It was also interesting that it was much quicker to get high ketone readings during┬ádaytime and in the evenings (data not shown in the chart above).

I’ve also tested keto sticks for measuring urine ketones (cheaper and simpler). In my case the results so far track the blood ketones reasonably well, even if urine ketones is a more inexact and unreliable test.

So what do you think I’ve noticed? Does it feel different? What do you think happened to my weight & waist measurement (I started at a normal satisfactory weight) and training/mental performance? Answers are coming up, but feel free to guess in the comments!


*/ Ketosis is a natural state where the body is almost only burning fat.The secret of ketosis is to eat very low amounts of carbs and only moderate amounts of protein. Then add fat to satiety.

Some less informed people still confuse natural ketosis with the pathological state ketoacidosis. The latter has completely different causes, usually extreme insulin deficiency in type 1 diabetics. In this dangerous state the ketone koncentrations are around ten times higher then in normal ketosis, and the blood sugar is sky high.

Natural ketosis due to low carb eating is perfectly safe with stable well-controlled blood sugar and well-controlled blood ketones.

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Top Comment

  1. NM
    I think you put on a huge amount weight because of all that FAT, had a heart attack (just as Dr Keys predicted) and are now a vegan, eating your healthy-wholegrains and lots of soy-protein every day?

    Close? I guess I might not be, somehow? ­čśë

    Read more →
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All Comments

  1. Robbie

    I have been on Ketogenic diet for a week now. I have already lost 2 lbs (I am 140lbs now) and I drink atleast 1 gal of water a day. What concerns me is that when I check for ketones using the stips, I am getting a deep purple color. I am not diabetic. Before starting the diet I had checked for ketones and I was showing negative. Am I over doing the diet? My net carbs stand at 5gm/day and fat at 130-140gm , Protein around 90gm.

    Reply: #102
  2. Zepp
    Its typical in the begining, you make a lot of ketones but are not able to use them all.

    One dont need to be woried of ketones if one not a type 1 diabetic.

    But it is a very hardcore ketogenic approche.. healty persons seldome need to be that hardcore.

    And 1550 Kcal is not that much calories, its a starving thing to this too.

  3. Debbie
    Hi could some one post a daily diet please as to what you are eating ..just to give me some ideas ...
  4. Zepp
    Here you get some ideas!

    Its the mindshift that moste difficult.. the food is delicius!

  5. Andrew
    I started the KD two weeks ago, I have lost 8lbs. My urine ketones are now 160 mg/dl and I feel great. Carb cravings have all but gone but when they do happen a handful of salted sunflower seeds does the trick.
    I am a little worried I am overdoing it though, The only thing I am counting is Carbs and keeping them less than about 5mg a day. Today for example I ate 2 bags of spinach with oil and vinegar dressing, one whole cucumber, one can of salmon mixed with mayo, 2 cans of sardines, 3 chai teas, 2 coffees with heavy cream and one sweetner. I take a multivit in the am and at bed.
  6. Niki
    Hey Doc,

    I wake up in the mornings now, and crave steak. So I have been having steak and eggs a couple times a week, smothered in butter!

    I eat two eggs and broth with blend of low carb veggies, like onions and zucchini most other days. I really simmer long on the bones, so it is really complete when the simmering is done.

    Then I am not hungry till the evening. That is when I have some meat, either chicken, beef or Turkey, once a week liver, a salad maybe, and some more broth. And a glass or two of wine. On the occasional off night, I do almond crusted quiche with Swiss chard and some onions. I have not measured myself for ketosis, however I have been losing about a pound per week. Oh, and I drink coffee with full cream.
    I am wondering whether I am doing too little carbs. Is the fact that I feel fine and I am not hungry sufficient? What about vitamin C? My salads are usually greens, with some onion, cold pressed olive oil, celery, green onions and some tomatoe on occasion.
    I also crave butter, and I have been busted eating butter, about a teaspoon, as it tastes so good and I have deprived myself of it for so many years.
    The side effect is sleeping really well, and people are noticing my weight loss. Present weight loss, 17 pounds. I got a ways to go, and I am the grateful this is working. Sincerely, Niki

    Reply: #107
  7. Zepp
    There are no need for carbs but.. there are some vitamines and minerals that comes whit veggies that is good for your healt.

