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Lose Weight by Achieving Optimal Ketosis

Do you want to lose weight? Here’s number 16 of my 18 best tips. All of the published tips can be found on the How to Lose Weight page.

Before we get started, here’s a short recap of the tips so far: The first and most crucial piece of advice was to choose a low-carb diet. The next were eating when hungry, eating real food, eating only when hungry, measuring progress wisely, being persistent, avoiding fruit, beer and artificial sweeteners, review your medications, stressing less and sleeping more, eating less dairy and nut products, stocking up on vitamins and minerals, using intermittent fasting and finally, exercising smart.

This is number sixteen:

16. Get into optimal ketosis

Warning: Not recommended for type 1 diabetics, see below.

confused

We’ve now arrived at tip number 16. If you’re still having trouble losing weight, despite following the 15 pieces of advice listed above, it might be a good idea to bring out the heavy artillery: optimal ketosis. Many people stalling at weight plateaus while on a low carb diet have found optimal ketosis helpful. It’s what can melt the fat off once again.

So how does this work? A quick run-through: The first tip was to eat low carb. This is because a low-carb diet lowers your levels of the fat-storing hormone insulin, allowing your fat deposits to shrink and release their stored energy. This tends to cause you to want to consume less calories than you expend – without hunger – and lose weight. Several of the tips mentioned above are about fine-tuning your diet to better this effect.

Video course

How to Eat LCHF Video Course

Do you know exactly how to eat a low-carb and high fat diet (LCHF)? This is required for ketosis. If not the easiest way is watching this high quality 11-minute video course on how to eat LCHF, and the most important things to think about.

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Maximum effect from an LCHF diet

How do you know you’re getting the maximum hormonal impact from your low-carb diet? You do that by achieving what’s known as “optimal ketosis”. 

Ketosis

Ketosis is a state at which the body has an extremely high fat-burning rate. Even the brain runs on fat, via ketone bodies. These are energy molecules in the blood (like blood sugar) which become fuel for our brains after being converted from fat by the liver.

To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s basically proof that your insulin is very low – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.

Measuring ketones

Today, there are reasonably-priced gadgets available for measuring ketone levels at home. One needle prick of the finger, and in just a few seconds you’ll know your blood ketone level.

Blood ketones are best measured on a fasted stomach in the morning (before breakfast, that is). Here are a few pointers on how to interpret the result:

  • Below 0.5 mmol/L is not considered “ketosis”. At this level, you’re far away from maximum fat-burning.
  • Between 0.5-1.5 mmol/L is light nutritional ketosis. You’ll be getting a good effect on your weight, but not optimal.
  • Around 1.5 – 3 mmol/L is what’s called optimal ketosis and is recommended for maximum weight loss.
  • Values of over 3 mmol/L aren’t neccessary. That is, they will achieve neither better nor worse results than being at the 1.5-3 level. Higher values can also sometimes mean that you’re not getting enough food. For type 1 diabetics, it can be caused by a severe lack of insulin, see below.

Ketones in urine

Ketone levels can also be measured in a more old-fashioned way, with urine test sticks (sold prescription-free in pharmacies or on Amazon). Ketone sticks give less reliable results for several reasons, and the above recommendations can’t be straightforwardly applied to them. They are, however, much cheaper.

My personal experience

Feel free to read my accounts of a two-month personal trial:

  1. Experiment: Optimal ketosis for weight loss and increased performance
  2. Four weeks of strict LCHF and ketone monitoring
  3. Final report: Two months of strict LCHF and ketone monitoring

Although I was quite happy with my weight before these trials, they resulted in a further loss of 4.5kgs (10 pounds) and 7cm (3 inches) around my waist – without additional exercise or even the slightest resemblance of hunger.

How to achieve optimal ketosis

Many who firmly believe they are eating a strict low-carb diet are surprised when they measure their blood ketones. They may be at around only 0.2 or 0.5 – quite far off from the sweet spot! Why?

The trick here is not only to avoid all obvious sourced of carbohydrate (sweets, bread, spaghetti, rice, potatoes), but also to be careful with your protein intake. If you eat large amounts of meat, eggs and the like, the excess protein will converted into glucose in the body. Large amounts of protein can also raise your insulin levels somewhat. This compromises optimal ketosis.

The secret to getting around this is usually to eat your fill with more fat. For example, if you have a bigger helping of herb butter to your steak, you might not feel like having a second steak, and instead feel satisfied after the first one.

A popular trick people use to ingest more fat is “fat coffee” (sometimes called “Magic Bullet Coffee” or MBC). It involves adding one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of coconut oil to your (morning) coffee, and requires a food blender for the right texture.

More fat in your food will fill you up more. This will ensure you eat less protein, and even less carbohydrate. Your insulin will drop and, hopefully, you’ll be able to reach optimal ketosis. And that’s when many a stubborn weight plateau is overcome.

