…..and should you care?
One of the most frequently asked questions about the carnivore diet is whether it puts you into ketosis.
Ketosis has many benefits, including:
- reduced inflammation
- increase satiety
- More endurance
- The ability to speak to electricity
So of course people are worried.
What is the Carnivore Diet?
First, what is the carnivore diet?
A carnivore diet is a high-fat, high-protein diet where you eat only animal products. Yes that’s right. No more pills. No more sugar. And no more vegetables.
This may seem silly at first. But it has many benefits, including:
The carnivorous diet took over the world when Sean Baker appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast. He is an orthopedic surgeon and athlete. Dr. Baker is in his fifties and totally ripped (I tried to count his abs but lost count at 1421). He recently set two world records in indoor rowing and attributes his success to the carnivore’s diet.
Other notable advocates include Michael and Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist. Both reversed lifelong autoimmune and mental health problems with the meat-eating regimen.
It’s also a variation of the ketogenic diet as eliminating all carbohydrates will put you in ketosis.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is like a shoe in the movie like Mike. They give your body metabolic superpowers.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is the metabolic process of using fats, especially ketones, as the primary source of energy instead of carbohydrates.
It’s a normal metabolic state you developed to spare muscle. Throughout evolution, there was no grocery store nearby for 6 meals a day. Your ancestors often went for long periods without getting food (and panting until they skipped breakfast, “The most important meal of the day!!”).
How did they manage to survive without the constant distillation of food like most people in Western countries today? They survived due to incontinence and caviar. No, they survived ketosis.
Your brain is very hungry for energy. It lacks its own motor, and therefore requires a constant supply of power. For most people, this is glucose. Every day the average person’s brain consumes about 120 grams of glucose. This is 420 kcal of energy which is approximately 60% of the glucose used in the resting state.
However, at any given moment, your body only stores approximately 120 grams of glucose in your liver. This means you only got a day’s supply of glucose! Any longer than that and you will die.
Your body has two ways of dealing with this challenge.
- The liver can convert amino acids from protein to glucose by gluconeogenesis. However, the problem is that when you fast you need your muscles to have the strength to pick up food. Muscle mass is linked to longevity and your body wants to maintain it at all costs
Let’s discuss #2.
Even a very skinny person with about 10% fat has upwards of 50,000 calories from fat at any one time. Yes… Fat is not just a fashion statement. They are stored so that they can survive without food.
In response to fasting (or low glucose levels), insulin levels drop and your body pulls fat from storage. Many cells in your body, such as the heart and brain, cannot use fatty acids directly for energy. So your body transports body fat to the liver to turn it into ketones (and in fact fatty acids can be broken down into glucose as well).
(Note: How cool is it that all of this is happening behind the scenes?)
As you can see in this image below, one of the major ketone bodies beta-hydroxybutyrate rises dramatically to a level as fast as a flat line for blood glucose levels.
Without this metabolic trick, we wouldn’t be here today. In fact, even though your brain needs glucose to function, you don’t have to eat any glucose at all. Your body can synthesize everything on its own. If that isn’t magic, I don’t know what is.
This study showed that after three days of starvation, the brain would get 25% of its energy from ketones. During a long-term starvation period, this number can rise to 60%.
Ketosis has a number of benefits which I will review below,
Once your ketone levels reach a minimum of 0.50 mmol/L of BHB, you are considered to be in nutritional ketosis (according to Dr. Steve Finney).
Benefits of ketosis
Beta-hydroxybutyrate is a much better fuel than glucose. she has Key benefits:
- It regulates FOXO genes that regulate oxidative stress and insulin sensitivity and influence longevity.
- Ketones improve mood and have antidepressant-like effects
- BHB reduces oxidative stress in the brain and may be useful in preventing neurodegenerative diseases
- BHB reduces inflammation and NLPR3 inhibits inflammation
- Increases the production of endogenous antioxidants
- Ketones improve insulin sensitivity
- Improve sleep quality
- Increase fat loss while maintaining lean muscle mass and performance
- Ketones can slow tumor growth by starving their preferred fuel, glucose, and lowering IGF-1.
- Regulating appetite: One of the first things people often notice يلاحظ
In fact, your brain and heart prefer using ketones when they are available.
And in my opinion, this is a huge cause of poor mental health – most people starve their minds of their favorite fuel.
Does the Carnivore Diet Put You Into Ketosis?
Do you need to starve yourself to go into ketosis? No, the benefit of the carnivore diet – a low-carb variation of the ketogenic diet – is that you can still go into ketosis while providing your body with all the nutrients it needs (that’s key!).
A carnivore diet gives you the benefits of fasting without fasting.
As mentioned earlier, your body stores about 120 grams of glucose in your liver when the stores are full and can produce a large amount of protein. If you’re on a high-carb diet, your body will never need to go into ketosis because you’re taking in all the glucose it needs.
To get into ketosis, you need to eat less than 50 grams of carbs per day and sometimes less than 20 grams (in fact, some people can eat more carbs if they’re very active, but let’s leave those superstars out).
When you limit carbohydrates to these levels, they will usually be in ketosis within 2-4 days.
Since carbohydrate intake is almost zero in a carnivore diet, it will put you in ketosis. Most people’s levels tend to be >0.5 mmol, but this depends on their protein intake.
Choosing between glucose and ketones is like choosing between rocket fuel and sludge, which produces a massive amount of toxic waste.
What about protein in the Carnivore diet?
This is a topic of great controversy within the ketogenic community. A properly designed ketogenic diet is about 80% fat. But most people in the carnivore community eat roughly 65% of fat.
Does this hinder ketosis?
From my anecdotal experience and from working with others, it is.
I think protein is more of a structural component than a source of fuel. And when you exceed your protein needs, it strains metabolic pathways (such as the urea cycle).
This great presentation from Ben Beckman illustrates one mechanism by which protein can reduce ketosis. If you start out on a carnivorous diet with already elevated levels of insulin and blood glucose, protein tends to raise your insulin. When insulin increases, fat burning stops and ketosis stops. While fat does not increase insulin and increases glucagon, resulting in Increases ketosis.
I have personally tested this, and my ketone levels are much higher when I eat 80% fat and feel much better.
However, the effect of protein on ketosis appears to be very individual. Many people can eat more protein and feel fine.
Regardless, you will get many benefits from this way of eating. But overall, I would recommend trying the overall proportions.
So does a carnivorous diet put you in ketosis? The answer is an emphatic yes.
Ketosis has many benefits. The carnivorous diet puts you in a state of ketosis and this is one of the many reasons why it works so well.