Learn what Nutritional Ketosis is, what the benefits are, and get your recipe guide to get your (and stay in) Nutritional Ketosis!
Let’s talk about nutritional ketosis, shall we? I’d like to share some different experiences I’d had over the years and dive into the definition of nutritional ketosis and what it means for weight loss and overall health.
When I first started the keto diet many years ago, I did not have a blood ketone meter. I was even concerned with my level of ketones at the time. Within a 2 month period, I lost 20 pounds, was getting up at 4am (by choice) every day with full energy and ready to go. I was only eating 1-2x a day because I wasn’t hungry, so I was getting all the intermittent fasting benefits as well. I stayed this way for at least a year.
I then switched to a more lazy version of keto as my maintenance mode. But my weight crept up a tad and I had regained about 10 of those 20 pounds I lost and wanted them gone again. So I tightened up the reigns a bit, got myself into ketosis and……. Nothing happened. Nothing. I didn’t feel any of those things and didn’t lose any weight. But I was in ketosis.
I went back and forth for years in this manner. Recently, however, I decided to buy the Keto Mojo (I will link that up in the show notes for those that want to give it a try) and jumped back into super strict keto.
7 Day Keto Mojo Reader
Day 1 – .5
Day 2 – 1.1
Day 3 – 2.1
Day 4 – 2.8
Day 5 – 3.3
Day 6 – 3.5
Day 7 – 3.7
Additionally, I lost 5 pounds. Now, remember that I go in and out of ketosis a lot and stay pretty close generally, so this was not ALL water weight. Maybe some, but not like someone going cold into ketosis.
HUGE difference from just doing lazy keto and not tracking what my ketones are.
Now, I am also in a slight calorie deficit and am working out daily.
I get asked ALL the time “Why am I not losing weight when I am in ketosis?”. My response is always the same. Ketosis does not equate to weight loss. Period. People think ketosis is this magical state that will make them lose weight. It is not. There are a lot of other things at play and this is partly what we are going to discuss.
According to a 2018 study, Nutritional ketosis is defined as :
“…the intentional restriction of dietary carbohydrate intake to accelerate the production of ketones and induce a metabolic effect that stabilizes blood sugar, minimizes insulin release, and thereby mitigates the downstream anabolic and tumorigenic effects of longstanding insulin resistance.”
I really love this definition. It doesn’t just say it is a metabolic state. Now they fully admit that their definition is within the context of weight loss and metabolic syndrome, but still….
A general internet definition of nutritional ketosis is a metabolic state where the body is burning fat for fuel instead of glucose.
I still like the first one better.
The range for ketones and their meanings are as follows:
.5-1 mmol/L – light ketosis
1-3 mmol/L – nutritional ketosis
3-5 mmol/L – therapeutic ketosis
You might go above 5 when fasting, but there is really no reason to much higher unless you are working with a professional for therapeutic benefits.
The sweet spot for nutritional ketosis is 1-3. I am just above 3, but I think that is fine. I’m close enough.
So let’s dive into each of these ranges and really find out how they are useful.
How to Measure Ketones?
What is Light Ketosis?
Light ketosis is usually when you are first getting into ketosis or if your carbs are still in the keto range, but perhaps a bit too high to really get that fat burning. This can be that frustrating spot where you are in ketosis, but not much is happening in terms of weight loss.
What is Nutritional Ketosis
Nutritional ketosis is the sweet spot for weight loss. One reason for this is that it is thought that ketones act as an appetite suppressant.
Nutritional ketosis has also been found to be great for improving inflammatory and metabolic markers (such as HbA1C, fasting insulin, blood glucose levels, lipids and more) . What is fascinating is that one of the big arguments against keto is the (generally) higher intake of saturated fat and then the age old argument of heart disease and all that crap.
Well, as it turns out, studies show that nutritional ketosis actually plays a role in improved lipid profiles . Crazy, right? In a particular 12 week study, the carbohydrate-restricted group had a 10% reduction in weight, 14% reduction in adipose tissue, 12% reduction in fasting glucose, 50% reduction in insulin, 51% reduction in triglycerides, and a 13% increase in HDL (which is the “good” cholesterol for lack of a better term). Those are some crazy amazing numbers. The 50% reduction in insulin and triglycerides is astounding and rather significant. Check out my article How to Reverse Insulin Resistance where I talk about insulin and insulin resistance if you want a refresher on the importance of less insulin.
All in all, nutritional ketosis is the sweet spot for many things.
What is Therapeutic Ketosis
Ok, now we are into higher ketone levels, usually in the range of 3-6 ish. Most people know the origin of keto and that is a therapeutic treatment for epilepsy. But did you know that studies show it can be useful for other conditions? Things like tumor reduction in certain cancers and neuroprotective effects in those with neurological disorders or brain injuries . We aren’t going to dive deeply into this part because then we’ll have to get all technical. Maybe we’ll save this for another episode!
Nutritional Ketosis is the Sweet Spot
So as you can see, therapeutic ketosis is really the sweet spot where most of us want to be. It will help us with weight loss, blood sugar control, fat loss, and all the things we talked about.
Now, staying in the nutritional ketosis range is not for the faint of heart. It isn’t hard, but it takes discipline. I have a meal plan that I use that keeps me in nutritional ketosis. I have a link for you in the show notes for those that are interested.
Folks, just go back to the basics in terms of what you already know about keto. Keep your macros in line, keep a sharp eye on your carbs, stop with the fake sugars and aspartame, and pay attention to total carbs. Even if you count net carbs for your macros. I used to be a HUGE proponent of only counting net carbs because I felt that if you counted total carbs to be under 20 then it would preclude you from having a healthy avocado. But what I am leaning towards more and more is keeping my total carbs under 50 as the absolute max. And that is when I’m piling down the veggies.
If you really want to be in nutritional ketosis, then you are going to have to make some hard choices and you might be slightly uncomfortable for a few days. But after that? Smooth sailing my friend.
Nutritional Ketosis Eating Plan
If you need some assistance getting into nutritional ketosis and staying there – this is the meal system that I used and designed myself! Check it out: Nutritional Ketosis Eating Plan.
 Gershuni, V. M., Yan, S. L., & Medici, V. (2018). Nutritional Ketosis for Weight Management and Reversal of Metabolic Syndrome. Current nutrition reports, 7(3), 97–106. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13668-018-0235-0