- Are carbs bad?
- How is keto going to reduce my hunger/cravings?
- How does keto improve brain health and function?
- Are carbs essential for exercise performance?
- Can I have dairy on keto?
- How do I avoid keto flu symptoms?
- Why are electrolytes so important on keto?
- Do I have to fast on keto?
- Is keto a good option for PCOS?
- Should I track ketones?
You’ve got keto questions, we’ve got keto answers.
Below are ten keto questions pulled from Dr. Anthony Gustin and Chris Irvin’s new book, Keto Answers. The answers have been summarized so you can absorb everything in one sitting.
Think of these like spark notes. If this sample whets your appetite, pick up the book.
Carbs aren’t evil, but they also aren’t essential.
Yes, your body needs glucose to live. But when you stop eating carbs, you start synthesizing glucose to compensate. Problem solved.
The real problem is a modern diet chock-full of refined, sugary carbs. These addictive foods are driving the obesity epidemic sweeping across America.
Here’s how. Chronically eating carbs chronically spikes blood sugar and insulin levels, creating insulin resistance. The problem is: When insulin resistant folks eat carbs, they store these carbs as fat. You can see how people get trapped in a spiral of carbs, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
So carbs aren’t inherently evil. In excess, however, they can be.
A ketogenic diet, research has shown shown, reduces short-term hunger more than a medium-carb non-keto diet[*]. Several reasons why:
- Keto gets you burning fat, not sugar. Fat-adapting on keto unlocks a bountiful energy source: body fat. When you burn fat, you experience fewer fluctuations in blood sugar. No more 4 o’ clock slump.
- Fat and protein are more satiating than carbs. A high-fat diet fills you up faster and keeps you full longer.
- Keto reduces your hunger hormone. A keto diet has been shown to reduce circulating levels of ghrelin, your hunger hormone[*].
Normally your brain runs on glucose. But when ketones are available, your brain prefers to run on ketones[*].
Here’s why that matters. As you age, your brain gets worse at using glucose. Some researchers, in fact, believe Alzheimer’s is driven by insulin resistance in the brain[*].
That’s where the keto diet comes in. By supplying an alternative source of energy, a high-fat low-carb diet can — research suggests — improve cognitive function[*].
Ketone bodies also burn cleaner than glucose, creating less oxidative stress and inflammation[*]. Which makes the brain happy.
In short, no. Fat fuels activity just fine.
Some folks believe that exercising in a low-carbohydrate state permanently depletes glycogen stores. This glucose-depletion, they say, will hamper performance.
But a 2016 controlled study found that keto-adapted endurance athletes replenished glycogen at the same rate as high-carb athletes[*]. Plus they burned fat like absolute-machines.
Nonetheless, many athletes report that carb cycling (1-2 days of high-carb low-fat dieting per week) boosts performance, at least during hard or extended exercise. Worth exploring, but understand: Keto can fuel most of your movements.
Dairy can be keto-friendly, yes. But not all dairy is created equal.
Dairy is often high in milk sugar, called lactose. Avoid these products, no matter how good that banana yogurt looks.
You should also avoid highly processed, pasteurized, low-fat, and homogenized forms of dairy. They lack the beneficial bacteria and enzymes present in raw dairy from pasture-raised sources.
Finally, many folks have issues with either lactose or casein protein in dairy, so pay close attention to how your body reacts to milk products. If you’re sensitive, butter and ghee may work for you.
For the most part, avoiding the headaches, fatigue, and irritability of keto flu comes down to staying hydrated and getting enough electrolytes.
To stay hydrated, simply drink when thirsty. You can also increase water intake by having a glass of water first thing in the morning.
Now electrolytes, those super important minerals for fluid balance, nervous system health, and yes — avoiding keto flu. Get electrolytes through diet by eating leafy greens, avocados, nuts, salmon, and plenty of salt.
But low-carb folks need more electrolytes, and a well-formulated supplement can help meet these needs.
When you eat a low-carbohydrate diet, you need more electrolytes. Especially salt.
That’s because keto keeps insulin levels low, and — through a funny quirk of physiology — low insulin tells your kidneys to excrete more sodium[*].
Also, since the keto diet restricts a bunch of electrolyte-rich foods, you might consider supplementing magnesium, potassium, or calcium to prevent electrolyte deficiency and stave off keto flu side effects.
Fasting can enhance your transition to ketosis, but it’s by no means a keto requirement.
For some, fasting can be highly challenging. Plus it’s one more rule atop an already thick keto rulebook.
Nonetheless, keto and fasting are BFFs. They work together to get you burning more fat and making more ketones.
Basically, fasting puts your body on an internal keto diet. Instead of eating dietary fat, you eat body fat.
There’s a reason, after all, that keto is called a “fasting mimicking diet”. Same metabolic state.
So no, you don’t need to fast on keto. But if you’re up for it, please feel free.
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition defined by hormonal imbalances (especially high testosterone) in women. Up to 70% of women with PCOS are undiagnosed[*].
Keto may help. One small study found that a 24-week keto diet lowered testosterone levels and stimulated weight loss in women with PCOS[*].
Why? Since PCOS is linked to insulin resistance, keto may fix this underlying issue. Plus, a high fat diet supplies valuable fatty acids that could, potentially, keep sex hormones in better balance.
You should occasionally track ketone levels to see how your body is responding to keto. If ketones suddenly drop, for instance, you might suspect hidden carbs.
But ketone tracking shouldn’t be your #1 priority. Here’s why:
- Interpreting ketone levels is hard. You can’t tell if you’re effectively using (not just producing) ketones in your blood, breath, or urine.
- Optimal levels are unknown. It depends on the person and their goals.
- Higher doesn’t mean better. High ketones may have therapeutic health benefits, but over time folks seem to become more efficient at using ketones, and see a decrease in ketones.
Because of this, you shouldn’t put too much stock in ketone levels. Instead use them as a marker to ensure you’re on track with your keto diet.
For the full treatment, including dozens more questions answered, grab your copy of Keto Answers today.