Pink Keto Cupcakes

Nope, they are not green, because the birthday boy wants pink cupcakes on his St Patty’s day birthday. I winged this recipe and these cupcakes turned out to be so buttery and moist, I can’t believe I pulled them off by just winging it with the ingredients I had at the house. Best part is, no one will even guess that they are gluten, sugar and grain free. No artificial dyes or colors here either! Nature makes the best pink food coloring...raspberries!

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CUPCAKE:

2 cups almond flour

1 cup melted butter

1 TBS vanilla extract
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

3 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar substitute (we recommend monkfruit in the raw)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350

  2. Mix all wet ingredients together from list above.

  3. in a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl.

  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing with a mixer or a large spoon until you get a batter. If the batter is too wet, add equal parts almond flour and granulated sugar substitute in order to make the batter the correct consistency.

  5. Place cupcake liner paper in 2 cupcake baking trays, pour batter to the just over halfway mark in each cupcake tin.

  6. Bake for about 12 minutes or until golden brown and cooked in the center.

    Let cool to room temperature before icing.

INGREDIENTS FOR RASPBERRY CREAM CHEESE ICING

1 CUP SOFTENED BUTTER

2 CUPS POWDERED SUGAR SUBSTITUTE (WE RECOMMEND SWERVE)

1 CUP SOFTENED CREAM CHEESE

1/2 CUP RASPBERRIES

1 TBS VANILLA EXTRACT

1/4 CUP OF RASPBERRIES FOR DECORATIVE TOUCH

DIRECTIONS

  1. PLACE ALL INGREDIENTS ABOVE MINUS THE DECORATIVE RASPBERRIES INTO A LARGE MIXING BOWL.

  2. USING A HAND OR A STAND MIXER, MIX INGREDIENTS TOGETHER UNTIL THE INGREDIENTS ARE WELL BLENDED AND HAVE AN ICING CONSISTENCY.

  3. PLACE ICING IN REFRIGERATOR UNTIL READY TO ICE THE CUPCAKES.

  4. YOU MAY WANT TO USE AN ICING PIPE TO ICE THE CUPCAKES, OR NOT BE FANCY AT ALL AND JUST TAKE A LARGE SPOONFUL OF ICING AND PLOP IT GENTLY ONTO THE TOP OF EACH CUPCAKE. PLACE ONE RASPBERRY ON TOP FOR DELICIOUS DECORATION.

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Keto Berry Layer Cake

CAKE INGREDIENTS:

1 AND 1/4 CUP MELTED GHEE

5 EGGS

2 CUPS FULLY FAT COCONUT MILK

1/2 CUP GRANULATED SUGAR SUBSTITUTE (YOUR PREFERENCE, BUT WE SUGGEST MONK FRUIT IN THE RAW)

1 TBS VANILLA EXTRACT

2 AND 1/4 CUP ALMOND FLOUR

3/4 CUP COCONUT FLOUR

2 TSP BAKING SODA

1/2 TSP SALT

DIRECTIONS:

  1. PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT.

  2. GREASE TWO 8X8 CAKE PANS OR LINE WITH PARCHMENT PAPER

  3. IN A LARGE MIXING BOWL, COMBINE ALL THE WET INGREDIENTS. WHISK UNTIL COMPLETELY COMBINED.

  4. IN A MEDIUM MIXING BOWL, COMBINE ALL DRY INGREDIENTS. MIX TO COMBINE.

  5. POUR THE DRY INGREDIENT CONTENTS BOWL INTO THE WET INGREDIENTS BOWL AND MIX THOROUGHLY TO A BATTER.

  6. EVENLY DISTRIBUTE THE BATTERS BETWEEN THE TWO CAKE PANS.

  7. BAKE FOR 35-45 MINUTES, OR UNTIL THE CAKE IS SET IN THE MIDDLE. INSERTING A TOOTHPICK OR A FORK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CAKE SHOULD COME OUT CLEAN.

  8. WHEN THE CAKES ARE COMPLETED BAKING, LET THEM SET OUT UNTIL COOLED TO ROOM TEMPERATURE BEFORE ADDING FROSTING.

VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

INGREDIENTS:

2 CUPS SOFTENED BUTTER

2 CUPS CONFECTIONERS SUGAR SUBSTITUTE (WE LIKE THE SWERVE BRAND)

6 TBS FULL FAT COCONUT MILK

1 TBS VANILLA EXTRACT

DIRECTIONS:

  1. COMBINE ALL INGREDIENTS INTO A LARGE MIXING BOWL.

  2. WITH AN ELECTRIC MIXER, MASH THE INGREDIENTS TOGETHER TO COMBINE AND THEN WHIP UNTIL A SMOOTH TEXTURE IS ACHIEVED.

TO CREATE THE BERRY LAYER CAKE:

  1. CUT UP SLICES OF RIPE STRAWBERRIES SO THAT THEY WILL LAY FLAT IN THE MIDDLE LAYER OF THE CAKE.

  2. PLACE A 1/2 INCH LAYER OF ICING ON TOP OF ONE OF THE CAKES.

  3. LAY STRAWBERRY SLICES ON TOP OF THE ICING LAYER CREATING ONE LAYER OF STRAWBERRIES.

  4. PLACE A 1/2 INCH OF ICING ON TOP OF THE YET UN-ICED CAKE.

  5. CAREFULLY PLACE THE ICING SIDE OF THE ICING SIDE OF THE CAKE ON TOP OF THE STRAWBERRY LAYERED CAKE, MAKING A ICING, STRAWBERRY, ICING “SANDWICH” MIDDLE LAYER.

  6. GENEROUSLY ICE THE TOP OF THE CAKE.

  7. PLACE BLUEBERRIES ON TOP OF THE GENEROUSLY ICED CAKE IN ONE LAYER, GENTLY PUSHING DOWN ON THE BLUEBERRY TO EMBED THEM INTO THE ICING HALFWAY.

STORE THE CAKE IN A REFRIGERATOR UNTIL A FEW MINUTES BEFORE READY TO SERVE. CUTTING INTO THE CAKE WILL EXPOSE THE PRETTY LAYERS OF BLUEBERRIES, ICING, CAKE, ICING, STRAWBERRIES, ICING AND CAKE.

P.S. NO ONE WILL GUESS THIS CAKE IS GLUTEN FREE, GRAIN FREE AND SUGAR FREE.

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LOW CARB CHEESY SQUASH AND SPINACH CASSEROLE

My fiance bought a squash and it sat on the counter for 2 weeks because neither of us really knew what to do with it. The traditional way to make squash is with lots of brown sugar….and that is out of the question, so I went on a Google search to find a way to make this as low carb as possible. I found a base recipe and changed some things, and let me tell you, it was delicious! Yes, squash is a starchy vegetable and not normally consumed on a low carb diet, but on occasion it’s good for your gut to get some high fiber starchy veggies, so don’t worry about having squash every once in awhile (minus the sugar of course!). Here is my recipe. P.s. I am now dubbing this one to take the place of potatoes au gratin AND squash casserole at holiday gatherings.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 Tablespoon butter

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced

  • 4 cups peeled and cubed yellow squash

  • 2 cups baby spinach

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup sliced raw almonds

  • 1 1/2 cup shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, divided

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

  • 2 eggs

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

  1. Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat; cook and stir onion and garlic in the hot oil-butter mixture until softened, about 3 minutes. Add squash, salt, and pepper; stir to combine. Cover skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer squash mixture to a large bowl.

  2. Mix raw almonds and 1/2 cup Colby-Monterey Jack cheese together in a bowl; stir into squash mixture.

  3. Whisk cream and eggs together in a measuring cup or small bowl; stir into squash mixture.

  4. Grease a 9x13 casserole dish with olive oil. Take one cup of baby spinach and layer at the bottom of the dish. Pour and layer half of the squash mixture on top of the 1st layer of spinach. Place a second cup of the baby spinach on top of the 1st layer of squash. Then finally add the last half of the squash mixture on top of the second layer of spinach. Top with remaining Colby-Monterey Jack cheese and almond mixture if desired.

  5. Bake in the preheated oven until casserole is golden brown and bubbling, 20- 30 minutes.

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Chicken Satay Sir Fry With Peanut Sauce

The problem with Asian food is the fact that they typically use oils and sauces that contain soy and gluten and of course….rice. Chicken Satay with peanut sauce is an item I would always order at an Asian restaurant, so I decided to make a gluten free, soy free, rice free version of this traditional Asian dish.

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Marinating Time 6 hours

Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

CHICKEN:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (3/4 to 1 pound total)

  • 1 scallion thinly sliced

Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk

  • 3 cloves garlic minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder or curry paste

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder

Peanut sauce:

  • 1/4 cup natural, sugar free peanut butter

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil (ensure you purchase gluten free)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (ensure you purchase gluten free)

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

STIR FRY VEGETABLES

Purchase a frozen Asian stir fry mixed vegetables.

Instructions

  1. Marinating the chicken: In a large bowl, combine all marinade ingredients and stir until well-mixed. Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch chunks and add them to the marinade, stirring to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

  2. Cooking the chicken: Drain the marinade from the chicken. Add 2 TBS of olive oil to a skillet. Cook the chicken at medium heat for about 5-8 minutes. Chicken pieces should not be pink, but not be brown either. You will finish cooking the chicken with the vegetables.

  3. Making the vegetables: Steam the bag of frozen Asian vegetables. Drain additional water and add to the pan with the almost done chicken. Add 1 TBS of Sesame oil and turn the skillet on high heat. Stir fry the chicken until brown with the vegetables. In the last minute of cooking, add 3/4 of the scallions to the pan and stir them into the chicken and veggie mixture. Save 1/3 of the scallions as a garnish for serving or add to peanut sauce.

  4. Making the sauce: Add all peanut sauce ingredients to a small saucepan. Whisk together over medium-low heat until smooth, a few minutes. Keep warm over low heat, stirring occasionally.

