Boost Your Brain: 5 Vitamins that Aid Memory

Boost Your Brain

This article is a guest post from iveeapp.com. I’ve added my two cents throughout:

The benefits of vitamin supplements are incredibly far-reaching. They can help aid bodily functions such as digestion, metabolism, and immuno-response. Researchers continue to support the belief that vitamin supplements play a large role in longevity. When combined with a proper diet, adequate sleep patterns, and daily exercise, a noticeable impact on life quality can also be achieved with vitamin supplements.

So what about memory? Can these tablets really boost cognitive function? Well, yes and no. One of the most common symptoms of aging is memory loss. As of 2020, roughly an estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s dementia. If scientists were able to slow the onset of Alzheimer’s with the use of vitamin supplements, over 200 thousand fewer seniors would be diagnosed per year. So, in that respect, vitamin supplements act as a preventive measure.

Five supplements that boost memory

1. B-12

Researchers have studied the correlation between B-12 and B complex vitamins and cognitive function for a long while. They have found that having a B-12 deficiency could lead to troubles with memory in the future. According to the Mayo Clinic, having an adequate amount of B-12 can lead to improved memory. Still, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that higher intake leads to more benefits. However, there is evidence that regular B-12 consumption can slow the cognitive decline of seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when combined with omega-3 fatty acids. 

B-12 deficiency is most common in those with bowel or stomach issues, strict vegans, and diabetics. Getting enough B-12 should come naturally. Certain foods such as fish and poultry contain high levels of the vitamin B-12. Dairy products and certain vegetables such as mushrooms also offer high levels of B-12. 

If you do not eat foods rich in B12, you can supplement your diet with vitamin B12 in a jar! and get the same benefits.

2. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another supplement that has shown to slow cognitive decline. Like vitamin B-12, this vitamin has proven to be more effective in older people since they are more at risk for memory loss. According to a 2014 study done by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMMA), “Among patients with mild to moderate [Alzheimer’s], 2000 IU/d of alpha-tocopherol [the vitamin E supplement] compared with placebo resulted in slower functional decline.” 

Vitamin E deficiency is rare, but it does occur. It is most apparent in those whose diets lack fat. Good sources of vitamin E include foods such as:

  • nuts
  • seeds
  • dark-colored fruits, such as blueberries, avocados, and blackberries
  • vegetables, such as spinach and bell peppers

Whether you get your daily dose of vitamin E from your diet or a jar of supplements, make sure you do!

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for efficient brain function as well as keeping our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. We obtain Vitamin D mainly through the sun’s rays. The vitamin isn’t found in many foods, but it is abundant in certain fatty-fish such as trout, salmon, and tuna. Vitamin D supplements are great for everyone, but especially for those who spend a lot of their time working from inside. Being deficient in vitamin D can have negative effects such as raised anxiety, depression, and chronic fatigue. 

If you cannot get outside to obtain your daily dose of vitamin D, supplements are available.

4. Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids are extracted directly from fatty fish like sardines and salmon. Fish oil can play a vital role in optimizing brain function. That’s because fish oil contains the same fatty acids found in the cell membranes of human brain cells. Preserving healthy brain cell membranes can have a massive impact on how our brain develops as we age. Not only is fish oil excellent for the mind but it is also great for muscle recovery as it decreases muscular pain and shortens recovery time after a workout.

Fish oil containing important omega 3 fatty acids is also available in supplement form if fish will never make it into your diet.

5. NAD+ Treatment

Yes, we know that NAD+ is not a vitamin, but its potential to optimize brain function is worth noting. NAD+ is a compound that is produced naturally in the body but as we age, our NAD+ levels decrease. The rate at which our NAD+ levels decrease is directly related to increasing biological age. So as we age, we lose NAD+ and we lose energy, our skin ages, and we experience some form of memory loss or mental fatigue. NAD+ supplements are available at certain vitamin shops, but one of the most effective methods is NAD+ treatment through an IV.

If IVs are not your thing, NAD+ is also available in supplement form. You have no excuse to avoid it!

Conclusion

Though these nutrients are not the “end all and be all” for cognitive decline, having a consistent intake of the vitamin could slow symptoms, especially for seniors and those already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other mental diseases. The easiest way we can prevent the onset of these illnesses is to take care of our bodies. Good sleep patterns, a good diet including vitamins, and daily exercise are things we can do daily to increase the quality of life and longevity. 

If you are not keen on introducing supplements to your diet, try incorporating foods that contain the specific vitamins instead. That is my preferred way to achieve a healthy diet. I do so by concocting a variety of smoothies that contain healthy, fresh vitamin-packed fruits and vegetables. Make the choice based on your lifestyle, but be sure to incorporate the vitamins into your diet.

Repairing Skin Damage, Five ways to do it

Repairing Skin Damage

photo credit

This article was originally posted on Higher Dose, adapted for use as a guest post here on Loreeebee…

You might not wear your heart on your sleeve, but you definitely have an organ that is outward-facing. *Drum roll* Your skin.

As your body’s largest organ, your skin requires a lot of attention because it’s literally the body’s barrier, protecting you from external factors. Even though your skin is your body’s protector, external factors such as sun damage, stress, free radicals, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, pollutants, and the natural aging process all put wear-and-tear on our skin.

Even though our skin endures a lot every day, there are many ways to both repair and prevent further damage.

Here are our favorite ways to give your skin a healthy DOSE of TLC.

Detoxify the skin

Multi-step self-care routines can seem daunting and unnecessary, but what if we told you they were actually essential for your skin’s health? With one-third of your body’s toxins being excreted through the skin, your skin is constantly working to help transport toxins out of your body to keep your system refreshed. Skin impurities like acne, rough texture, and poor complexion can be a result of buildup on your skin, so taking some extra time to detoxify your skin will help keep things popped, snatched, and glowing.

Step 1 | Detoxify

Detoxifying your skin starts with stimulating your lymphatic system and then pushing out toxins with a DOSE of infrared. A lymphatic facial helps to drain waste from the lymph system, promoting better circulation and less water retention. Following up a lymphatic drainage massage with an infrared sweat is the ultimate cleanse, clearing out buildup and increasing blood flow for a fresh face.

Step 2 | Fight Inflammation

When you apply heat to the skin, cold must follow. Therefore, post-sweat, opt for cold therapy to get the heat out of the skin and quell inflammation. Cryo facials are an excellent way to tone and tighten the skin while shrinking pores and strengthening your body’s immune response. If you don’t have access to a cryo facial, spend up to three minutes in a cold shower, or consider an ice roller that you keep in the freezer.

Step 3 | Nourish

Once the skin has detoxed, it’s time for restoration, rejuvenation, and recovery. Follow up any treatment with proper hydration and nourishment in the form of serums, creams, and oils that lock in moisture and keep inflammation down. Clean products that are high in antioxidants like vitamin C help support the skin’s recovery process, fight and prevent oxidative stress, and encourage collagen production.

Chill out with a cryo facial

Cryo facial is a type of cryotherapy that focuses on soothing, stimulating, and refreshing your complexion using cold temperatures to enliven the skin.

Rather than using exfoliating creams or chemical peels that can irritate the skin, a cryo wand is used to blow cold air on your face in concentrated, circulated motions. The freezing temps and vaporized liquid nitrogen instantly shrink enlarged, oily pores and increase circulation to your face, leaving you with a fresh-faced, cool glow. These facials also encourage collagen regrowth and cell repair — giving you long-term anti-aging protection.

Get a face-full of LED

Immerse your skin in the benefits of blue, red and near-infrared LED light energy.

The sun emits a full spectrum of light to help our bodies function throughout the day. While blue light signals cortisol production to help us be more productive, red and infrared light suppress cortisol and increase melatonin to promote better restoration and recovery.

However, because most of our jobs keep us indoors and exposed to artificial blue light from our screens AM to PM, our bodies stay in a prolonged state of stress. More stress means less melatonin, which means worse sleep and inflamed skin.

This mood-enhancing, skin-restoring treatment provides the skin with healing light sources, taking no longer than 30 minutes. Near-infrared LED light energy stimulates cells to regenerate and heal, leaving you with an even skin tone, a clearer complexion, and fewer wrinkles. Plus, it’s a great way to de-stress by stepping away from your screens to give those frown lines a break!

Give your skin a workout with a microcurrent facial

Your body isn’t the only thing that needs a workout.

Microcurrent technology, which is touted as the ultimate non-invasive facelift, can be used from head to toe to tone and tighten skin from the inside out.

Using low-voltage current, microcurrent sends frequency deep to stimulate the muscle as well as promote cell growth in skin. Similar to physical exercise, this facial / body workout activates the lymphatic system, encouraging proper drainage aka no facial puffiness or water retention. Mircocurrent, which is virtually painless, also oxygenates the skin, invigorating the proteins that signal repair and ease inflammation.

Not only are results immediate, but long-term treatment can undo fine lines and wrinkles and keep the skin smooth without paralyzing the muscle (like Botox // other injectables).

Read the labels

There are many, many beauty products out there that claim to prevent and reverse skin damage. How do you know which ones work?

Always look for clean ( with no endocrine-disrupting ingredients) beauty products like:

  • Niacinamide to minimize dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
  • Azelaic acid to lighten dark spots from acne and repair sun damage.
  • Topical retinoids like Vitamin A in these products reduces fine lines and improves skin texture.
  • Vitamin C to improve collagen production and boosts skin firmness.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) to reduce hyperpigmentation

And, of course, drink lots of water, wear a long-lasting (natural) SPF, and eat lots of antioxidant-rich whole foods. Your skin will thank you.

Show us what you’re doing to take care of your skin by tagging us on Instagram @higherdose.

This article was originally posted on HigherDOSE.com

Boost Your Brain: 5 Vitamin Supplements that Help Aid Memory

Boost Your Brain

This article was originally published at iveeapp.com, adapted for a guest post here on Loreeebee.

