How To Burn Stored Body Fat — A Ketosis Primer

“So, how do you tell your body to start burning stored body fat?” my friend and fellow mother asked.

“Cut the carbs,” answered another mom. “I go into ketosis just about every afternoon.”

“Ketosis? Isn’t that bad for you?”

The short answer? No.

I talk to a lot of people who want to lose weight. They try all sorts of things — exercise, calorie restriction, you name it. Sometimes, they lose the weight. Inevitably, they gain it back. That’s because what they’re doing is going on a diet — a temporary fix at best. What they need is a lifestyle change, a perspective shift, a new paradigm. Of course, you all know the paradigm I espouse — a conversion to eating real, traditional foods.

Yet even a conversion to eating real food won’t necessarily help the pounds melt away. If you’re still eating 200 grams of carbohydrates a day — even if they’re “traditional” carbohydrates like sprouted or soaked grains, unrefined sweeteners, etc, you’re not going to lose weight without making some serious changes.

If your body is regularly storing body fat (you gain a little bit of weight each year), then something is wrong with how your body metabolizes food. Let me introduce you to a new concept: the body fat setpoint.

The body fat setpoint is the mass of body fat that your body attempts to defend against changes in either direction.  It’s your body’s attempt to maintain homeostasis. This is why if you exercise more, you eat more. It’s also why if you restrict calories, your metabolism slows down to compensate.

Why should you care about the body fat setpoint? From Stephan at Whole Health Source:

We care because this has some very important implications for human obesity. With such a powerful system in place to keep body fat mass in a narrow range, a major departure from that range implies that the system isn’t functioning correctly. In other words, obesity has to result from a defect in the system that regulates body fat, because a properly functioning system would not have allowed that degree of fat gain in the first place.

So yes, we are gaining weight because we eat too many calories relative to energy expended. But why are we eating too many calories? Because the system that should be defending a low fat mass is now defending a high fat mass. Therefore, the solution is not simply to restrict calories, or burn more calories through exercise, but to try to “reset” the system that decides what fat mass to defend. Restricting calories isn’t necessarily a good solution because the body will attempt to defend its setpoint, whether high or low, by increasing hunger and decreasing its metabolic rate. That’s why low-calorie diets, and most diets in general, typically fail in the long term. It’s miserable to fight hunger every day.

So, how do you “reset” the system? How do you train your body to start burning stored body fat?

One word: ketosis.

Ketosis is the state that your body enters into when it starts converting stored fat into ketones to use as fuel for your cells. If you eat plenty of carbohydrates, you will never enter into ketosis. Instead, your body will simply use all that glucose as a fuel.

Is Ketosis Dangerous?

Ketosis has earned a bad name, though. For one thing, your body enters a ketogenic state when it starts starving itself. But if you’re eating plenty of calories and sticking to a nutrient-dense diet, you need not fear starvation. Ketogenesis doesn’t destroy muscle tissue, but is rather the process by which stored fat is turned into ketones — a perfectly usable energy source for every major body system. Others object to ketosis because it gets confused with ketoacidosis, a dangerous state in which the body not only becomes ketogenic, but also causes the blood to become too acidic. If you’re still getting your limited carbohydrates from vegetables and fruits, you need not fear ketoacidosis.

From Mark’s Daily Apple:

Finally, ketogenic diets, which are generally lumped together by critics, have gotten a lot of bad press. While experts have generally recognized their effectiveness for weight loss, very low carb diets that result in ketosis (like the Atkins) have been criticized on health grounds. The problem with these criticisms? They’re based on diets that allow for 20 grams or less of carbohydrates a day. While I believe we are not meant to run primarily on carbohydrate energy, I do believe we depend on the nutrients offered by low carb vegetables and even some low glycemic fruits. A diet of 20 carbohydrate grams simply can’t allow for the plentiful intake of nutrient-rich vegetables.

When your carb intake is low enough, say 50-80 grams a day, ketosis kicks in when it needs to. Over time, this process becomes efficient as the body “unfolds” in its genetic expression. Yet this carb intake is high enough that you can freely include copious amounts of nutrient- (including potassium) rich vegetables to offer the body sufficient nutrition, fiber, and alkalizing minerals.

In other words, when you cut your carbohydrate intake to 50-80 grams per day and still include plenty of vegetables and fruits in your diet, then your body can safely enter into ketosis when it needs to.

Once you’re at your desired weight and you don’t hope to lose anymore body fat, then sticking to anywhere between 100-150 grams of carbohydrates per day will help you maintain your new body fat setpoint.