  5. Serving: Serve chicken and vegetables onto a plate. Drizzle the peanut sauce over the chicken or dollop on the side as a dipping sauce. We highly suggest adding a side of garlic sriracha and you can even eat with some steamed cauliflower rice if not having “rice” with Asian food seems sacrilegious.


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Cauliflower Baked Ziti

Thank you to FTW Member Jill Hebron for this recipe and pictures!

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

pinch red pepper flakes

1 lb. ground beef

kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes

2 tbsp. thinly sliced basil, plus more for garnish

1 large head of cauliflower, (about 3 cups) cut into florets, blanched, and drained well

1 1/2 c. fresh ricotta

2 c. shredded mozzarella

1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for one minute. Add meat and season with salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink, 6 minutes. Drain fat.

  2. Return saucepan over medium heat and add tomato paste and oregano. Cook for 2 minutes more, until slightly darkened. Add crushed tomatoes and bring sauce to a simmer, reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and flavors have melded, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil.

  3. In a large bowl, pour sauce over cauliflower and stir to combine. In a large baking dish, place half the cauliflower in an even layer. Dollop all over with half the ricotta, and sprinkle with half the mozzarella and Parmesan. Add the rest of the cauliflower in an even layer on top, and top with remaining cheeses.

  4. Bake until cheese is melted and golden, 25 minutes. Garnish with basil before serving

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Cheesburger Bake

Thank you Fire Team Member Gina Wolter for this recipe!

CHEESEBURGER BAKE
INGREDIENTS
-1.5 lb ground beef
-1 packet Onion Soup Mix 
-2 tbs minced onions
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup mayo
-1/4 cup heavy cream
-8 oz cheddar cheese
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- yellow mustard for top optional added after baking
-Dill hamburger pickles as topping. optional

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Toss ground beef, onions and 1 package of onion soup mix in fry pan until lightly browned and drain the grease.

After draining mix together ground beef and 4 oz of cheddar cheese and place in lightly greased pie plate.

Next you will mix together eggs , mayo, heavy cream, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. After being mixed thoroughly pour mixture over beef in pie plate

Top with 4oz remaining cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy!!

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LOW CARB 16 MINUTE PIZZA

This recipe was created by FTW Founder Steph Lincoln.

Made a pizza tonight and I kinda winged the recipe because I ended up missing a couple of ingredients, but it totally worked out and was delicious! Here it is: 

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cups Almond flour

2 cups shredded mozzarella
2 TBS of olive oil

1 TBS of garlic salt

TBS Italian seasoning

Whatever toppings you desire on your pizza. Shown here in the picture with

1 Cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup marinara sauce

pepperoni slices

black olives

white onion

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a pizza pan with olive oil.

Combine the almond flour, shredded mozzarella, 1 egg, seasoning and oils and mix with hands into a dough. Press and roll the dough to a flat round pie. Place onto an oiled pizza plan and bake for 8 minutes at 400 degrees.  
Pull the half baked dough from the oven, add whatever toppings you like. Place back into the oven for 8 more minutes. 
Cook until dough is completely cooked with a crisp crust.

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Keto "Crack" Chicken

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Thank you to Fire Team Member Jill Hebron for this recipe!

Keto Crack Chicken

Cook about 2lbs of chicken in your crockpot with about a cup of broth.

When chicken is thoroughly cooked and softened, shred it up with forks and toss in 8oz of cream cheese (or 4oz cream cheese + 4oz greek yogurt) and add HALF packet of ranch seasoning. I find this to be quite salty, so start small and adjust to your taste, and season with salt & pepper as needed.

Cook on low for about an hour to melt and mix. Serve hot or cold!!

If you are not a fan of ranch, you can flavor the chicken with pesto or salsa. Sometimes I split the cooked chicken in half and season separately, so I have more tasty keto eats during the week

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Keto Hot Pockets

Thank you to Fire Team Member Kristen Gryzik for this recipe!

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Keto Hot Pockets

INGREDIENTS:

1 3/4 cups pre shredded/grated cheese mozzarella
3/4 cup almond meal/flour
2 tbsp cream cheese full fat
1 egg medium
1 tbsp of butter 
Garlic powder and Italian seasoning
Parm cheese (optional)
*whatever you want for inside

1. Mix the shredded/grated cheese and almond flour/meal in a microwaveable bowl. Add the cream cheese. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir then microwave on HIGH for another 30 seconds.
2. Add the egg, salt and mix gently.
3. Roll the keto cheese dough between 2 pieces of baking parchment/paper. Do not roll as thin as a thin pizza crust. It needs to be a little thicker so it is sturdy and will hold the pizza filings. 
4. Remove the top baking paper/parchment. Cut the dough into 8 squares
5. Take 4 squares, put insides on top, take other 4 squares, put them on top and squeeze the sides together. 
6. Bake for 15 min on 425 degrees.
7. When done baking, melt butter add Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Brush on top, add Parm cheese if you want as well.

Noodleless Lasagna used for stuffing the keto hot pocket shown in the picture

INGREDIENTS

1 lb Ground Beef
1/2 lb Italian Sausage
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1 1/2 cup Marinara Sauce
3/4 tsp Garlic Powder, divided
1 tsp Oregano, divided
1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
1 cup Shredded Mozzarella, divided
2/3 cup Parmesan Cheese, divided
Chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a 12-inch cast iron skillet (or other oven safe equivalent), brown the ground beef and ground sausage together over medium heat on the stovetop until no pink remains (about 15 minutes). Drain the excess fat and return to heat.

Add the onion to the pan and saute with meat until it begins to soften, 3-5 minutes. Pour the sauce, 1/2 tsp oregano and 1/2 tsp garlic powder into the pan with the meat sauce and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, 1/2 cup of mozzarella, and 1/3 cup of the Parmesan. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste and add the remaining oregano and garlic powder to the cheese mixture and fold until completely combined.

Turn off the heat and spread the meat around the pan until it's an even layer. Place spoonfuls of the cheese mixture around the pan, pushing them down a bit with your spoon to the bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle the top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes until bubbling and the top begins to turn golden. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Broccoli chicken alfredo with zoodles and cauliflower cheese "bread"

Thank you to Fire Team Member Jim Wolter for this recipe!

Total time: 30 minutes

Broccoli Chicken Alfredo Recipe

INGREDIENTS
1 large chicken breast cubed
4 cups chopped broccoli, fresh is better
2 large zucchini spiraled 
1 stick butter
Half stick of butter 
1 package cream cheese 
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 
1/2 cup shredded parmesan 
2 garlic cloves

INSTRUCTIONS: Melt butter and cream cheese. When melted melt parmesan and add cream. Use a whisk to blend the sauce. Sprinkle pepper and Italian seasoning into the mixture if desired. The parmesan is salty so he careful if you add salt. I have over salted my first batch. 
Separate pan cook half stick of butter, chicken and broccoli till chicken is fully cooked. Combine sauce and chicken serve over boiled zucchini noodles. 

CAULIFLOWER CHEESE BREAD
Ingredients
1 head cauliflower raw

1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese shredded

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese shaved

1 large egg

1/2 tablespoon garlic minced

1/2 tablespoon fresh basil chopped

1/2 tablespoon fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

3/4 cup Mozzarella Cheese shredded

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Rice the cauliflower by coring it and breaking it into florets. Then place it in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it is the texture of rice. (If your cauliflower seems excessively moist, squeeze the riced, raw cauliflower in a paper towel to help remove moisture.)

In a large bowl, mix the riced cauliflower, 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 egg, 1/2 tablespoon fresh garlic, 1/2 tablespoon fresh basil, 1/2 tablespoon fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper until combined and holds together. Place the mixture onto the lined baking sheet and spread out into a rectangle about 9x7" and 1/4" thick.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and top with 3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese and return to oven to continue baking until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Cool about 10 minutes and cut into 'breadsticks'. Garnish with fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese. Serve with your favorite Red Sauce and enjoy!


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KETO DIET FUNDAMENTALS

Originally published on HVMN by Dr. Brianna Stubbs and Nate Martins.

January 25, 2019

The keto diet has one goal: get the body producing ketones. From this, all the health benefits you've heard of—from weight loss to performance—trickle down. The question is...how do you get your body to begin producing ketones?

First, let's talk basics. Ketones are a fundamentally different energy source than the carbohydrates and fats your cells typically use for energy. It can take several days (or weeks!) of ketogenic, low-carb, high-fat eating before the body starts to produce ketones. And the time it takes to get into ketosis varies between individuals.

“Keto” comes from the word “ketogenic.” This is a scientific term meaning that the body is producing ketones from fat.1 When blood ketone levels exceed 0.5mM, the body has achieved "ketosis." Ketosis can be naturally achieved two ways: through diet or fasting (meaning the body is producing its own ketones), or also by consuming products that raise blood ketone levels (like HVMN Ketone or ketone salts or MCT oils). Ketosis and ketogenic are two different things; a body in ketosis doesn't mean that body is ketogenic.

Ketogenic means the body is producing its own ketones, which must happen through diet or fasting. This body is in ketosis because blood ketone levels are over 0.5mM. Someone else may consume ketones through an external means (called exogenous ketones). This body is also in ketosis because its blood levels are over 0.5mM, but it's not ketogenic—because it's not producing its own ketones. Simple enough, right?

Now that you know how to get your body into ketosis (through a low-carb diet / fasting or by taking a ketone supplement), let's explore the different ranges of ketosis and how to start a ketogenic diet.

Ways to Achieve Ketosis

As with all metabolic processes, the state of ketosis is a spectrum. Past a threshold (which varies from person to person), even a small increase in dietary carbohydrate intake can trigger enough insulin release to take the body out of ketosis.

General target blood ketones levels are as follows:

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  • No ketosis: under 0.5 mM BHB in blood

  • Low ketosis: 0.5 - 1.5 mM BHB in blood

  • Moderate ketosis: 1.5 - 3 mM BHB in blood

  • High ketosis: over 3 mM BHB in blood

  • Pathological ketosis: over 15 mM BHB in blood

Let's explore how the body achieves ketosis.

