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
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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.
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:
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.
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:
All the best to you.
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.
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.