The glory of thinking this way is that you absolutely never have to count calories! In fact, you probably don’t even have to count grams of carbohydrates. Just avoid grains, sugars, and sweet fruits. If you start craving those foods, eat more saturated fat from traditional sources like ghee, coconut oil, tallow, and lard. (I swear this works!) When you reach your desired weight, give yourself more grace to eat sweeter fruits and the occasional properly treated grain, tuber, or legume.

When you’re in your “maintenance” mode, what you’ll discover is that you’re eating a diet much more in line with traditional cultures around the world — a diet devoid of artificial and processed foods, a diet full of healthy fats from quality sources, a diet rich in fermented and living foods, a diet absent sugar, you get the picture. The exact quantities of meats, vegetables, and fats you eat can vary greatly depending on your cravings and preferences, but one thing will be sure: you won’t ever want to go back to how you ate before.

(photo by RXA Photos)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.

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63 Responses to How To Burn Stored Body Fat — A Ketosis Primer
  1. burnkitty
    January 20, 2010 | 1:52 pm

    Good info RT @FoodRenegade: How to burn stored body fat – All about ketosis: http://su.pr/1Y6vBQ

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  2. Lindsay
    January 20, 2010 | 1:53 pm

    yes!

  3. Shannon
    January 20, 2010 | 2:43 pm

    Great post, but some people still can’t burn fat very effectively on a low carb diet. Then you know things are really wrong. (speaking from experience here).

    I have an underactive thyroid and have read that many Americans do and don’t even know. Thanks fluoride in the water and the endless supply of sugar I ate growing up.

    Anyways, I think you are absolutely right and when ketosis doesn’t work you’re probably looking at a hormone imbalance, most likely caused by bad eating habits in the past.

    • KristenM
      January 20, 2010 | 3:00 pm

      Shannon — Completely true! That’s one of the reasons I love the Eat Fat, Lose Fat book by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. They take weakened thyroids into consideration and promote a lot of good-for-your-thyroid foods like coconut oil, cod liver oil, and seafood. Sadly, a lot of us have done a lot of damage to our body’s natural functioning just by eating the standard American diet for too many years.

      • tracy
        July 8, 2013 | 10:05 pm

        I agree and seem to be very stuck. I have tried low carb and didnt get any results. And I too have Hashimotos. I didnt have problems with weight loss though until about 4 years into diagnosis. I would love help from anyone who understands this condition. I gave up gluten, most all dairy, almost all sugars and eat minimal grains.

        • Georgina
          October 7, 2013 | 3:33 pm

          only I remember symptoms coming back close to my period, but nothing that bad like before.Me too had suffered Thyroid disease. They say Hishimotos is not curable, but I feel I have no symptoms anymore since I changed my lifestyle. I took “detoxified Iodine” in drops for months on and off. Then L-Thyrosine plus lots of relaxation, exercise, ketosis on and off (burned lots of toxic fat) and getting rid of all my mercury amalgams from my molars. All this worked for me and rarely symptoms come back; I have been like this for 4 years now and like 3 times Hope this helps!

  4. Bonnie
    January 20, 2010 | 2:55 pm

    I think the important thing is here is that your body is going in and out of ketosis as it needs to. I do have concerns about diets that artificially try and fool the body into ketosis at all times. If our bodies really did need to stay in ketosis at all times, I think we would have evolved to eat only those foods that did that. This, of course is not the case. We have a variety of organs that extract a variety of nutrients from a varied diet. This strikes me as important. Sometimes our bodies should be in ketosis and sometimes they need energy and nutrients from some lower carb fruits or vegetables.

    • KristenM
      January 20, 2010 | 3:01 pm

      Bonnie — I couldn’t have said this better myself.

  5. emily
    January 20, 2010 | 3:29 pm

    great information here, I think this could be helpful to lots of folks. one thing though, you can’t eat fruit with abadon if you want to keepbetween 50-80 grams carbs per day. one apple can have approximately 20 grams all by itslef- carbs in an apple. Personally I am attempting to eat no grainsand keep carbs under 100g per day for myself. Even eating traditional foods as written in NT can be quite high carb, as you’ve alluded to.

  6. mailtomorley
    January 20, 2010 | 3:43 pm

    How To Burn Stored Body Fat — A Ketosis Primer | Food Renegade: Because the system that should be defending a low … http://bit.ly/4zwa9F

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  7. ThomasMSmith
    January 20, 2010 | 4:27 pm

    How To Burn Stored Body Fat — A Ketosis Primer:
    “So, how do you tell your body to start burning stored body fat?”… http://bit.ly/8aw4F6

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  8. Emily
    January 20, 2010 | 4:35 pm

    Just published – some more evidence for the assertion that saturated fat does not cause heart disease: http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/ajcn.2009.27725v1

  9. debbie
    January 20, 2010 | 4:48 pm

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post.