Physiological Ketosis

The typical methods used to generate physiological levels of ketosis are fasting, the ketogenic diet, and consuming exogenous ketones like HVMN Ketone.

After an overnight fast, a low amount of ketones (0.1mM - 0.2mM) can often be detected in the blood. As the time spent fasting increases, blood ketone levels slowly rise until a plateau at 8mM - 10mM of beta-hydroxybutyrate (or BHB, the predominant ketone body in the blood) has been reached after many days. Scientist Hans Krebs described this plateau as "physiological ketosis."2

Fasting long-term is unsustainable, so following a strict ketogenic diet can be used to maintain a low level of continuous ketosis. Research suggests blood BHB levels between 0.4mM - 1mM can be achieved while following a ketogenic diet.3 Anecdotal evidence suggests it’s sometimes possible to reach higher levels.

Using exogenous ketones can raise blood ketones to a physiological level without the ketogenic diet or fasting.

The level of ketosis reached depends on the exogenous ketone supplement used. Reported levels range from 0.6mM with a ketone salt or a medium-chain triglyceride supplement,4,5 and up to 6mM with HVMN Ketone.6

The level of ketosis required for different physiological benefits is unknown. For endurance sports, a higher level of ketosis (>2mM) appears to be superior to lower levels.4,6 This is possible because ketones fuel athletes' muscles during a workout. However, some other benefits of ketosis, such as reduced appetite may be seen at much lower levels (0.5mM).7

Pathological Ketosis

Sometimes, the body starts producing ketones as a result of a disease (pathology). This can lead to dangerous levels of ketones in the body, though these high levels are very uncommon in healthy people following the ketogenic diet.

Alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA) is a result of chronic alcohol consumption usually accompanied by malnutrition. AKA is characterized by increased ketone production (levels > 15mM) via liver alcohol metabolism, in conjunction with a mild elevation in blood glucose levels. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, fatigue, altered breathing, and abdominal pain.8

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) occurs most frequently in patients with type 1 diabetes. DKA is the simultaneous occurrence of high blood ketones (> 20mM), high blood glucose, and acidification of the blood. It develops when insulin is absent, or insulin signaling is no longer functional. This means the physiological state of starvation is triggered, even in the presence of high blood glucose. As during starvation, lipolysis (fat release) increases. This causes the liver to produce a high amount of ketones and blood pH to fall (as ketones are an organic acid).

As glucose levels are very high, the excess is excreted in the urine. This draws water and electrolytes out of the body, causing dangerous dehydration. Symptoms of DKA include nausea, vomiting, altered breathing, abdominal pain, and unconsciousness. The rapid onset and alarming nature of DKA is a reason why ketosis has a bad stigma in the medical community.

You may be doing keto wrong.

There's a ton of misinformation out there about the keto diet. We're on top of the scientific literature. Be the first to read our commentary on the research by subscribing.

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Starting a Ketogenic Diet

The keto diet is a moderate-protein, low-carb, high-fat diet. Its goal is to get the body to produce ketones, which are then used an fuel source for both the brain and the body. But because it's low-carb, high-fat, the keto diet often gets confused with other diets out there.

What Makes Keto Unique?

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Just because a diet is low carb doesn’t mean it’s keto. The subtle differences in macronutrients on keto make it unique (more on these later). Keto isn't Atkins. Keto isn't paleo. Keto isn't high protein.

High fat intake is often a concern on keto because, for years, a low-fat diet was equated with fat loss. In Dr. Atkins' 1972 book, "Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution," he began to reshape how we think about fat. The pendulum of public perception continued to swing in favor of diets higher in fat, thanks to the emergence of influential writers and speakers such as Gary Taubes, Robert Lustig, and Nina Teicholtz, and clinicians and scientists such as Professor Tim Noakes, Dr. Jason Fung, and Professor Thomas Seyfried. The fear of fat has only kept decreasing.

Usually, keto is confused with Atkins. On Atkins, the initial aim is to restrict the carbohydrate intake to less than 20g per day. This degree of restriction is likely to lead to ketosis, although this is not an explicit aim. Then, the diet reintroduces carbohydrates to a level “the body can tolerate.”9 There's also less restriction on protein compared to a true ketogenic diet: high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate.

Tips for Starting a Keto Diet

Don’t try to start the diet gradually. If carbohydrate intake is moderately-low, blood sugar levels may not be enough to fuel the brain, and the presence of carbohydrate in the diet might still be enough to stop the body from making ketones.

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The main objective when starting the ketogenic diet is to restrict carbohydrates to 20 digestible grams per day or less (this is what's considered a strict ketogenic diet) and consume fat until you're satiated. Remember to consume plenty of fiber as well. And regarding protein: stay at or below 0.45 grams of protein per day, per lb of body weight (1g/kg). If your goal is to lose weight, aim for 1 gram of protein per kg of your target weight.

Here are a few tips for when you're starting keto:

  • Make a keto meal plan. It’s a good idea to establish an eating plan before starting the diet. Make a shopping trip to stock up on a range of foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in fat

  • Use an app to track macronutrient intake. Apps such as MyFitnessPal are great to get an idea of the macronutrients in common foods. There is also a range of special online keto diet calculators

  • Search for a few keto recipes to adapt cooking methods. Due to the high-fat consumption required to get into ketosis, it may be beneficial to change daily staples or cooking methods. You could increase your intake of tasty foods such as coconut oil, heavy cream, and cheese

  • Make an approved list of keto diet foods and eliminate carbohydrate-rich foods. It will be easier to follow the diet by throwing out any foods to avoid. It’s recommended to check the labels for hidden added sugars

  • Consider starting a ketogenic diet with a short period (16-36 hours) of fasting (consuming zero calories). Fasting depletes carbohydrate stores and can accelerate ketone production. Click here to read more about fasting protocols

  • Gentle cardio exercise (~30 minutes) or some short high-intensity intervals (10-second sprints) can deplete carbohydrate stores and speed up ketone production

Keto Diet for Weight Loss

The ketogenic diet can be used to help with weight loss.

Recently, the number of positive keto diet reviews, and small-scale science studies has increased. The rising popularity of the diet has led to a demand for further randomized control trials to study its long-term efficacy. A key reason why the ketogenic diet helps weight loss is that it decreases hunger. This makes it easier to maintain a calorie deficit. It is important to stress that the overconsumption of calories will generally prevent weight loss, regardless of the macronutrient composition.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet and Cheating on Keto

At the moment, there is not a clear answer as to whether the benefits of the ketogenic diet can be achieved by cycling on and off the diet. It’s best to stick to the diet for one or two months minimum to see benefits. It can take several days to get into ketosis1 and 3-6 weeks to become “fat adapted.”3

Some research indicates ~40 days on the ketogenic diet interspersed with periods of healthy eating with more carbohydrates (Mediterranean diet) could maintain weight loss.10

“Cheating,” and consuming high-carbohydrate food, quickly stops ketone production by the liver. It can then take a considerable amount of time for the body to get back into ketosis. Time taken to get back into ketosis will depend on many factors including, the amount of carbohydrates consumed, how adapted the body is to produce ketones, activity level, etc.

However, cyclical ketogenic diets are a promising area of scientific investigation. Recently, scientists studied the effect of long-term cycling of the ketogenic diet (one week on, one week off the diet) compared to a normal diet in mice. Cyclical keto dieting reduced mid-life mortality and increased health-span.11

Measuring Ketone Levels

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An essential, objective way to see if you're in ketosis is to measure. There are three main ways to test for ketones—in the blood, in the breath and in the urine—each with its own benefits and considerations. The most accurate? Measure levels of BHB in the blood. You can dive into our analysis of all three methods here.

Macronutrient Composition for Keto Diet Success

A balanced macronutrient intake is essential for success on the keto diet. Macronutrients are food groups humans consume in large quantities. They provide the bulk of the energy to the body.

The primary macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

The macronutrient composition of a diet can be described using the mass of each macronutrient, the ratio of macronutrients in the diet, or the percentage of each macronutrient in the diet. The variety of descriptions can make things a little confusing.

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For example:

  • A ketogenic diet contains about 5% of energy as carbohydrates. 

  • A ketogenic diet has a ratio of 2g - 4g of fat to every 1g of carbohydrates plus proteins.

  • A classical ketogenic diet contains 20g - 30g of carbohydrate per day

Here are some examples macronutrients based on foods you might eat every day. Carbohydrates: bread, pasta, potatoes, cereals, sugary food (sweets). Fat: oils (olive oil, coconut oil), butter, fatty cuts of meat, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, avocado. Protein: beef, chicken, pork, fish, milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs.

Carbohydrates

The main function of dietary carbohydrates is to be a source of energy. Some say that dietary carbohydrates are not essential, as they can be made from dietary protein and fat.12 

Carbohydrates are biological molecules that contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, usually with a 2:1 ratio of hydrogen:oxygen. Carbohydrates occur as a collection of single units (monosaccharides, e.g. glucose), two molecules joined (disaccharides, e.g. sucrose), and chains of molecules (oligosaccharides and polysaccharides).

When following a ketogenic diet, carb intake should be very low.

This contrasts with the modern western diet (how many Americans eat), which is high-carb: most dietary calories come from carbohydrates (and often, processed foods). Consuming carbohydrates causes insulin release (leading to higher insulin levels), which inhibits ketone production in the liver and thus ketosis. Therefore, monitoring and modulating your carbohydrate intake is an important part of following the ketogenic diet.

Dietary carbohydrates replenish the stores in muscle and liver (glycogen). They also maintain blood glucose concentrations to provide fuel for the whole body—but most importantly for the brain. Blood glucose is easy to measure using a handheld blood glucose monitor. Normal blood glucose levels fluctuate throughout the day and vary between individuals.