The benefits of vitamin supplements are incredibly far-reaching. They can help aid bodily functions such as digestion, metabolism, and immuno-response. Researchers continue to support the belief that vitamin supplements play a large role in longevity. When combined with a proper diet, adequate sleep patterns, and daily exercise, a noticeable impact on life quality can also be achieved with vitamin supplements.

So what about memory? Can these tablets really boost cognitive function? Well, yes and no. One of the most common symptoms of aging is memory loss. As of 2020, roughly an estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s dementia. If scientists were able to slow the onset of Alzheimer’s with the use of vitamin supplements, over 200 thousand fewer seniors would be diagnosed per year. So, in that respect, vitamin supplements act as a preventive measure.

Five supplements that boost memory

1. B-12

Researchers have studied the correlation between B-12 and B complex vitamins and cognitive function for a long while. They have found that having a B-12 deficiency could lead to troubles with memory in the future. According to the Mayo Clinic, having an adequate amount of B-12 can lead to improved memory. Still, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that higher intake leads to more benefits. However, there is evidence that regular B-12 consumption can slow the cognitive decline of seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when combined with omega-3 fatty acids. 

B-12 deficiency is most common in those with bowel or stomach issues, strict vegans, and diabetics. Getting enough B-12 should come naturally. Certain foods such as fish and poultry contain high levels of the vitamin B-12. Dairy products and certain vegetables such as mushrooms also offer high levels of B-12. 

If you do not eat foods rich in B12, you can supplement your diet with vitamin B12 in a jar! and get the same benefits.

2. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another supplement that has shown to slow cognitive decline. Like vitamin B-12, this vitamin has proven to be more effective in older people since they are more at risk for memory loss. According to a 2014 study done by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMMA), “Among patients with mild to moderate [Alzheimer’s], 2000 IU/d of alpha-tocopherol [the vitamin E supplement] compared with placebo resulted in slower functional decline.” 

Vitamin E deficiency is rare, but it does occur. It is most apparent in those whose diets lack fat. Good sources of vitamin E include foods such as:

  • nuts
  • seeds
  • dark-colored fruits, such as blueberries, avocados, and blackberries
  • vegetables, such as spinach and bell peppers

Whether you get your daily dose of vitamin E from your diet or a jar of supplements, make sure you do!

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for efficient brain function as well as keeping our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. We obtain Vitamin D mainly through the sun’s rays. The vitamin isn’t found in many foods, but it is abundant in certain fatty-fish such as trout, salmon, and tuna. Vitamin D supplements are great for everyone, but especially for those who spend a lot of their time working from inside. Being deficient in vitamin D can have negative effects such as raised anxiety, depression, and chronic fatigue. 

If you cannot get outside to obtain your daily dose of vitamin D, supplements are available.

4. Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids are extracted directly from fatty fish like sardines and salmon. Fish oil can play a vital role in optimizing brain function. That’s because fish oil contains the same fatty acids found in the cell membranes of human brain cells. Preserving healthy brain cell membranes can have a massive impact on how our brain develops as we age. Not only is fish oil excellent for the mind but it is also great for muscle recovery as it decreases muscular pain and shortens recovery time after a workout.

Fish oil containing important omega 3 fatty acids is also available in supplement form if fish will never make it into your diet.

5. NAD+ Treatment

Yes, we know that NAD+ is not a vitamin, but its potential to optimize brain function is worth noting. NAD+ is a compound that is produced naturally in the body but as we age, our NAD+ levels decrease. The rate at which our NAD+ levels decrease is directly related to increasing biological age. So as we age, we lose NAD+ and we lose energy, our skin ages, and we experience some form of memory loss or mental fatigue. NAD+ supplements are available at certain vitamin shops, but one of the most effective methods is NAD+ treatment through an IV.

If IVs are not your thing, NAD+ is also available in supplement form. You have no excuse to avoid it!

Conclusion

Though these nutrients are not the “end all and be all” for cognitive decline, having a consistent intake of the vitamin could slow symptoms, especially for seniors and those already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other mental diseases. The easiest way we can prevent the onset of these illnesses is to take care of our bodies. Good sleep patterns, a good diet including vitamins, and daily exercise are things we can do daily to increase the quality of life and longevity. 

If you are not keen on introducing supplements to your diet, try incorporating foods that contain the specific vitamins instead. That is my preferred way to achieve a healthy diet. I do so by concocting a variety of smoothies that contain healthy, fresh vitamin-packed fruits and vegetables. Make the choice based on your lifestyle, but be sure to incorporate the vitamins into your diet.

Sweet Tips for Better Kids Treats

Sweet Tips for Kids Treats

This article was originally published on PyureOrganic.com, modified as a guest post here on Loreeebee…

Kids are back in school, and while this school year might look a little different, one thing that hasn’t changed is the snacks they love. Whether your kids are heading to the classroom or learning their lessons from home, they’re going to want something to eat at the end of the day. 

Kids love sugar, but unfortunately, sugar doesn’t always love them back. Sugar is a multi-billion-dollar industry, but it’s not the healthiest ingredient for kids or adults. Sugar intake contributes to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer and a host of other problems for kids later in life. 

Luckily, Stevia is a great alternative to sugar. Stevia is a plant that can be made into a fine powder that is 350 times as sweet as sugar, but contains none of the negative side effects that sugar does. 

The best part? Stevia has a very low glycemic index – meaning your kid won’t get that spike in blood sugar that can cause them to act wild then crash. 

Is Stevia safe for kids? 

The short answer: absolutely – if you choose the right product!

Stevia can actually be a better choice for your kids, especially if you’re using it instead of processed sugar. It matters, however, which stevia brand you choose. Not all Stevia is created equal! 

Stevia is a highly sustainable plant that is part of the sunflower family. It’s native to South America, but there are more than 250 species of stevia worldwide. Pyure Organic is the number one organic Stevia brand in the country, and it’s easy to see why. We focus relentlessly on quality, using a single-source, high-quality species and only use the very sweetest part of the Stevia leaf. We avoid chemicals, additives and any artificial processes that would make Stevia something you’d want to avoid. We’re also certified organic and non-GMO project verified. 

Pyure Organic’s mission from Day 1 has been to make stevia taste great. That’s good news for parents; kids won’t even know the difference when you swap stevia into their favorite after-school treats.

How to swap sugar for Stevia in your recipes

Swapping sugar for Stevia in your kids’ treats depends partly on the recipe, and partly on the Pyure product that you’re using. Pyure products are a great substitute for table-top sweeteners, liquids, extracts and bulk Stevia blends. Substitute Pyure Organic Sweeteners for all or part of the sugar your recipes call for using the easy conversion chart below:

easy conversion chart

For baking pros, note that in some instances you may need to adjust your recipe to account for the loss of mass associated with the reduction of sugar.

Great ideas for kid’s treats

Every kid has a sweet tooth, as do many adults. Here are some recipes for tasty treats you can make using Stevia.  They won’t notice the difference.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is keto-friendly and only takes about 15 minutes to put together! Check out Pyure Organic’s tasty peanut butter chocolate chip cookies here

Tropical Splash Popsicles

Even if summer is over, your kids will love one of these refreshing snacks at the end of a long school day of concentrating and learning. Check out this fruit-filled recipe here

Pumpkin Spice Bars

Perfect for autumn, or any other time, these bars are guilt-free, with none of the processed, artificial flavoring found in many coffee chains’ pumpkin spiced lattes. The frosting is a bonus! Get the recipe here.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Whipped Cream

If kids are allowed to bring birthday treats to school, these cupcakes are a great option! They’re sugar-free, using Pyure Organic All Purpose Stevia Blend and Pyure Organic Liquid Stevia Blend, but the class will never know it. Get the recipe here

Spiced “Sugar” Cookies

These cookies make great holiday – and every day – treats, with nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice in addition to Pyure Organic All-Purpose Stevia Blend. Check out the video for how to make spiced “sugar” cookies here

Conclusion

We have tons of recipes that use stevia in place of processed sugar.  Read more and explore our products. We’ve even got brownie mix and chocolate chip cookie mix for those days when you’re not inspired to test out a new recipe, or don’t have the ingredients on hand to make treats from scratch.

I have not yet tried these Stevia products, but do admit the idea of using a sugar alternative does appeal to me, especially with Christmas baking on the horizon. I will keep you posted!

IV Vitamin Therapy: the Benefits

IV Therapy

This article was originally published at iveeapp.com, adapted for a guest post here on Loreeebee.

IV vitamin therapy…you’ve seen it everywhere from your Instagram feed to your neighborhood’s new drip lounge. But what exactly makes IV vitamin therapy so great?

IV vitamin therapy efficiently administer vitamins, minerals and medications to the body without relying on the digestive system. It delivers nutrients directly to the bloodstream, making them instantly accessible by the body for use.

Offering 100% absorption, IV vitamin therapy ensures cells receive the nutrients they need to thrive. This optimal cell function promotes a number of body systems.

While there are many, here are the top 5 benefits of IV vitamin therapy.

1. Increased Wellness

Wellness includes not just your physical health, but your mental health as well. The body needs a certain level of vitamins and minerals to work at its best, however, the demands of daily life can make it difficult to get these. IV vitamin therapy delivers nutrients that the body can absorb and use immediately. Ingredients like L-Carnitine, with its memory and mood enhancing effects, and Vitamin A, a key player in brain, skin, muscle, heart and immune health, help you up your total wellness game.

 2. Illness Prevention

Many factors can take a toll on your immune health, such as stress, lack of sleep and poor diet. As immune health decreases, you are more susceptible to sickness. IV vitamin therapy strengthens your immunity by delivering the nutrients your body needs to fight off illness. Ingredients like Vitamin C, known to fight illness and stress, and Zinc, an immunity powerhouse, work preventatively to ensure illness doesn’t stand a chance.