    I had a baby 8 weeks ago. Although I only gained 18 lbs, and lost all but 4 with her delivery, I have gained another 5 lbs despite nursing exclusively (thanks to holiday treats, I know). These 9 lbs add to the 5 lbs I couldn’t lose after my son was born 3 years ago.

    Until reading this post, I wasn’t sure what to do since I am nursing every 3 hours. I definitely can cut out the grains and starchy vegetables, replacing them with fats and proteins along with lots of vegetables. Although my girlie has reacted when I drink raw milk, she’s been okay with raw cheese, kefir and yogurt, as best I can tell.

    A couple questions:

    - how do nuts play into this sort of change? I love them and have probably eaten far too many over the past 8 weeks. But something like almond butter with celery might help me kick the carbs in the initial change. Thoughts?

    - my farmer has no eggs this winter, so I have to buy them from other sources, and I’m certain they’re not pastured. I’ve hesitated to eat them liberally. But they provide so many options at breakfast and lunch. Which is better – eating eggs from less than ideal sources or skipping them until my farmer’s hens start laying again (March, if the weather cooperates, otherwise April)?

    – how do things like bacon/sausage work in these circumstances, since they have some sort of sugar in their ingredients?

    - are popcorn, carrots, beets, parsnips, pears and apples things I should avoid to achieve ketosis? (I’m assuming yes, but thought I’d double check.)

    Thank you for answering my questions. I hope they help other readers, too.

    • KristenM
      January 20, 2010 | 4:58 pm

      Hi Debbie — Congrats on your new little one! To answer your questions:

      1) Nuts are okay, but can be high in carbs. Perhaps you can try using the calculators at FitDay.com for a week to see how what you eat affects your daily carb intake?

      2) I know the dilemma! I buy the grocery store eggs with a nutrient profile most similar to pastured eggs. In my area, that’s Eggland’s Best. I don’t worry about labels like “free-range,” “cage-free,” or “organic” because they’re pretty meaningless. (Check out my post on Health Eggs: What To Buy for more specifics.)

      3) Try and get bacon/sausage that’s uncured and sugar-free (or at least lower in sugar than other options). Then eat it!

      4) Yep, along with potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, bananas, etc. Again, when in doubt, check out the nutrient counters at FitDay.com to see how what you’re eating affects your daily intake of carbs.

      Hope this helps!

  10. Elizabeth @ The Nourished Life
    January 20, 2010 | 6:06 pm

    My biggest concern about ketosis is that it triggers the body to break down rather than rebuild. I believe lower carbs can be beneficial, especially for those who have insulin-related conditions. However, the simple act of drastically reducing carbs sets of a hormonal reaction in the body. Basically, excess adrenaline and cortisol are released as a response to eating less carbs than you need. This feels awesome at first and can result in some fat loss, but over the long term it can damage your metabolism as your adrenal glands burn out because they can no longer keep up with the diet. I certainly don’t think low-carb diets are useless, but they should be used with caution and not just to get rid of a few pounds.

    • KristenM
      January 20, 2010 | 7:58 pm

      Elizabeth — I don’t think a low-carb diet would stress the adrenals at all — not if you’re eating enough protein & fat to make up for it (i.e. not restricting calories). What stresses the adrenals (increasing adrenaline and cortisol) is radical swings in blood sugar levels. When blood sugar dips, those hormones sky rocket to adapt to the stress. A diet high in fats and protein will have much more stable blood sugar levels than a diet high in carbs. Rather than the radical highs and lows associated with eating meals and snacks high in carbs, your blood sugar will remain relatively stable and give your adrenals a much needed break.

      • Elizabeth @ The Nourished Life
        January 20, 2010 | 8:20 pm

        Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think a high carb diet is healthy. Not in the least. It does wear on the adrenal glands just as you said. I’m more for a moderate carb diet, such as around 100-150 grams or so per day, depending on your health and activity level.

        The body requires a certain level of glucose to fuction at its best. The best source of glucose is from carbohydrates. Of course, the body can readily break down proteins into glucose when needed, but this requires the release of adrenaline. The more your body relies on adrenaline to convert proteins into glucose because you aren’t eating enough carbs, the further you will push yourself into adrenal burnout. This will happen quickly or slowly depending on how extreme the diet is, as well as other factors like whether or not you ingest a lot of caffeine or if you’re under a lot of stress.

        Releasing adrenaline to convert proteins into glucose is a survival mechanism, and the affect is similar to what would happen if you were on a low-calorie diet. Of course, I think a low-carb, normal-calorie diet is healthier than a low-calorie diet. It’s all about balancing rebuilding with breaking down. A low-carb diet with traditional, healthy food obviously won’t break you down as fast as a low-calorie standard American diet, but over the long-term it will still do damage.