If it doesn’t work

Being in optimal ketosis for a prolonged period of time (say, a month) will ensure that you experience the maximal hormonal effect from eating a low-carb diet. If this doesn’t result in noticeable weight loss, you can be certain that too many carbs are NOT part of your weight issue and not the obstacle to your weight loss. There are, in fact, other causes of obesity and being overweight. The next three tips in this series might help you.

Try it

Order a ketone meter online and start measuring. There are a few different models, this one is good:

Precision Xtra Blood Glucose and Ketone Monitoring System – Amazon link

You also need disposable ketone strips etc., and unfortunately the test strips are quite expensive. Here’s a complete package with everything you need to check your ketone levels.

More

Watch my video interview with the American doctor Peter Attia, on a strictly ketogenic low-carbohydrate diet: Very Low Carb Performance

Read all the tips on the How to Lose Weight page.

A word of warning

If you have type 1 diabetes, you should not follow the above advice on optimal ketosis – it may be risky. If you have ketones in your blood at all, you must be sure that your blood sugar levels are normal. If they are, you’re in normal ketosis – just like the ketosis of healthy people who stick to a strict low carb diet.

High blood sugar levels coupled with high blood ketones, on the other hand, will mean that you have a pathologically low level of insulin – something non-diabetics do not suffer from. This can lead to ketoacidosis – a potentially life-threatening condition. If this happens, you’ll need to inject more insulin; if you’re at all unsure of what to do, contact a medical professional. Coveting really high blood ketones for weight control is not worth the risk for type 1 diabetics.

Low Carb Made Easy How to Lose Weight Low-Carb Recipes Low-Carb Success Stories

272 Comments

Top Comment

  1. Ralph, Cleethorpes, UK
    Yes PC (10) that is simplistic. Good luck with that 😉
    Read more →
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All Comments

  1. Apicius
    Ashley, the trick is to eat the liver the week BEFORE you go on your high altitude trip. No need to take it with you to Peru. Easiest way to eat liver is to buy liver pate in the deli section of your grocery store. Spread some liver pate on lettuce leaves, or cucumber, or just eat it with a spoon. I eat about a spoon of liver pate per day for one entire week before my trip. This is done just to jack up the iron levels in my body before I get to the mountain. When in Peru, it is easy to find salami, ham, cheese, nuts, olives, in grocery store to pack and bring with you anywhere. Any hotel restaurant can also boil you up eggs for you to pack for you to take on your hike, too. Keto is definitely the way to go for high altitude. And foods are available in Peru (boiled eggs, cold cuts, nuts, cheese, olives, etc). Luckily, you are already keto adapted. This puts you a step ahead than those who do it just before a climb and not well adapted for a long period. Have fun!
    Reply: #252
  2. Ashley
    Great, that is exactly what I will do!! Thanks again Apicius! I hugely appreciate all of the help!!
  3. mrsj03
    Hi. could you clear something up for me...on a lot of keto blogs/fb pages etc it is said that having a large amount of ketones in the urine is caused by dehydration. Is this correct please?
  4. Joan B
    Hi Linda, wondering how your Doing after a year? Good news I hope... I'm following Dr Eric Berg and he says to avoid BEEF and Factory Chicken... So try Lamb meat and fat... And avoid those hormone injected meats forever if possible !!! Wish you all the best!!!
  5. vin
    Keto diets are fads, pushed by irresponsible ''drs''
    Beware of the dangerous side effects.
    Keto diets should only be followed as a last resort and under clinical supervision.
    Anyone pushing it otherwise should be subject to prosecution
    Replies: #257, #269
  6. Daemonjax
    > ... The idea behind the "Net" carb idea is that some of a food's carbs is "bound up in fiber", and does not all hit the body at once...

    I know I'm replying to an old post, but wrong is wrong. Net carbs isn't an "idea".

    Net carbs = total carbs grams - fiber grams

    By definition, your body doesn't metabolize/digest fiber, therefore they should not be counted in the carb total for that food item. It has nothing to do with "binding up" digestible sugar/starch in fiber.

  7. Apicius
    Take a hike, vin. I've been keto for more than a year. Lost tons of weight. Regained my health and feel better than ever. Shall I go to the doctor now and get myself checked? Because you know, I have not followed the "low fat bullshit diet plan" that has been the stupid dogma that has caused the current obesity and diabetes crisis. Shame on me for not being obese and diabetic like most in the USA.
  8. Lori
    Great article ...I understand the urine strips are the least reliable ...but for now that is what I'm using ...is a first thing in the morning reading, the best time? I have been eating LCHF Moderate Protein for 7 days now ...averaging 16-22 net carbs per day, my stick reads mid range in the morning ...what is the 'sweet' spot? I will re-read the article as perhaps I missed that - thanks so much! (p.s. - going to watch your vid as well)
  9. 1 comment removed
  10. Penny
    I need help. I have been on this diet since Jan1, 2016. I need to loose about 80 more lbs and I am 54 years old. I lost about 12 lbs in the first two months. I went on vacation 2 weeks ago and did eat some sugar during the week vacation, but went back on the LCHF diet as soon as I got home. Thus I have lost about 12 lbs in 3 months on this diet. I purchased the blood Keotosis system and have monitored my levels this week. Not good results, I am getting .1 and .2 levels this week. I have been reading on this website about possible eating too much protein. I have been keeping my carbs to 20 or less a day. My weakness is artificial sugar, which I try to keep to a minimum but have a part of a quest bar sometimes and a low amount of low carb monster to pick me up in the mornings. I am not a coffee drinker but just drink iced tea and water. ( which I might add is hard ) My question is how does one monitor protein and carbs amount? What is the right amount of protein to eat? I really am trying hard to do this and want to loose the weight. I just need help.

