Being in a state of ketosis is amazing when it comes to optimizing brain function, improving mood and energy levels, reducing hunger pangs, treating disease states, reducing inflammation, and so much more.
But, is it necessary to be in ketosis 24/7?
In my opinion, there’s another state that’s even better for long-term health -- the state of Metabolic Flexibility.
Metabolic Flexibility is simply the ability to respond or adapt to conditional changes in metabolic demand. In basic terms, this just means that your body has the ability to efficiently shift back and forth between the two primary fuel sources: fat (in the form of fatty acids and ketones) and carbohydrates (in the form of glucose).
Think of it this way -- if you’re sitting at your desk working on your computer (AKA being sedentary) than your body’s preferred (and ideal) fuel source should be fat and ketones.
If you’re at the gym sprinting on the treadmill or performing some sort of high-intensity interval training, then glucose is your gal.
In pre-industrial times, before we had access to food and modern transportation 24/7, humans were metabolically flexible by necessity and spent most of their time being badass fat-burners.
Nowadays, with a grocery store and Starbucks on every other block, Amazon at our fingertips, and Delivery Dudes knocking on our doors, most of the population is metabolically inflexible and relies solely on being high-performance sugar-burners.
If you need to eat every few hours to prevent feeling ‘hangry’ (hungry + angry), unfocused, or low-energy, than the simple truth is that you’re probably relying way too much on being a sugar-burner rather than thriving as a fat-burner.
What’s the difference? I’ll break it down for ya:
I don’t know about you, but the right side of the above table is sounding a lot more fun to me.
So, getting back to ketosis…
After you’ve been in ketosis for a while and you’ve effectively trained your body to utilize fat and ketones for fuel, your metabolism more readily burns dietary and stored fat for energy when it’s supposed to (while your sitting at your desk, taking a leisurely stroll, etc.). You have transitioned from a sugar-burner to a fat-burner and you can slip in and out of ketosis while reaping all of the benefits of metabolic flexibility.
And once you’ve trained your body to do this, you can start to play around with your carbohydrate and protein intake through practices such as cyclical keto, targeted keto, and/or high-protein keto depending on your specific goals and preferences.
Anecdotally speaking, the longer you are fat-adapted and the more active you are, the greater your ability to remain in ketosis and/or get back into ketosis quickly even after consuming a higher intake of carbohydrates.
See below for the different types of ketogenic diets.
From years of working with clients and experimenting with different protocols for both them and myself, I’ve found that in general, following a standard keto diet and ‘being in ketosis 24/7’ is only necessary for three reasons:
For most of us, especially those seeking weight loss and body composition improvements, following a standard keto diet forever may not be the best goal to shoot for.
So, I challenge you to ask yourself the following questions:
Personally, my main goal is to optimize my health and brain function long-term. I am also at the stage in my life where I want to achieve specific body composition changes and improve my performance in the gym.
I choose a low-carb, fat-fueled lifestyle because having the ability to easily switch between using ketones and glucose for fuel is beneficial in many different aspects of my life -- mental clarity and focus, ease of fasting when it’s warranted, reduced inflammation, steady energy levels throughout the day, and much more.
I choose to implement different types of ketogenic protocols (TKD, CKD, HPKD) when warranted so I am able to efficiently use carbs (glucose) for fuel when I do need them -- more intense training sessions, potential hormonal regulation, and more freedom to consume certain higher carb foods that I enjoy such as sweet potatoes, squash, fruit, and occasional other treats that are just part of ‘real-life’ joy and contribute to long-term adherence.
In my Keto For Women program, we will implement the different types of ketogenic protocols mentioned above to help you remain a long-term fat-burner while also improving and optimizing your overall health and body recomposition goals!
If you take just one thing away from this post...take this:
There is no ‘one way’ to live a ketogenic lifestyle. Different things work for different people and you have to find what works for YOU!
Oh and...strive to be metabolically flexible -- it’s a game-changer!