        • KristenM
          January 20, 2010 | 9:00 pm

          Hence the advice to stick to a diet of 50-80 grams of carbs per day if you’re trying to lose weight. That way, your body only goes into ketosis when it needs to, rather than sustaining ketosis for the long haul.

          100-150 grams of carbs per day is perfect to maintain the status quo, so we definitely agree there.

          Also, the small amount of adrenaline used to convert protein to glucose is far less than the amount of adrenaline most people use adapting to the frequent blood sugar swings common for those eating the standard american diet.

          In other words, the benefits to your adrenals of leveling blood sugar levels and “resetting” your body fat setpoint far outweigh the risks associated occasionally having to convert some protein into glucose.

          • Elizabeth @ The Nourished Life
            January 21, 2010 | 9:28 am

            I agree with you on a lot of points there, Kristen. And I definitely have a lot of respect for the work you do, I hope you understand. That’s why I’m a follower. :)

            I think your suggestions are extremely valid for someone who is used to eating the standard American diet with a lot of carbs, vegetable oils and processed foods. That’s the recipe for insulin-related conditions, and a short-term low-carb diet (of 50-80 grams like you recommend) can be a great remedy for that. But the key is definitely “short-term”. Once you’ve gotten control of blood sugar levels it’s better to start slowly increasing carbs (like by 15/day every week or two). So I do agree that low-carb diets can be beneficial and even necessary for someone who has issues with proper insulin response.

            My concern is for people who don’t have blood sugar problems and are already eating a diet of nourishing foods to go on a low-carb diet just to lose some weight. They are already on the road to recovery, and a healthy body is primed to lose weight – not the other way around. It’s all about encouraging balance in the body.

            Obviously a low-carb diet will affect some differently than others. I just want to address the fact that I have run across many stories from long-term low-carbers who run into problems of unexplained weight gain, sudden difficulty sticking to the diet, caffeine/stimulant cravings, mood swings, headaches, troubling sleeping, etc – all symptoms of adrenal imbalance. And these stories come from folks who were eating real food in normal amounts (i.e. not starving themselves or living off diet soda or something).

            I’m an advocate for a higher-fat, moderate-protein, moderate-carb diet for the majority of people, so trust me, I’m not suggesting a high-carb diet is healthy. Not at all. I completely agree that the body needs a lot of fat and protein to “fuel” the fire the proper way and regulate blood sugar. And to be clear, I do think a low-carb, normal-calorie diet based on real food is far, far healthier than the standard American diet without question.

            Both Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon, and The Schwarzbein Principle series by Diana Schwarzbein delve deeper into these concerns. These books are focused on healing the body with real food, healing imbalances with balaced nutrition and a balanced lifestyle.

            • Lisa
              July 8, 2013 | 10:14 pm

              Elizabeth- I think this is what happened to me. I was eating around 100 grams of carbs a day 2 years or so ago and was able to lost 10 pounds and get lean. I stayed that way for about 9 months, then slowly my weight came back. I also have hashimotos. I am now 10 pounds heavier.. 6 pounds above what used to be my set point. When I was trying to get the weight off, I did go very low carb for a while.. around 23/day. Didnt feel so great. so I didnt last long. But now, I cant get weight off no matter how clean I eat, or what my workouts are comprised of. Is there a way to heal your metabolism?????

        • Arlo
          January 21, 2010 | 2:36 am

          Body fat set point! Great term for what I’ve noticed in myself. I got down to the midish 180′s over the summer (before spiraling wildly out of control), but it took quite a while for my body to jump back up 10 pounds to the mid-190′s. I’ve never jumped back up to the mid 200′s though, which was apparently my bodies highest homeostatic fat point!

  11. Meagan
    January 20, 2010 | 8:02 pm

    This is a very interesting perspective – thanks for tying in the science with fat burning and real food!

  12. maxwell_864
    January 20, 2010 | 8:43 pm

    How To Burn Stored Body Fat — A Ketosis Primer | Food Renegade: Restricting calories isn’t necessarily a good solu… http://bit.ly/4zwa9F

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  13. kimberlymills2
    January 20, 2010 | 9:15 pm

    How To Burn Stored Body Fat — A Ketosis Primer | Food Renegade: But why are we eating too many calories? Because t… http://bit.ly/4zwa9F

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  14. Anna
    January 20, 2010 | 10:46 pm

    I’ve been eating low carb steadily since 2004 (and also in my last trimester of pregnancy in 1998) both for my weight and my BG (which goes into diabetic levels with the amounts of carbs most people eat). In 2005 I gradually became more serious about cleaning out the processed industrial foods, a la Weston A Price, then with a paleo influence (soy, veg oils, CAFO products, concentrated fructose/agave, etc.) from my diet. Despite “clean” food I still have to watch my carb intake and BG. In 1998 when I was pregnant and was surprised to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes (probably preexisting, but caught during the more rigorous screening in pregnancy, I now think) there was no family history of diabetes, but now I have three relatives on one side of my family diagnosed with diabetes. I’m at high risk and probably already have broken glucose regulation (little or no first phase insulin response), so 100-150 gms of CHO a day for me is out of the question. I’d be gaining weight and on the fast track to diabetes.