    THanks!!

  11. Nicola
    I have just joined this forum, but have been eating LCHF since January 15th and have lost 25 lbs so far (6 inches off my waist!) I know that when you slip off the wagon and eat sugar, it takes a long time to get back into ketosis and so stick with it! I have found that the 12 hours of fasting is also REALLY important. Drink only water in that time. Give it another week and everything will probably start working for you again. There is lots written about artificial sweeteners, so you do have to watch for that too (I'm trying hard to kick diet soda - and I know it's difficult!)
  12. charles hamilton
    I use a product that puts me into ketosis in 50 minutes and lasts 5 hours
    Replies: #263, #264
  13. Hi!

    I'm not convinced that those product will lead to weight-loss. What is your experience?

    I use a product that puts me into ketosis in 50 minutes and lasts 5 hours

  14. MattRob
    Yo Dog! Crazy to see you here 🙂 I'm down to 182 now! Crazy
  15. Kelly
    Charles Hamilton..so do u not follow low carb diet at all???what is this product
  16. Hfactor
    I bought the Abbott Precision Xtra Glucose and Ketone blood monitoring device and test both my glucose and ketone levels several times a day. I find that I hit 1.5 ketone level once a day but don't stay in it. I range from .7 to 1.5 everyday. I don't eat processed foods, no carbs, no sugar or even fake sugar, no fruit, no booze and no dairy. I take several supplements and mineral enzymes twice a day. I drink lots of water and occasionally drink homemade chicken broth.
    I'm losing weight but very slowly, only one pound or so per week. I was on a two month long plateau but finally broke it by doing more detailed tracking and keeping to under 1,000 calories per day.
    How can I stay in Optimal Ketosis all day? How can I accelerate my weight loss? Thank you
  17. Bontleng
    How do you distribute the fats among the meals you eat on a daily basis........how do you even know the portion sizes that need to be eaten??? I'm so confused and would really like to try this lifestyle out....some please help me
    Reply: #268
  18. Zepp
    One dont realy know before one tryes!

    First cut out all sugars, then all flour, reduce tubers.

    Buy only real high fat food and veggies, frye in butter.. eat a lot of eggs.

    Its when your foods look like this you can eat ad libitum.

    http://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb

    The magical trick is to only eat real food!

  19. Bobby
    Yes it is. They fail to mention that a serious side effect of ketosis diets is ketoacidosis which can be fatal and can develop within 24 hours. My god, LEARN something about human nutrition and encourage people to eat a healthy diet and exercise. Thank you for being a voice of reason. I guess people just get that desperate they'll try anything 🙁
    Reply: #271
  20. Lora
    Hello! Looking for some thoughts from others who have used a Keto meter.

    Today is my 4th on an egg fast. I've been on LCHF for about 3 months.

    Test 1st thing this morning no food. 1.0

    Test 25 mins after break fast. 1.2 (2eggs 2tbs mayo)

    Test after 25 mins after lunch. 0.8 (2eggs 2tbs mayo 1oz cheddar cheese)

    Surprised I'm only in nutritional ketosis and not optimal ketosis.

    So far that is only 16g of protein per meal. Thoughts?

  21. Brynn
    Yes it is. They fail to mention that a serious side effect of ketosis diets is ketoacidosis which can be fatal and can develop within 24 hours. My god, LEARN something about human nutrition and encourage people to eat a healthy diet and exercise. Thank you for being a voice of reason. I guess people just get that desperate they'll try anything

    Ketosis and ketoacidosis are two very different things. Ketoacidosis is a state in which you have blood glucose above 600 and a low pH (blood. Not urine) don't be a moron

  22. David
    The links to Ketone meters don't work
  23. Yolanda
    I love reading comments from people based on what they think....I've gone to Medi WeightLoss a couple of times in several years in different locations. I am a 58 year old female and their program is Dr. supervised, there is no diet and they measure your results weekly. Yes, they do put you in ketosis the first week and teach you how to eat regular foods to stay in ketosis safely. I am never hungry and have more energy because I am lighter. I lost 25 lbs. in 6 weeks the first time (about 6 years ago) and started back 4 days ago. I've already lost 4 lbs. so that's about a lb. per day. Everyone I've recommended the program to and follows it, loses weight. It's easy when you know what you're doing (eating) wrong.
  24. pj
    Yolanda
    have you seen the drink that puts your body into Ketosis with in an hour. go to showmetheketos.com
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