3. Rapid Hangover Relief 

Alcohol dehydrates you, depleting your body of nutrients in the process. This dehydration results in shrunken tissue, particularly in the brain, which causes headaches and muscle aches. The liver also absorbs toxins from the alcohol, adding to your hangover discomfort. IV vitamin therapy combats these symptoms by delivering hydration through a saline solution alongside anti-inflammatory ingredients that quickly relieve pain.

4. Enhanced Beauty 

Beauty begins on the inside. Unlike topical treatments, IV vitamin therapy delivers antioxidants directly to the body, cleansing cells of free radicals that contribute to aging and tissue damage. In addition to slowing the aging process, IV vitamin therapy helps to strengthen hair and nails while decreasing the appearance of wrinkles and illuminating the skin.

5.  Improved Athletic Recovery 

Any workout – from professional to amateur – exhausts the body, depleting it of nutrients and hydration. Exercise also causes muscle fatigue as well as a buildup of free radicals. IV vitamin therapy wipes these free radicals away, while restoring hydration and nutrients. Plus, amino acids decrease muscle loss and improve metabolism. With IV vitamin therapy, athletes can recover at a much faster rate, resulting in improved performance as well.

Conclusions

So, that’s what makes IV vitamin therapy so great! Everyone has different bodies with different needs. With its numerous benefits, IV vitamin therapy provides a solution for all. 

ivee offers a variety of IV vitamin therapy treatments in order for you to feel your best no matter the circumstance. With the ivee app, you can have a nurse to your door within 15-30 minutes, meaning you can achieve ultimate wellness fast. The best part? You don’t even have to leave your home. 

Healthy Morning Routines To Kickstart Your Day

Healthy Morning Routines

This article was originally posted on PyrureOrganic.com, modified as a guest post here on Loreeebee…

How you start your morning sets the tone for the day. With that in mind, you can see how your morning routines can help you or hurt you when it comes to your health goals – whether that’s feeling energized and focused, managing blood sugar levels, keeping fit, preventing heart disease or controlling your weight.

In my roles as a registered dietitian nutritionist and a certified diabetes educator, I’ve watched thousands of people work to get their healthy habits in order. Behavior changes and new habits seem to flow better when the morning starts off right. A successful start to the day simply breeds more success.

Here are 5 ways you can get your morning in tiptop shape.

1. Start your morning before you even go to bed

Sometime in the early evening, check your schedule so nothing surprises you first thing tomorrow. Get organized by picking out your clothes, packing lunch, gathering any papers or books you may need, and grabbing a piece of fruit for a snack and some Pyure Organic Stevia packets to sweeten your mid-day work beverages. Then get into bed on time. A good nights sleep is critical to feeling energized and being well. In fact, research suggests that short sleeping increases the risk for weight gain, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes.

2. Wake up gently

Skip the jarring, blaring alarm clock, and wake up to something you enjoy. I open my eyes to a simulated sunrise and soothing bird chirping sounds. It’s made a difference in how I feel each morning. And try to find an extra few minutes before jumping out of bed to think about the good that lies ahead in your day. Start your day with positive feelings whenever you can.

3. Do coffee right

Or tea. Sipping on a warm caffeinated beverage can be a nice way to ease into your day. And both coffee and tea are associated with less risk of Type 2 diabetes and likely have heart health benefits, too. But sip smartly. For the sake of your weight, blood sugar, and heart, avoid extra calories, added sugars and saturated fats. Instead of syrups and heavy cream, add a splash of milk and a non-caloric sweetener.

4. Eat a health-boosting breakfast

It’s good to sit down to a nourishing meal, but even if you’re on the go, pick wholesome foods. Let this first meal of the day fuel you for a positive and productive morning. Eat favorite foods that fill you with both protein and fiber. For a leisurely breakfast at home, try savory oats topped with greens and an egg. Or enjoy a Greek yogurt and fruit parfait. If you’re on the run, grab a couple of hard-boiled eggs, half of a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread, and some fresh fruit. If you eat breakfast at work, steer clear of the typical sugar bombs like donuts, pastries, and your officemate’s candy dish. Instead, bring overnight oats with whatever fruit is in season. Say no to the sugar, and jazz up your oats with stevia or a sugar-free honey alternative and cinnamon.

5. Get some exercise

Morning is my favorite time to exercise because it gives me time to think about my day and what I want to accomplish. And I feel terrific starting my work or chores knowing that I already did something good for myself. Sadly, only one-third of adults get the recommended minimum amount of exercise each week, and a mere 5% of adults get 30 minutes of physical activity daily. Now really, it doesn’t matter if you exercise in the morning or later on. But each morning, do commit to exercising at some point during the day – even if you can find just a few minutes. Every time you exercise, you do your body good. Physical activity is good for controlling blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. It’s also good for the muscles, joints and bones. Exercise can lift your mood and help you sleep better, too.

Conclusion

Make changes to start your day in ways that support your goals. Give yourself the gifts of time, nourishment and joy. Healthy morning routines will kickstart your day.

Sources:

Muscle Recovery: Essential to Workouts

muscle recovery

This article about muscle recovery was written by Nate Martins on November 9, 2018. Originally published on HVMN, adapted for use here on Loreeebee.

The moment every athlete wants to avoid.

POP!

A muscle gives at the gym or on the track, leading to weeks of rehab. Sometimes it’s not even a single moment, but rather, countless hours of overuse that leads a muscle to strain or tear.

To avoid rehab, athletes need to be thinking about pre-hab. Get ahead of an injury before it happens.

Muscle recovery should be part of every training plan (specifically post-workout). But there are multiple strategies athletes can employ that lead to muscle health–even things like diet can impact how your muscles recover. Knowing what to do, and when to do it, can help avoid the injuries that’ll set you back weeks.

Why is Muscle Recovery Important?

An important goal of every training session is to break down muscle. Without recovery, a significant portion of that work might be a waste of time. So, what exactly happens during recovery? That’ll depend on the person and activity, but generally, four different things are happening while you’re resting.

Synthesis of protein: This is what leads to muscle growth. During recovery is when most muscle is built, because muscle protein synthesis increases by 50% four hours after a workout (like resistance training).1

Rebuilding of muscle fibers: Microtears in muscle fibers are a normal part of exercise, happening when we put strain on our muscles. Recovery allows these fibers to heal and become stronger during that process.

Fluid restoration: We sweat (and lose a lot of fluid through exhaled air).2 Hydrating before, during and after a workout is important, because these fluids help deliver nutrients to organs and muscle through the bloodstream.

Removal of metabolic waste products: Acids (via that pesky little proton associated with lactate) accumulate during a workout, and recovery gives the body time to restore intramuscular pH and reestablish intramuscular blood flow for oxygen delivery (among other things).

While you’re resting, your muscles kick into overdrive.

Recovery can be attacked several ways–some may be surprising, because they don’t directly target the muscles themselves. By approaching recovery through a few different avenues, it can be optimized.Results-driven training guides

Consuming Your Way to Recovery

It may not seem obvious, but a combination of hydration, diet, and supplements can do wonders for the muscles.

  Hydration, before and after exercise

Drinking fluids is a mantra repeated by coaches everywhere for good reason: muscles are 75% water.

Before and during exercise, hydration is key to maintaining fluid balance and can even improve endurance (it’s equally important to not over-consume water as well).3,4 But post-workout, consuming enough water is vital to helping digest essential nutrients and repairing damaged muscle.

The sought after protein resynthesis requires muscles be well-hydrated. And coupled with post-workout eating, saliva–which is comprised mostly of water–is necessary to help break down food, digest, and absorb all the nutrients you’re hoping to receive. In one study, adequate hydration after a 90-minute run on a treadmill showed significantly faster heart rate recovery;5 this illustrates that hydrated bodies recover from exercise-induced stress faster.

Don’t rely on the age-old test of urine to determine if you’re hydrated; that has been debunked.6

A good rule of thumb is to weigh yourself before and after a workout, drinking 1.5x the amount of weight lost.

  Diet: Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat All Work Together

Nailing the right nutrition strategy post-workout can encourage quicker recovery, reduce soreness, build muscle, improve immunity and replenish glycogen.

Your next workout starts within the hour your last workout ended.

Since exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein,7 it’s beneficial to consume an adequate amount of protein after a workout. Protein provides the body with necessary amino acids needed to repair and rebuild, while also promoting the development of new muscle tissue.8

Good sources of protein include: whey protein, whole eggs, cheese and smoked salmon.

Carbohydrates have a similarly important effect–they replenish glycogen stores. The type of exercise will depend on how much carbohydrate is needed. Consuming about 0.5 – 0.7 grams of carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight within 30 minutes of training can result in adequate glycogen resynthesis.7 Insulin secretion promotes glycogen synthesis, and is more stimulated when carbs and protein are consumed simultaneously.9

Carb sources are everywhere; but look to slow-release sources such as sweet potatoes, fruit, pasta and rice.

Fat shouldn’t be the main focus of an after workout meal, but should be part of it. Good fat sources include avocados and nuts. Milk is also a popular choice; one study found whole milk was more effective at promoting muscle growth than skim milk.10

  Supplements: Protein, BCAAs and Omega-3s Build Muscle and Reduce Inflammation

While most athletes think protein is best left to bodybuilders, protein can repair the muscle damage that occurs during a workout, reduce the response from the “stress hormone” cortisol, and speed up glycogen replacement. Protein also accelerates the resolution of muscle inflammation.11,12

Whey, casein and soy are some of the most popular proteins. Whey is absorbed the fastest by the body, and is largely considered the most effective protein for muscle protein synthesis.13 Casein protein is geared more toward long-term recovery because it takes hours to absorb. Try introducing whey immediately post-workout, while using casein protein before bed; protein ingestion before sleep has been shown to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.14

Serious athletes should be taking about one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.