    The body works very hard to keep the BG level at a fairly steady level at all times – about 5 gm or about a teaspoon of glucose for the average adult. Seriously, the healthy amount of glucose cruising around in our blood is only about a teaspoon at any given time (now go calculate how many teaspoons -sometimes tens of teaspoons – of glucose we eat or feed our kids in one serving of many favorite “staple” foods, industrial or traditional, let alone several times a day.

    There is some glycogen (storage form of glucose) in muscle meat (not much, but there is some), dietary protein can also be converted to glucose if needed (assuming adequate protein in the diet), and some non-starchy veggies also contribute quite a bit of carbohydrates, which is more than enough carbs. For the many people with compromised glucose regulation, it doesn’t take much sugar and starch to push us into the danger zone day after day, year after year. Carbs drive insulin secretion/production and insulin drives fat storage (and prevention of fat burning).

    Burning dietary carbs for energy is like feeding a fire with newspaper (frequent and urgent hunger). Burning dietary or stored body fat for energy is like a red hot fire of coals. You only have to feed it a log now and then. This time of year (january) the media is awash in “Get Thin/Get Fit fat-burning” advice, but they rarely mention that fat-burning mode is also ketosis.

    • aurelia
      January 23, 2010 | 12:14 pm

      I agree that the amount of carbs one can eat is highly dependent on how dis-regulated one’s metabolism was to begin with. Further, some of us need to restrict both total calories and carbohydrates.

      When I am working all day outside in the summer I can get away with up to 50 grams carbs. Most of the time, however, I need to stick closer to 30 grams and below. My blood sugars just go way out of whack above that.

      Further, I need to stick to between 1400 and 1600 calories a day. Any more than that and I start to gain weight.

      The way I keep my carbs so low is to avoid fruit almost entirely. I eat some fruit in the summer–but that’s fruit season, anyway. Focusing my carb consumption on leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables gets me plenty of nutrition.

  15. kris
    January 20, 2010 | 11:00 pm

    Thank you for the timely advice, I have been trying to figure out the ‘why’s’ behind the high protein diet. I eat way too many carbs, and it will be difficult to get off the sugar high, but armed with knowledge I can do it!

  16. Anna
    January 20, 2010 | 11:01 pm

    What I’ve come to understand about adrenal response is that a high sugar/high carb/high caffeine intake (often combined with high emotional, physical, or psychological stress) sets off the radical and destructive hormonal response that ultimately taxes the adrenals, not the other way around.

    Lowering carb intake might very well expose an existing condition of overused adrenal glands, though. Without the customary “jet fuel” energy that sugar/starch provides or the body is accustomed to, the adrenals inappropriately kick in adrenaline or cortisol to raise BG quickly instead of burning fat or ketones.

  17. Rebecca
    January 21, 2010 | 12:06 am

    Hi
    Great post! I’ve been toying with the idea of going low carb, and have been reading up on all the “diets” out there-Atkins, Protein Power, etc. I admit that the idea of restricting carbs down to 10-20 grams a day is frightening. AND it seems to be a lot more difficult. Frankly, I think I’d be much more successful with a 50-80 grams/day carb limit. We’ll see.

  18. IngaG
    January 21, 2010 | 5:06 am

    This is interesting.
    Having spent some time on weight loss and eating disorder communities, I always thought of low carb regimens as something highly effective – but extremely damaging because I have talked to people who ruined their health by following them. Until now, ketosis was something I associated with anorexia.

    The idea that a low carb is only dangerous when taken to extreme and can be manageable, is new – but also makes sense. I have known a number of things demonized by others… but in reality, that only applied to the extreme ends of the spectrum, which are always suspect. Balance and moderation seem to be the magical concepts.

    After reading this, I will check carb content of vegetables and look into getting my carb intake down to about 100 g a day (I’d would still be scared to go lower than that…) and see what happens. It’s not like I need to lose weight – it’s more cosmetic, I merely would like to go from size 6 to size 4 – but it is interesting to try something new that seems to be slow, healthy, and sustainable.