    Your body make all the glucose it needs and ketones replace much of those for those cells that like those, as your brain and heart.

    Its almoste athletes that need to think about providing carbs and that is for there anaerobic excersise.

    One seldome need to reduce low carb veggies.. eat as many green leafs that you like for a few carbs.. or rather make it a habbit to always have green leafy veggies to your meals.

  8. DNW516
    I have been on a low carb diet for 5 weeks now and have only lost 9 lbs (this all happened the first 3 weeks. The last 2 weeks, I have lost a big fat 0) I have never gone over 20 carbs per day and I have not added nuts or berries to my diet yet. I check my urine ketones weekly and they are always at the lowest level (lightest purple). I weight train 6 days per week and do 30 mins of cardio 3-4 times per week. Could I be overtraining? I just don't see how working out & eating 20 carbs per day would not yield a loss on the scale or at the least my clothes fitting better :(
    Reply: #113
  9. Zepp
    First you lose some water, then moste of it comes back.. and you can still lose fatweight in the meantime.. but the scale dont measure your body komposition.

    You have just got in a fase where your muscles start using more fat.

    Training altso make your muscles to swollen and get full of water.

    But dont stop training for god sake.. get some patience instead.

    You know, traning and banting is two different things, training needs extra calories, losing weight need less calories.. so it can be confusing.

    But its probably healtyer to lose weight slower and do excersise in the meantime?

  10. Patti
    Hi there,
    Firstly great site, so much information!
    I am a runner coming back from injury (ran Boston marathon in 2013 & 2014) and have just been diagnosed as being on the cusp of insulin resistance - quite the shock. I have a family history on my Dads side of diabetes (T1 & T2) and I had gestational in one of my pregnancies. Whilst I don't consider myself overweight (43year old, 59kg, 166cm) I have started the change to strict LCHF eating and been doing it for 3 weeks. I have also got a blood glucose & keytone meter so I am measuring my ketones daily which are in the range of 0.5 to 3.1 depending on whether I have exercised heavily (the 3.1 was taken after a 22k trail run).
    My question - I am feeling absolutely hammered on my long runs. Dead legs, no energy, feeling unwell after about an hour of effort. I have tried eating a few different LCHF things and tried bulletproof coffee before the runs but I am still suffering. Last weekend I capitulated and took some cliffblocks to get through the run and after taking them at the 11k mark of a 22k run felt fantastic - first hit of glucose I'd had in 3 weeks).
    How damaging would it be to ketosis if I had some carbs before the long run or during?
    Also how do I work out was is optimal for me in terms of ketosis?
    Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated!
    Reply: #111
  11. Zepp
    It takes three weeks for your brain to use maximum of ketones.. up to 70%, thats the first adaption.

    Then it takes a month or three for your muscles to be adapted to take more fat directly whithout going thru ketosis.. thats one of your main goals, at least as a runner!

    You know muscles dont have that much ketolysis ensyms, but your heart loves those, they say it prefer ketones.

    You are now in that state that your intra muscular glycogen depoes is moste depleted.. it going to be better as muscles adapt for taking more fat directly, it need more carnitine ensyms for transporting more fat in to the cells.

    I would recomend that you lower your pace a time and make the adaption first.

    Its the IR that you need to get rid of for your long time healt and even runing capasity.

    Or rather make this year a middel year there you change fuel?

    Many longrunners make it better on low carb high fat, fully adapted one use more fat and saves intra muscular glycogen for better endurance.

    Heres a nice articel;

    And heres about how it works.