If someone doesn’t consume enough protein, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) can be a useful supplement.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. During exercise, the body breaks down protein into amino acids; those are absorbed and transported through the body to create new proteins that encourage building muscle. BCAAs help enhance muscle protein recovery by introducing more amino acids into the body. They preserve muscle glycogen stores, which fuel the muscles and minimize protein breakdown. Studies show BCAAs as effective for muscle recovery (as well as immune system regulation).15

Omega-3s, found in fish oils, have anti-inflammatory properties that help sore muscles.16 Astaxanthin oil (a powerful antioxidant) fights against the buildup of free radicals, and Vitamins K and D to protect bone health.17,18,19

Resting Your Way to Recovery

Rest should be accounted for in any training program. On its face, sleep should be the easiest way to recover. One study found that lack of sleep can lead to muscle degradation.23 But many find it difficult to get the ideal seven-to-nine hours per night.

Sleep improves other facets of health that tangentially affect muscle recovery; the central nervous system (CNS) also recuperates during sleep, which is important for muscles, because the CNS triggers muscle contractions and reaction time. Hormones like cortisol and testosterone, which produce protein synthesis, are also working while we sleep.

To help optimize sleep, it’s important to set a routine.

Our screens can negatively impact sleep,24 so 60 – 90 minutes of screenless time before bed can do wonders. The blue light emitted from our devices tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime and we need to be awake, decreasing our natural melatonin.

It’s also important to create an optimal environment for sleep. Things like blackout curtains, a cooler temperature setting in the bedroom, or a quality mattress can all encourage better, more restful sleep.

Rest Days: Muscles Don’t Take Breaks, But You Should

On a much smaller scale, what’s happening during sleep is also happening on rest days. Work rest days into your training program because they give the body time to repair tissues that have been broken down.25

Depleted muscle energy stores, micro-tears, fluid loss–all the things that happen during a workout need time to recuperate and grow stronger. Recovery time depends on your specific routine. Runners can have an especially difficult time doing this. For highly active runners who log miles six days per week, they should also incorporate recovery runs. About half of these runs should be at recovery pace, a slower less-strenuous pace that allows the body to recycle lactate as it’s produced. By increasing blood flow, recovery runs may actually accelerate the recovery process.

Also try to avoid intense workouts or hard runs on back-to-back days. Complete rest days vary by person, but a good goal is one or two rest days every week or ten days. Injury-prone athletes may increase the number of complete rest days during this period.

Techniques & Exercises for Muscle Recovery

Let’s get into the specifics of what you can do to help the body recover faster. By using exercises targeted at certain muscles, not only will those muscles recover faster–they’ll also get stronger in the process.

Active Recovery: Getting Stronger and Building Muscle

This type of recovery focuses on exercise intensity at low-to-moderate levels. Studies have shown that it’s best for the performance of endurance athletes.26 Active recovery is successful mostly due to its ability to more rapidly remove blood lactate, facilitating blood flow and giving the body the ability to process excess lactate produced during periods of intense exercise.27

Cross-training is also a great way to engage in active recovery while enhancing aerobic fitness without putting the body through the same stress as your normal workouts. Try:

  • Cycling: The motion is similar to running without the joint impact. Ride at an easy pace in the low-intensity zone (around 120 – 140 heart rate)
  • Yoga: A beginner’s class should do just fine. Practicing basic yoga through online videos is sufficient, using poses such as sun salutation (to boost circulation and release tightness) and warriors one and two (to activate thigh and calf muscles while helping stretch hips)
  • Plyometrics: Even 15 – 30 minutes of bodyweight exercises can help boost circulation while stretching muscles. They’ve even been shown to increase sprint performance.28 Try exercises like planks, calf raises and lunges

Ice Baths: Taking the Plunge

Some athletes and coaches swear by ice baths, with trainers mandating post-practice cold water immersion (CWI). They consider ice baths essential to helping tired muscles, and feeling better for the next intense training sessions.

The idea here is that cold therapy constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, reducing swelling and tissue breakdown, flushing metabolic debris from the muscle.

But one study showcased that the “hypothesized physiological benefits surrounding CWI are at least partly placebo related.”29 This suggests that if you think ice baths help, then they may have a beneficial impact on recovery and subsequent training.

If you’d like to try an ice bath, fill a tub or large container with water, enough to submerge your hips. Add enough ice so the temperature of the water drops to about 55 degrees. Then sit in the bath for about 15 minutes.

Stretching & Foam Rolling: Increase Range of Motion

Stretching is important both before and after a workout because exercise can shorten muscles, decreasing mobility. Stretching helps flexibility, allowing muscles and joints to work in their full range of motion.30 One study found that hamstring flexibility led to increased muscle performance.31

Post-workout stretches are often forgotten by athletes in a rush, but it’s essential to account for these stretches in a training schedule. Generally, it’s best to hold stretches for about 30 seconds and repeat each once or twice. Target these muscles, which usually take a beating from a variety of workouts:

  • Piriformis
  • Chest and Anterior Deltoids
  • Hamstrings
  • Lats
  • Quads
  • Lower Back

Complementary to stretching, foam rollers help sore muscles,32 and they can be used on almost every muscle in the body.

Our muscles go through a constant state of breakdown, then repair. Fascia, the connective tissue surrounding our muscles, gets thick and short over time because the body is attempting to protect itself from more damage. Sometimes, trigger points form–sore spots, caused by fascia contraction, need release.

Ultimately, this affects range of movement and causes soreness.

Foam rolling (called myofascial release) can help release those muscular trigger points, and as one study found, can lead to overall improvement in athletic performance.33 The result is decreased muscle and joint pain, and increased mobility.

Selecting a foam roller depends on your needs; a larger roller can allow you fuller sessions (meaning, if it’s large enough, you can lie on the foam roller and do some great shoulder / upper back workouts). A denser roller will also mean a more intense massage.

Target these often overused areas: glutes, iliotibial band (IT band), lower back, shoulders and sides.

Technology: All the Data You Need

While technology and wearables can’t directly help with recovery, they’re able to gather important data that may inform recovery techniques. Being able to track aspects of training, sleep, heart rate and hydration can provide insight into how the best tackle specificities of recovery.

  • Hydration: Wearables help monitor hydration through different means, but mostly through sensors. Watches can be mounted to the wrist or calf, and other sensors
  • placed in a urinal or toilet to monitor hydration through urine. However, many of these types of devices haven’t been independently validated for accuracy.
  • Training: It seems there are countless devices to measure training. Most use motion data to track training. Similar to hydration wearables though, there isn’t clinical validation for this technology.
  • Heart Rate and Breathing: A smart t-shirt with electrocardiogram (ECG) and breathing sensors, along with an accelerometer is also available. This measures heart rate, heart rate variability, breathing rate, steps, etc.
  • Sleep: Many training devices also can monitor sleep. These devices can illuminate what we don’t know happens during our sleep, and can also showcase our sleeping patterns to help us understand why we may be waking up so tired. Some are especially responsive to monitoring sleep, and have been validated through a third-party study.34

Understanding our inputs with data provides us with a way to maximize our outputs and reach peak performance–even in recovery.

Muscle Recovery is the First Step to Better Training

Recovery takes time and dedication; it often gets overlooked in workout schedules because it isn’t accounted for.

Active recovery, sleep, diet, and supplements can be used to kickstart the recovery process and make training more effective.

The best training starts with mindful recovery to help muscles rebuild for the next training session. This, ultimately, can improve training by putting your body in the best position to perform. The process of muscle breakdown happens during exercise; immediately after, the process of muscle restoration and strengthening begins–you could be compromising gainful training by skipping these all-important techniques to help the body rebuild.

Scientific Citations

VO2 Max: Use Oxygen Efficiently

Written by Nate Martins • January 3, 2019. Originally posted on HVMN, adapted for use here on Loreeebee.

VO2 max (V=volume, O2= oxygen) is the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen utilized while exercising. It may seem simple and inherent: you breathe in, you breathe out, you keep the workout going.

The importance of maximal oxygen consumption for exercise and the idea of the VO2 max was brought to the fold by AV Hill, a Nobel Prize winner from Cambridge, in the 1920s. It wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s however, that methodological studies were conducted to gather the accurate physiological elements required for VO2 max measurement of an individual.

Tools to measure VO2 max were created by Henry Taylor and his colleagues over the course of 12+ years at the University of Minnesota lab. Studies were conducted on military draftees who were conscientious objectors. These subjects were essentially at Taylor’s disposal. Over a 12-month timeframe, they exercised for one hour a day, six days a week. Data was obtained using methods that were groundbreaking at the time, but are still used today.

Currently, hundreds of labs all over the world can conduct a VO2 max test. It used to be only elite athletes that had access to these tests but they’ve since become a prevalent benchmark in endurance sport for those at all levels looking to improve their athletic performance.

Why consider testing VO2 max as part of your training? It’s possibly the barometer for aerobic fitness.1

Why Muscles Need Oxygen to Function

Muscles (and all cells) require energy production to function. The energy inside cells comes in the form of ATP. Most of our ATP is created through the breakdown of metabolic substrates (food) using oxygen, resulting in CO2 and water. This means oxygen is really important. As you exercise energy requirements go up, so you need more oxygen.

Oxygen is absorbed into the blood by the lungs. It binds to a special protein called hemoglobin inside red blood cells. It then travels in the blood and is pumped by the heart to the rest of the body, getting released in the tissues (including muscle) where it is used to break down our food to release energy.

The harder we exercise, the more we breathe, and the more our heart pumps. This pumping helps to deliver more oxygen. These are some of the critical factors that influence an individual’s VO2 max.

However, muscles can make energy without oxygen in a process called anaerobic respiration. The only fuel that can be burned anaerobically is a carbohydrate, being converted into a substance called pyruvate through glycolysis and then into lactate via anaerobic metabolism.

Build up of lactic acid happens when production occurs faster than our ability to clear it out. The blood becomes more acidic, which in turn can compromise muscle function.