Ranges of Blood Glucose levels for clinical diagnosis are as follows:13

  • Fasting: healthy = 4mM - 6 mM / 70mgDl - 110 mgDl

  • Fasting: diabetic = ~ 7 mM / 125 mgDl

  • 90 minutes post-meal: healthy = < 8 mM / 140 mgDl

  • 90 minutes post-meal: diabetics =  > 11 mM/ 200 mgDl

When you’re following the ketogenic diet, key concepts are the total amount of carbohydrates, the net amount of carbohydrates (accounting for the accompanying fiber), and the speed with which carbohydrates raise blood glucose (glycemic index). With a standard ketogenic diet, it’s recommended to keep the total amount of carbohydrates limited to less than 5% of energy intake.14

Dietary fiber is carbohydrate-based material from plants that is not entirely broken down by the small intestine. Instead, it passes to the large intestine, and either undergoes fermentation (which supports the growth of beneficial bacteria),15 or excretion. Fiber is a significant part of a well-formulated ketogenic diet. It helps to maintain gut health, and also increases food bulk and helps with the feeling of fullness. Green and cruciferous vegetables are rich in fiber and are helpful to include in a ketogenic diet.

Depending on how complex the source of fiber is, it has different assumed caloric values. One approach is to treat fiber as having the same amount of calories per gram as carbohydrates: 4 kCal/gram. However, as a proportion of fiber is not digested, other approaches use a lower value of 2 kCal/g. Digestion-resistant fiber does not contribute to calorie intake, as it is not broken down.

Net carbs refer to the mass of total carbohydrates, minus the total fiber, which could be a better metric to judge carbohydrate intake because:

  • Fiber is mostly digestion-resistant and so should not increase blood glucose.15

  • Studies have shown an increase in fiber does not affect blood ketone levels.16

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The ‘glycemic index’ is a scale that ranges between 1 and 100, and it indicates how quickly food raises blood glucose after consumption. Pure glucose is the reference and is set at 100 (meaning, raises blood glucose quickly). Other foods have a comparatively lower value as they raise blood glucose more slowly. Example values for the glycemic index of food are white potato (~80), white bread (~75), apple (~35) and peanuts (~15).

Glycemic load accounts for both the speed of carbohydrate release and the total amount of carbohydrates in food. Food can have a relatively high glycemic index (i.e. carrot = 47) but because the total carbohydrate amount is low (carrot = 5g per serving), the glycemic load of one serving is very low.

Protein

Proteins are large molecules composed of chains of amino acids. The functions of dietary protein are:

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  • Building structural and functional components of cells

  • Conversion to glucose via gluconeogenesis

  • Top up intermediates in other metabolic pathways, such as the Krebs Cycle

While it's possible for a protein to be used as a fuel, this isn’t its primary function.

When following a ketogenic diet, there must be a balance of sufficient protein to maintain muscle mass. If dietary protein exceeds 20% - 25% of calories, gluconeogenesis from protein can stop ketone production. Initially, target a protein intake of 0.8g - 1.2g per kilogram of body weight. This target balances the need for protein against the chance of excess gluconeogenesis.3

Some individuals (such as strength or endurance athletes) may have higher protein requirements. They might require a modified ketogenic macronutrient ratio of 2:1 fat: non-fat (where 65% of energy is fat, 30% is protein, and 5% carbohydrate) and can still be effective for therapeutic ketosis.

Fats

Fat gets a bad rap. In nutrition, fat is the dietary macronutrient made up of triglyceride molecules. The main functions of fats in the diet are to provide increased energy levels and makeup key functional and structural parts of the human system.

But we often misuse the word “fat.” There’s a difference between fat in cells and different types of fat molecules:

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  • Adipose tissue: the tissue that stores energy as fats/lipid droplets inside adipocytes (fat cells). This is body fat.

  • Adipocytes: individual cells that store fats/lipids

  • Lipids: the most general term forinsoluble and polar biological fat molecules. The lipid class of molecules includes mono-, di- and triglycerols, cholesterols, and phospholipids

  • Triglycerides: a lipid molecule made up of glycerol (that acts as a backbone) joined to three fatty acid molecules

  • Fatty acids: a molecule composed of a chain of carbon atoms bonded to one another with a carboxylic acid at one end

To be specific, our diet includes many sources of lipids.

Lipids are digested and travel in the blood as triglycerides and fatty acids before being used as a fuel, or stored by adipocytes in adipose tissue. Dietary lipids undergo many tightly regulated metabolic steps before storage in adipose tissue. Dietary fat does not equal stored body fat.

Triglycerides are the most important source of energy in a ketogenic diet. They account for > 70% of dietary calories. For those following a ketogenic diet, it’s helpful to understand how the lipid source in the diet is processed in the body.

Fatty acids can be saturated (no double bonds between carbons), or unsaturated (one or more double bonds between carbons).

Saturated fats are relatively stable and tend to be solid at room temperature (i.e. lard, butter, coconut oil). Historical guidelines recommended limited the intake of dietary saturated fats because fat consumption was thought to be associated with heart disease and high blood pressure. However, emerging research has shown saturated fat can have beneficial effects on blood biomarkers (i.e. increase healthy HDL cholesterol levels).17

Unsaturated fatty acids can be further divided into monounsaturated fats (only one double bond between carbons) and polyunsaturated fats (multiple double bonds between carbons). The number of double bonds is important as it determines how the fatty acid behaves both inside and outside of the body.

They tend to be liquid at room temperature (i.e. vegetable-based fats such as olive oil). Unsaturated fats are thought of as healthier than saturated fats (also known as “healthy fats”). Increased consumption of mono- and polyunsaturated fats have been linked to improved blood biomarkers (i.e. lower blood triglycerides).18 Eating enough unsaturated fats is important when following a ketogenic diet.

Increased fat consumption is not associated with cardiovascular disease.19

Eating a moderate amount of saturated fat is unlikely to be as harmful as previously believed, and saturated fat consumption as part of a ketogenic diet is unlikely to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Trans-fats are produced artificially when hydrogen is added to unsaturated fatty acids in order to solidify it and make it last longer. Because of associations with poor health outcomes, these artificial fats had their generally regarded as safe (GRAS) status removed in 2015 by the FDA. 20 Avoid high levels of trans-fat consumption by eating a diet based around whole foods.

Essential fatty acids are important to include in the diet because the body cannot naturally produce them. This group includes poly-unsaturated omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9 fatty acids.

It’s believed the anti-inflammatory effects of essential fatty acids may have broad benefits for health and performance. Oily fish, such as sardines and mackerel, and seeds (i.e. flax) are good dietary sources of essential fatty acids. If you don't get enough of these in your diet you can take a supplement that includes fish oil,

such as Kado, from HVMN.

The number of carbons in the fatty acid chain also has an important effect on its metabolism. The carbon chain of fatty acids can be up to 28 carbons atoms long. If there are > 13 carbons in the fatty acid, it is called a long-chain fatty acid, between 8-12 is a medium-chain fatty acid, and under 5 carbons is a short-chain fatty acid.

The body metabolizes fats differently according to chain length. Long-chain fatty acids are absorbed and go from the gut into the lymphatic drainage system and from there are released directly into the blood.

By comparison, medium- and short-chain fatty acids do not go into the lymphatic system. They travel in the blood from the gut directly to the liver.21 If a large amount of these short- and medium-chain fats are delivered to the liver at once, this can trigger the liver to convert them into ketones, even without dietary carbohydrate restriction.

Medium-chain fatty acids are highly ketogenic. They can be found in natural sources such as coconut oil or in an artificially purified form. However, for many people, consuming a high amount of medium-chain fatty acids can cause an upset stomach. This limits their use to raise ketones artificially.

When integrating these concepts into a ketogenic diet: target the majority of dietary calories as fat. Aim to include a variety of fats from different animal and plant sources (i.e. red meat, poultry, fish, dairy, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, and avocados).

Micronutrients on a Keto Diet

Conversely to macronutrients, micronutrients must be obtained in the diet in small quantities, but are essential to health. Vitamins and minerals are examples of micronutrients.

When following a ketogenic diet, it is important to be mindful of micronutrient intake because:

  • Reducing carbohydrate intake can lower consumption of micronutrient-rich foods (i.e. fruits and vegetables)

  • In the initial 28 days of following a ketogenic diet, the balance of some micronutrients (such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium) can become disturbed due to an increase in their excretion.22 The body resolves this issue naturally after adapting to the diet

Sodium is the principal cation in extracellular fluid. Its functions are related to blood volume maintenance, water balance, and cell membrane potential. Sodium is also essential for acid-base balance and nerve conduction.

The level of sodium can fall at the start of a ketogenic diet.

Adding extra sodium to meals (like adding salt or consuming bouillon/ bone broth) can reduce the chances of feeling the common side effects associated with low sodium (like cramps).

Potassium is the principal cation in the intracellular fluid. Its primary functions are related to maintaining cell membrane potential and electrical activity in cells such as neurons and cardiomyocytes. As with sodium, levels of potassium fall at the initiation of a ketogenic diet due to increased excretion. When starting a ketogenic diet, include sources of potassium like nuts, dark green vegetables, and avocados.

Magnesium is an essential element in biological systems, especially for nerve, muscle, and immune function. Levels of magnesium also fall at the initiation of a ketogenic diet due to increased excretion. When starting a ketogenic diet, include sources of magnesium like oily fish, dark green vegetables, and seeds.

Calcium has a role in muscle contraction and is important for cardiovascular and bone health. Calcium deficiency is less common during a ketogenic diet, as staples of the diet such as fish, cheese, and leafy greens are rich sources of the mineral.

Considerations When Starting a Keto Diet

As with any new diet or way of life, it's important to look at the lifestyle change from all angles.

Who Should Avoid a Keto Diet?

Based on certain risk factors, following a ketogenic diet may not be suggested for people with the following medical considerations:

  • Pregnancy

  • Kidney failure

  • Impaired liver function

  • Impaired fat digestion (gallbladder disease, gastric bypass, pancreatitis)

  • Genetic defects in metabolism (CPTI/II deficiency, beta-oxidation defects, fatty acyl dehydrogenase deficiency).

Potential Side Effects

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When starting a ketogenic diet there can be a period of 2 - 3 days where blood glucose levels are low, but ketone production has not reached a sufficient rate to provide enough fuel for the brain.