    • IngaG
      January 21, 2010 | 5:13 am

      Oh, and I have already virtually eliminated processed foods from my regular diet, started cooking from scratch and eat an enormous amount of vegetables… So the adjustment should not be too difficult. But I like my grains, fruits, and sweets, and I never before seriously considered drastically reducing those. On the other hand, I have already learned that when your diet changes, sometimes you don’t even miss the things you thought before you couldn’t live without…

  19. stacie200
    January 21, 2010 | 5:43 am

    How To Burn Stored Body Fat — A Ketosis Primer | Food Renegade: It’s your body’s attempt to maintain homeostasis. … http://bit.ly/4zwa9F

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  20. KarlaB
    January 21, 2010 | 8:57 am

    So how do we treat raw milk, carb-wise?
    I was so excited that I could finally tolerate whole grains by soaking/fermenting that I didn’t consider that even properly assimilated carbs are still carbs. So I’m steadily reducing the amount of bread I eat.
    Also, I just recently started eating a raw salad (about a cup total) of grated carrots, beets, radish and chopped celery and green onion about twice a day. I dress it with the Bragg’s vineagrette whose recipe is on the bottle. Could that be too high in carbs? I don’t feel the ‘tireds’ after, and I’ve lost weight, but not so much around the belly.
    Thanks for the great site!

    • KristenM
      January 21, 2010 | 1:02 pm

      Raw milk has plenty of carbs. If you’re trying to cut your carbs, you’ll need to take that into account. If you want to keep drinking the raw milk, then just be aware of how many carbs are in a glass and adjust the rest of your carb intake accordingly.

      When it comes to calculating how many carbs are in a particular meal, I highly recommend the calculators at FitDay.com. You can add in each individual ingredient of any particular home made meal, and then it will break down the nutritional info for that particular meal or day of eating.

  21. nichole
    January 21, 2010 | 9:46 am

    Ok, but seriously? WHAT do i eat? really? I want to do this, but I am about to walk out of the house all day, and I have no idea what to take with me today. (so today will probably be a fasting day with some kombucha.. lol ) But WHAT do I eat all day trying to do this? any and all help in that area would be awesome!
    .-= nichole ´s last blog post …Fragrance ingredients contaminating newborn babies – take action! =-.

    • KristenM
      January 21, 2010 | 1:22 pm

      Nichole — Is so much of your diet grains, sugar, and sweet fruits/veggies that you honestly can’t think of what to eat? If yes, then I recommend getting your hands on the book The Garden of Eating. It’s full of tons of recipes, as well useful advice for how to run your kitchen to make on-the-go snacks and lunches possible.

      A few easy pointers:
      1)replace rice with grated cauliflower! It cooks in a lot less time, has almost no carbs, and serves well to replace rice in 95% of recipes.
      2)you love pasta because of the SAUCES. So keep eating all those sauces, but pour them over your meat & veggies instead of over the pasta.
      3)use “pasta” that’s made from vegetables. Asian markets sell a kelp/seaweed pasta and a mushroom pasta. Or you could use spaghetti squash or stringed zucchini to get your “pasta” fix.
      4)replace sandwiches for lunch with either easily reheated leftovers from dinner or a salad that’s got plenty of fat (sour cream blended with olive & coconut oils or bacon grease & herbs is nice and full-fat) and protein (top the salad with cooked meat — taco meat, fajita meat, smoked salmon, tuna, eggs, etc.)
      5)when you crave sweets or bread, eat more fat! Cook those eggs in extra butter, drizzle your steamed veggies with bacon grease, stir coconut oil or full-fat raw cream into your hot tea or coffee. Eating more fat will clear your foggy-headed brain and make that carb craving disappear.

      I’m going to write a post about this later today. So be sure to come back!

      • nichole
        January 21, 2010 | 1:35 pm

        Thank you so much! I will be back.. this is a long standing problem for me, since going toward NT.. (you’d think I’d be skinny as a rail by now.. haha) But because we are sticking to grassfed meat, raw milk, farm eggs and bit of seafood, it can be difficult for us to really fill the fridge with protein sources, as those things are more expensive for us.. we have been HEAVILY relying on grains (because of cost), so if I can figure out how to remedy this it would be great!

        thank you so much for the ideas! amazing ideas! I’m about to find that book and I am waiting with baited breath on your past later!

        thanks again!
        n
        .-= nichole´s last blog post …Fragrance ingredients contaminating newborn babies – take action! =-.

        • KristenM
          January 21, 2010 | 3:42 pm

          We are in the same pickle with eating quality foods on a budget. Check out my Eating Real Food on A Budget post for the details of how we do it.

          When going low-carb, if you can’t afford quality protein two things stand out:

          1) Eggs! Even farm-fresh eggs are relatively cheap when you consider how packed-full of nutrition they are. They’re not just a breakfast food. Egg salads make great lunches, poached eggs in stews and soups make great dinners.