Clearly, the fuel source is an important factor relating to the amount of oxygen consumed. At higher intensities of exercise, muscles burn mainly carbs and at lower intensities, they burn more fat.2 Burning fat uses more oxygen than burning carbs, but we have more energy stored as fat, so you can keep going for longer when burning without running out of energy. Muscles are like engines that need gas (oxygen and fuel) to function.

What’s Behind a VO2 Max Number?

The maximal rate at which an individual can process oxygen is usually expressed in milliliters of oxygen per minute per kilogram of bodyweight. This is the relative number most often considered a VO2 max. An average, untrained male age 20-29 has a VO2 max of 35 – 40ml/kg. The average, untrained female of the same age has a VO2 max of 27 – 30ml/kg.

You’d imagine endurance athletes, who need to make energy during long periods of aerobic exercise typically have the highest maximal oxygen uptake. Masters of endurance performance, like cyclists and runners, are usually near the top, with more explosive athletes, like weightlifters, near the bottom.4

Elite male runners can have VO2 max values of 85ml/kg; elite female runners can have values of 77ml/kg. Miguel Indurain, who won the Tour de France five times, reported having had a VO2 max of 88 at his prime, with Lance Armstrong at an 85.

Which athletes are at the peak of VO2 Mountain? That’s cross-country skiers. Bjørn Dæhlie, a Norwegian cross-country skier, recorded a VO2 max of 96ml/kg. The result came out of season for Dæhlie, and his physiologist claimed he could have gone over 100ml/kg. He had the record for years but in 2012 was dethroned by another Norwegian, an 18-year-old cyclist named Oskar Svendsen, who reportedly logged a 97.5ml/kg. Remember, these scores don’t appear in peer-reviewed literature, so questions always arise about their accuracy.

Animals have also been tested. Thoroughbred horses have been measured to have a VO2 max score of 180ml/kg, while Siberian huskies who ran the Iditarod notched a whopping 240ml/kg.

How to Find Your VO2 Max

Do you know how many milliliters of oxygen per minute per kilogram of oxygen your body can consume at all-out effort? Probably not. Professional labs (and sometimes training facilities) with exercise physiologists can provide these tests, which are typically conducted by breathing into an oxygen mask while walking on a treadmill for a certain amount of time at a specific pace. The only downside: it’s expensive.

During lab tests, a facemask is placed on subjects to measure the volume and gas concentrations of inhaled and exhaled air. Similar to lactate testing in a sports lab, athletes run on a treadmill (or sometimes use a stationary bike or rowing machine, depending on the sport) and the exercise intensity increases every few minutes until exhaustion (read: you start having tunnel vision, hit the red stop button and collapse into a sweaty heap). The test is designed this way to achieve maximal exercise effort from the subject.

Usually, heart rate is measured through the test so you get data on your resting heart rate all the way up to maximal heart rate. Athletes will receive their ideal heart rate zones for warm-up, aerobic, anaerobic, and uber-tough intervals.

The most valuable of this group might be the heart rate between aerobic and anaerobic exercise: the anaerobic threshold. Training will be geared toward improving this point, at which the body begins to accumulate lactate in the blood.

Similar tests can be replicated outside of labs with less accuracy.

Simple Heart Rate Test

Another way to roughly estimate VO2 max also makes use of heart rate measurement. First, find your resting heart rate. Most fitness trackers can provide this number, but if you don’t have a fitness tracker, you can go old school. Find your pulse and set a timer for 60 seconds, counting the number of beats in a minute.

Then, find your maximum heart rate. This formula might oversimplify things, but it’s effective for the purposes of a loose VO2 max calculation. To find your max heart rate, subtract your age from 220. So, if you’re 30 years old, your maximum heart rate is 190 beats per minute (bpm).

Use this formula to find your simple VO2 max: 15 x (max heart rate / resting heart rate).

For example, if your maximum heart rate is 190 and resting heart rate is 80:

VO2 = 15 x (190/80)

VO2 = 15 x 2.4

VO2 = 36.6

This isn’t the most accurate formula, but it can provide a good starting point for training to improve VO2.

The Rockport Fitness Walking Test (RFWT)

This walking test can also calculate a VO2 max, and studies have proven its accuracy. First, stretch and warm-up. Then, find a track or mostly flat surface on which to walk a mile as fast as possible. It’s important to walk, and not to cross over into jogging territory. After walking exactly one mile, note exactly how long it took and your heart rate at the end of the mile. Using those numbers, you’ll be able to find an estimated VO2 max using this formula:

VO2 max = 132.853 – (0.0769 x W) – (0.3877 x A) + (6.315 x G) – (3.2649 x T) – (0.1565 x H)

W = weight (in pounds)

A = age

G = gender (1 for men, 0 for women)

T = time to complete the mile (in minutes)

H= heart rate

VO2 Max for Cyclists

Power is the golden egg of data for cyclists. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, as it provides some insight into finding a VO2 max when combined with some field testing. Pedal for 20 minutes at a maximum, yet sustainable, effort. Cyclists should monitor their power meters, maintaining consistent intensity while incrementally increasing wattage for the first three minutes until finding a power output that can be maintained for the rest of the test. This should be a wattage similar to high-intensity rides or races. Use this formula to find your VO2 max:

VO2 max = [(10.8 x W) / K] + 7

W = average wattage

K = weight in kilogramsStill searching for that PR?

Improving Your VO2 Max

Two major factors contribute to a high VO2 max: the amount of oxygen you can transport and your muscle physiology. Oxygen transportation includes a strong heart pumping blood through the body, with hemoglobin-dense blood, a high blood volume, and high capillary density in the muscles. Better oxygen transport leads to higher VO2 max. Muscle physiology means how many muscle fibers you have, how big they are, how many mitochondria there are, and how strongly you can activate them during exercise. More aerobic, oxygen-guzzling muscles equals a higher VO2 max.

Similar to lactate training, a training program can be implemented to improve VO2 max and help increase physical fitness, improving the way your body utilizes oxygen. Training is designed to have you spend as much time as possible at 95% – 100% of your current VO2 max.

Limiting factors like gender, genetic makeup, and age all have an impact on an individual VO2 max, but training can always improve this number. Because lactate threshold and VO2 max are linked, check out our blog for additional ways to train with lactate in mind.

A note: since bodyweight is a factor in VO2 max, less body mass will inherently improve your score.5

Interval training often results in the most improvement of VO2 max.6

High-Intensity Training: Long Intervals

If you are good at pacing yourself, sessions made up of long (4 minutes or so) intervals at your hardest sustainable effort are a good way to increase VO2 max. Between each interval, you should keep moving; active recovery will keep VO2 elevated during the process. Plan to do 4-6 sets.

The 4×4 minute workout is a classic in all sports: running, cycling, and rowing research has proven its efficacy.7 First, always remember to warm up properly for at least ten minutes. Then conduct four maximal 1,000-meter runs (or sprint four minutes) at 85% – 95% of your maximum effort with two to three minutes of recovery between each run. For cycling, find a section of road or a climb offering a challenging grade that you can work for 4 minutes. To mix it up you could try alternating between standing and seated efforts each minute

The idea is to save enough energy so that your last set is the hardest intensity. If you are running on a track or watching your power on the bike, ensure you’ll be able to go your hardest on the last set. Pace this right and you should be dreading the last interval. By holding a pace that’s at the upper limit of your ability, you overload your heart, lungs, and muscles, forcing them to adapt to deliver and take up more oxygen.

In one research study, athletes who did a similar workout improved their VO2 maxes by 10%.7 Time to exhaustion, blood volume, vein, and artery function all improved after the training period.

High-Intensity Training: Short Intervals

If you can’t bring yourself to suffer four minutes of near-max intensity, you can go for shorter intervals–but they have to be an even higher intensity to provide a benefit. Short interval sprints of under one minute can also improve VO2 max as long as they’re conducted at almost maximal effort level.

The exercise test here is 8-10 sets of 1-minute sprints. Again, make sure you are properly warmed up–these workouts carry a risk of injury because of the amount of power produced. You have to give it your all during each interval without holding anything back.

From the same study mentioned above, those doing ten sets of one-minute high-intensity sprints on a treadmill at the maximum rate (with a 1-minute rest in between each interval) increased VO2 max by 3%.7

Time to exhaustion, plasma volume, and hemoglobin mass increased with this routine. However, results demonstrated that long interval training garnered the most dramatic results.

VO2 Max: Training Your Body to Use Oxygen

Being able to use a high volume of oxygen with a high degree of efficiency is one of the best indicators of endurance fitness there out there. Many factors contribute to this measurement, but what it comes down to is training–athletes must train to increase VO2 max.8

Some athletes are better equipped for high VO2 maxes. Runners, cyclists, and rowers sit near the top of the totem pole, but cross-country skiers have typically reigned supreme. Regardless of your sport, a high VO2 can be a great gut check for your fitness level at a physiological level.

Because oxygen is so vital to our muscle function, we should be adept at using it efficiently. Training, backed by science

Scientific Citations

Tryptophan in Turkey: Does it Make You Tired?

tryptophan

Written by Nate Martins • November 20, 2018. Originally published on HVMN, adapted for use on Loreeebee

Forks no longer clang against plates. Conversation lulls. Chairs scrape against the floor as family members make their way from kitchen table to Lazy-Z-Boy. The Thanksgiving feast is over. Now, eyelids drowse. Everyone starts to fall asleep, wine glasses are half full, football commentators hum in the background, crumbs stuck to mustaches flutter in the rhythm of each hot, heavy breath. Is this your Thanksgiving meal aftermath? Maybe your astute, know-it-all cousin points out that tryptophan, present in turkey (and many other foods) is causing everyone to fall asleep by 6pm.

You can tell them that’s just a myth. Tryptophan isn’t the reason your living room looks like a kindergarten nap time, it’s all the other stuff you’re eating alongside it.

What is Tryptophan?

