Paleo and Ketosis
Right off the bat, paleo and low carbohydrate diets promote ketosis. What is ketosis?
Ketosis is a state in which the body turns itself away from using blood glucose as its primary source of energy. This occurs when the total available blood glucose in the body is below a certain threshold. While the specific amount of per specific measurement blood glucose is important, it is easier to understand ketosis and it’s bad cousin, ketoacidosis (toxic amounts of blood ketones) from a carbohydrate orientated focal point.
On typical moderate to high carbohydrate diets the body will rely on the food eaten for it’s blood glucose requirements. The body is taught through diet that for its glucose needs it should turn to the food we are eating due to the sheer abundance of carbohydrates in a normal western diet. This is problematic as the body then begins to expect that all of it’s energy needs shall be catered for by food eaten. Strictly speaking, this is not the preferred source of energy by the body. The body responds very well to the natural process of turning fatty acids into energy the body can use, also known as ketosis.
The origins of ketosis
Ketosis would have developed as part of a method and system for the body to stay alive when carbohydrate intake was below a certain point. Our bodies adapted to use ketones as an energy source in times of famine and low food condition. Imagine what it would have been like 10 000 years ago trekking across the vast continent of Africa. We would have had to have been able to burn reserve energy stores, fat, for long, sustainable periods of time. This is where the process of ketosis comes into play.
Why promoting a state of ketosis is desirable and safe
Firstly, ketosis is a natural process built into our bodies’ operations. We are naturally designed to be fat burners, and ketosis is simply the process through which fat is converted into usable energy for the body. Ketones can be used for almost every process which requires energy in the body, even fuel for the brain. As you may have accurately assumed, because ketosis uses body fat to create energy in the form of ketones, it is an effective fat loss technique which is safe, consistent and reliable.
This more constant state of energy production supports your body in whatever it does in a very stable and long-term fashion.
Paleo ketosis and weight loss
In addition to the obvious benefits of training the body to naturally burn excess fat reserves for most of its fuel requirements, ketosis smooths out the body’s insulin levels, blood glucose levels and in general promotes a simpler, healthier and more streamlined energy system for the body to use. The body becomes aware of the lack of carbohydrates and begins to auto pilot on ketone production. The process of converting from a sugar burner to a fat burner also promotes the up-regulation of fat burning metabolic actions inside the body, which in turn decreases, or deregulates the process of fat storage and fat creation.
Simply put, your ratio of fat storage to fat burning decreases, meaning you use more fat than you store.
How to promote a state of paleo ketosis
Generally speaking, a diet of around 50-80 grams of carbohydrate intake will promote a state of ketosis. However, a diet of 100 to 150 grams of carbohydrates daily will promote and allow the body to turn on and off ketone generating actions at will, when carbohydrate intake dips below approximately 100 grams. It is important to not eat too little carbohydrates, as we still require an adequate amount to function effectively, though we need nowhere near what “authorities” may have led you to believe.
The cross over period from carbohydrate to ketone usage in the body will take a few weeks, and sometimes a month of two to complete. This is due to the body having to relearn where it should find its energy, as well as the needed time to activate the necessary genetic switches related to ketosis. During this period energy levels may vary and you may feel like you are in a “carbohydrate slump”, this is normal and will pass quicker than you may imagine.
Paleo ketosis symptoms
While these symptoms of ketosis are not unique to the paleo diet, the paleo diet can help to promote and control a healthy state of ketone production.
- You can maintain a constant level of energy, without crankiness or changes in mood throughout the day without eating
- Your fat gains will decrease, and in fact reverse due to the body using fat as its primary energy source
- When exercising, you run cooler and generally sweat less due to the lower reliance on “hot” glycogen for muscle energy
- You will not be dependant on glucose for energy, even though glucose is a preferred energy source
- You can exercise without carbohydrate consumption
As you can see, there is really no sure fire way to determine whether or not you are a fat burner or are in a state of ketosis. The best bet would be for you to see if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above. If you do, then you are an efficient, fat burning human using ketosis as a natural way of fueling your body.
Thanks for reading, and all the best with your health!