This can result in a series of symptomsknown as the keto flu, which include:

  • Headache

  • Muscle cramps

  • Fatigue 

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

Exogenous ketone supplements, such as HVMN Ketone, and medium-chain triglycerides can be used to reduce symptoms of keto flu. They provide the brain with a source of energy without carbohydrate consumption. These supplements increase the levels of ketones in the blood artificially. Exogenous ketones do not increase the body’s ketone production (of endogenous ketones) and can actually inhibit23 the release of fatty acids from adipocytes.

It can be initially tricky to adjust food intake to ensure adequate nutrition when following a ketogenic diet. Also, some people find the diet isn’t sustainable due to individual differences in metabolic state or lifestyle. If the diet does not provide the correct balance of macro and micronutrients, some individuals develop other symptoms beyond the keto flu after the adaptation period. These include:

  • Constipation

  • Bad breath

  • Difficulty in maintaining physical performance

  • Hair loss

  • Gallstones

  • Elevated blood triglycerides or cholesterol

To treat these symptoms, ensure the diet provides enough calories and micronutrients. Many people reduce fruit and vegetable consumption on a ketogenic diet (due to carbohydrate content). This means it is easy to become deficient in vitamins and to under-consume fiber.

The ketogenic diet can alter the way that the kidneys excrete electrolytes (such as sodium), so electrolyte supplementation can reduce the side effects of an electrolyte imbalance. A silver lining here is the loss of excess water weight (and thus weight loss) with the decrease in stored water.

Possible Clinical Applications for Ketosis

Some of the earliest reports of the ketogenic diet describe its use in a clinical setting.

In the early 20th century, ketogenic diets helped treat drug-resistant epilepsy. Doctors also prescribed ketogenic diets to treat type 1 diabetes (different than type 2 diabetes, in which people have insulin resistance or don’t respond to insulin) before the invention of insulin.

As analytical techniques progressed, scientists learned that ketones themselves might be a crucial part of the success of the ketogenic diet to treat disease. From this finding stemmed a field of research to examine the potential benefits of ketosis in a range of disease states:

  • Weight loss

  • Diabetes and metabolic syndrome

  • Neurological disease: epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, migraine, concussive disease, and traumatic brain injury

  • Cancer

  • Inflammatory diseases

While the ketogenic diet is not yet a first-line treatment recommended by doctors for any of these diseases, it’s a relatively easy and tolerable step that patients with these conditions can take to improve their health. Emerging research suggests there may be beneficial effects of ketosis for some people, and further studies are required to confirm how best to use the diet in these clinical settings.

Should You Start a Keto Diet?

We've provided an in-depth look at the keto diet, hopefully giving you all the tools you need to make the best decision for your health. Think about your goals, your lifestyle and how feasible keto is for you (and consult a healthcare professional). While many people have found success on keto for weight loss or performance—everyone is different.

Not seeing results from the keto diet?

You’re not alone. Many think they’re in ketosis but aren’t–the newness of the diet leads to misinformation online. HVMN provides the latest science around meal-timing, supplements and macronutrient composition. Subscribe and be first to know the newest techniques for keto diet results.

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Scientific Citations

1.Cahill, G.F., Jr. (2006). Fuel metabolism in starvation. Annu Rev Nutr 26, 1-22.2.Krebs, H.A. (1966). The regulation of the release of ketone bodies by the liver. Adv. Enzyme Regul. 4, 339-354.3.Volek, J.S., and Phinney, S.D. (2012). The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. (Beyond Obesity LLC ).4.Rodger, S., Plews, D., Laursen, P., and Driller, M. (2017). The effects of an oral β-hydroxybutyrate supplement on exercise metabolism and cycling performance.5.Vandenberghe, C., St-Pierre, V., Pierotti, T., Fortier, M., Castellano, C.-A., and Cunnane, S.C. (2017). Tricaprylin Alone Increases Plasma Ketone Response More Than Coconut Oil or Other Medium-Chain Triglycerides: An Acute Crossover Study in Healthy Adults. Current Developments in Nutrition 1.6.Cox, P.J., Kirk, T., Ashmore, T., Willerton, K., Evans, R., Smith, A., Murray, Andrew J., Stubbs, B., West, J., McLure, Stewart W., et al. (2016). Nutritional Ketosis Alters Fuel Preference and Thereby Endurance Performance in Athletes. Cell Metabolism 24, 1-13.7.Gibson, A.A., Seimon, R.V., Lee, C.M., Ayre, J., Franklin, J., Markovic, T.P., Caterson, I.D., and Sainsbury, A. (2015). Do ketogenic diets really suppress appetite? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes. Rev. 16, 64-76.8.Laffel, L. (1999). Ketone bodies: a review of physiology, pathophysiology and application of monitoring to diabetes. Diabetes Metab. Res. Rev. 15, 412-426.9.Atkins, R.C., Mandell, F.G., and Monica, H. (1972). Dr. Atkins' diet revolution: The high calorie way to stay thin forever. (D. McKay Company).10.Paoli A, Rubini A, Volek JS, Grimaldi KA. Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013;67(8):789-796. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.116.11.Ketogenic Diet Reduces Midlife Mortality and Improves Memory in Aging Mice Newman, John C. et al. Cell Metabolism , Volume 26 , Issue 3 , 547 - 557.e812.Westman, E.C., Yancy, W.S., Edman, J.S., Tomlin, K.F., and Perkins, C.E. (2002). Effect of six-month adherence to a very-low-carbohydrate diet program. Am J Med 113.13.Diabetes UK Website: Blood Sugar Level Ranges14.Kossoff, E.H., and Rho, J.M. (2009). Ketogenic Diets: Evidence for Short- and Long-term Efficacy. Neurotherapeutics 6, 406-414.15.Slavin, J. (2013). Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits. Nutrients 5, 1417-1435.16.Pfeifer, H.H., and Thiele, E.A. (2005). Low-glycemic-index treatment: a liberalized ketogenic diet for treatment of intractable epilepsy. Neurology 65, 1810-1812.17.Mente, A., Dehghan, M., Rangarajan, S., McQueen, M., Dagenais, G., Wielgosz, A., Lear, S., Li, W., Chen, H., Yi, S., Wang, Y., Diaz, R., Avezum, A., Lopez-Jaramillo, P., Seron, P., Kumar, R., Gupta, R., Mohan, V., Swaminathan, S., Kutty, R., Zatonska, K., Iqbal, R., Yusuf, R., Mohammadifard, N., Khatib, R., Nasir, N.M., Ismail, N., Oguz, A., Rosengren, A., Yusufali, A., Wentzel-Viljoen, E., Puoane, T., Chifamba, J., Teo, K., Anand, S.S., and Yusuf, S. (2017). Association of dietary nutrients,with blood lipids and blood pressure in 18 countries: a cross-sectional analysis from the PURE study. The lancet. Diabetes & endocrinology 5, 774-787.18.Volek, J.S., Gomez, A.L., and Kraemer, W.J. (2000). Fasting lipoprotein and postprandial triacylglycerol responses to a low-carbohydrate diet supplemented with n-3 fatty acids. J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 19, 383-391.19.Dehghan, M., Mente, A., Zhang, X., Swaminathan, S., Li, W., Mohan, V., Iqbal, R., Kumar, R., Wentzel-Viljoen, E., Rosengren, A., Amma, L.I., Avezum, A., Chifamba, J., Diaz, R., Khatib, R., Lear, S., Lopez-Jaramillo, P., Liu, X., Gupta, R., Mohammadifard, N., Gao, N., Oguz, A., Ramli, A.S., Seron, P., Sun, Y., Szuba, A., Tsolekile, L., Wielgosz, A., Yusuf, R., Hussein Yusufali, A., Teo, K.K., Rangarajan, S., Dagenais, G., Bangdiwala, S.I., Islam, S., Anand, S.S., and Yusuf, S. (2017).,Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study. Lancet.20.FDA Website: Final Determination Regarding Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Removing Trans Fat)21.Bhavsar, N., and St-Onge, M.P. (2016). The diverse nature of saturated fats and the case of medium-chain triglycerides: how one recommendation may not fit all. Curr. Opin. Clin. Nutr. Metab. Care 19, 81-7.22.Rabast, U., Vornberger, K.H., and Ehl, M. (1981). Loss of weight, sodium and water in obese persons consuming a high- or low-carbohydrate diet. Ann. Nutr. Metab. 25, 341-349.23.(D)-beta-Hydroxybutyrate inhibits adipocyte lipolysis via the nicotinic acid receptor PUMA-G. Taggart et al J Biol Chem. 2005 Jul 22;280(29):26649-52.

Top 3 ways to test for ketosis

Originally published on HVMN by Justin Liau, Michael Brandt and Nate Martins

HVMN lives on the bleeding edge of science. We try to stay up to date on the best methods to enhance human performance, including how to measure personal biomarkers. It’s a core principle at HVMN, an ethos to help anyone be the best version of themselves.

It’s also something we practice. CEO and Co-founder, Geoffrey Woo, measures his blood BHB levels using a blood reader device after drinking HVMN Ketone. These ketone levels are an excellent biomarker for tracking the effectiveness of fasting, ketogenic dieting, and exogenous ketones.


But there’s more than one way to test ketosis.

Why should you care about how high your ketone levels are?


HVMN takes a systems engineering approach to human performance: optimize inputs to achieve desired performance outputs.

Understanding blood ketone levels adds transparency and data fundamental to biohacking. It offers insight into where you might feel best, or help optimize diet to achieve personal goals. Many people monitor blood ketone levels while on the keto diet or taking exogenous ketones to verify that they’re actually in ketosis.


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Setting a baseline while on the keto diet is helpful, especially if you’re using the keto diet for weight loss and other health benefits like controlling metabolic syndrome. For those on the low-carb, high-fat keto diet trying to lose weight, moderate ketone levels could be an indicator measurement of your dietary needs to reach those weight loss goals.