It’s an amino acid. Amino acids form the building blocks of protein, the main structural and functional compound in the body. Tryptophan is one of nine essential amino acids, meaning it cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained directly through food.

This amino acid plays a part in some vital, bodily processes. It helps regulate nitrogen balance in adults and growth in infants. It also is important for the production of creating niacin which is essential for creating serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter associated with sleep and melatonin levels. This is where the villainization of turkey comes in. But tryptophan isn’t just in turkey; it’s also in other high-protein foods. In fact, many foods such as seeds, cheese, and soybeans, have more than turkey.

You’re Tired Because

You overate.

Yes, turkey can make you drowsy. But the other foods that contain tryptophan in high amounts don’t get the same bad rap as turkey. So what’s causing the sleepiness?

Really it’s mixing tryptophan-rich turkey with other carbohydrates–like, say, mashed potatoes and stuffing and bread and pie–that is to blame.

Consuming carbs triggers insulin release, which causes uptake of other types of amino acids into the muscles (but not tryptophan). This means that tryptophan levels are higher than usual, especially relative to other amino acids. Normally amino acids compete with one another for uptake into the brain, but when tryptophan is present at higher-than-usual amounts, more of it gets in.

Without competition, the floodgates open, allowing more and more tryptophan to enter the brain. From there it’s used to produce serotonin and eventually, melatonin.1 Any big meal containing tryptophan and lots of carbohydrates can induce drowsiness. And of course, other factors, like drinking alcohol, can also play a role in that sleepiness.

Even if you ate a large meal without any tryptophan, you’ll likely still be tired–especially if it’s rich in carbohydrates.2,3,4 Large portions of food force the body to digest, which requires significant energy use. You’ll get the signal from your brain to chill out while your gut kicks into overdrive. This feeling is likely unavoidable because the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for telling your heart to beat and your lungs to breathe) automatically triggers this process, informally known as “rest and digest.”

Tryptophan may play a role in post-meal tiredness, but it’s largely everything else you ate putting you into a food coma.

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Keto Diet Fundamentals

Keto Diet Fundamentals was Authored by Dr. Brianna Stubbs and Nate Martins on January 2, 2019, and adapted for posting on Loreeebee.

You’ve heard of the keto diet. Everyone from Lebron James to the Kardashians has used the low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet for reasons like performance and weight loss.

The goal of the keto diet is to get the body producing ketones– a fundamentally different energy source than the carbohydrates and fats your cells typically use for energy. It can take several days of ketogenic eating before the body starts to produce ketones. And the time it takes to get into ketosis varies between individuals. “Keto” comes from the word “ketogenic.” This is a nuanced term meaning that the body is producing ketones from fat.1 When blood ketone levels exceed 0.5mM, the body has achieved ketosis. So ketosis can be achieved either through diet or fasting (meaning the body is producing its own ketones to be ketogenic) or also by consuming products that raise blood ketone levels.

Limiting carb intake and protein intake encourages the body to burn fat–and thus produce ketones. Importantly, restricting proteins as well as carbohydrates limits the amount of substrate available for gluconeogenesis. This is the process of making glucose from non-glucose molecules such as lactate, glycerol, or protein.

Because the ketogenic diet is low-carbohydrate, it often gets confused with other low-carb diets out there. Just because a diet is low-carb doesn’t mean it’s keto. Its subtle differences in the macronutrients provided in the diet determine if the diet is ‘ketogenic.’

A macronutrient is something humans consume in large quantities to provide the bulk of energy to the body. The primary macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. For a diet to be ketogenic, it must be high in fat, low-moderate in protein, and very low in carbohydrates.

Here are some helpful definitions of diets with an element of reduced carbohydrate intake:

Ketogenic Diet

  • The aim is to trigger the production of ketones in the body
  • High fat, low/moderate protein, and low carbohydrate

Low-Calorie Ketogenic Diet

  • The aim is to severely restrict calories to a level below the basic metabolic needs (i.e., <800 kCal)
  • Even if this diet is relatively high in carbohydrates, the calorie deficit created can still lead to a state of ketosis
  • Not sustainable long-term

Low-Carbohydrate Diet

  • Defined in medical literature as a diet with < 30% energy from carbohydrates2
  • May not lead to ketosis as the carbohydrate and protein intake could be too high

Atkins Diet

  • This diet has several phases
  • Initially, the aim is to restrict the carbohydrate intake to less than 20g per day. This degree of restriction is likely to lead to ketosis, although this is not an explicit aim
  • Subsequently, the diet reintroduces carbohydrates to a level “the body can tolerate”3
  • Less restriction on protein compared to a ‘true ketogenic diet–high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate.

Paleo Diet

  • The aim is to limit the diet to foods that would have been available to Paleolithic man4
  • Wide variability in interpretations
  • Foods allowed include vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, and meat
  • Foods excluded include dairy, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, alcohol, and coffee
  • No structured macronutrient target; however, following a Paleo diet results in higher protein and fat consumption than an average diet

Now you have a grasp of what makes the ketogenic diet unique–but where’d it start?

Fasting and Early Pioneers of the Ketogenic Diet

The concept of fasting (taking in zero calories) predates the ketogenic diet as we now understand it. Many of the benefits of fasting are likely due to the presence of ketones in the body.

Since the earliest days of man, fasting has been used as a tool to physically and spiritually cleansing.

The Bible describes fasting as a treatment for convulsions. The ancient Greek philosopher Hippocrates said, “To eat when you are sick is to fuel your sickness.”

Early advocates of fasting were obviously unaware of ketosis as a crucial factor in the anticonvulsant effect of fasting. In the early 1900s, physicians at the Mayo Clinic observed a link between a low-carb diet and fasting. They discovered that severely restricting dietary carbohydrates and increasing fat intake could decrease seizures in the same way as fasting.5 It was not until the mid-1900s, when scientists could measure ketones, that we understood fasting led to the presence of ketones in the body.

Epilepsy was not the only disease historically treated with a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Low-carbohydrate diets were also advocated for patients with diabetes and obesity. Before the discovery of insulin in 1921, diabetes was managed through carbohydrate restriction. William Banting, an obese British mortician, popularized the weight loss benefits of a diet “stripped of starchy foods” in a pamphlet called “Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public.”

The Dark Ages for the Ketogenic Diet

To many, a low-carbohydrate and high-fat diet is a counter-intuitive approach to support health. There is a widespread fear dietary fat is linked to obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and other associated health complications.

In 1953 Ancel Keys, an American biochemist published an epidemiological study that introduced the “diet-heart” hypothesis. The study claimed dietary fat was a key risk factor in developing heart disease. The “diet-heart” hypothesis proposed blood LDL and cholesterol derived from dietary fat accelerates the development of atherosclerotic plaques.6This led to radical changes in global food policy and public practice. In 1977, the USDA Dietary Goals for Americans recommended a decrease in dietary fat intake, and a diet based on grains and cereals.7

At the time, there was still no clinical evidence supporting Keys’ “diet-heart” hypothesis. Subsequent large trials, including the Framingham Study and Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial, failed to illustrate decreasing dietary fat lowered the risk of heart disease.8,9

Obesity rose following the adoption of the USDA guidelines. Some investigators hypothesized that increased dietary carbohydrates were responsible for the developing health crisis. John Yudkin, a British physiologist, and nutritionist, described this phenomenon in his book “Pure, White and Deadly”10–the widespread fear of dietary fats caused scientists and nutritionists to overlook the role of sugar and starch.

Resurgence of ‘Low-Carbohydrate’ Diets

‘Low-fat’ dieting was widespread in the late 1900s. During this time, Dr. Robert Atkins became an infamous spokesperson for the keto diet. Dr. Atkins brought his version of the ketogenic diet to the masses in his 1972 book “Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution.” In his 40 years of practice, Dr. Atkins treated an estimated 60,000 patients for obesity and related conditions. At that time, there were no clinical studies to validate the benefits of the diet. Many patients reported side effects while starting the diet, including fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, and nausea. This uncomfortable induction phase was labeled the ‘Atkins Flu.’

After Atkins’ death in 2003, others started to promote the ketogenic diet for health. The Atkins Foundation recently funded a group of scientists to study the effects of the Atkins diet formally. This group of scientists includes Jeff Volek, Stephen Phinney, and Dr. Eric Westman. They discovered that the Atkins diet outperformed a diet based on the 1977 USDA guidelines with respect to measured coronary risk factors, including decreased low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol and total blood saturated FFA alongside increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.11 This outcome may be due to the decrease in carbohydrate and concomitant changes in the hormonal milieu, or due to effects of ketone bodies on substrate metabolism.

The pendulum of public perception began to swing in favor of diets higher in fat, thanks to the emergence of influential writers and speakers such as Gary Taubes, Robert Lustig, and Nina Teicholtz, and clinicians and scientists such as Professor Tim Noakes, Dr. Jason Fung, and Professor Thomas Seyfried. The work of these individuals exposed flaws in the ‘diet-heart hypothesis.’

These influencers helped expose corruption in the political decisions that resulted in the last decades of vilification of dietary fat. Evidence illustrating the role of high dietary carbohydrate intake in the development of obesity and diabetes has started to grow. Much of the recent research suggests that low-fat diets may be harmful to health. This culminated with a recent meta-analysis of data from 18 countries, which linked increases in carbohydrate intake with increases in mortality.12 

The fear of fat has continued to reverse. Over the last few years, the ketogenic diet has grown in popularity. Popular culture is starting to recognize and adopt the keto diet, and online searches have grown. More and more doctors now encourage and prescribe the ketogenic diet to treat metabolic disorders and obesity. Large online communities bring thousands of people together to discuss research, share keto diet before and after photos, and encourage each other. 

