Spend an hour online and you’re bound to come across a hacking tutorial. No, I don’t mean computer hacking. I mean hacking ANYTHING. Hacking usually refers to using simple tricks and tools to make something easier or more efficient. The ease of sharing information in the technological age allows us to share our hacks with one another. So here’s one of my new favourite life hacks… hacking into ketosis.
WAIT A SECOND…
If ketosis takes days to weeks (depending on inclusion of fasting), then how can we hack that??
The Secret? Exogenous Ketones.
What are exogenous ketones? We have already discussed ketones extensively, but they’re an energy source that our body produces when breaking down fats for fuel. All the cells in our body can operate off ketones OR glycogen, which is what makes a low carb diet so safe and effective. By cutting carbohydrates, we’re not withholding anything from the body, since the body can operate extremely efficiently off of ketones and fatty acids alone. The term exogenous just means outside the body. So exogenous ketones are a ketone supplement.
KETOSIS ISN’T ABSOLUTE
One of the concerns many people have when attempt to make a major lifestyle change into a low carb approach, is that they’re worried they will no longer be able to have a carb for the rest of their lives. That’s definitely not the case. As with any diet, lifestyle change or skill acquisition, the more strictly you follow it, the better and quicker your results will be. Obviously following a strict ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting would provide the fastest results (for fat loss). That being said, something is always better than nothing. Spending time in ketosis daily will go along way toward becoming more metabolically flexible or “fat adapted”, and losing body fat. That’s where ketone supplements and MCTs come in.
Ketone supplements can turn on ketosis on their own.
A recent STUDY, showed that supplementing with exogenous ketones changed the body’s preferred fuel even in the presence of glycogen. So even though the body wasn’t carb depleted, once the body got a spike of ketones, it essentially wanted to keep looking for more ketones. This makes sense doesn’t it!? We’ve been struggling with the exact same thing for years with glycogen. When we continually force feed carbs, all the body looks for is more carbs. No matter what our body fat percentage (more fat = more energy waiting to be used) is, we wouldn’t break down fats for fuel. Now we know this requires a transition to a fat adapted state. The use of exogenous ketones, intermittent fasting and exercise can give us the tools for hacking into ketosis.
HOW DO I USE THESE TOOLS!?
What you’ll find is that ketones, fasting and exercise can be used for a variety of effects but the end goal is always the same – deplete our glycogen stores and raise ketone levels. This can be used for a period of fat burning, aerobic efficiency (performance) or mental clarity/acuity. Even though I generally try to use these for all the listed activities, I have an example of when I hacked ketosis for mental performance. Most people who have recently switched to a low carb diet, once adapted, generally comment on the mental clarity they feel, especially during fasting. I recently had two very long and fairly intensive exams on the same day. My usual schedule involved breaking my fast with a fairly large meal anywhere between 12-2 (I no longer set specific times). However, I wanted to make sure I had the same mental clarity for my second exam so I followed the same protocol for both. I made a coffee for each exam (9am and 1pm) and added extra MCTs and Ketones (on the side). For me, this makes me extremely focused and clear, just stopping short of buzzed. Are you going to be doing a full day of exams? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use these hacks for your benefit. This could be having a phenomenal fat burning Monday after a weekend of questionable lifestyle choices or maybe a cocktail to fuel a great Run/bike/lift without carbs. We will discuss carbs and performance in a future article but if your goal is fat loss, we’re going to completely ignore them for the time being.
3 Common Uses for Exogenous Ketones
1 – Provide energy and turn on ketosis for a period of fasting. No mental fog, no lethargy.
2 – Power an intense workout and prioritize fat burning during exercise.
3 – Use for a boost of mental clarity for a product period of work.
I’ve written extensively in the past about the benefits of being in ketosis, so that shouldn’t be up for debate. To make things easier, we can no hack our way into ketosis without an extended period of carb depletion! Click on the link below and give them a try for yourself!
If you’re interested in reading more great information about exogenous ketones, see the links below!