When on the keto diet, fat stores are broken down and fatty acid concentrations increase in the bloodstream. Those fatty acids are turned into ketones in the liver. When ketone levels exceed 0.5mM, that’s considered to be a state of “ketosis.” Nutritional ketosis is defined as blood ketone levels ranging from 0.5 - 3.0mM by pioneering ketone scientists Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney in “The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living.”1

There are three methods to measure ketone levels; with this data, you’ll have the power to optimize your biohacking protocol.

Blood Testing

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Pros

  • Most accurate way to measure ketosis in mmol/L (mM)

  • Measures BHB, the predominant ketone in the body, rather than acetoacetate or acetone

Cons

  • You need a handheld device (i.e., Precision Xtra or Keto Mojo) and test strips, which can be expensive relative to other techniques

  • You have to take a finger prick blood sample which can be bothersome and invasive at first until you get used to it

When testing blood using a BHB/glucose meter, you’re getting the most accurate measurement available. The meters measure glucose or ketone levels depending on which test strips are inserted. Those with diabetes commonly use the same procedure and the same blood meters to measure their blood glucose levels. It's critical for people with diabetes to control blood sugar levels and also to avoid dangerously high levels ( > 20mM) of ketones, known as ketoacidosis.

A blood BHB/glucose meter provides the most accurate measurement available. These meters measure glucose or ketone levels depending on which test strips are used. Those with diabetes commonly use the same procedure and the same blood meters to measure their blood glucose levels. It's critical for people with diabetes to control blood sugar levels and also to avoid dangerously high levels ( > 20mM) of ketones, known as ketoacidosis.

Using a blood ketone meter device is simple. You’ll need the device itself, compatible test strip, a lancet device (to pick the finger), lancets (needs to prick the finger) and an alcohol swab for sanitation.

To take a reading, follow these steps:

  • Remove the cap from the lancing device and insert the lancet into the device

  • Rotate the tip of the cap of the lancing device and set it to the desired depth of puncture

  • Arm the lancing device by sliding the control button until you hear a click

  • Insert a strip into the reader

  • Swab the tip of your left index finger with a sterile wipe

  • Place the lancing device firmly on your left index fingertip

  • Press the button on the lancing device to puncture your fingertip

  • Gently squeeze your fingertip to extract a large drop of blood

  • Hold the reader and touch the bottom of the strip to the blood sample

  • Hold the reader in place and allow the strip to absorb the blood sample

Wait a few seconds for the reader to analyze the sample

All things considered, using a blood meter might seem like the obvious choice to measure ketone levels. But the finger prick and cost may lead you to explore other avenues for testing. Here are a couple more options.

Urine Testing

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Pros

  • Relatively inexpensive

  • Widely available in pharmacies

  • Non-invasive

Cons

  • Less accurate than blood

  • Over time the body adapts to excrete fewer ketones in the urine

    Urine testing was designed to measure acetoacetate–one of three ketone bodies. But it doesn’t account for BHB, so urine testing may not be the most accurate measure of ketosis.

    Since urine is a waste product, what’s displayed on the ketone urine strips is what the body is excreting. By nature, that may not be the best indication of how well the body is utilizing ketones as fuel. As you become more keto-adapted, you’ll excrete fewer ketone bodies through urine. Hydration status can also affect these ketone readings, and leads to inconsistent results–as relative hydration level can dilute the concentration of ketones in urine.

    It comes down to this: urine ketone stirps are a cheap and easy way to get an understanding of early ketone levels, but for long-term use, they’re not the most accurate option.

    Breath Testing

    Pros

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  • After purchasing the device, it’s free each time you test

Cons

  • You need a handheld device (e.g. Ketonix)

  • Less accurate than blood meter

Breath ketone meters are relatively new to the market for testing ketone levels. They specifically measure the amount of acetone excreted in breath, providing readings that relate well to blood ketone levels at low concentrations.

But the research is limited. There haven’t been enough studies done to confirm the accuracy of breath acetone meters at higher levels, such as the level achieved after drinking HVMN Ketone. Acetone is the simplest and smallest of the three ketone bodies.

Choosing the Right Ketone Meter for You

In general, we recommend testing ketone levels if you’re trying to achieve nutritional ketosis or using exogenous ketones like HVMN Ketone.

If you're interested in achieving ketosis almost immediately, try our flagship product, HVMN Ketone. Blood ketone levels after using HVMN Ketone can reach 6mM, making it one of the most advanced ketone products on the market. You can try it here. Try consuming the product and testing blood ketone levels after to see the impactful results.

Fat burning mode via the ketogenic diet is tough to maintain–so it’s helpful to monitor ketone levels to make sure your efforts are worthwhile. While ketone readings don’t paint the whole picture of ketosis, they’re a large piece of the puzzle. You’ll have more transparency into what’s happening inside the body, developing an understanding of how fast and the level of ketosis you’re able to achieve.

Over time, some people develop intuition around what diet or routines lead to a given ketone level, but it’s helpful to establish a periodic basis for using an accurate ketone measurement device to get reliable objective data.

PORK APPLE AND ONIONS WITH BUTTERY RANCH MUSHROOMS

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I found these great recipes on the Chunky Chef and make a few changes and wow, this was such a satisfying meal for a chilly winter day!

GROCERY LIST FOR BOTH DISHES

4-5 Pork loins

2 medium apples

1 white onion

2 cartons of mushrooms (whatever kind you prefer)

Garlic (already peeled or peel your own, you just need 6 cloves)

Dijon mustard

salt and pepper

Italian seasoning

stick of butter olive oil

INGREDIENTS FOR PORK APPLE AND ONIONS

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil 

  • Four 3-4 oz bone-in pork loins 

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 3/4 cup chicken stock

  • 1 TBS Dijon mustard or whole-grain Dijon

  • 1 TBS Italian seasoning

  • 2 medium apples thinly sliced (I used honey crisp)

  • 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Season both sides of pork chops with salt and black pepper. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to large heavy bottomed pan (or skillet), and heat over MED-HIGH heat. Add pork chops to pan, leaving at least an inch between the chops to ensure even cooking and browning. Sear 3-5 minutes per side, or until pork chops are mostly done. Chops will continue cooking in the sauce later.

  2. Remove pork chops to a plate.

  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together chicken stock and mustard, set aside.

  4. Add remaining 2 Tbsp oil to the pan, then add apples and onions. Cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt, pepper and the Italian seasoning. Stir to combine.

  5. Pour in stock mixture.

  6. Slide pork chops back into the pan, nestling them down in between the apples.

  7. Cook 2-3 minutes, until pork chops are finished cooking and liquid has reduced by half.

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Ingredients for garlic butter ranch mushrooms

  • 2 cartons of mushrooms, you can cook whole or sliced, your choice

  • 1/2 stick of butter butter

  • 1 Ranch dressing packet (or whatever dressing mix you prefer, Italian works great as well)

    INSTRUCTIONS

    1. Clean mushrooms thoroughly, then slice if you prefer not to serve them whole and place in a medium sauce pan with 1/2 stick butter on medium heat.

    2. Once the butter has melted, pour the ranch dressing mix over the mushrooms.  Stir to coat.

    3. Cover and cook on LOW for about 10 minutes.  Make sure to give them a stir every couple of minutes to make sure they cook evenly. Check for desired tenderness, and cook a little longer if needed.

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The Keto Secret: How to lose weight without starvation, calorie counting or exercise

Fire Team Whiskey Founder, former Army Captain Stephanie Lincoln was fed up. She was frustrated because she was doing “all the right things” yet her weight continued to climb. She was eating “whole grains”, low fat, counting and controlling every calorie, exercising for 1-2 hours a day and yet, continued to gain weight. She threw in the towel and decided to embark on a search for the answer to her weight gain and long list of medical complaints. She then discovered this way of eating called Keto. Learn more about why keto resolved every single issue, cut her body fat in half, and the 3 “hacks” that made transitioning to keto easy and sustainable. Watch this webinar and learn about how you can use keto and these 3 “keto hacks” to lose weight without calorie counting, starvation or exercise.

Copyright Fire Team Whiskey LLC 2019 All rights reserved.

I ate over half a gallon of coconut oil in 60 days and here is what happened....

With the recent attacks on coconut oil by the American Heart Association and the long running medical view that coconut oil (which is high in saturated fat) is a “poisonous” food for humans to consume, I decided to do my own N=1 experiment.

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I bought a big jug of coconut oil (over half a gallon) and consumed, cooked with, drank or used on my skin the entire jug in 60 days. Here is what this looked like for me:

Every morning I had two cups of coffee with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 10 tablespoons of heavy cream. For lunch, I had a coconut MCT oil shake in the form of a Fire Team Whiskey SpecOps Shake. And when I made dinner, any vegetable or meat I cooked on a skillet was cooked in coconut oil. And sometimes I use it on my skin if my skin is especially dry.

According to the American Heart Association, because I am eating so much saturated fat, my "bad cholesterol" should be through the roof, I should be getting fat, and that I should be about ready to have a stroke or a heart attack any moment. I have been eating well over their recommended daily limit of 13 grams of saturated fat a day for 2 years now. I average about 100 grams of saturated fat per day! My blood work is exceptional in every single area. My body fat is at 16.5 percent. I have never been fitter. I have never felt healthier. According to the American Heart Association, I should be terribly sick or a heart attack waiting to happen...yet I can hike up a mountain for days with a 50-pound pack on my back and leave everyone in my dust. My ticker seems to have no trouble ticking.

So what is the conclusion of my little experiment of consuming over half a gallon of the "deadly" saturated fat filled coconut oil in 60 days and 2 years now of eating about 100 grams of saturated fats a day? The American Heart Association guidelines are not based on sound science. They provide dietary guidelines based on very old, faulty science, and refuse to consider any information that conflicts with their own. (Want to learn more about this saturated fat/cholesterol myth? Read the book Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore, it will blow your mind!

Want to learn more about the health benefits of coconut oil and it’s derivative, MCT Oil? Check out this video below and go to this page with a summary of over 20 scientific articles about the health benefits of MCTs.