Keto Diet for Weight Loss

The ketogenic diet can be used to help with weight loss and also to treat some diseases (discussed in detail elsewhere). Recently, the number of positive keto diet reviews has increased. The rising popularity of the diet has led to a demand for further randomized control trials to study its long-term efficacy. A key reason why the ketogenic diet helps weight loss is that it decreases hunger. This makes it easier to maintain a calorie deficit. It is important to stress that the overconsumption of calories will prevent weight loss regardless of the macronutrient composition. You may be doing keto wrong.

There’s a ton of misinformation out there about the keto diet. We’re on top of the scientific literature. Be the first to read our commentary on the research by subscribing to HVMN.

Macronutrient Composition of a Keto Diet

Macronutrients are food groups that humans consume in large quantities. They provide the bulk of the energy to the body. The primary macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The macronutrient composition of a diet can be described using the mass of each macronutrient, the ratio of macronutrients in the diet, or the percentage of each macronutrient in the diet. The variety of descriptions can make things a little confusing! 

For example:

  • A ketogenic diet contains about 5% of energy as carbohydrates. 
  • A ketogenic diet has a ratio of 2-4g of fat to every 1g of carbohydrates plus proteins.
  • A classical ketogenic diet contains 20-30g of carbohydrate per day

Examples of food rich in:

  1. Carbohydrates: bread, pasta, potatoes, cereals, sugary food (sweets). 
  2. Fat: oils (olive oil, coconut oil), butter, fatty cuts of meat, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, avocado.
  3. Protein: beef, chicken, pork, fish, milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs.

Carbohydrates

The main function of dietary carbohydrates (‘carbs’) is to be a source of energy. Some say that dietary carbohydrates are not ‘essential’ as they can be made from dietary protein and fat.13 

Carbohydrates are biological molecules that contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, usually with a 2:1 ratio of hydrogen to oxygen. Carbohydrates occur as a collection of single units (monosaccharides, e.g. glucose), two molecules joined (disaccharides, e.g. sucrose), and chains of molecules (oligosaccharides and polysaccharides).

When following a ketogenic diet, the carbohydrate intake should be very low. This contrasts with the modern western diet, where most dietary calories come from carbohydrates. Consuming carbohydrates causes insulin release, which inhibits ketone production in the liver and thus ketosis. Therefore, monitoring and modulating your carbohydrate intake is an important part of following the ketogenic diet.

When you’re following the ketogenic diet, key concepts are the total amount of carbohydrates, the ‘net’ amount of carbohydrates (accounting for the accompanying fiber), and the speed with which carbohydrates raise blood glucose (glycemic index).

With a standard ketogenic diet, it’s recommended to keep the total amount of carbohydrates limited to less than 5% of energy intake.15 See the table above for a calculation of the advised carbohydrate intake grams for a 2000 kCal per day 4:1 ketogenic diet.

Dietary fiber is carbohydrate-based material from plants that is not entirely broken down by the small intestine. Instead, it passes to the large intestine, and either undergoes fermentation (which supports the growth of beneficial bacteria),16 or excretion. 

Fiber is a significant part of a well-formulated ketogenic diet. It helps to maintain gut health, and also increases food bulk, and helps with the feeling of ‘fullness.’ Green and cruciferous vegetables are rich in fiber and are helpful to include in a ketogenic diet. Digestion-resistant fiber does not contribute to calorie intake, as it is not broken down.

Net carbs refer to the mass of total carbohydrates, minus the total fiber, which could be a better metric to judge carbohydrate intake because:

  • Fiber is mostly digestion-resistant and so should not increase blood glucose.16
  • Studies have shown an increase in fiber does not affect blood ketone levels.17

Proteins 

Proteins are large molecules composed of chains of amino acids. The functions of dietary protein are:

  • Building structural and functional components of cells
  • Conversion to glucose via gluconeogenesis
  • Top up intermediates in other metabolic pathways, such as the Krebs Cycle

While it is possible for a protein to be used as a fuel, this isn’t its primary function.

When following a ketogenic diet, there must be a balance of sufficient protein to maintain muscle mass. If dietary protein exceeds 20-25% of calories, gluconeogenesis from protein can stop ketone production. Initially, target a protein intake of 0.8-1.2g per kilogram of body weight. This target balances the need for protein against the chance of excess gluconeogenesis.18

Some individuals (such as strength or endurance athletes) may have higher protein requirements. They might require a modified ketogenic macronutrient ratio of 2:1 fat:non-fat (where 65% of energy is fat, 30% is protein, and 5% carbohydrate) and can still be effective for therapeutic ketosis.

Fats

Fat gets a bad rap. In nutrition, fat is the dietary macronutrient made up of triglyceride molecules. The main functions of fats in the diet are to provide increased energy levels and make up key functional and structural parts of the human system.

But we often misuse the word “fat.” There’s a difference between fat in cells and different types of fat molecules:

  • Adipose tissue: the tissue that stores energy as fats/lipid droplets inside adipocytes (fat cells). This is body fat
  • Adipocytes: individual cells that store fats/lipids
  • Lipids: the most general term for insoluble and polar biological fat molecules. The lipid class of molecules includes mono-, di- and triglycerols, cholesterols, and phospholipids
  • Triglycerides: a lipid molecule made up of glycerol (that acts as a backbone) joined to three fatty acid molecules
  • Fatty acids: a molecule composed of a chain of carbon atoms bonded to one another with a carboxylic acid at one end

To be specific, our diet includes many sources of lipids. Lipids are digested and travel in the blood as triglycerides and fatty acids before being used as a fuel, or stored by adipocytes in adipose tissue. Dietary lipids undergo many tightly regulated metabolic steps before storage in adipose tissue. Dietary fat does not equal stored body fat.

Triglycerides are the most important source of energy in a ketogenic diet. They account for > 70% of dietary calories. For those following a ketogenic diet, it’s helpful to understand how the lipid source in the diet is processed in the body.

Fatty acids can be saturated (no double bonds between carbons), or unsaturated (one or more double bonds between carbons). Saturated fats are relatively stable and tend to be solid at room temperature (i.e. lard, butter, coconut oil). Historical guidelines recommended limiting the intake of dietary saturated fats because fat consumption was thought to be associated with heart disease and high blood pressure. However, emerging research has shown saturated fat can have beneficial effects on blood biomarkers (i.e. increase ‘healthy’ HDL levels).12

Unsaturated fatty acids can be further divided into monounsaturated fats (only one double bond between carbons) and polyunsaturated fats (multiple double bonds between carbons). The number of double bonds is important as it determines how the fatty acid behaves both inside and outside of the body. They tend to be liquid at room temperature (i.e. vegetable-based fats such as olive oil). Unsaturated fats are thought of as healthier than saturated fats (also known as “healthy fats”). Increased consumption of mono- and polyunsaturated fats have been linked to improved blood biomarkers (i.e. lower blood triglycerides).19 Eating enough unsaturated fats is important when following a ketogenic diet.

Increased fat consumption is not associated with cardiovascular disease.20Eating a moderate amount of saturated fat is unlikely to be as harmful as previously believed, and saturated fat consumption as part of a ketogenic diet is unlikely to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Trans-fats are produced artificially when hydrogen is added to unsaturated fatty acids in order to solidify them and make them last longer. Because of associations with poor health outcomes, these artificial fats had their generally regarded as safe (GRAS) status removed in 2015 by the FDA. 21 Avoid high levels of trans-fat consumption by eating a diet based around whole foods.

Essential fatty acids are important to include in the diet because the body cannot naturally produce them. This group includes poly-unsaturated omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9 fatty acids. It’s believed the anti-inflammatory effects of essential fatty acids may have broad benefits for health and performance. Oily fish, such as sardines and mackerel, and seeds (i.e. flax) are good dietary sources of essential fatty acids.

The number of carbons in the fatty acid chain also has an important effect on its metabolism. The carbon chain of fatty acids can be up to 28 carbons atoms long. If there are > 13 carbons in the fatty acid, it is called a long-chain fatty acid, between 8-12 is a medium-chain fatty acid, and under 5 carbons is a short-chain fatty acid.

The body metabolizes fats differently according to chain length. Long-chain fatty acids are absorbed and go from the gut into the lymphatic drainage system and from there are released directly into the blood. By comparison, medium- and short-chain fatty acids do not go into the lymphatic system. They travel in the blood from the gut directly to the liver.22 If a large amount of these short- and medium-chain fats are delivered to the liver at once, this can trigger the liver to convert them into ketones, even without dietary carbohydrate restriction.

Medium-chain fatty acids are highly ketogenic. They can be found in natural sources such as coconut oil or in an artificially purified form. However, for many people, consuming a high amount of medium-chain fatty acids can cause an upset stomach. This limits their use to raise ketones artificially.

When integrating these concepts into a ketogenic diet: target the majority of dietary calories as fat. Aim to include a variety of fats from different animal and plant sources (i.e. red meat, poultry, fish, dairy, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, and avocados).

Conversely, micronutrients must be obtained in the diet in small quantities, but are essential to health. Vitamins and minerals are examples of micronutrients.

Micronutrients in a Ketogenic Diet

When following a ketogenic diet, it is important to be mindful of micronutrient intake because:

  • Reducing carbohydrate intake can lower consumption of micronutrient-rich foods (i.e. fruits and vegetables)
  • In the initial 28 days of following a ketogenic diet, the balance of some micronutrients (such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium) can become disturbed due to an increase in their excretion.23 The body resolves this issue naturally after adapting to the diet

Sodium is the principal cation in extracellular fluid. Its functions are related to blood volume maintenance, water balance, and cell membrane potential. Sodium is also essential for acid-base balance and nerve conduction.

The level of sodium can fall at the start of a ketogenic diet. Adding extra sodium to meals (like adding salt or consuming bouillon/ bone broth) can reduce the chances of feeling the common side effects associated with low sodium (like cramps).

Potassium is the principal cation in the intracellular fluid. Its primary functions are related to maintaining cell membrane potential and electrical activity in cells such as neurons and cardiomyocytes. As with sodium, levels of potassium fall at the initiation of a ketogenic diet due to increased excretion. When starting a ketogenic diet, include sources of potassium like nuts, dark green vegetables, and avocados.

