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ketosis and fat

by (1982)
Updated October 19, 2014 at 3:07 AM
Created January 23, 2011 at 4:49 AM

Quick question: If I want to be in ketosis for fat loss, should I eat less fat and more protein than I have been? I have been eating about 65% fat and 25% protein as I am learning to eat paleo. However, it's my understanding that in ketosis, the body will burn either stored fat (what I want to happen) or fat that you eat, whichever is most readily available. So, given that, should I keep my carbs low enough for ketosis and, as I do so, eat more protein and less fat? THanks

Brad

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1634 · June 12, 2011 at 2:04 PM

Gran - Your second link is the same as the first.

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1688 · January 29, 2011 at 9:39 PM

@Alan, good to know! I do not have much experience with people in the ZC family. Thanks for the info!

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1781 · January 29, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Ketone strips only work for a while. I've been VLC/ZC for about 2 years and the strips don't change colour for me at all. Dr Harris (PaNu) explained to me that after being low carb for a while the body becomes very efficient with the production and use of ketone bodies and there is very little to no spill over into the urine.

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5838 · January 28, 2011 at 1:13 AM

Thanks for the follow up, David.

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15583 · January 26, 2011 at 8:53 AM

I'm no expert, but I'd say that limiting protein and carbohydrate is by far the most important factor. If the body has glucose (or a source from protein) available, it'll use that and if it doesn't, it'll be forced to generate ketones. Intake of lots of fat won't make a difference if you still have sufficient glucose and you can still enter ketosis with no ingestion of fat (if you're fasting, for example). The fat is just to make long-term non-eating of carbs/protein possible and to sustain a fat-burning metabolism, rather than one based on carbs and gluconeogenesis.

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5838 · January 25, 2011 at 7:54 PM

David, you seem to always have great info regarding ketosis. Would you say it is most important to increase fat consumption, to limit protein, or to reduce carbohydrate? Or is it all very much dependent on one another?

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1688 · January 23, 2011 at 6:22 PM

Brad's question was broader than just reducing fat intake. If you reduce fat, in order to achieve satiety, you have to increase protein & carb to make up for it. if you don't and you just reduce calories, in the short run you will burn some fat, but in the longer term you may end up catabolizing protein stores as well.

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1634 · January 23, 2011 at 9:17 AM

But what about reducing fat intake to burn stored fat? That was Brad's question.

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4 Answers

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107
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15583 · January 23, 2011 at 9:13 AM

No. In fact, if your sole consideration is to be in ketosis, you'll want to eat much less protein. This article suggests that above 25% of calories from protein reduces one's generation of ketones. The more protein you eat above your needs, the more your body should simply turn into glucose, beginning to run your metabolism on that rather than fat.

One legitimate contrary concern would be that eating less protein/carbohydrate to be in ketosis would mean that you lack sufficient glucose for your body's needs and so you'll waste muscle as your body turns it into glucose. Whether this is a real worry depends on the amount of glucose you think your body needs, whether very little, for a few intransigent sections of the brain that can't run on ketones or around 400 calories per day. I certainly fall in the former camp and don't think there's much risk of 'glucose deficiency' - that said, I do eat a little bit more protein and carbs since a) I'm trying to gain muscle and b) I broadly follow the Optimal Diet, which suggests that it's better to ingest a little glucose, than to force your body to generate it constantly (which is metabolically stressful, raises cortisol etc). If you do want to maximise ketosis, however, you'd want to just keep protein at the minimal amount to meet your needs. Eating coconut will also increase ketone levels, though in the long term, metabolism of MCTs tends to switch to become more akin to that of normal LCTs.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10
5838 · January 28, 2011 at 1:13 AM

Thanks for the follow up, David.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107
15583 · January 26, 2011 at 8:53 AM

I'm no expert, but I'd say that limiting protein and carbohydrate is by far the most important factor. If the body has glucose (or a source from protein) available, it'll use that and if it doesn't, it'll be forced to generate ketones. Intake of lots of fat won't make a difference if you still have sufficient glucose and you can still enter ketosis with no ingestion of fat (if you're fasting, for example). The fat is just to make long-term non-eating of carbs/protein possible and to sustain a fat-burning metabolism, rather than one based on carbs and gluconeogenesis.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10
5838 · January 25, 2011 at 7:54 PM

David, you seem to always have great info regarding ketosis. Would you say it is most important to increase fat consumption, to limit protein, or to reduce carbohydrate? Or is it all very much dependent on one another?

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4124 · January 23, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Three sources of information which might be of use in thinking through what choices one wishes to make:

1 ) Here is Dr. Kurt Harris' post on "How To Lose Weight" for those who are following the 12 Steps and are not losing weight:

http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/8/27/how-to-lose-weight.html


2) Here is a link which includes parts of Dr. Richard Bernstein's book online. He explains that eating too much protein can keep one from losing weight. He recommends eating 30 grams of CHO per day. 6-12-12 is the plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also, constant amounts of protein and carbs from breakfast to breakfast, lunch to lunch, etc. His book is very much worth reading, even if one is not diabetic.

http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/8/27/how-to-lose-weight.html


3) And, at Barry Groves' site, an article by Prof. John Yudkin, on why a low carb diet must be high fat, not high protein:

http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/fat-not-protein.html

All the best to you.

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1634 · June 12, 2011 at 2:04 PM

Gran - Your second link is the same as the first.

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8255 · January 23, 2011 at 6:55 AM

There's multiple variations, but the general idea is to have more fat than protein because protein converts to glucose in the liver at roughly a 58% conversion rate. So you eat too much protein, you inhibit ketosis. Also, protein is lower calorie, so it's hard to meet your daily caloric needs with just a diet of protein. You go too low on calories, your metabolism slows down to compensate (reducing your fat loss).

So, the extra dietary fat can be counterproductive, but it is needed to prevent the metabolism slowing down due to low caloric intake. However, on the bright side, most of the body will be using fat for energy, so as long as you're not taking too much, it's offset by the higher fat use.

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1688 · January 23, 2011 at 5:27 AM

Easiest way to know is to buy some ketone test strips and test your urine. Will cost $10-$15 for 50 strips depending on where you live and if you buy the name brand or store brand.

The proper ratio to achieve ketosis varies a bit by individual, but do be sure to delete processed carbs from your diet and consume enough greens to get the full spectrum of vitamins & minerals. After that, you'll have to decide how much starchy vegetable (sweet potato and the like) that your body can handle. The ketone strips will help you out with that. You should aim for the "small" or "moderate" reading on the label. Below small, eat fewer carbs, above moderate eat more.

2b8c327d1296a96ad64cdadc7dffa72d
1688 · January 29, 2011 at 9:39 PM

@Alan, good to know! I do not have much experience with people in the ZC family. Thanks for the info!

5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546
1781 · January 29, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Ketone strips only work for a while. I've been VLC/ZC for about 2 years and the strips don't change colour for me at all. Dr Harris (PaNu) explained to me that after being low carb for a while the body becomes very efficient with the production and use of ketone bodies and there is very little to no spill over into the urine.

2b8c327d1296a96ad64cdadc7dffa72d
1688 · January 23, 2011 at 6:22 PM

Brad's question was broader than just reducing fat intake. If you reduce fat, in order to achieve satiety, you have to increase protein & carb to make up for it. if you don't and you just reduce calories, in the short run you will burn some fat, but in the longer term you may end up catabolizing protein stores as well.

B124653b19ee9dd438710a38954ed4a3
1634 · January 23, 2011 at 9:17 AM

But what about reducing fat intake to burn stored fat? That was Brad's question.

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