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raffi

Question about ketones and ketogenic diet.

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raffi

I'm eating a higher fat lower carb diet that the equations say should be at least a little ketogenic. Out of curiosity, I recently bought some ketone strips. The strips are typically showing a result of somewhere between trace (5 mg/dl) and small (15 mg/dl). So far so good, the equations and test data agree reasonably well.

 

The thing that I found a little surprising is what happens when I exercise past my food input. Last Saturday, I rode 50 miles on my bike and later that evening the strips registered moderate (40 mg/dl) maybe even a little above that. Over several days, that slowly dropped back down to somewhere between trace and small. Today, I took a 25 mile bike ride after breakfast and this afternoon, I'm back up to the moderate range.

 

The surprising thing for me was that this change was completely unrelated to what I ate. Just pushing my body switches me to fat burning. My question is does using dietary fat produce ketones or only when you use body fat? Since the majority of my calories come from fat, what is happening to that fat when the strips are showing only a trace amount of ketones?

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Daytona

As I understand it, you produce ketones when you burn fat regardless of its source. So if you eat the same amount, and then exercise strenuously, you will end up burning body fat to meet the energy demand and that will show up as more ketones in your urine.

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raffi

That agrees with what I thought, but still leaves me wondering what is happening to the fat I eat daily. Maybe I just don't know what level of ketones would be produced from my daily maintenance vs. what is used when I go all out. Does the difference in levels seem reasonable?

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Daytona

I recently read the original Atkins book (I've read others but this one seems the most prescriptive about ketones) and this is what I took away about the amount of ketones present:

  • As long as you are in ketosis, the sticks are turning purple, then you are burning fat.

  • Dietary vs body fat doesn't seem to matter, they both make ketones.

  • The amount of ketones is not as important (to him) as long as you are in ketosis. If you are eating more carbs than your own personal carb limit, you will stop being in ketosis regardless of the amount of fat you eat.

 

My interpretation of this is that as long as I'm in ketosis, I am not going to worry about how purple the stick turns. To me what you are experiencing seems normal and is consistent with my own experiences (i.e. when I eat the same amount but workout the stick turns more purple).

 

My personal opinion about the fat I eat daily is that my body can be efficient (or not). When it's being efficient I see fewer ketones but I still lose weight. If I'm lucky and am being inefficient, perhaps because I am eating an excess of fat or because I'm using fat for heat instead of fueling muscles, then I see more ketones but lose weight a little bit faster.

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Daytona

On a side note, wow 50 miles in one bike ride?! I'm impressed, I wish I could be that awesome. My kneecaps would fall off if I attempted that. :D

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Daytona

One more thought (then it's time for bed!) When you test will have a very large impact on the level of ketones in your urine. So if normally you test right in the morning, and this time you tested immediately after exercising then you will see a big difference.

 

Test at various times throughout the day, find out when you see the most ketones and just test at that time. That way from day to day you are comparing apples to apples.

 

For me I find that testing before bed works great, since I haven't eaten in 4+ hours. I don't test in the morning because DP can cause a lot of variability. Also if I have a snack before bed, I don't bother testing since it won't tell me much other than I just had yogurt. :D

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samorgan

What happens to the ketones when eating the same but not exercising? You breathe them out as acetone. One of the very amazing things about ketosis. When you are carb-fueled and they are in excess, they are immediately turned into fat but when you are in ketosis and have excess fat (either ingested or "mobilized"), you simply exhale it.

 

Mine are always lower first thing in the morning and higher later in the day. I'm not sure what that means. Their presence is a pretty good (if "secondary") indicator of ketosis although some claim that false negatives are possible if you are in ketosis but completely balanced, just burning everything leaving no excess in the urine you may not see any when testing. No false positives to my knowledge - if you see them (in any amount) you are in ketosis.

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MCS

Something else I have noticed, even when my body is in Ketosis as I have been for months now my Liver involvement can still drop me out of Ketosis whenever it feels the need.

 

Stress, illness, etc. It lasts only a short time before ketosis kicks back in, but it is interesting.

 

My thoughts are my body wants to burn what ever glucose it may have first when it is under stress or physical exertion , then it moves on to fat for fuel.

 

An example would be to have Keytones in my urines in the morning and not just the first void. Eat a zero carb breakfast, go for a walk, which should produce more Keytones, but come to find out I have less. So GNG during the night restocked my supply of Glycogen which I used immediately the next morning. During the day the level of excess Keytones will rise, which I think is typical of anyone in Ketosis.

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raffi
On a side note, wow 50 miles in one bike ride?! I'm impressed, I wish I could be that awesome. My kneecaps would fall off if I attempted that. :D

 

Actually, that one was just in on day, but three rides. 18 miles to a breakfast meeting, 9 miles to a job and 23 home so I did get a few rests. Yesterday's 25.5 was my longest single (no breaks) ride to date.

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raffi

I'll have to pay more attention to when I test, I think it has usually been in the afternoon before dinner, sometimes first thing in the morning. There has not been much differences in the results unless I have been exercising. Yesterday, I did test in the morning and then a couple of hours after my exercise.

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raffi

Interesting on the ketones in the urine being excess, that I had not heard, but I'm not sure how that matches up with producing more ketones when exercising. What do you mean by excess? The body produced more ketones than needed to burn the amount of fat it used? In that case, I guess I can see the exercise kicking the body into high gear and then when it stopped, the body takes a while to realize it did not need all that.

 

What I'm taking away from this is that what I assumed my body was doing is probably pretty close to what is actually going on. Now I just have a bit more data on the mechanism :)

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Daytona

I may not be remembering correctly but this is how I understand what "excess ketones" to mean. Salim and co, please correct me if I am wrong!

 

1. Ketones can spontaneously break down into acetone (and other components).

2. Acetone can be used for fuel too (after some additional processing) or it can simply escape in your urine and breath.

3. The urine sticks actually test for acetone, not ketones.

 

So if you have ketones in your body, acetone will randomly be produced as well. Just for my example (pulled out of my imagination), say that 10% of ketones will break down. So you exercise and your body decides to make 100 ketones. That means 10 acetones will be produced and most of them will escape in your urine. Now lets say that you are going about your usual day, your body only needs to make 50 ketones, then about only 5 actetones are produced and excreted in your urine.

 

Basically, since we are finding a byproduct of ketones in urine, it's not really the case that your body just can't do math and made too much. Rather depending on how much ketones your body made, you will see more or less of the byproduct in your urine.

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raffi

I've been doing a little more reading and your description does make more sense. What I'm reading is saying that the byproduct of fat metabolism is ketones (though I have read someplace else that it is acetone). If it was as simple as that, then more ketones would be more fat burning.

 

The one thing that I think I DO know, is that I was right and my body is tuned to burning fat. :) This is allowing me to do a lot of exercise without needing to take in carbs for energy. While I do eat carbs, I am pretty picky about what they are and eat almost no fast carbs.

 

I have been seeing a lot of advice about longer bike rides and how to do them and all the advice is telling me I need to not only hydrate, but take fuel with me too. And by fuel, they mean fast carbs, gatorade, cliff bars, etc. While I think I could get away with a little of that while riding, I don't feel good when fueled by fast carbs and it takes my body a bit to switch back to fat.

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