Magnesium is an essential element in biological systems, especially for nerve, muscle, and immune function. Levels of magnesium also fall at the initiation of a ketogenic diet due to increased excretion. When starting a ketogenic diet, include sources of magnesium like oily fish, dark green vegetables, and seeds.

Calcium has a role in muscle contraction and is important for cardiovascular and bone health. Calcium deficiency is less common during a ketogenic diet, as staples of the diet such as fish, cheese, and leafy greens are rich sources of the mineral.

Now that an understanding of the biology of the ketogenic diet has been reached, we’ve arrived at the fun part: how to start the keto diet.

Keto Diet for Weight Loss

There’s a growing consensus that the keto diet can help with weight loss. The rising popularity of the diet has led to a demand for further randomized control trials to study its long-term efficacy. The ketogenic diet helps weight loss because it decreases hunger. This makes it easier to maintain a calorie deficit. It is important to stress that the overconsumption of calories will prevent weight loss, regardless of the macronutrient composition.

How to Start a Ketogenic Diet

Don’t try to start the diet gradually. If carbohydrate intake is moderately-low, blood sugar levels may not be enough to fuel the brain, and the presence of carbohydrates in the diet might still be enough to stop the body from making ketones.

The main objectives when starting the ketogenic diet are to:

  • Restrict carbohydrates to 20 digestible grams per day or less – a strict low-carb diet
  • Consume plenty of fiber
  • Restrict protein to moderate levels. If possible, stay at or below 0.45 grams of protein per day, per lb of body weight (1g/kg). So about 70 grams of protein per day if you weigh ~155 lbs (~70kg). If your goal is to lose weight, aim for 1 gram of protein per kg of your target weight
  • Consume fat until you are satiated

Tips for Starting the Ketogenic Diet

  • Make a keto diet menu. It’s a good idea to keto meal plan before starting the diet. Make a shopping trip to stock up on a range of foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in fat
  • Use an app to track macronutrient intake. Apps such as My Fitness Pal are great to get an idea of the macronutrients in common foods. There is also a range of special online keto diet calculators
  • Search for a few keto recipes to adapt cooking methods. Due to the high-fat consumption required to get into ketosis, it may be beneficial to change daily staples or cooking methods. Keep an eye out for coconut oil, heavy cream, and lots of cheese
  • Make an approved list of keto foods and eliminate carbohydrate-rich foods. It will be easier to follow the diet by throwing out any foods to avoid. It’s recommended to check the labels for hidden added sugars
  • Consider starting the ketogenic diet within a short period (16-36 hours) of fasting (consuming zero calories). Fasting depletes carbohydrate stores and can accelerate ketone production.
  • Gentle cardio exercise (~30 minutes) or some short high-intensity intervals (10-second sprints) can deplete carbohydrate stores and speed up ketone production

Cyclical Ketogenic Dieting and ‘Cheating’

At the moment, there is not a clear answer as to whether the benefits of the ketogenic diet can be achieved by cycling on and off the diet. It’s best to stick to the diet for 1-2 months minimum to see benefits. It can take several days to get into ketosis1 and 3-6 weeks to become “fat adapted.”18

Some research indicates ~40 days on the ketogenic diet interspersed with periods of healthy eating with more carbohydrates (Mediterranean diet) could maintain weight loss.24

“Cheating,” and consuming high-carbohydrate food, quickly stops ketone production by the liver. It can then take a considerable amount of time for the body to get back into ketosis. Time taken to get back into ketosis will depend on many factors. These include the number of carbohydrates consumed, how adapted the body is to produce ketones, activity level, etc.

However, cyclical ketogenic diets are a promising area of scientific investigation. Recently, scientists studied the effect of long-term cycling of the ketogenic diet (one week on, one week off the diet) compared to a normal diet in mice. Cyclical keto dieting reduced mid-life mortality and increased health span.25

Optimal Range of Ketosis

As with all processes in metabolism, the state of ketosis is a spectrum. Past a threshold (which varies from person to person), even a small increase in dietary carbohydrate intake can trigger enough insulin release to take the body out of ketosis.

The level of ketosis required for different physiological benefits is unknown. For endurance sports, a higher level of ketosis (~4 mM) appears to be superior to lower levels.26,27 This is possible because ketones fuel athletes. However, some other benefits of ketosis, such as reduced appetite may be seen at much lower levels (0.5 mM).28 The best way to know if you are in ketosis is to measure the levels of ketones (BHB) in your blood or urine.

Physiological Ketosis

The typical methods used to generate physiological levels of ketosis are fasting, the ketogenic diet, and consuming exogenous ketones.

After an overnight fast, a low amount of ketones (0.1-0.2 mM) can often be detected in the blood. As the time spent fasting increases, blood ketone levels slowly rise until a plateau at 8-10 mM of BHB has been reached after many days. Scientist Hans Krebs described this plateau as “physiological ketosis.”29

Fasting long-term is unsustainable, so following a strict ketogenic diet can be used to maintain a low level of continuous ketosis. Research suggests blood BHB levels between 0.4-1mM can be achieved while following a ketogenic diet.18 Anecdotal evidence suggests it’s sometimes possible to reach higher levels.

Using exogenous ketones can raise blood ketones to a physiological level without the ketogenic diet or fasting. The level of ketosis reached depends on the exogenous ketone supplement used. Reported levels range from 0.6 mM with a ketone salt or a medium-chain triglyceride supplement26,30 and up to 6 mM with HVMN Ketone.27

Pathological Ketosis

Sometimes, the body starts producing ketones as a result of a disease (pathology). This can lead to dangerous levels of ketones in the body, though these high levels are very uncommon in healthy people following the ketogenic diet.

Alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA) is a result of chronic alcohol consumption usually accompanied by malnutrition. AKA is characterized by increased ketone production (levels > 15 mM) via liver alcohol metabolism, in conjunction with a mild elevation in blood glucose levels. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, fatigue, altered breathing, and abdominal pain.31

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) occurs most frequently in patients with type 1 diabetes. DKA is the simultaneous occurrence of high blood ketones (> 20 mM), high blood glucose, and acidification of the blood.31 It develops when insulin is absent, or insulin signaling is no longer functional.

This means the physiological state of starvation is triggered, even in the presence of high blood glucose. As during starvation, lipolysis (fat release) increases. This causes the liver to produce a high amount of ketones and blood pH to fall (as ketones are an organic acid).

As glucose levels are very high, the excess is excreted in the urine. This draws water and electrolytes out of the body, causing dangerous dehydration. Symptoms of DKA include nausea, vomiting, altered breathing, abdominal pain, and unconsciousness. The rapid onset and alarming nature of DKA is a reason why ketosis has a bad stigma in the medical community.

Who Should Avoid a Ketogenic Diet?

Following a ketogenic diet may not be suggested for people with the following medical considerations:

  • Pregnancy
  • Kidney failure
  • Impaired liver function
  • Impaired fat digestion (gallbladder disease, gastric bypass, pancreatitis)

Genetic defects in metabolism (CPTI/II deficiency, beta-oxidation defects, fatty acyl dehydrogenase deficiency)

Potential Side Effects of the Ketogenic Diet

When starting a ketogenic diet there can be a period of 2-3 days where blood glucose levels are low, but ketone production has not reached a sufficient rate to provide enough fuel for the brain. This can result in a series of symptoms known as the keto flu which include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fatigue 
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

Exogenous ketone supplements can be used to reduce symptoms of keto flu. They provide the brain with a source of energy without carbohydrate consumption. These supplements increase the levels of ketones in the blood artificially. Exogenous ketones do not increase the body’s ketone production (called endogenous ketones) and can inhibit32 the release of fatty acids from adipocytes.

It can be initially tricky to adjust food intake to ensure adequate nutrition when following a ketogenic diet. Also, some people find the diet isn’t sustainable due to individual differences in metabolic state or lifestyle. If the diet does not provide the correct balance of macro and micronutrients, some individuals develop other symptoms beyond the keto flu after the adaptation period. These include:

  • Constipation
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty in maintaining physical performance
  • Hair loss
  • Gallstones
  • Elevated blood triglycerides or cholesterol

To treat these symptoms, ensure the diet provides enough calories and micronutrients. Many people reduce fruit and vegetable consumption on a ketogenic diet (due to carbohydrate content). This means it is easy to become deficient in vitamins and to under-consume fiber.

The ketogenic diet can alter the way that the kidneys excrete electrolytes (such as sodium), so electrolyte supplementation can reduce the side effects of an electrolyte imbalance.

Possible Clinical Applications of the Ketogenic Diet and Ketosis

Some of the earliest reports of the ketogenic diet describe its use in a clinical setting.

In the early 20th century, ketogenic diets helped treat drug-resistant epilepsy. Doctors also prescribed ketogenic diets to treat type 1 diabetes before the invention of insulin.

As analytical techniques progressed, scientists learned that ketones themselves might be a crucial part of the success of the ketogenic diet to treat disease. From this finding stemmed a field of research to examine the potential benefits of ketosis in a range of disease states:

  • Weight loss
  • Diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • Neurological disease: epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, migraine, concussive disease, and traumatic brain injury
  • Cancer
  • Inflammatory diseases

While the ketogenic diet is not yet a first-line treatment recommended by doctors for any of these diseases, it’s a relatively easy and tolerable step that patients with these conditions can take to improve their health. Emerging research suggests there may be beneficial effects of ketosis for some people, and further studies are required to confirm how best to use the diet in these clinical settings. Not seeing results from the keto diet?

You’re not alone. Many think they’re in ketosis but aren’t–the newness of the diet leads to misinformation online. HVMN provides the latest science around meal-timing, supplements, and macronutrient composition. Subscribe to HVMN and be the first to know the newest techniques for keto diet results.

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