Going Keto. Do I supplement?
Ok, so this an interesting question and since there are lots and lots of answers to it that seem so solidly sure of themselves, perhaps I should just keep my mouth shut and let sleeping dogs lie.
I’m not even certain of there is going to be one nicely convenient, let alone correct answer for everyone. Ah, but I do think that there are going to be some answers that will be better than others. With a little luck, this might be one of them.
A variety of genes will be switched on and off when you start chasing ketosis. Almost everyone who adheres to a KD, is reasonably consistent and disciplined with it, is usually astonished with the results. I know that I was. The following photos show the power of going keto for several weeks:
Beginning Keto Week 1: body fat around 18%
I was like: “Life without CHOs ain’t worth livin’! But you’re gettin’ fat, so let’s get to grips.”
6 weeks later. A trip over to the UCLA Med Centre in CA gave us a DEXA and a surprising 8.1% reading.
However, if you attend to some testing procedures (blood panels involving hormones like cortisol and testosterone, liver and kidney functions, glucose monitoring, blood pressure and so on) and compare them with others, as I did. What you see quite plainly are individuals reacting in wildly different ways to different degrees with regard to what’s going on with them on a physiological and biochemical level. A great deal of this variation has to do with the genetic cards they’re holding*. Changes to your diet as dramatic as a ketogenic diet encompasses will inevitably result in changes to the sort of gut microbiome that you possess (or more accurately, possesses you).
When you start to swim in a state of ketosis, you are creating fundamental changes in your body, brain, biochemical processes and gene expression. Not child’s play, not at all. Yet, many treat it as if it were. This nonchalant attitude will result in not getting it, not getting what a diet like this is offering you…which is…a pandora’s box of outcomes. Much of the endgame depends on who you are: metabolically, biochemically. psychologically and genetically.
Also the questions on how much protein and carbohydrates each individual can continue to eat and remain in light to moderate ketosis (the area that I would recommend you play in, as maintaining deep ketosis carries with it a higher degree of risk) is fairly substantial. This fact will probably turn out to be the difference between supplement requirements and supplement “nice to haves”.
Before I start going off the deep end, I’ll offer up some suggestions that could prove useful:
- Sodium (Probably required in most cases). Potassium, probably not.
- BHB salts (nice to have) to help you manipulate b-HydroxyButyrate levels. You can measure these levels (a more precise way to determine the state of ketosis that you are in) with a simple BHB meter (you can buy them online from £20+), the procedure is much the same as you would use with a glucose meter. Ketostix will merely measure acetylacetone levels (a simpler, but less precise way to determine ketosis).
- Most of the water soluble vitamins (B and C vitamins), especially if your KD is not as rich in low carb veggies as it should be (probably necessary). Fat soluble vitamins will rarely be required.
- People who are particularly fond of carbs usually have at least one reason to be. They are probably sensitive to serotonin. When starting to go Low-Carb will soon know about it as levels of this calming, sometimes soporific chemical falls and cortisol levels begin to rise. This also may impact melatonin levels. There’s is a good chance that tryptophan and/or melatonin supplements are going to be important for a good night’s sleep.
The above is just a general short list that will be practicable for some, for others maybe not essential. But either way, we’re just scrapping the crust off a subject that is well worth finding out a little more about before you can pass a sensible judgement on it.
*NB In my case, Although I probably achieved lower body fat levels than for any time in my previous 40+ years of training or competition, blood cholesterol levels skyrocketed. This was, perhaps due to suboptimal intake of various saturated/ unsaturated/ polyunsaturated fat ratios. Again, another reason not to be naive and complacent when it comes to Going Keto.