          2) Fat! Cut the carbs and eat more fat. It’s also relatively cheap, but it keeps you full and rounds out meals that might be a little skimpy on the protein.

  22. Melissa @CelluliteInvestigation
    January 21, 2010 | 9:52 am

    I enjoyed this post, Kristen, and I will be forwarding it to a few friends who asked me about this recently. But one thing really bothers me. Where did you find that foot model?!? ;)
    .-= Melissa @CelluliteInvestigation´s last blog post …Cellulite BOTM: "Bottoms Up!" by Joyce Vedral, Part II, Getting Started with Weight Training =-.

    • KristenM
      January 21, 2010 | 1:23 pm

      As always, you can follow the photo credit link for more info…. :)

  23. Annalisa
    January 21, 2010 | 12:00 pm

    Hi there,
    I’m a big cheese, milk–dairy eater in general (organic , whole–can’t get raw milk in BC easily–soon though I hope!) . Do I need to take into account the carbs in dairy products as well?….I hope not…

    I think that if you try to limit your carb intake to only one of your meals per day, say at dinner only, it is easier to keep track of! Thanks!

    • KristenM
      January 21, 2010 | 1:25 pm

      The carbs in cheese, butter, cream, and ghee are almost non-existent. But milk is another story. If you’re trying to go low-carb, you may need to cut back on raw milk just while you’re trying to lose weight. OR you can prioritize the raw milk, but cut back on the carbs in other areas (i.e. no carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.).

  24. lawrencelive
    January 21, 2010 | 12:54 pm

    How To Burn Stored Body Fat — A Ketosis Primer | Food Renegade: So, how do you tell your body to start bu… http://bit.ly/8c8kof #burn fat

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  25. Carla
    January 21, 2010 | 5:29 pm

    One look at those toenails and anyone will loose their appetite! ;o)

    I’ve lost one clothing size since May 2009 after becoming vegan. For “carbs” I eat sprouted grain bread periodically, popcorn made at home with peanut oil and sea salt, oat groats, and potatoes.

    I do not eat any conventional bread or pasta and have lost my desire for dark chocolate. <— sad but true….it was a near addiction!

    I eat a lot of vegetables, less fruit, olive oil, nuts, Vegenaise, fermented soy occasionally. It is obvious to me that I reach ketosis nearly every day because I have "bad" breath. <— another sad but true moment.

    My diet is very simple, doesn't include animal products and ketosis apparently has played a part in my weight loss.

    Last night I ate two small baked potatoes and a side of carrots and red onion sauteed in peanut oil and rosemary, all with Vegenaise to dip. A typical meal.

    Thanks for the good info! Real food is where it's at!

  26. lizziedavis1
    January 21, 2010 | 6:20 pm

    How To Burn Stored Body Fat — A Ketosis Primer | Food Renegade: So, how do you tell your body to start burning sto… http://bit.ly/4zwa9F

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  27. WaldorfSchool
    January 22, 2010 | 7:42 pm

    Excellent! Thx! RT @dearthyroid Interesting article on fat burning and fat storage and carbs http://bit.ly/5PwqBM

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  28. Kirk
    January 26, 2010 | 4:23 pm

    Further info on the whole Agave thing:

    http://paleodivas.blogspot.com/2010/01/new-info-re-agave-nectar.html

    What does everyone think about this stuff?

    This comment was originally posted on CrossFit NYC: The Black Box

  29. Kirk
    January 26, 2010 | 5:19 pm

    Mike,

    Funny, I just had a discussion with my wife that went a lot like what you just said… with a fair bit of "sugar is sugar" thrown in.

    One thing I have always enjoyed about eating paleo is that you realize that, most of the time, you don’t need to use sugar (or other sweeteners) at all. In fact, the food is almost always better without them. Actually, once you start taking away all the sauces, etc. that seem to go along with the "Western" diet you are reminded of just how good real food tastes all on its own.

    This comment was originally posted on CrossFit NYC: The Black Box

  30. isaac
    January 26, 2010 | 6:39 pm

    Fish oil is a means, not an end in itself. The goal with the fish oil is to try to bring your Omega-3s and Omega-6s into a balance closer to our pre-agricultural ancestors. The ideal is to avoid getting your fatty acids out of whack to begin with by avoiding vegetable oils and eating fish and pastured animal products.

    In today’s podcast Robb Wolf recommended 0.5 – 1.0 grams of EPA+DHA per 10 pounds of bodyweight per day. "Half a gram is for people who are generally healthy but have been eating a standard diet. The 1.0 level is for people who are very overweight or sick." He then advocates a maintenance level of .25 grams per 10 pounds of bodyweight after 2-5 months.