  12. Guy
    I have a question for you I can't seem to get my blood ketone levels higher then .2 in the morning. but I fast every day until noon then my blood levels go up to 1.0 mmol. my glucose levels stay around 4.9-5.9 all the time. I just can't get my blood levels there is that a possibility that some people just can't.
  13. hcarlile73c
    I have the same problem as DNW516 except i do not work out do to bad knees but i am very active and live on a farm and ranch and work 3, 12 hours shifts. 5 weeks in i've only lost 9 lbs, the first 2 week now nothing. Fasting Blood sugar is 112 and all test with dr shows no blood sugar issuses. i am 5'7 and 192 now. before KD diet Fasting Blood sugar 106 what's the deal? Marcos are good maybe a little low in protein but i can't figure out how to get more protein. Urine ketones alway some purple or very dark. Any ideas?
  14. Zoziau from France

    I've been on the keto-diet for one month now. I've lost 10lbs so far. My problem is that my urinary test shows a 8mmol/l ketones result (as from the day I've started to be on ketosis, three days after the beginning of the diet), when the blood glucose level is normal. Today I've bought blood ketone test strings and the result of the test is 1.6mmol/l (when the urinary test still shows about 8mml/l).

    Does it mean that my body can't produce the proper ketones and produces mainly "waste" ketones ?

    Thank you in advance for any help...

    Reply: #116
  15. Raf
    What does it mean if my blood keytone meter reads 3.9 ? This happens during the day sometimes...first thing in the morning, it is usually between 2.4 and 2.9 I have been on the keto diet for 35 days...thank you.
    Reply: #117
  16. Zepp
    Different test strips show different ketones!

    Buy a Ketonix breath analyser and you altso can measure Aceton too!

    You are in a ketogenic state.. thats for sure!

    Different ketones goes up and down.. thats normal.

    Keep on and count carbs and weight.. it says more!

    Ketone measurment says if you eat as you think that you does.. I.E. if its a ketogenic diet!

    There are no magical diets.. but a ketogenic one make it easyer to burn bodily fat.. if this was a goal!

    You still need to eat a propper diet whith all nutrients.. and have good eating habits.. the last is the moste difficult!

  17. Zepp
    It means that your lipolysis is high.. becuse of long time betwen meals.. thats good, for almoste of us.. if you dont starv your self!

    Or that you do some excersise or useed youre muscels?

    35 days is nothing, let it go a year befor you know how your body reacts on a new diet.

  18. me
    For those of you wondering why you're not losing weight even though you're producing lots of ketones, in the purple . . . it's a scientific fact that ketones are the byproduct of when your body breaks fat into energy, so your body is obviously breaking down fat.

    It's also a scientific fact that muscle weighs more than fat. Remember the old adage, "you are what you eat?"

    You realize that you're working out. Both that I saw was complaining about this state that you do what can be considered muscle-building activities.

    For you who exercise and are putting on muscle, a low carb diet means you're eating more proteins, which assists in the expediency of muscle-mass, so for you, it may be that you need to stop looking at the scale and start doing body fat composition. NOT body mass index, but body composition is what you're looking for. BMI only measures total mass, and does not distinguish what type of tissue that mass is coming from just like a scale does not distinguish what type of mass the weight is coming from.

    A bca, bfc, or body composition assessment is where literally ascertain the percentage of body fat your body contains. This is done by measuring fat areas on the body, men the widest part of the waste, usually just below the belly-button, and the neck, and then there's a chart for your height to show what your body fat composition is. Other ways are digital readers that you hold, the pinch-test, and I think one or two others. The measuring the waste and neck, done properly, is considered the most accurate and is also the cheapest because fabric measuring tapes cost about 1 to 3 dollars, and the chart can be found online.

    Good luck friends.

    Also, one other thing, too much protein can knock you out of ketosis, but not nearly as effectively or as long as carbs do.

    Another thing I've noticed personally, simple sugars, like simple carbs, if you have them, tend to get used much quicker, and send your body back into ketosis much sooner than if you eat bread or other complex carbs.

    Like for example, 25g of bread carbs might knock me out of ketosis till the next day, where as 25g of sugar carbs might knock me out of ketosis till later that same day, or might not even kick me out at all before they're used up and my body start producing ketones again.

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