FTW Founder Stephanie Lincoln discusses what happened when she ate over half a gallon of coconut oil in 60 days and the 12 benefits of coconut oil.

Copyright Fire Team Whiskey, LLC 2019 All rights reserved.

IS THE KETO DIET DANGEROUS?

Jillian Michael's recently went on a rant about the ketogenic diet and how she feels it is dangerous. The Ketogenic diet is a safe and healthy way to reduce your body fat and help all sorts of chronic medical conditions.

The Fire Team Whiskey nutrition plans walk our participants into a ketogenic lifestyle safely and gradually...avoiding the pitfalls of a sudden drastic drop in carbs and calories.

Keto is a form of eating that uses your body's natural ability to burn fat as energy. This state in the body is called KETOSIS. In order to burn fat as energy, you must greatly reduce the amount of carbohydrates and sugars in your daily diet. When your body runs of sugar to burn - it burns fat. This fat burn then creates the superfuel called KETONES. Ketones can not be stored as fat (unlike carbs) and are a super efficient energy source for your skeleton, muscles, heart and brain. Ketones produce almost endless energy and focus and have a ton of health benefits.* The Fire Team Whiskey® Caliber Nutrition Protocols, the FuelRation™ Keto Bars and SpecOps™ Shakes are all designed to support a keto lifestyle and keep your body burning and not storing fat

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After years of struggling with her weight, Fire Team Whiskey® Founder, CPT Stephanie Lincoln, discovered this way of eating and it changed her life. In fact, her body fat, fitness and health changed so dramatically thanks to the keto lifestyle, that she was inspired to share this way of life with Veterans, Military Members and First Responders. Why? Because Keto was the one way of eating that didn't require a lot of sacrifice and calorie cutting. Who wouldn't want to lose weight and still be able to eat bacon, cheese burgers, and steak?! 

The Fire Team Whiskey .22 Caliber Program starts you on your journey to ketosis. Unlike may other keto style eating plans, the .22 Caliber Protocol helps a person gradually transition into this way of life. No matter how busy you are, what shift you are on, or how much you travel, you can stay on your Caliber Eating plan. How is this possible? Not only can you get foods anywhere that follow the Caliber Eating plan guidelines, but you have the Fire Team Whiskey® FuelRation™ Bars and SpecOps Shakes™ to have on hand just in case you need a healthy keto snack or meal, right now

Join the FTW Keto Army and stop the yo-yo dieting, counting calories and worrying about the fact that you keep gaining weight as you get older. With the Fire Team Whiskey Nutritional Protocols, you will lose weight, burn fat, have endless energy and focus, never worry about weight gain again, all while LOVING WHAT YOU EAT! These Fire Team Whiskey Participants have discovered the life changing benefits of this way of eating and you can too!

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A "healthy" food that is actually NOT healthy!

There are all sorts of marketing schemes you are exposed to every single time you walk down a grocery aisle. Claims that this is “heart healthy” or “lowers cholesterol” or “a fat free food”, etc. Did you know that almost all of these labels are actually just purchased by the food company to be allowed to be placed on their packaging and actually require NO nutritional or scientific data to support this label (case and point, the “hearth healthy” label, sugary cereals have this label yet they are made up of over 50% sugar, which is actually inflammatory and directly linked to heart disease related medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes). Here is a food that you may have always believed to be “healthy” but actually is not:

OATMEAL

Most oatmeal that people consume is processed, instant, oatmeal, so many of the healthier properties have been stripped away by this processing. Most of the instant, boxed oatmeal you purchase at a grocer has added sugar, and because of these two things, oatmeal happens to be a high glycemic index food, meaning it spikes your blood sugar (Here is a study with these findings http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/103/3/e26). HIgh glycemic foods create a fat storage reaction in the body and a sudden drop of blood sugar, which sends signals to the body that you are hungry …even though you may have eaten as soon as a few minutes ago! Along with making you hungry sooner, the study found that people who consume oatmeal instead of eggs for breakfast were found to eat 81 percent more food during the day (those who ate steel cut oats ate 51 percent more, than those who ate the omelet, this being a less processed version of oatmeal). What was also found is that those who ate the oatmeal were found to have higher levels of insulin, blood sugar and stress hormones (cortisone and adrenaline), all of which wreak havoc on our metabolic systems and create inflammation (which, guess what, is NOT heart healthy).

Bottom line is, just because a food is labeled with a claim, doesn’t mean this is actually true or that the food manufacturer has to meet any standard to meet this claim. Stick with foods that mainly don’t have any labels at all or need to make a claim (like meat, produce, and dairy). Things in a box or a package have to make claims to get your attention and to convince you that it’s food, when you should be sticking to eating mainly foods that don’t need fancy labels or health claims.

FTW Beef With Basil Recipe

The other day I was craving one of my favorite Tai dishes- beef with basil. I haven’t had it in a very long time. The reason why is that I have never been able to find a Tai restaurant that uses gluten free soy sauce. I recall ordering this amazingly satisfying dish countless times in New York City (this was me pre-gluten free). So I decided to take a stab at making a gluten free version at home (with fingers crossed because this was certainly an experiment). To my utter surprise, it was delicious!!! Actually, I think my beef with basil was better than any time I have ever had it before! So, Asian dish lovers rejoice, you can make keto and gluten free friendly Asian food at home! The recipe below serves 4. Takes about 20 minutes to cook. Easy one skillet meal!

P.s. Traditionally this dish is cooked with chili peppers. I prefer not to do this because of different taste levels of spiciness. You are more than welcome to cook the vegetables with chili peppers. We prefer to add a side of garlic sriracha so you can spice it up to your own taste.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound flank steak, sliced in thin strips against the grain

  • 1 teaspoon water

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

  • 1 teaspoon gluten free soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

  • 1 whole red bell pepper, thinly sliced

  • 1 whole green onion, sliced (green and white parts)

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 cup basil leaves

    Sauce Ingredients

    • 3 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce

    • 2 tablespoons fish or oyster sauce (make sure it’s gluten free)

    • ¼ cup water

    • 2 tablespoons of raw honey or agave

      SIDE DISH SUGGESTIONS

      Instead of rice, we suggest getting a bag of cauliflower or broccoli rice to serve this dish with. An awesome protein packed side veggie is edamame. Both sides can be bought frozen and steamed in the microwave in minutes.

    INSTRUCTIONS

    1. In a medium bowl add beef, water, cornstarch and soy sauce. Toss to coat.

    2. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.

    3. Remove the beef from the marinade and sear the beef until just browned, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

    4. Add the red pepper and green onion to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender.

    5. Add in garlic and cook for an additional minute.

    6. Add the beef back to the pan along with the sauce. Cook until thickened, 2-3 minutes.

    7. Fold in the basil and cook until it’s just wilted.

    8. Serve immediately with green onions and sesame seeds and a side of garlic sriracha if desired

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What is the keto flu and how do you cure it?

The Fire Team Whiskey eating plans and supplements transition our participants to a ketogenic lifestyle. We designed our nutritional programs to slowly walk a person to a keto lifestyle over the course of 90 days. Taking a slower approach can help you avoid the dreaded “keto flu” and this is why we designed our nutritional plans in this manner. It is important to be vigilant and to make these adjustments in your lifestyle by adding supplements and paying attention to potential signs of the keto flu. If you would like to take a slower approach to starting a keto lifestyle and try the Fire Team Whiskey Keto nutritional Programs, chech out your options by clicking on the button below.

This article was republished on the FTW Blog site with the permission of HVM

Authored by Dr. Brianna StubbsAarushi Bajaj and Nate Martins • December 14, 2018

You've decided to try the keto diet. The low-carb, high-fat diet can be great for performance and decreasing body weight, but the body needs a little bit of time to adapt to fat as an energy source. Often, there are some symptoms involved during this period of adaptation.

It's called the "keto flu," a commonly-experienced set of side-effects associated with carbohydrate withdrawal. This may sound like withdrawal from substance abuse; interestingly, recent studies have compared the effect of carbohydrates (particularly sugar) on the brain to that of addictive drugs like cocaine.1 Reported symptoms include: mood swings, irritability, fatigue, and dizziness. It can last anywhere from a day to a couple weeks.

Shortsighted dieters may allow keto flu knock them off the diet altogether–but after a period of metabolic adaptation, the body adjusts to the change and will reach a state where it's burning fat as a fuel source, a largely-stored, but for many, a largely untapped bodily energy source. There are several ways to reduce, prevent or manage symptoms of the keto flu. We'll discuss some of the most common symptoms, the science behind them, and offer some solutions to nascent keto dieters.

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Science Behind Keto Flu

Carbohydrates are the body's preferred energy source. When those are restricted, the body responds through a series of changes to transition from using glucose (stored carbs) for energy to using fat. This gear-switching is a good thing; but it's also the reason for keto flu. First, blood sugar drops and causes hypoglycemia,, which is low blood sugar < 55 mg/dL.2 In response, the body changes both the fuel it uses for energy and how neurons in the brain function. Second, changes occur in other bodily systems that alter electrolyte, water and hormone levels–this can lead to dehydration from following the ketogenic diet.


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Falling Blood Glucose

The physical consequences of sudden carb removal, we must first understand that our body generates energy using two main mechanisms: glycolysis (converting glucose to energy) and beta-oxidation (converting fat to energy).

Complying with a low-carb ketogenic diet means forcing the body to switch from using carbs as energy (via glycolysis) to using fats as energy (via beta-oxidation). After a period of adaptation, the body usually begins to generate energy from the breakdown of ketones (via a process call ketolysis) instead of glucose. This switch occurs because the body breaks down fatty acids into ketones so the brain can use them for fuel.3 

What happens when the body hasn't yet learned to burn fat and produce ketones? That's where hypoglycemia comes it. The result is a temporary energy deficit and low blood sugar. Remember: this is a transient period of adaptation. Switching to using fats and ketones as energy varies by person, depending on a mix of genetics and habitual diet; some individuals demonstrate a greater metabolic flexibility than others. These lucky individuals may show far fewer symptoms or experience the flu for a shorter duration.