    The way to go is just to avoid the toxic fats to begin with. Since I started cooking in pastured pork lard, ghee, and beef tallow, I now pretty much just use olive oil for salad dressing and that’s it for vegetable oils for me. I’m doing about a tablespoon of fish oil a day. with a little more on the rare occasions that I eat out.

    This comment was originally posted on CrossFit NYC: The Black Box

  31. chrisfreycgm
    January 27, 2010 | 7:36 am

    Reading @foodrenegade How To Burn Stored Body Fat %E2%80%94 A Ketosis Primer http://tinyurl.com/ybbu2pe

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  32. ketosis-dude
    August 30, 2010 | 10:26 pm

    Good article.. I just gotta mention that those feet in that picture are the nastiest gnarliest things i’ve seen. Talk about toe sludge galore!

  33. Wayne Baker
    November 15, 2010 | 6:40 am

    Interesting post. I still think the best way to stay healthy is to eat a balanced diet composed of nutritious foods and exercise regularly. Exercise also regulates your metabolic set point, and is more effective than trying to maintain wait through diet alone.

  34. Mark Laseau
    May 9, 2011 | 10:29 am

    This is the best article I’ve read concerning burning fat. I dropped sugar from my diet six weeks ago and fat is melting off me like crazy. I also dropped refined carbs, as much as possible. But I still drink beer and wine. Exercise is limited to 4-5 half hour bike rides per week and taking the steps at work. I think it’s no coincidence that in the past 30 years the American carb intake has skyrocketed along with the growth of the health club industry and yet, we’re all getting fatter. Exercise is not nearly as important as what you eat. You don’t have to go crazy.

  35. Jim
    June 30, 2011 | 12:28 pm

    How do endurance sports play into this. If I only ate 50 – 80g of carbs and did my usual 32 mile bikes rides 5 times a week I’d bonk in a hurry. In fact, I tested this. On days 3 I could barley ride 12 miles. I ate about 2500 calories (good calories), 50g of carbs for two days and I bonked hard on day 3, the point where I was almost in an over trained state.

    How does one take into effect this diet for athletes?

  36. e.
    October 2, 2011 | 8:48 pm

    This may be a dumb question… but if I eat a fair amount of dietary fat, will my body burn that fat before burning my stored body fat? Do I need to be concerned about the amount of fat I eat as well as carbs? Or do I just focus on staying low in carbs and creating a caloric deficit so my body fat is eventually burned?

  37. Lucien
    October 10, 2011 | 10:22 am

    Hi,

    I was wondering however, does the body utilize “STORED FAT” better when in ketosis rather then using a lower carb diet?

    In other words, once you’ve converted the body to use fat as primary fuel source instead of the glucose in the body, and do cardio or HIIT training etc. and burn off all the ingested fats consumed through the day and then finally start using “STORED FAT” as fuel.. will it be used up more efficiently and burn faster?
    Rather then the same situation! Same amount of calories, training etc. then when the glucose is burnt up and start using “STORED FAT” but not in ketosis.. when slightly more carbs?

    I would really appreciate the feedback or/knowledge from anyone.

    Thanks

    • Ronnie
      February 5, 2012 | 2:16 am

      after 24 hours of non-glucose intake ie food…your body will start to use the ketone sources that are in stored fat, must be careful no to go too far or it will destroy muscle when the body runs out of fat to use for energy muscle mass comes next

  38. Ronnie
    February 5, 2012 | 2:11 am

    ketones don’t destroy muscle!?! you’re highly misinformed, if you don’t have a proper amount of fatty acids and protein then it will destroy them.

  39. Ronnie
    February 5, 2012 | 2:17 am

    Also..ketone as a fuel source doesn’t take place until the body rids itself of glucose which is about 24 hours..but when you have no glucose intake you start to kill brain cells!

  40. Greg
    August 25, 2012 | 3:14 pm

    I was with this article until it said eat more saturated fat…..

  41. Jodi
    August 30, 2012 | 12:28 am

    Interesting read. I have a question though that may be obvious, but I’m missing it. Why would one want to eat 50-80 gms carbs/day to only be in ‘ketosis when your body needs to’? When would the body NEED to be in ketosis? When would it NOT need to be in ketosis? How much weight could one expect to lose in comparison to one who follows a conventional Atkins plan by eating 20 gms carbs/day? BTW, I also read that as long as one is eating less than 100 gms carbs/day, they remain in ketosis…do you agree? Thanks.

  42. Missy
    April 20, 2013 | 12:33 pm

    Well, first, I’m pretty grossed out by the photo of the feet. How about trimming the nails and having CLEAN nails in a photo. Gross. I was so turned off by the photo that I decided not to read the article. But then I read someone’s post about their thyroid… and I may ….but really…. that photo is nasty.

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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