Research has found the same pathways of the reward system in the brain are activated in both high-carb foods and cocaine or heroin. Both cause the release of dopamine (a "feel good" hormone). Regular carb consumption modifies gene expression and dopamine receptor availability in that reward system over time. This translates to a need for even more carbohydrates to have the same effect on those brain receptors. So the sudden removal of carbohydrates can lead to withdrawn symptoms, both physical and psychological.

Electrolyte Imbalance and Dehydration

Electrolytes are the minerals in the body that are derived from salts, e.g. calcium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and sodium. Electrolyte levels, controlled by the kidneys, are crucial for maintaining bodily functions such as heartbeat regulation and muscle contraction.4 

Why does the ketogenic diet cause these imbalances? Carbohydrate restriction, and thus insulin release. With a lower carb intake, insulin levels drop.

Insulin signals cells in the body to absorb glucose in the bloodstream, and signals the kidneys to store more water.5 Lower insulin levels (as a result of decreased carb intake) means the kidneys now store less water. This results in dehydration and the flushing out of electrolytes in the process.6 Stored carbohydrates (glycogen) trap three grams of water per gram of glycogen–so this also causes a depletion while on keto, further contributing to the reduced amount of water and electrolytes in the body.

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Hormonal Stress Response 

A poorly-formulated ketogenic diet (one too low in calories or deficient in micronutrients) can trigger a starvation response in the body, thus raising levels of cortisol (stress hormone). 7Cortisol release is the body's attempt to product the brain by raising blood sugar, trying to compensate for the now low blood sugar caused by carb reduction. If excess cortisol is released, stress response and blood sugar stability can become deregulated.

Thyroid hormones are also something to consider. They have several function, including the maintenance and regulation of carbohydrate/energy metabolism. The T3 (or euthyroid) is the most biologically active form of the hormone, and is linked to dietary carb consumption. T3 levels have shown to decrease in response to carb restriction below a certain threshold (which varies from person to person).8 The result may be fatigue or difficulty focusing through the adaptation period. Conversely, lowered T3 is also hypothesized to bring several benefits if thyroid function is normal. This includes improving longevity and preserving muscle mass.

While discomfort may result during the transition, you can rest assured that lowered T3 does not appear to be indicative of hypothyroidism.9  

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Solutions to Common Symptoms

Symptoms of the keto flu vary from person to person. But there are easy solutions one can leverage to help combat these symptoms.

If you're looking for a supplement to help with keto flu, try HVMN Ketone, our flagship product. HVMN Ketone can give you an energy boost without the need for carbs, while keeping your blood ketone levels elevated. Try it here.

Headaches

In ketosis, headaches can occur due to electrolyte imbalance and dehydration. With low insulin levels, the kidneys go into a diuretic state, so potassium, water, and sodium are excreted. A silver lining here is the loss of excess water weight (and thus weight loss) with the decrease in stored water. Conversely, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance are the reasons for many keto flu symptoms. Monitor salt and water intake while on keto, and consider supplementing with electrolytes.

The necessity of electrolyte management is underestimated on low-carb diets. Even if macronutrient intake is monitored correctly, maintaining the correct balance of electrolytes often goes overlooked. The cause of electrolyte imbalance? Usually, it's eating too few mineral-rich fruits and vegetables when transitioning to the keto diet. Removing salt-laden, processed foods means the body is now cut off from the sodium or electrolyte sources it once had. While many keto dieters are weary of increasing sodium intake and raising blood pressure, removing processed foods from the diet and reducing carb intake already has a significant blood pressure-lowering effect.10

Supplementing other minerals is also vital. Magnesium is important for the body, contributing to muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and protein synthesis.11 Potassium is also helps proper functioning of the heart, digestion and muscle function.12 Foods rich in potassium and magnesium include tomatoes, avocados, salmon, nuts, leafy greens, and animal protein. Bouillon cubes, homemade stocks (like beef broth or chicken broth), and sea salt are all rich in sodium and minerals. One should consume these to minimize the risk of headaches. 

Cramps

Cramping is the most common sign that electrolytes are out of balance.

The common mistake is not drinking enough water to compensate for water during the keto transition phase, which may result in low blood pressure and constipation, other than just cramps.6 Causes for cramps can also be caused by low potassium or low magnesium. Animal protein is an excellent potassium source, and the juices from cooking meats should be retained for this purpose. For magnesium, seek out leafy greens; the darker the better!

Constipation 

This may be a result of the digestive system transitioning on keto. Any dramatic lifestyle changes impact gut microbiome, inevitably altering bowel movements. Dehydration can worsen constipation (because of the increase excretion of fluids by the kidneys). Eliminating high-carb fruits and vegetables can also reduce dietary fiber and contribute to constipation.

Eat plenty of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, exercise and drink plenty of water every day. But be warned–eating excessive fiber can also lead to constipation, so finding a balance is necessary. That balance is something that can only be determined from personal experience.13 MCT or medium-chain triglyceride oils are a solution. This may help to relieve constipation, as fat can help push bowel movements through. Finally, care should be taken to ensure your calorie intake is adequate, as not eating enough calories can also contribute to constipation.

Bad Breath

Some keto dieters experience bad breath, discerningly fruity or similar to nail polish remover. Besides the oder, this might be positive–it's an indicator of a body in ketosis. However, it's usually reported to go away within a week or two, once the body adapts to the new metabolic state it is in. Maintaining good oral hygiene, increasing water intake, and using gum or breath freshener can help mask or reduce the smell in the interim while the body is still adapting. 

Fatigue, Low Mood, and Cravings 

As the body adapts to ketosis, decrease in energy levels and weakness are often reported, which can impair physical performance. Fatigue can last anywhere from three days to weeks as the body prepares new enzymes for the diet.

The tiredness may be caused by thyroid hormone and cortisol changes; the body is trying to compensate for the lowered carbohydrate intake by releasing more cortisol, which raises blood sugar. The possible result? Irritable mood and reduced sleep quality. Since cortisol levels are likely to reduce again when the body becomes keto-adapted, these symptoms should be temporary. To lessen fatigue, water and mineral intake should be carefully monitored (and likely increased). B vitamins, particularly B5, are vital for helping with fatigue and lethargy. It's crucial to eat enough calories from fat for sustenance, as being under-fueled can also cause fatigue.

Removing glucose from the diet can affect mood and cause cravings. Replacing foods you crave with low-carb alternative or removing food "triggers" can help reduce the psychological (and thus physiological) symptoms of carb withdrawal. While there are low-carb recipes for some of your favorite treats, many people who have successfully transitioned to the ketogenic diet say that just going “cold turkey” on sweet-tasting things and refined sugars helps to get rid of those nasty cravings sooner.

You may be doing keto wrong.

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Summary

Keto flu systems are often transient, disappearing completely after keto-adaptation.

Lifestyle determines length and severity of the keto flu for the individual, with symptoms likely greater for individuals who ate a high-carb diet previously. Even during transition, the symptoms can be alleviated if treated smartly. A well-formulated low-carb diet can progress without significant symptoms if the common mistakes of poor mineral intake, lack of fiber, electrolyte imbalance, and dehydration are addressed.

Avoid falling into the common trap of assuming your body is not suited to the low-carb diet after just a few days, and instead, consider careful monitoring of water and mineral intake particularly for the days/weeks it takes your body to adapt. Have a look online for some keto support groups if you have questions, and perhaps think about trying exogenous ketones, like HVMN Ketone. Exogenous ketones can give you an energy boost as beta-hydroxybutyrate without the need to take in carbs.

Have you experienced keto flu symptoms while transitioning onto the keto diet? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Scientific Citations

1.Ahmed SH, Guillem K, Vandaele Y. Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care. 2013; 16(4):434-9.2.Desimone ME, Weinstock RS. Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia. [Updated 2017 Sep 23]. In: De Groot LJ, Chrousos G, Dungan K, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK355894/3.Manninen AH. Metabolic Effects of the Very-Low-Carbohydrate Diets: Misunderstood “Villains” of Human Metabolism. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2004;1(2):7-11. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-1-2-7.4.Balcı AK, Koksal O, Kose A, et al. General characteristics of patients with electrolyte imbalance admitted to emergency department. World Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2013;4(2):113-116. doi:10.5847/wjem.j.issn.1920-8642.2013.02.005.5.Rubenstein AH, Mako ME, Horwitz DL. Insulin and the kidney. Nephron. 1975; 15(3-5):306-26.6.Artunc F, Schleicher E, Weigert C, Fritsche A, Stefan N, Häring HU. The impact of insulin resistance on the kidney and vasculature. Nature reviews. Nephrology. 2016; 12(12):721-737.7.Waldman HS, Krings B, Basham SA, Smith JW, Fountain BJ, McAllister MJ. Effects of a 15-Day Low Carbohydrate, High-Fat Diet in Resistance-Trained Men. (1533-4287 (Electronic)).8.Pasquali R, Parenti M, Mattioli L. Effect of dietary carbohydrates during hypocaloric treatment of obesity on peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism. Journal of endocrinological investigation. ; 5(1):47-52. [pubmed]9.Fontana L, Klein S, Holloszy JO, Premachandra BN. Effect of long-term calorie restriction with adequate protein and micronutrients on thyroid hormones. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism. 2006; 91(8):3232-5.10.Chen L, Caballero B, Mitchell DC, et al. Reducing Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Is Associated with Reduced Blood Pressure: A Prospective Study among U.S. Adults. Circulation. 2010;121(22):2398-2406. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.911164.11.Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals, NIH12.He FJ, MacGregor GA. Beneficial effects of potassium on human health. Physiologia plantarum. 2008; 133(4):725-35.13.Ho K-S, Tan CYM, Mohd Daud MA, Seow-Choen F. Stopping or reducing dietary fiber intake reduces constipation and its associated symptoms. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG. 2012;18(33):4593-4596. doi:10.3748/wjg.v18.i33.4593.